Video games cutscenes, love 'em or loathe 'em, they are here to stay. They're not new by any means, what with Square Enix's Final Fantasy series on the PS1 setting a trend for the little movies that play in-game, among others, and Sony's debut console certainly helped to popularise cinematics in video games.
Hideo Kojima went somewhat overboard with them on Metal Gear Solid 2, which contained lengthy and numerous cutscenes which reviewers complained about at the time. But Naughty Dog got especially good at them, with the movie-like scenes that play out in the Uncharted or The Last of Us series being a major draw for the games, rather than a detraction.
However, cutscenes can also be a bugbear. Sometimes a parent or significant other wanders in at an inopportune time, distracting your attention away from the all-important cinematics, or maybe you accidentally press a button and skip the whole thing, or, perhaps it's the nth time you've watched the cutscene and please could we just get back to the gameplay?
But one player has come up with The Three Golden Rules of Cutscenes (AKA the world of gaming would be better if games followed them). His rules are:
1. The player must be able to pause the game during a cutscene.
2. The player must be able to skip a cutscene if they wish to do so (especially on second viewing).
3. The player should not be able to skip a cutscene with the simple press of a button.
Now these rules seem eminently sensible but as 'PurplMaster' on the Gaming Subreddit observed, "it's surprising how many games fail one or more of those rules". They also asked if more rules should be added or whether they should be changed. A discussion ensued.
One commentator recommended some sort of 'Fast forward until a dialogue choice' button for when you need to skip dialogue until presented with dialogue options. Another person pointed out the growing prevalence of walking sections where characters talk but it's not a cutscene. "I think forced walking sections are worse than unskippable cutscenes", they wrote.
"At least I can drink or get a bag of chips while watching the cutscene but not at all with forced walking sections. I like to call them 'walkey-talkey' sections. Cinematic narrative driven games do this way too much in my opinion".
Unskippable cutscenes are a problem for many older titles as it forces players to endure them when they just want to play through that retro sweetness. But the three golden rules do sound like very sensible features that indie or triple-A game devs could do well to heed.
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