Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Un-skipable cutscenes: Make the missable, missable

I hate unskipable cutscenes. Amongst gamers, I’m sure I’m not alone in this thought.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like cutscenes at all, because I do. I enjoy a lot of the cutscenes you find in games and feel that in a certain cases they help expand on the story you invest your time in as you play the game. They can drive home the empathy you feel for a characters plight, and help build on the emotional connection to your in game character.

However, what I don’t like or appreciate is when I can’t decide “You know, enough of this, I want to carry on with the game”. I paid my 40 quid, let me play MY game. I think this is especially true if I have finished the game and are currently replaying it.

You know the cutscenes I’m talking about; end of a level, beginning of a level, when you meet a new character, or when you get to one of a hundred inciting incidents in games these days. What I find unforgivable is where a decision has been made that I shouldn’t be allowed to skip these if I so wish.

Yes, we appreciate that a lot of work has gone into your cutscenes. Yes we appreciate that a lot of money has also gone into your cutscenes. But we, as the gamer, want to be able to skip your visually impressive and massively expensive foray into movie making and get on with playing the game.

If I bought the game to challenge myself and experience all of the lovely new mechanics and systems you offer to me I want to be able to play the damn thing. Don’t make me break off my immersion into the world you have created and sit through minutes, sometimes 10’s of minutes, of unskipable exposition.

If you really want the player to experience and enjoy your cutscene allow the player to interact with it; put it as an unlock in the front end so they can watch it again and again (yes, if possible, allowing them to use the functionality we expect to have when watching a film such as pausing, rewinding, zooming etc). Do something interesting with it; string cutscenes together with comic book style recaps of the gameplay in between them - allowing the player to replay your game as a mini movie.

But above all, allow the player to play the game if they so wish. Allow them to move on, and come back to the cutscene later on at their own free time.

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