Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Best Cut Scenes

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and will be writing out entries, hopefully I can get all thirty days without any breaks, and if I manage to do that (since August has 31 days) I will think of an additional entry to write about.  I have done a 30-day challenge before, it for movies, but that was a while back, feel free to read those too if you like.

            Today is day 10 and the topic is “Best Video Game Cut Scenes”.
            I do not like cut scenes.  I hummed and pondered to see what I could make the winner by default and I just don’t like them.  Frequently they take the place of something that could be played, and more often than not it is (and I stress this point heavily) BAD DIALOGUE translated from something that probably sounded clever in Japanese.
            One of the reasons I liked “Bio Shock” so much is that it pushed all of the bullshit stuff into audio logs and left almost nothing regulated to cut scenes.  And by bullshit I mean this kind of writing: “I am just going to just tell you this because there is no way to weave this kind of information into the narrative.”
There is always another light house.
I get that it is difficult to explain certain things via just what is being played, people often tell each other stories about themselves to inform their decisions about things that might appear cryptic or insane to those around them.  Sometimes people just sit in a room and listen to someone talk about factoids and events from around the world just to be more informed in general.  We like it when people have been to school, read some books, and occasionally watch the news.
Novels and movies are “cut scenes” in a sense, but therein lies the problem I have: Games need to be Played.  Even if it is just me picking what my character says, or the ability to move around to see what is happening from another angle or to check out the work they did detailing the room (kind of like how in real life some people like to look around as they talk to someone, taking in details and using them to get a sense of the person they are talking to).
Maybe some cuts scenes can be seen as a breather from the action helping to establish a slight skip in time so that you know your character has not been fighting one long 20-hour fire fight.  But they can do that while still allowing the player to walk around.  Hell, “Doom” is nothing but a long fire fight with monsters, and there are no decisions made by the player except where to go in what order, but I think the longest cut scene in the whole thing is two minutes, and even that involves you walking down a hall.  There is also a kind of issue with what a cut scene is.
This image encapsulates 99% of this game.  Well, more like 90%, the other 9% is the music.
To me a cut scene is a game play break that inserts non-playable narrative elements.  But I have looked up lists of top cut scenes (because I really couldn’t think of anything and figured I could try and get a fresh perspective) and one of the all-time highest listed is the original opening cinematic for World of Warcraft, and another was for Civilization V.  I don’t even consider those cut scenes.  Those things are cut scenes in the way a trailer is a movie.  They have several scenes arranged to set a mood, to help get you in the mindset of what is happening.  There is no narrative element to those openings.  And what is more, some lists have ending credits and commercials as cut scenes.  What?  Guys, FMV music videos are not cut scenes.
So I guess that is where I am on this topic.  I heartily dislike “Final Fantasy” and that gets a stupid amount of good vibes from the online community (why is watching someone else dance a cut scene?  Seriously, I know the character is sending off souls/ghosts to the afterlife, but why is that in a game?  Why is anything in the Final Fantasy universe a game?  Because with the level of linear stuff and the small amount of gameplay they are almost films).

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