Blog Post #3: Because Video Games Have Animated Features in Them… Cutscenes!

Video games are a large market nowadays. When films and cartoons started to become a large part of leisure time in the early 20th century it was because people could immerse themselves in a story. Very much like fiction novels except instead of imagining what was going on the person could see and process exactly what the makers planned for them to see. Video games were just another stepping stone in that timeline; not only could they see the story but they could also participate in it. The best example of this are RPGs (Role playing games) where the user can play as a character and progress the story by finishing certain tasks. But in order to progress the story properly and make the game more entertaining the animators add a special element called cutscenes. Cutscenes are pieces of animation (or live action) where the user cannot control their character(s) and that progresses the story in a film-like fashion.  There are two main type of cutscenes that I have seen that are used quite well in progressing the story and giving certain aspects in order to keep the user entertained.

The first type of a cutscene is where the user loses control of gameplay and a scene used for the plot is played out. A good example of this is with Pac Man World 3.

Pac Man has been teleported into a sewer type place by Orson and needs to make his way out. Some of this information could be assumed but most of it was very much needed to be said in order to move the plot. Without it the user would just being playing Pac Man and have no reason in order to do that. The animation in this cutscene is very simple with shots of the sewer and Pac Man’s mouth moving while he responds to Orson. Nothing to the extreme is going on here but without it, the user would be lost and there wouldn’t be this little piece of entertainment for the the user (and a break for the user’s hands!).

A slightly different type of cutscene has its own name: pre-rendered. When a cut-scene is pre-rendered it means that it was made away from the normal gameplay animation and is usually is animation of better quality. A good example of this is a a scene from Final Fantasy X (well-known for using pre-rendered cutscenes) where the cutscene starts off as a normal cutscene, same animation and no user controls, but morphs into a pre-rendered scene by a simple cut-away.

The cutscene starts with the normal animation and a plot device (this being Yuna’s attempt to get away from Seymour and save her friends Tidus and Rikku). Yuna’s animation is staunch and seems a bit stiff (best for making user controlled graphics) but after Tidus yells “Yuna!” the scene turns into a beautiful piece of animation. Yuna’s skin looks soft, her hair flows in the wind, and the character’s faces become more smooth. The colors have become brighter and the scene seems like it has come from an animated film and not from a video game. After this piece, gameplay begins again and the user is allowed to attempt to find out where Yuna has gone.

Cutscenes are an essential to the plot of a Role-playing video game. Without them there would be not way to further the plot or bring entertainment other than constant game play to the user. It is as if the user can interact inside of a movie and that my friends, sells.

I commented on Jessica Martin’s and Chuck Soohoo’s blog.

Published in: on February 4, 2010 at 9:50 PM  Comments (1)  

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  1. I’m glad someone brought up Final Fantasy X. I played through that game when I was in 10th grade or so, and I don’t think I’ve been as into a video game since. The seamlessly blend gameplay and animation to the point of making it an interactive movie. Other games had similar grandeur, but at the time, it was at the top of them all. By using animation to create it’s own world, with it’s own problems and customs, the characters and the players both learned to operate around these sediments, allowing for the unlikely romance that this game follows, and that is where animation really shine. It has the uncanny ability to really get to its viewers, deeper than just the realm of laughs and gags, and it does so entirely though artifice, arguably the easiest and hardest way.

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