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Scripted Event

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Events in video games which are programmed to unfold in the same way each time. Scripted Events are usually triggered by a timer, or by the Player Character crossing a checkpoint; this will ensure that the player is in the correct position to appreciate the event.

Scripted Events can be used to push the story forward without a Cutscene through a scripted scene of dialogue, or to increase the excitement with dramatic events such as explosions, or to scare the player with a sudden entrance of an enemy.

If a particularly dramatic or visually impressive Scripted Event is used only once in a game, then it is a Video Game Setpiece. Scripted Events tend to be used multiple times throughout a game. A series of Scripted Events linked one after another is known as a Scripted Sequence.

A Scripted Event failing to trigger when it should (or at all) can lead to the game becoming Unwinnable. Causing them to trigger when they shouldn't results in Script Breaking. Fun times! (Or not.)

If this also takes place in the middle of a battle sequence (or as an entire battle), it's a Scripted Battle. Can be quite annoying when combined with Trial-and-Error Gameplay if the events can't be skipped after the first time.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Happens very often in the Metal Gear series, although all of them "might" be part of the Gambit Pileup featured in every game...

    First Person Shooter 
  • Many recent action-military shooter games (especially those based on previous wars) are filled with scripted sequences. Call of Duty 2 featured many set-piece battles and events, from squadmates kicking down doors to carrying a wounded teammate (both impossible for the player character).
    • Call of Duty 4 includes achievements for interfering with the scripted events, saving the lives of the NPCs who would otherwise die.
  • The Half-Life series makes use of scripted events throughout the games, with scientists being dragged into air vents, marines rappelling through sky lights, aliens teleporting in suddenly and characters having conversations with one another. However, many of the scripted events might as well just be Cut Scenes, since you are almost always stuck in the room they happen in and can't progress until the event ends, particularly if it invovles lengthy dialog. Being able to (usually) move around the room or shoot friendly NPCs (which then ends the game, of course) are the only things that makes the events at all different from a regular cutscene.
    • Portal is built the same way. In the developer commentary, they specifically referred to scripted speech events where a door would stay closed until GlaDOS finished talking as "gates."
  • Left 4 Dead has one in the finale of Dead Air. When the survivors leave the safe room, an airplane can be seen in the background making a really tight turn and is low to the ground before it crashes and explodes into fiery bits, causing the survivors to reply in shock and awe. Happens every time the map is played. In the finale to The Sacrifice, the player making the Heroic Sacrifice will always be hit by a Tank's rock from off screen to incapacitate them, showing them as completely helpless in the cutscene as they bleed out. This happens even in instances where Tanks can't spawn due to mods or certain game modes.

  • Many Escort Missions in World of Warcraft have scripted events to make sure you don't just clean out the escort path beforehand and waltz the guy to safety (even where that would make sense).

  • Psychonauts has the guillotine in Waterloo World. When you get close to it, it crashes down and you can't get through. The solution? Turn invisible.
    • Also the asylum rats. The upper floors of the asylum level are infested with rats that explode into a cloud of Confusion Gas while doing massive damage, and their ambushes are scripted. If you pay attention, the walls (or equivalent thereof) sometimes have rat graffiti on them. That signifies the checkpoint for a certain appearance of those giant, red-eyed, bloated vermin that will first flip your controls, screw up your psi powers, and make your screen all cloudy and green before killing you very quickly. It actually adds to the Nightmare Fuel.
  • Incredibly annoying in Drill Dozer. To get 100% Completion, the player has to go through levels multiple times with better equipment. In-level plot events play out every time, with no changes — if a character taunts you, they'll taunt you every time, even if they join your side later in the game.
  • Every 3D Sonic The Hedgehog game has this. They usually involve Sonic, or whatever speed-based playable character is in control running forward and temporarily taking away control of him while the camera dramatically pans out or closes in on him. These mainly exist to demonstrate Sonic's badassery to a level that usually can't be achieved in gameplay.
    • Done to a poor effect in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) where running up the loops are scripted but are not scripted to be automated. This means you can literally have Sonic stand upside down on the loop without falling off should you decide to stop moving. Other scripted events launch Sonic across a gap or some other obstacle, which is supposed to be automated, but failing to hold forward will cause Sonic to miss the jump and die.

  • The Midnight Club series, and many other "free-roam" racing games, love to script in large moving obstacles (such as trucks or traffic) during otherwise calm moments. If the player knows one is coming and correctly controls their speed, they can often get the scripted obstacle to take out NPC cars, allowing for easier victories.

  • Most of the enemy encounters in Chrono Trigger are scripted to trigger when the player reaches a certain spot on the map. Triggering such an encounter will always cause the same enemies to spawn at the same positions. The battles themselves aren't scripted, though, as enemy actions are random.
  • The photographer in EarthBound shows up when the player walks across certain patches of ground for the first time. Say "fuzzy pickles"!
  • Fallout 3, No matter what, you will be captured by the Enclave after retrieving the GECK. Then, Fawkes will be there to help you escape, and lastly, (before Broken Steel) the game will end, whether you started the purifier, or made Lyons do it, you evil bastard.
  • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire has one event where you have to help Wally catch a Pokemon and by helping, the game means watching Wally use a Pokémon to weaken a wild one and then catching it with a Poké Ball. The results are the same every time the event is played out, thought the Ralts can be Shiny at full odds.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, at the beginning of the Honest Hearts expansion pack, there is no way to save any of the caravaneers from the White Legs. In fact, many of the enemies can't even be hit until the caravan is wiped out.
  • While The Elder Scrolls series is well known for its open worlds and non-linear gameplay, many quests still rely on scripted events in order to play out correctly. A few notable examples:
    • During a Mages Guild quest in Oblivion, your companion Fithragaer is set to die when triggering a trap that slams into a ceiling full of spikes. Preventing him from triggering this trap does not help, as the game has several alternative ways of killing him off. While there is a convoluted way to save him, doing so is not recommended, as the quest relies on his death.
    • Skyrim:
      • The tutorial mission is one big scripted event. It always plays out the same way; Your character starts out being captured by Imperials, almost gets executed after being mistaken for a Stormcloak Rebel, after which he unintentionally gets saved by the timely interruption of the Big Bad Alduin. What follows is you escaping the tutorial village during the chaos of the dragon attack. The only choice you get to make is which of two characters to follow in escaping from the village.
      • Subverted the first time you visit the city of Markarth. Just inside the main gate, in the market area, a Forsworn assassin is scripted to attack an Imperial tourist. Until the tourist is killed, it's very easy to miss. However, if you're quick, you have the opportunity to interrupt the attack and save the tourist. The rest of the quest plays out the same, save that the thankful tourist will reward you with a piece of jewelry.
  • In Miitopia, the notoriously non-Highlight cutscene events taking place during the first visit of particular stages. Unlike the random events, these are always placed on certain spots in those stages and they can't be replayed even in the post-game.

  • In No Umbrellas Allowed, the customers and the items they sell to you are randomized each time you Save Scum, but there are some that are scripted, usually those involved in the introduction of new mechanics. Visits by the major characters are also mandatory for plot reasons.

  • Battle for Wesnoth's campaign maps frequently use scripted events to expand the map, spawn in new enemies, inflict or remove status effects, change victory conditions, and generally shake thing up when certain units are killed, certain tiles are reached or crossed, or a certain number of turns have passed either in total or since some previous event.
  • Most Paradox Interactive games have had scripted events that fire for specific countries at specific dates, although usually with some other qualifiers as well. In the later installments, Paradox has moved away from this into scripting highly complex random events instead (where various factors can increase or decrease the chance of a particular event firing). Whether or not this change is good or not is one of the perennial topics of debate on the Paradox boards.

    Survival Horror 
  • Resident Evil is famous for its sudden scares from zombie dogs crashing through the windows. At least, it's scary the first couple of times.
    • Sequels varied the scripted scare repertoire to include zombie arms crashing through walls, Licker encounters, and Nemesis encounters.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Max Payne uses many. Everytime an enemy lobs a grenade at you as you come round a corner? That was pre-scripted. The enemy AI doesn't know how to throw grenades, run for cover, or anything else more complex than shooting or jogging.

Alternative Title(s): Scripted Sequence