Game Development Reference
The tools that most resemble older story media are scripted stories .
A game's SCRIPTED STORY is the events that are encoded directly into
the game so they always play out the same way.
The most basic scripted story tool is the cutscene. Cutscenes allow us
to use every trick we've learned from film. Unfortunately, they inevitably
break flow because they shut down all interactivity. Too many cutscenes,
and a game develops a jerky stop-start pacing as it transitions from game-
play to cutscene and back. This isn't necessarily fatal—cutscenes can be
good rests between bouts of intense play—but it's always jarring.
A less controlling kind of scripted story is the scripted sequence . Scripted
sequences play out preauthored events without completely disabling the
For example, a player may be walking his character down an alley
and witness a murder. Every scream and stab in the murder sequence is
prerecorded and preanimated, so the murder will always play out the same
way as the player walks down that alley for the first time. The actions of the
player character witnessing the murder, however, are not scripted at all.
The player may walk past, stand and watch, or turn and run as the murder
proceeds. This is soft scripting .
With SOFT SCRIPTING, the player maintains some degree of interactivity
even as the scripted sequence plays out.
The advantage of this soft-scripted approach is that it doesn't break
flow since the player's controls remain uninterrupted. The downside is the
control it takes away from the designer. The player might be able to watch
the murder from an ugly angle, miss it entirely, or even interfere with it.
What happens if you shoot the murderer? Or you shoot the victim? Or you
jump on their heads? Or get distracted and miss this story beat entirely?
Every scripted sequence must balance player influence with designer
control, and there is a whole spectrum of ways to do this. Which to choose
depends on the story event being expressed and the game's core mechan-
ics. Here are some that have worked in the past, ordered from most player-
controlling to most player-permissive:
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