Look who's writing a column in the recently-revamped Edge Online! It's Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack, and he's talking about cut scenes. That's been sort of a hot-button issue lately, hasn't it? On one hand, it's difficult to tell a story without cut scenes. On the other hand, they fly in the face of a video game's ultimate goal: interactivity.
Dyack recognises this dichotomy, and says that cut scenes in themselves are not a problem, but rather his fellow designers have implemented them poorly:
Over the last five to ten years, so many games have been released where cut scenes are absolutely meaningless. They don't contribute to the content and don't contribute to the characters. They're almost like some kind of reward for completing the level, and that makes absolutely no sense.
As game designers we have to go beyond that. Cut scenes have to contribute to the game. That's a really good rule for people to follow. And it shows you that the classics, well, we still have a lot to learn from the classics.
So what will he do about cut scenes in his Too Human?
Too Human will have cut scenes, but I think that we've managed to blur the line between what people would consider a cut scene and what people consider in-game. See, part of the reason we as designers want to use cut scenes is because it allows us to be cinematographers, and that's fine. But in-game, Too Human will use a dynamic, intelligent camera system that presents the in-game in a more cinematic light, at the same time being conducive to good gameplay.
Seems to me that's the logical goal, given both the advantages and disadvantages of cut scenes. And I'd guess that most of the games we've got these days that use cut scenes badly were actually an attempt to do them well. Easy to say, hard to do?
Denis Dyack Writes for Edge [Edge Online]