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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Poor Cutscenes

I've got a longer rant brewing about this, but I'd like to offer up a simple public question.

How come Half-Life 2 and I Love Bees are both lauded as examples of neuvo game narrative when they are, in fact, diametrically opposed? On one hand cutscenes are so dreaded that they are to avoided at every angle, which is apparently the new black ... but on the other hand you have a game which ended up being primarily nothing but a reason to get cutscenes?

5 comments:

Finster said...

I think your question is way too oversimplified. Why must two things be the same in order to be classified as the new way of doing things? In the early days of Rock and Roll, I wouldn't classify Buddy Holly and Little Richard as having the same sound, in fact, in some respects they were very much opposites.

And I don't know anyone who has called I Love Bees "Neuvo Game Narrative". Marketing? Yes. 21st century radio drama? Yes. The best hype machine ever conceived of? Yes. But I don't think anyone is going to classify it as "the new game narrative".

Josh said...

It's not that I believe there is "a" new way of doing things, but rather putting it out there that perhaps we give things too much credit for simply being new without maybe going into them with enough depth.

I read one column about how masterful it is that Valve pulls off an entire game without using a single cutscene (a point, actually, that I argue ... Half-Life 2 has cutscenes, it just utilizes an interesting perspective during them). Then I read about how innovative ILB is, even though all the ardent tasks in that game were designed to deliver cutscenes.

I'll go into more detail later today, but in short I was angling towards the fact that both games actually do have cutscenes ... and that's a good thing. Cutscenes can be yummy.

As for ILB being neuvo game narrative ... heck, it was featured at an exhibit at Berkely about it's impact on culture. That's pretty neuvo, imo.

Winkyboy said...

One thing I feel is important about gaming is the time aspect. Not only do I not even have time to play many games any more, I don't want to waste too much time with cutscenes. I got bored quickly with HL2's "hurry up and run to the next movie" concept (And yes, they are movies when you sit there and watch them -- even in first-person perspective)...

...yet I didn't even have time enough to FIGURE OUT "I love bees". I visited the site a few times, but every time I left saying, "Why waste my time with a game that wants me to figure out what it is?"

Even in editing, which is really where I spend and game time nowadays, I've found that players out there do not go for exquisitely-crafted maps where they have to hunt down secrets. People want to jump into the beauty, but be able to figure out at a glance what they need to do.

...

So it's slightly off-topic, but there you go.

TheOldMan said...

The new black?

That was the point back in 1999 when the original Half-Life was released. The no cut-scene style is just continued in the second release.

Josh said...

I got bored quickly with HL2's "hurry up and run to the next movie" concept

Right. In some ways HL2 method of cutscenes (or scenes to be precise) were just as jarring as the normal cutscenes I've heard put down so much.

And ARG's definately have a high barrier to entry. You practically have to hunker down in one of the more settled communities just to get your footing.

And that's one of the problems. With enough focus, there's very few word puzzles that can't be solved within an hour. Before ILB went all payphone, you'd generally hear about some of the puzzles only after they'd been solved twice over.

That was the point back in 1999 when the original Half-Life was released.

True, though it wasn't quite as cinematic as it was in HL2 and didn't spark nearly so much anti-cutscene rhetoric from the industry.

Another game that comes to mind is GoldenEye. No cutscenes, and the scenes in that game were more fluid to the action.