ComptonTerry wrote:Ehh, I dont really care. Still waiting doe the day a video game movie isnt lame as fuck. Also I guess I should just come and say... I never loved the games. I Enjoyed parts but I didnt find they added up to very much. I thought Naughty Dog got it right with The Last Of Us and I'm mostly with everyone when it comes to that, but I did not get the love over these games. People praised the cinematic sequences as if they were groundbreaking, but MGS and many other things had gone far beyond what Uncharted did with cinematics years before, and people praised story telling but I never could relate to Drake or anybody and thoughttrue dialogue was really bad much of the time. The first one I think is extremely mediocre, the second one okay i can see why people really enjoyed even if i didnt. I still dont get how it was ground breaking or revoutionary, but I did think it was enjoyable and could see how somebody could love it. Didnt bother with the third one. I won't go on because it's not totally relevant to this topic, but I guess that came up in my mind when I saw this.
First of all, don't get me wrong. I don't think the Uncharted series is a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but I can acknowledge just how damn well made they are. I think that why people thought that Uncharted got cinematic right over MGS is because it did it more like a game. What MGS would have done in a cutscene, Uncharted did as interactive set pieces. Mixing the engagement of gameplay with the beauty of cinematography. These two levels from Uncharted 3 illustrate what I'm talking about:
In many games before Uncharted, moments like climbing the debris of the plane or walking across the desert as the camera pans far away from you were done in cutscene with a quicktime event as the height of interactivity. Many games try to go for a more cinematic approach but fail at engaging the player, but fail to realise that film and games are different mediums. Games aren't passive like films. Even the MGS series, which I love, can fall into traps of lengthy cutscenes and unimmerse or disengage the player, and few developers know how to fix this. For example of how this can be done poorly, let's look at Resident Evil.
Okay, first of all there's the aspect ratio. Uncharted keeps its aspect ratio the same no matter if the player is in control or not. In something like Resident Evil, the cutscenes go into widescreen, introducing black bars at the top and bottom. It's unintentional, but this creates a subtle hint to the player that they're no longer in control. After all, the first ten times this has happened, it was safe to put down the controller. The player expects that. So when a quicktime event like this occurs, it catches the player off-guard, and often in a more unpleasant and annoying way than a jump scare.
Secondly, the button prompts are random. If you fail and have to redo it, don't expect it to be the same button. The maximum amount of input from the player in this set piece is a series of random button presses. The choice of buttons don't correspond to the rest of the game's controls, which not only disjoints the continuity, but it makes the player's input have less of an impact. You subconsciously realise that you didn't shoot that one dude since you didn't even pull the trigger that does so for the rest of the game.
Thirdly, there's a large lack of interaction. The characters do most of the work, while the player has no challenge to overcome other than a very simple reaction-time minigame. All these sacrifices in the name of making games feel more like movies, like some younger brother trying on their siblings clothes to look cool, only to look silly in that oversized jacket. Okay, that was a random metaphor, moving on.
Now how would Uncharted take on a challenge of blending a cinematic experience while keeping the key interactive elements of the gaming medium? Well, in that Uncharted 3 scene I linked to, there's a brief fight with a tough guy on the back of a plane. It has a ton of views, complex physics going on in the engine, and interesting camera angles. Yet that fight is all in real time, in control of the player.
You may notice a camera zoom in just as the fight starts. Unlike other games where this is a signal that control is coming back to the player, control is already there. You can move around, try and get some distance, get up close and personal with your opponent, whatever. You're the director, you're the actor, you're in control.
There's also a brief button prompt that comes up at some points in the fight, as the camera cuts up close. Triangle. That is important because what it does when the button prompt comes up and what it does for the game's melee system in general is exactly the same. It's a counter. You deal the blow because you know that that is what you do. The prompt isn't the star of the shot, it's just a hint for those not quite used to the sudden cut to know that they're supposed to counter, just like the rest of the game. Keeping the continuity, keeping the focus on what you're doing. You're not just pressing buttons, you're fighting a giant on the back of a freaking plane. That's engagement.
From a technical standpoint, the engine and physics are a big deal. Using the engine to enhance the scripted sequences. For example, there's the famous train level from Uncharted 2. Everything about that level, the way your aim sways as the train goes around a bend, the individual physics of each train car, all of it took a tremendous amount of effort since game engines aren't built for that sort of thing. In fact, that whole level took two years
for the developers to design, program, and test to get just right. When those sorts of set pieces come up at most other studios, they either put it in a pre-rendered cutscene or make it completely scripted. From a layman's point of view, it's like a rollercoaster compared to driving down the road in a car. The rollercoaster's all pre-determined for you, you're on-rails. When you're driving, there's still a ton of things keeping you in a certain lane, driving at a certain speed, but those conditions are almost random, and give you just that tiny bit of control. To put it more bluntly, the design philosophy of these set pieces for Uncharted are not for you to ride someone else's ride, but to enjoy your own.
Lastly, there's the importance of camera control, or the lack thereof. When players get control of a camera, they often lose sight of what they're supposed to be looking for. With Uncharted, the camera's a little more independent. It can zoom in, out, pan, all while keeping the subjects that need to be focused on in focus.
To summarise, Uncharted didn't invent cutscenes. They didn't invent huge set pieces. But it utilized them in the way they arguably should for games. Games are not films, and this is often the reason for them never being good bed-fellows apart from the odd documentary like King of Kong. They shouldn't be treated as the same, but should learn from each other. Just as films have learned from theatre, games have learned from film. The importance is to apply those learnings and deviate from them. Films drifted away from theatre into the art of cinematography with movies like Citizen Kane. Gaming drifted away from film into the art of interactivity with games like Uncharted. And maybe if films can learn from games, we might just get a good adaptation.
Did I just write an essay in response to a post on an internet forum? I have got to stop staying up so late.