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Old 11-22-2011, 09:21 AM   #7
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Re: please rate this op-ed piece: “Cinematic” is not a good thing for games...

Originally Posted by RandomRob View Post
Im going to be bold and not apologize in advance for my opinion.
Nobody should apologize for an opinion

But it’s important to note that with all the stylistic tools film has gained as the result of great technological pushes in the last 20 years, this has had no effect whatsoever on storytelling.
I'm not sure if I fully agree with this thesis. But maybe my definition of stylistic tools differs from your's? I think that style is very important for movies. Looking at a still from Blade Runner evokes different emotions than looking at one from Sin City. Despite both being about cities where it tends to rain a lot. Unlike books, movies (and games) can tell a lot without saying anything. Stylistic tools are the language used and as every used language it evolves.

Film is better at telling stories than other mediums.

No, it’s not. At all.
Well, that's one we agree on
For telling a story nothing beats a book
Avatar is only Pocahontas in space. I think becoming such a hit had nothing to do with the story but was the combination of Cameron's fame, curiosity in 3D movies and the resulting hype surrounding the blue-alien-movie.

Let’s talk about videogames.
[...]They require your input, and create storytelling motifs by cleverly fooling you into thinking you are creating narrative with your actions. [...] Do gamers want “cinematic experiences” in games?
If you'd have asked me some time ago if I want more 'cinematic' games, I would have said "yes, pretty please!". I was a big fan of cinematic gameplay and the idea of games "just like movies". I remember the glee when I played Rebel Assault on my PC after I got my new CD drive (double speed!).

I think I was easy to impress back then, and impress it did. I didn't care that much for the lack of choice or being on rails for the most part. Explosions and cutscenes 'just like a movie' were enough for me. Same with the first Call of Duty. Heavily scripted back then already, but the pacing felt just right and I was blown away by the experience. When playing Deus Ex the first time on the other hand, (shortly after it came out) I was turned off by the murky graphics and tedious user interface. I was never a big fan of open world games, since I always felt the world might be open, but it was empty. I remember my bewilderment when playing Daggerfall. Huge area to explore, but I found not much worthwhile there.

It was only after playing Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, when I started to feel limited by my options when playing various games. I don't know what it was about Bloodlines that made me ignore all the game-breaking bugs and list of issues. Maybe that the hubs in Bloodlines felt more like real places to me than they did in a lot of other games? Maybe the fact that I solved the first quest by talking, instead of gunning everyone down as I would usually do? Suddenly I felt limited by Call of Duty, which I adored still, but just a little bit less.

Zap forward some years and we arrive at Uncharted 2. A game so pretty, so cinematic, it appeared like being part of a movie. But also so limiting and restrictive, always only one possible way to get forward. Only one ledge to hold on. As Simon Parkin points out in his excellent Uncharted 3 review:
Originally Posted by Simon Parkin @
Uncharted 3 is the most exciting game in the world, but only until you deviate from the script. Even in this chase the conflict between the developer's theatrical choreography and player-controlled interactions is clear. In order to ensure each set-piece is set off correctly, the game commits the cardinal sin of insinuating you have full control of your character, but in fact tugging you towards trigger points - making sure you're in the right spot to tumble over the bonnet of that braking car, for example.

Likewise, mistimed leaps are given a gentle physics-defying boost to reduce the staccato rhythm of having to restart a section. It's entirely understandable given what the developer is attempting to achieve - an unbroken flow of action that leads to climax - but, at the same time, beneath the spectacle there's a nagging feeling that your presence in the scene is an irritation rather than a preference.

Your freedom of choice risks ruining the shot. Indeed, throughout the game, if you jump into an area you are not supposed to visit, Drake will crumple on the floor dead, Naughty Dog switching role from movie director to vindictive god. That is not your predestined path: Game Over.
I am currently absorbed by Dark Souls, a game that is the least cinematic game I played since... Demon's Souls. A game which is purely consisting of gameplay. There is a story, but it sits in the background. Only sometimes pointing in a non-specific direction, and only if you ask for it. I make my own story there, and by that I am more involved in Dark Souls with it's lack of cinematography than I ever was or will be in (any) Uncharted.
Currently playing: Dark Souls 3
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