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Cinematic Gaming:

 1 Shirow Shirow, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:33:55 AM from Land of maple syrup Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
Saintia SHOU!
This is a topic I've seen pop up in a lot of threads recently, but as far as I know has yet to get a dedicated conversation.

A lot of games nowadays are trying to be more "Cinematic". What that actually means seems to vary, but there's good debate to be had about player freedom and the use of cutscenes.

How much should games take after movies? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a more cinematic game? What games use it well and which ones use it poorly? What does any of it have to do with "art"?
"Well, of course they'd be "colorful" - they're male battle-whores." - Nomuru2d
 2 fakeangelbr, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:35:30 AM from Fortaleza, Brazil
The Awesomest Character
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a more cinematic game?

Bioshock would not as good as it is without the use of cutscenes.
Donate money to Skullgirls, get a sweet poster.
Gunpla is amazing!
Yet the most powerful scene in Bioshock was not the cutscenes, but the infamous "Would you kindly?" scene.

Because it took place in the sae perspective we knew, the sense of control was lost not because we were in a cutscene, but because there was nothing you could do.

Gaming nowadays just feels too much like its trying to be movies and wants to stop being games.

When I hear "We want to make our game more cinematic" I cringe. It ruined Ace Combat AND Hitman.

edited 24th Nov '12 9:40:57 AM by Thorn14

 4 fakeangelbr, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:42:06 AM from Fortaleza, Brazil
The Awesomest Character
Yet the most powerful scene in Bioshock was not the cutscenes, but the infamous "Would you kindly?" scene.

...That was a cutscene.
Donate money to Skullgirls, get a sweet poster.
Gunpla is amazing!
It was? Huh. I dont remember. Well maybe because it still felt like it was in the perspective of the player.

In that case, the scene would have been much more powerful if it was still in game, HUD and all, but no matter how much you moved the controls, you could not do a thing.

 6 Star Outlaw, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:46:39 AM from Frontier Space Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Time to roll the dice
I just wish that there was some way to have more control over the cinematic parts of a game, at least when the player character can actually do things. And I think there are plenty of good instances of this. Don't just have the player feel powerless by taking away control and making them watch a cutscene, but do it by taking away almost all control during the gameplay at a crucial moment. One of the most common ways I've seen is when the character is critically injured and all you can make them do is crawl slowly. I think that makes for some great tension. Its a sort of compromise.

edited 24th Nov '12 9:47:41 AM by StarOutlaw

 7 fakeangelbr, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:47:37 AM from Fortaleza, Brazil
The Awesomest Character
That was the point.

It was still in first person and after the first 10 or so minutes of the game, the control was never taken from the player.

Until they were forced to run around the room without imprompt.
Donate money to Skullgirls, get a sweet poster.
 8 Star Outlaw, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:48:32 AM from Frontier Space Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Time to roll the dice
Copied from the Dm C thread:

I think part of the problem is that since video games are still a young medium, people are still trying to define what it is about games that makes them uniquely artistic compared to movies or music or paintings. I think we can agree that having cutscenes and music and aesthetics aren't what really make a game, but its gameplay and mechanics. Shadow of the Colossus is great game, but that has to do mostly with its gameplay and the context.

The enjoyment you get out of it is finding and slaying the colossi. The finding part has you traverse and explore a big empty land with all sorts of nooks and crannies. You are absolutely alone save for the horse you ride. Actually killing the colossus is itself a puzzle that you need to figure out. The music and visuals are just there to enhance the experience. While I do think the visuals and music really help give the game a strong identity, just imagine if the gameplay was made into something like a more traditional hack and slash, or even an RPG, if towns and people were added that gave you more info and background. It would greatly alter the experience.

As another example, just look at the Resident Evil series. When it originally started, it was about surviving while getting from point A to B. There were a lot of traditional Adventure Game puzzles, with with the added factor of dying easily if you weren't careful. The "art" and "puzzle" was figuring out how best to manage your resources and avoid getting hurt when you weren't very powerful, which created a sense of horror. That's why fans get upset about it becoming more actionized; making it an action game takes away the artistic part that made it special.

The interactive "puzzle" of a game and the mechanics are what make a game art, and I believe every truly great game has something unique like this, especially back in the old days with the original arcade machines, when visuals and music weren't exactly top priority. It's all a matter of asking yourself "How does playing this game make me feel as opposed to simply watching it?" Just as another great example, look at Portal. It is a puzzle game at its very core, and its a great game even without GLaDOS. Just imagine how boring it would be if you just watched someone solve the puzzles in record time as opposed to figuring them out yourself. I think Portal is a great contender for not simply games as art, but gameplay as art.

I think for the Devil May Cry series, its "art" was the deep, complex combat system along with challenging and interesting bosses. Discovering new combos and finding out the best strategy to take down an enemy is the "puzzle" aspect, but with much more skill involved. The experience you get is the fast paced, kinetic combat and adrenaline rush from pulling of stylish combos, as well as the satisfaction you get when you've more than overcome an enemy that gave you trouble. That's the biggest problem with Dm C; Ninja Theory, and to an extent a great many gaming critic and journalist, don't understand that DMC's extreme combat was its art, and they've ignored that in favor of focusing on the artistic strengths transplanted from another medium to its detriment. I think its the same problem a lot of action games have.
Bunny
I would agree that Controllable Helplessness scenes are excellent when done correctly. It's less of a feeling of "Oh great, another cutscene" and closer to "Oh fuck, I can't do anything, this is not good".
One of my few regrets about being born female is the inability to grow a handlebar mustache. -Landstander
Gunpla is amazing!
Right, a video game that provides control for the characters to provide a narrative with its gameplay is always more effective because we play video games for that precise reason.

The Walking Dead video game can get much more intense than any movie because it feels like your decisions can get the people you care about killed.

edited 24th Nov '12 9:52:03 AM by Thorn14

 11 onyhow, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:57:04 AM from Thaddis Sabbah, still fighting Vaygrs Relationship Status: Singularity
Mothership online...also adorable
I'll just get what Guillermo Del Toro said about cutscenes...

You know what kind of gamer I am? When we come to a cinematic, I jump it. I go 'I'm not watching a movie. Fuck you. I want a game'

edited 24th Nov '12 9:58:10 AM by onyhow

Gunpla is amazing!
Damn. A shame his game got canceled.

 13 onyhow, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:59:32 AM from Thaddis Sabbah, still fighting Vaygrs Relationship Status: Singularity
Mothership online...also adorable
Wait, it got canned???
Gunpla is amazing!
Yeah, because THQ is probably going under.

 15 fakeangelbr, Sat, 24th Nov '12 10:00:41 AM from Fortaleza, Brazil
The Awesomest Character
That is a hole in the haul that is impossible to fix.
Donate money to Skullgirls, get a sweet poster.
 16 Lizard Bite, Sat, 24th Nov '12 12:23:41 PM from Two Galaxies Over
Since this spun-off from the Dm C thread, I'll repost my response to Shirow's comment about how he'd rather watch a cutscene than try to keep pace with an NPC here:

Even when a game is cutscene-heavy, it can still take advantage of the medium, and use gaming's strengths to its advantage, rather than just trying to be a movie with gameplay segments between scenes (*coughmetalgearsolidfourcough*). For example, Persona 4 is a really linear game with a lot of long cutscenes, but it still uses its medium to its advantage via social links. By giving the player the choice of who to befriend and how to act with said friends between plot points, the game reinforces the player's attachment to the characters, and as such the player cares more about the story when it unfolds.

So encouraging games to stop trying to be movies doesn't immediately equal "gently holding a stick to keep pace with an NPC". The complaint about cutscenes, particularly when applied to games trying to be "artistic" (whatever you take that word to mean), is that designers use them as a crutch for the story, rather than one of many tools to facilitate it.

 17 Demongodofchaos 2, Sat, 24th Nov '12 3:52:36 PM from Reality Relationship Status: 700 wives and 300 concubines
I am become death, Destroyer of worlds
I think Asura's Wrath does the Cinematic game thing well too.

All the prompts match the onscreen stuff, and it axctually makes you feel like your an angry demi-god trying to punch out a country sized finger.

There's also the Controllable Helplessness part not from you, but from the AI (spoilers for the story somewhat, though):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQIoQrm1rGs&feature=player_detailpage#t=609

edited 24th Nov '12 3:55:03 PM by Demongodofchaos2

I don't fight for good, and I don't fight for evil, I JUST FIGHT!

 18 Recon 5, Sat, 24th Nov '12 4:10:07 PM from Southeast Asia
Avvie-free for life!
The Walking Dead video game can get much more intense than any movie because it feels like your decisions can get the people you care about killed.

But it shows the results of those decisions largely through non-interactive segments. How is that different from what games like Mass Effect did apart from the frequency of choices?

 19 Imca, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:11:43 PM Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
Yeah, because THQ is probably going under.

Actualy that was a rumor, and THQ has went on record saying they are not going under and nothing got caned.

Gunpla is amazing!
[up][up]

Well the suicide mission in 2 had that same intensity.

If you can make your players actually think about your decision and performance as a player, you did a good job.

TOR for example, you cant get nearly as involved in your story because anything you do doesn't affect your gameplay.

edited 24th Nov '12 9:16:36 PM by Thorn14

 21 Zeromaeus, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:44:12 PM from Neo Arcadia
Mighty No. 51345
On Asura's Wrath, I disagree. Cyber Connect 2's games are unique in that, by all rights, they are very poor games. The gameplay is never the focus and is usually lackluster. I do not enjoy Cyber Connect 2's games (by which I mean .//HACK and Asura's Wrath, by the way) in the same why I enjoy other games. That isn't to say I don't enjoy them. I just don't enjoy them as games. I enjoy them as experiences. They are stories conveyed vaguely through games.

I can't say they're cinematic games done right, because if there were many more of them, I would find it rather terrible. As it is, the number of games like Asura's Wrath is a pretty confined genre, and it needs to stay that way.

Now, I do believe cutscenes or cinematic leanings help the medium to a great degree. Its a tool for conveying things in a clean, efficient manner that may be difficult to push a player through via gameplay. As mentioned before, the "would you kindly" scene in Bioshock is, in fact, a cutscene, though it really doesn't feel like one. The game sets it up well enough that you, the player, recognize that there is no option here. What happens in the cinematic is the only possible conclusion. Its a powerful scene and is no way hampered by being a cutscene.

I am a little peeved that Metal Gear Solid Four is what people hoist as the prime example of a game that is too cinematic. Part of the reason why is that, well, its true. Its a game that plays out like a movie and it feels like you're watching it rather than playing it. It was an enjoyable experience for me, but I can't say its a good game. The same way I can't say Asura's Wrath is a good game.

Its hard to say what level of cinematic execution is good for a game. really, it largely depends on the individual game, the genre and the intent behind it. Ultimately, however, as long as the end result is enjoyable and fun, I really don't care how cinematic a game is. I enjoy Metal Gear. I enjoy Disgaea. I enjoy Half-Life. I enjoy lots of things. I'm glad we have such a wide variety of games to choose from too. I would hate to see every game become like MGS4, though, and I do think games like DmC are very much a step in the wrong direction.
Mega Man fanatic extraordinaire
Ultimately, however, as long as the end result is enjoyable and fun, I really don't care how cinematic a game is

Yep. Though I generally prefer the less cinematic.

 23 Cassie, Sat, 24th Nov '12 9:54:04 PM from Malaysia, but where?
The armored raven
To those of you who don't want cinematics, go back to play Pac Man. I dare you.

I sure as hell didn't grow up all this time being a gamer just to take a huge step backwards in storytelling. I just prefer cutscenes and cinematics to stay as cutscenes and cinematics, not slapping in QTE and crap. As long as the gameplay is deep, I don't care about cinematics being done like James Cameron Avatar levels.

[up][up]Like what this person said, tilting the gameplay and story ratio towards story too much is what ruins it. We don't like to see this being a trend and chances are we'll never do. But it's wrong to complain about all forms of cinematics because of it

edited 24th Nov '12 9:56:14 PM by Cassie

What profit is it to a man, when he gains his money, but loses his internet? Anonymous 16:26 I believe...
 24 onyhow, Sat, 24th Nov '12 10:09:25 PM from Thaddis Sabbah, still fighting Vaygrs Relationship Status: Singularity
Mothership online...also adorable
The problem I have with cutscenes is not that they can't be good, it's just show how much we're still stuck to the old storytelling methods, especially with movies...I would really want to see a game that takes full advantage of interactivity and tells a story through that...too bad most game makers seems to want to stick back to the familiar territory...

Not saying that all cutscenes are bad, it's just we're still stuck back, and some of these new games are retreating further...

edited 24th Nov '12 10:11:33 PM by onyhow

Burn
[up][up]There are plenty of games that can tell good stories without using many cutscenes, or that reveal the majority of their storyline in the gameplay.

Cutscenes are a tool. A tool that is horribly misused in many games. They can be used fantastically for many things, like establishing shots or moments where you're not supposed to be in control. They lose their magic when used just to info-dump or as a replacement for action.

Metroid: Other M shows exactly what happens when a game becomes more cinematic to its detriment. The game is broken up by lengthy cutscenes that throw exposition at us like popcorn, yet none of the story elements are continued in the gameplay, leading to a horrible disconnect between the two. Stunt plot moves like "We're bringing back Mother Brain!" and "Adam dies!" and "Samus is traumatized!" hamstring whatever plot there was. Stupid cinema tricks like Shaky Cam and Adrenaline Time destroy whatever drama the writers were trying to build. The poorly written storyline ruins the game for many because it's shoved into your face instead of just being in the background lore like in the Prime games. And the final boss is essentially just a cutscene.

Outside of the cutscenes, the cinematic focus is no better. Bizarre genre shifts like the Pixel Hunt scenes or the absurd over-the-shoulder camera are overly dramatic and make the experience more artificial. The traditional Metroidvania formula is forced into a linear corridor action game because the cutscenes just have to play in the right order. Combat removes the participation of the player by having simple button presses create a complex finishing move.

And before somebody complains about me bashing on Other M, it's not just that game. Plenty of others, like Ninja Gaiden 3, suffer from the game trying to be cinematic instead of fun. The main strength of a game is that you can participate. So why the hell do so many developers think we like it when we stop participating?

edited 25th Nov '12 12:27:36 AM by Scardoll

Total posts: 234
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