Thoughts in games with many cutscenes and text?

48Tentacles

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I was taking a walk yesterday with a friend of mine and we discussed games. At one point we discussed games with cutscenes (or text scenes for RPGMaker in this neighborhood case) and I presented my case that games should be interactive, which was funny enough the abused key word for marketing campaigns in the 90s for games and educative programs for kids.

I stated that the purpose of a game at its core is to be interactive, unlike a movie. A game depends on feedback coming from the player, a movie doesn't, yet there are AAA games nowadays that try to feature cinematic experiences based on movies. Games like Metal Gear Solid contain many scenes with such features, but it still provides a great deal of interactivity, half of the game are cutscenes; Half Life's narrative and storytelling is done without any pauses while allowing the player to interact, Hyperdimension Neptunia's storytelling is developed in a visual novel style without making walls of texts... unless you want to get the 100% of the game in ReBirth 3.

In my opinion in short, games based on storytelling are fine as long as the gameplay aspect isn't downsized. Unless they are visual novels with good looking girls.

What are your thoughts about these types of games?
 

Sparky89

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When you walk around whilst a scene is playing out for example Half life or aliens i feel like I might miss bits because i'm walking around whilst some guy behind a glass screen is talking and things are happening, so from this I perfer cut scene's, now going into RPG maker, I wacthed a Demo of a game that i felt was heavily scened out.. but it added so much tension, the player would walk stop and turn and talk to the others behind them, as they were entering a crypt, the words and the movements of the actor was great as it made for a dramatic scene.

In all of this the player wasn't actrully playing but as a viewer i felt sucked in....... of course eventrully the scene ends and the player can roam around in the dungeons. but I LOVED IT. it for me created an atmosphere, now lets look at what actrully happened.. the actor walked into the crypt some music/text later and i'm wowed, now without this scene if it was purly player driven, you would just walk into a crypt and no suspence or anything just yeah.. so that's my opinion onit.
 

SigmaSuccour

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This is a three minute game, that I remember every second of:

And then there are games I've played that feature dozens of hours. And I can barely recall a few seconds.

You can check what people think of the game I linked above, and that should tell you what 'gamers' feel about a short, memorable experience.
 

48Tentacles

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This is a three minute game, that I remember every second of:

And then there are games I've played that feature dozens of hours. And I can barely recall a few seconds.

You can check what people think of the game I linked above, and that should tell you what 'gamers' feel about a short, memorable experience.
Hot. Damn.

It was a short game but I loved it! This game is a good example between narration and gameplay. I'm not gonna say anything else, so if anyone's curious just check this game out, you won't regret it.
 

KazukiT

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I think it depends the type of game. If it’s a story-focused game the cutscene are necessary, however I think the cutscene should contribute something to the plot like establishing a character trait or expanding on the plot or story. On the flip side if a game is more gameplay focused cutscenes aren’t as necessary.

However, it’s like all things in life, there needs to be a balance based on the game’s needs. However one form of storytelling all games with interactive environment should have is environmental storytelling so it acts as a short hand to how happened to that place. It’s like a piece of advice I was told a long time ago, “the environment is a character too,”
 

gstv87

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obviously "show, don't tell" is always better, except in games with a clear focus on narrative art style.
that's one of the considerations that has to be made clear since day one: "What kind of game is this?"

for games, I believe the premise should be not "show, don't tell", but "let the player play, don't tell"
just the other day, I was considering cutting a lot of typical RPG dialogue leading into "quests", all the exposition and instructions, in favor of a more fluid approach.
you don't see quest markers all over the place in real life, unless you're looking out for them.
the same way, any random NPC shouldn't be giving you clues that they have a quest that you must take.
the world build should be solid enough that the player will go and look for quests out of sheer curiosity or drive.
 

TheoAllen

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If your game has interactive gameplay that I want to explore more, then you break the gameplay flow by introducing long cutscenes or frequent cutscenes, yes, I will not like it.

@gstv87 I actually hate why real life doesn't have a quest marker :p
 

AeroFunk80

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This is where I struggle with my games. I'm a writer and tend to go overboard with story and dialogue. I feel like I put plenty of action/combat in my games... eventually. Problem is... I put it in after my excessively long intros LOL I like to write, what can I say.

My first game (biggest mistake I've made) is had a 20 minute intro. JUST cutscene. It was bad. I eventually fixed it and give players the option to just do a quick 5 min storyboard intro or skip it all together for returning players. That helped.

My second game... while you get to actually move around, explore, and talk to people... I still have too much story at the start. It takes, roughly, 40 minutes before you get into any battles.

I'm currently working on my third game, and to challenge myself... I'm creating one with VERY LIMITED story. It's going to focus on exploration, combat, and just immersing the player in the maps/atmosphere. There will be story, but I'm limiting myself to it in this one.

Me, personally, though... I love story and cut scenes in games. I agree they should be interactive, I just think that differs from person to person. I love great combat, but I look forward to the small breaks from time-to-time with cut scenes and great acting: Last of Us, Uncharted, God of War to name a few games I love. I think a nice balance is key. Give me combat, story/cut scenes, throw in some puzzles, resource management/crafting, more combat, another cut scene. Variety is the spice of life :) For me, at least.
 

KazukiT

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This is where I struggle with my games. I'm a writer and tend to go overboard with story and dialogue. I feel like I put plenty of action/combat in my games... eventually. Problem is... I put it in after my excessively long intros LOL I like to write, what can I say.

My first game (biggest mistake I've made) is had a 20 minute intro. JUST cutscene. It was bad. I eventually fixed it and give players the option to just do a quick 5 min storyboard intro or skip it all together for returning players. That helped.

My second game... while you get to actually move around, explore, and talk to people... I still have too much story at the start. It takes, roughly, 40 minutes before you get into any battles.

I'm currently working on my third game, and to challenge myself... I'm creating one with VERY LIMITED story. It's going to focus on exploration, combat, and just immersing the player in the maps/atmosphere. There will be story, but I'm limiting myself to it in this one.

Me, personally, though... I love story and cut scenes in games. I agree they should be interactive, I just think that differs from person to person. I love great combat, but I look forward to the small breaks from time-to-time with cut scenes and great acting: Last of Us, Uncharted, God of War to name a few games I love. I think a nice balance is key. Give me combat, story/cut scenes, throw in some puzzles, resource management/crafting, more combat, another cut scene. Variety is the spice of life :) For me, at least.
I like to write stories as well. I applied game design to my storytelling, where I tell it gradually, just like introducing mechanics gradually.

Variety is definitely the spice of life. My first major game was an RPG but my second game will be a horror game. Even since I made a short horror game for a game jam a year and half ago I am having trouble going back to making RPGs. : / However, I can play them just fine.

Also sorry for the long-winded response. XP
 

Milennin

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I get that in RPG's, there's usually quite a lot of cutscenes near the beginning of the game, which I'm fine with, but once I'm through the early game tutorials I want to have my freedom. I don't like having lots of text to go through, unless I'm playing a visual novel, I just want stuff to be kept short and to the point. (I also hate RPG Maker text boxes filled with 4 lines of text, lol, that's too much for me. I rather read 2 text boxes of 2 lines each than a single text box with 4 lines. Not sure if that's still considered to be on-topic, but I felt like adding it to my post.)
 

bpm222

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Honestly there's no point in trying to define what games should or shouldn't be, at the end of the day it's only a medium and nothing more. Even if it's all story and no gameplay, if the story is good and well done the game will find an audience. Plenty of successful games like this.

Just make sure your vision for what you want your game to be is fleshed out and stay true to it. Worrying about things that ultimately make you stray from your original vision is usually what ruins games.
 

AeroFunk80

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Honestly there's no point in trying to define what games should or shouldn't be, at the end of the day it's only a medium and nothing more. Even if it's all story and no gameplay, if the story is good and well done the game will find an audience. Plenty of successful games like this.

Just make sure your vision for what you want your game to be is fleshed out and stay true to it. Worrying about things that ultimately make you stray from your original vision is usually what ruins games.

I agree with this 100%. No matter what type of game you create, it's going to be liked/loved by some and unappealing to others. You can't satisfy everyone. I love writing, character development, and storytelling (creating unique worlds, the lore, side-content, etc), so that will always be present in most of my games, but I will say I need to find a better balance. That or classify them as Visual Novels with a BIT of action :p
 

48Tentacles

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This is where I struggle with my games. I'm a writer and tend to go overboard with story and dialogue. I feel like I put plenty of action/combat in my games... eventually. Problem is... I put it in after my excessively long intros LOL I like to write, what can I say.
Quick advice I've read somewhere I don't remember anymore. Eight minutes. You have eight minutes to keep entertaining your audience as your game starts. Long intros are not bad but you might need some plus in providing something more to keep entertaining your audience. If in eight minutes your audience isn't entertained they'll consider the big possibility of a refund.



Interesting responses I've read. To put it in more context, one specific game that my friend and I were talking about was a huge compilation of Kingdom Hearts of all games together. He told me that some of these games were compilations of sequences and scenes instead of the complete games with their gameplay and I was thinking "Isn't interactivity the point of a game? I want a game, not a movie".
 

HankB

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I'm a reader. I've read hundreds of books, everything from Steinbeck to Dr. Seuss. I even re-read many books, multiple times. I've probably read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest like 10 times. So, yes, I love reading.

But when I'm playing a video game, I want to play. I don't want to be bombarded with blocks of text, paragraph after paragraph, telling me the backstory of the many struggles of the people of Kordeezia and their epic thousand-year-war against the evil empire of G'moorzeth. Even if the writing is great, I don't care, I just want to get to the action.

Especially at the very beginning of a game, I hate it when they do that. It's like reading a novella is the price you must pay before finally getting to move your character around and interact with stuff. When that happens I'm basically spamming the spacebar. Which is annoying.

As a writer, I understand the urge to tell a great story—but, please, dole it out in bite-sized chunks, as the game unfolds. Quick, easily digestible bits of dialogue, with maybe a longer cutscene every once in a while at important points. Whatever it takes to move the game forward, but not much else. Brevity is your friend.

In short: If I want to read a book, I'll read a book. If I want to chop heads off without going to prison, I'll play a video game.
 
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KazukiT

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I'm a reader. I've read hundreds of books, everything from Steinbeck to Dr. Seuss. I even re-read many books, multiple times. I've probably read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest like 10 times. So, yes, I love reading.

But when I'm playing a video game, I want to play. I don't want to be bombarded with blocks of text, paragraph after paragraph, telling me the backstory of the many struggles of the people of Kordeezia and their epic thousand-year-war against the evil empire of G'moorzeth. Even if the writing is great, I don't care, I just want to get to the action.

Especially at the very beginning of a game, I hate it when they do that. It's like reading a novella is the price you must pay before finally getting to move your character around and interact with stuff. When that happens I'm basically spamming the spacebar. Which is annoying.

As a writer, I understand the urge to tell a great story—but, please, dole it out in bite-sized chunks, as the game unfolds. Quick, easily digestible bits of dialogue, with maybe a longer cutscene every once in a while at important points. Whatever it takes to move the game forward, but not much else. Brevity is your friend.

In short: If I want to read a book, I'll read a book. If I want to chop heads off without going to prison, I'll play a video game.
I agree with your sentiment, you should tell the story gradually.
 

Kuro DCupu

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I believe what we define as a game there should be at least a direct interaction.
But now I don't know anymore, since there exist games where you literally don't have to do anything anymore after register.

One of them is an online idle game called GodVille.
The only input that has an impact on the game is registering your character, and resurrect them by logging in if they die which happen rarely.
The character will be playing by itself as long as the game exists, even if the player forgot or actually die IRL...
You play as a God where you can interact with your champion.
But these interactions were just extras, such as looking at your character's stats, reaction, record, achievement, or at the very most is trying to change your character's opinion.
I return to the game after several years and still find my character is alive and kicking.
1631369448434.png

I actually have fun and enjoy it.
But the question is, can that still be called a game?
 
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