Terminal Texts vs. Cutscenes?

lpetrich
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Post: #1
That's one very nice aspect of Bungie's Marathon series that has seldom been imitated, and usually not very well. I like that feature because it can add some nice context to a game world, and because Bungie had used it so well.

Which brings me to cutscenes, either prerendered or engine-rendered. Although I've seen some very nice ones, their impact to me is not quite the same. I suspect that that is because it is easy to read and reread text at one's leisure, which is relatively difficult to do with a cutscene.

Yes, I remember wanting to read some of the books and stuff that I'd come across in the Tomb Raider series.
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Joined: 2002.06
Post: #2
Quote:Originally posted by lpetrich
That's one very nice aspect of Bungie's Marathon series that has seldom been imitated, and usually not very well. I like that feature because it can add some nice context to a game world, and because Bungie had used it so well.

Which brings me to cutscenes, either prerendered or engine-rendered. Although I've seen some very nice ones, their impact to me is not quite the same. I suspect that that is because it is easy to read and reread text at one's leisure, which is relatively difficult to do with a cutscene.

Yes, I remember wanting to read some of the books and stuff that I'd come across in the Tomb Raider series.

Note: I'm going to use 'spectator' to refer to the player in this because that's the classical word used when talking about film narratives

Metroid Prime is the closest I've seen to Marathon's narrative model. However, it destroys it with occasional cut scenes.

The reason Marathon was so original, and it's story had such impact, was that it presented a "restricted narrative". Almost every other game has had either: 1. no narrative structure at all (Quake) or, 2. an "unrestricted narrative" (almost everything not falling into category 1). A restricted narrative like Marathon helps the spectator (player) strongly identify with the subject of that narrative. By presenting an less restricted narrative - giving the spectator (player) more information than the subject (game character) has - you make it harder for the spectator to identify with that character. Almost all cut scenes are implicitly unrestrictive as they show events or information that the subject would not be privy or have access to.

Marathon is an extreme example of a restrictive narrative in that everything that the spectator knows comes either from the subject's back story (in the manual) or through the subject's eyes. This allows the spectator to subliminally, but strongly, identify with and project their self into the subject.

"He who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom."
- Gandalf the Gray-Hat

Bring Alistair Cooke's America to DVD!
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Feanor
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Post: #3
I think the equivalent to terminal texts in a visual setting would be recordings of events, like they view through the helmet cut scene in Halo. That was excellent design, although the acting had its ups and downs. A slightly lower-tech version of that would be to allow the audio to be played back in the same way that one can return to a terminal and re-read its contents. It would be nice to have audio/text replay in one's wearable computer, instead of needing a terminal, although in Marathon the terminal was clearly important as a location goal signifier.

I would be interested in seeing more cut-scenes that offered some limited user-interaction and were displayed in first person so that you could move your own eyes around while the other characters were talking. Or did they do that in Deus Ex? I only played the demo. They had that guy talking to you in the corner of the screen.
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Post: #4
Deus Ex uses everything but the kitchen sink: Characters talking to you while you look at them, noninteractive cutscenes, discovered text, "broadcasts" talking to you over the radio... A better example would be Half-Life, in which you are always in a first-person view. Halo uses primarly 3rd person cutscenes, the "helmet cam" was an exception.

Text is really best for providing background information, it was a bit clumsy when Marathon tried to use it as a time-sensitive message relevant to your immediate environment.
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