Advice for making cutscenes look more natural

xoferew

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I'd like some advice on making cutscenes look more natural. Example: In the scene below my party of three is going to talk to a kid, who will then run away. I don't care where she runs to, just out of sight. I put a rock on one side to limit the approaches.

cutsceneA.png
If my party approaches from below I gather followers and then have the followers take up position on either side of my leader. They all converse with her and she runs off to the right.
cutsceneB.png


But what if the party comes at her from the side? The easiest thing is to make the party walk to below her and then spread out as before, or fade to black and assemble them in the line below her. I could also have them spread out on the side and have her run down, but that would be a bit more work. I'm happy to do more work if it matters. Another option, which feels contrived, is to block the open side with another rock, forcing the approach from below. In that case the kid could escape by going up the vine and jumping off to the side I guess.

So the general question is when a cutscene can be triggered from different directions, how much effort do you put into customizing it for the various approaches? Thanks!
 
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Poryg

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What about a jump? Can be an universal option.
 

Milennin

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I always like seamless transitions from gameplay into cutscene, so even if there's multiple approaches towards an event area, I'll just make a bunch of branches so every direction of approach is accounted for.
Fade ins are easily my least favourite of triggering events. They feel like the easy way out and don't look good, in my opinion.
 

AfroKat

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If you talk to the kids from the right, have the party assemble there, and then make the kid flee through the vines or down south.

It's better that way then have your party.move somewhere else to talk cause the it looks weird.
 

Wavelength

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As cutscene design isn't a game mechanic, I'm moving this over to General Discussion.

Many games simply "reset" the scene with your party appearing on the bottom side. It's the easiest way.

You could limit the approaches from all sides, and have the kid jump over (or run through) the rock (even though the player can't do this) as a director's liberty.

Finally, you could have branches for each direction the player could approach from. That's the hardest method (mostly because you need to branch the Eventing and test several times for each direction to make sure that the Move Routes won't get screwed up - which is especially hard if there are multiple characters moving simulaneously), but probably the most immersive. I do this in my game, but I have a small number of cutscenes. It's not something I'd want to do for 100+ scenes.
 

xoferew

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Thank you @Poryg, @Milennin, @AfroKat, and @Wavelength. It sounds like (as I suspected ^_^) I should put in the effort and tailor the cutscene to work from both approaches. Regarding fade ins being not great, I was using them for things like standing around -->lying in bed where there's no way I can make a complex transitioning animation showing characters taking off their boots, putting on PJs, brushing their teeth, etc. :D I think that is an expected/forgivable use of fade outs/ins?
 

mishakoc

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Fade ins as a way to show some time has passed and/or some boring events in between happened are alright I think and even preferable to dragging the cutscene for way too long.
When used as a transition between playtime and cutscenes only, especially if the player and follower positions change only slightly, like in rearranging them, it just looks really bad in my opinion.
 

Frogboy

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I usually move the party where I want them when the cutscene starts. I often have different actors moving around during cutscenes so it's way too much work and bug testing to create 4 of basically the same scene depending on which direction they decide to activate the encounter. Sometimes, even the layout of the terrain doesn't work well for different positions.
 

TheoAllen

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Where the character is coming is the least I'd worry because I can just use pathfinding script/plugin (or at least I have my own version, in Ace) to move the character into the place you want. Then set up either a detection range or bigger box collision.

And I don't like caterpillar followers, so I took that as my advantage.
expand.gif
However, as a fellow gamedev, I often found that some games just outright script the scene for you so that you can't approach it in many directions like it's deliberately blocked by whatever is blocking, and it's really understandable.
 

Aesica

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What I do for cutscenes with multiple approach vectors is to have all of the surrounding tiles walk the player to the intended cutscene trigger. If you uncheck the "wait for movement" box (and possibly have the "skip if cannot move" box checked) the player will be able to trigger the cutscene even though another event forced them to step on it.

Consider this map segment:


The green X is the cutscene trigger. Each red X is just a movement-route event that will walk the player over to the green X, triggering the intended cutscene when they touch it. Here's how it plays out:


The only thing to watch out for is the player stepping another move tile, but in that case you can always just chain the movement route events together like so:

In the above animation, touching each tile moves the player forward in the indicated direction automatically until they reach another player-touch event (or obstacle). When they do, that event automatically triggers and it repeats until they reach the last arrow, which tries to run them into a wall. That last arrow could easily be replaced with your cutscene start event.
 
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bgillisp

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Regarding fade/ins. I have a party of 11 and no followers but need them all there for the cutscene. So how do YOU get all the followers present without doing a fade in/fade out and make it look natural? I'd be interested to see your solution to that as so far all I see is you don't like them, but I'd like to see actual solutions to avoid it, especially in cases like this.
 

Aesica

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Regarding fade/ins. I have a party of 11 and no followers but need them all there for the cutscene. So how do YOU get all the followers present without doing a fade in/fade out and make it look natural? I'd be interested to see your solution to that as so far all I see is you don't like them, but I'd like to see actual solutions to avoid it, especially in cases like this.
Who are you replying to?

Anyway, I suppose having 10 events spill out of the player's walk-around sprite, then clown-car their way back in once the cutscene ends is unreasonable? :D In the case of larger parties, you're probably better off using fade-ins. Or some members could walk in from off-screen, which also lends a bit more credibility to the concept of "I've got 11 party members, but only 4 of them actually fight at a given time."
 

bgillisp

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Reply was to all that objected to it, as all I saw was people saying not to use it, but no one was proposing a solution to situations like this.

The walk in idea could work to a degree, but it does depend on how you handle the idea of reserves. For example in my game you can switch party members at will (aka FFX) so all 11 are fighting to a degree (plus all get full EXP for all fights too). The in game explanation is they are doing battles you don't see offscreen, and if the main 4 fall the monsters break through the ranks, backstab everyone else and wipe out everyone.

Also, another note: Avoiding fade in/out with followers and the entire party that also results in not knowing where the followers are at any given time, and the cases balloon exponentially on some maps, and you have to use a script or plug-in to make them part of the cutscene too. Either that or you have to put all cutscenes on bottlenecks which looks unnatural in many cases, especially getting one long enough to account for the main and all followers.
 

xoferew

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Regarding lots of usually invisible followers, maybe if there's a reason for your leader to ditch the followers briefly ("I need to pray/pee/write up this report") s/he can then walk into the tavern and the whole party is in there already just starting to have the confrontation, or one of the party calls out from off screen and the leader rushes over to see the whole party has met a strange wizard or what have you.
 

Restart

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The in game explanation is they are doing battles you don't see offscreen,
Interesting - do you have cutscenes where your player character can walk in on the other party members finishing off a swarm of bats, or having solved a puzzle/found items or something? Seems like you can do a lot with the idea that the rest of the party is adventuring in the same dungeon.
 

bgillisp

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@Restart : Not often, as I have it that they are fighting another group that is maybe to your left or right or back instead, so you don't see it. Though I do show it sometimes in a cutscene where one finishes off something, or in the case of someone and their rival, they go to blows after the fight, little things like that. But that might be a good idea to do more often in a future game, thanks.

@xoferew : Good idea, but you can't do that all of the time. Sometimes the plot just doesn't call for it.
 

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Oh, and it's a gimmie, but the #1 thing for making cutscenes natural IMO is making sure you set the move frequency to highest so characters don't t.a.k.e. a. b.r.e.a.k. between each step. Having that stop-and-go motion immediately make the cutscene look slapdash.
 

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