Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
must, therefore, be given to how the cutscene can introduce or pay off interactive
elements without getting in their way.
The decision to use cutscenes does not eradicate the danger of repetition. Prince
of Persia: The Two Thrones employed numerous in-game cutscenes. However, the
game frequently positioned these cutscenes within save points, meaning that a player
who failed a gameplay sequence was forced to watch these events again and again.
While this meant that the player was certain to see these scenes, it was also highly
likely that he would become frustrated with them. Such problems underline the fact
that a close working relationship between narrative and design is vital to get the best
from both.
Scripted Events: Telling a Story on the Move
Telling the story does not mean that the player must lose control. Scripted events are
cinematic elements that show story but allow the player to keep playing. Integrating
the story into the game can help to create a deeper sense of immersion and reduce the
risk of breaking gameplay flow. That said, using scripted events in platform games is
not always straightforward.
The main problem in using scripted events is their placement. For scripted events
to be seen, the camera must point at them long enough for the information in the
scene to register. Prince of Persia (2008) introduces one of its main characters, the
Mourning King, in just such a way. He is heard shouting before he becomes visible,
then as the player rounds a corner, the gameplay path points the player toward the
King, meaning the player can keep control but also has time to see the character in
the distance. After this point, a cinematic plays out, keeping the character alive but
not containing any vital information that the player needs to know. Such a brief event
works well to bring life to the world and to communicate basic information (Elika's
name, the fact that this mysterious character is pursuing her, and even making it clear
that he commands other characters the player has seen). The level design, however,
does mean that if the player continues to run (fast movement being key to most
platform design), then the scene is quickly out of sight. The amount of information
in each scene and how it is delivered must, therefore, be carefully crafted to fit the
window of opportunity where the scene is visible without distracting the player from
the gameplay challenge.
Writers and designers should note that even if scripted events are planned as short
and snappy, should the level design, art, and narrative not be closely coordinated,
then the speed the character is moving, the difficulty of communicating the gameplay
path, or simple camera angles can lead to interactive scripted events being missed,
needing to become non-interactive, or even to these scenes being cut. Writers must
think carefully, then, for while such moments can build immersion, it is often wise
to avoid trying to communicate deep or essential story information in such scenes
for fear that they might be missed.
When the planning works, the results can be very rewarding. Uncharted: Drake's
Fortune is a game that uses scripted events well. In one level, the game's protagonist,
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