You might think that cutscenes are merely part of the game’s development, without much preparation. That’s not right. In fact, when we learn about the production of cutscenes, we realize the truth behind most games: risk if not developed with a plan.
“For us, cutscenes are written months before gameplay is complete, so the team writes cutscenes of moments of climax and emotional tension… when what makes them happen remains unspecified. Figure”. Dead Rising game writer Shannon Campbell shared. “We are self-sufficient and know the difficult goals we want to achieve, but the route to get there is completely mysterious.”
The process is not clear. Take the cue from Assassin’s Creed III and Far Cry 4 creative director Alex hutchison. “Often you don’t want to change the script as late as possible,” he said, “so it can change with adjustments in design and efficiency goals. But you need to have a draft script and strong narration early on if you want to make sure everything fits together.k”
In large projects, due to the need to integrate elements from the actors side to the most advanced rendering technology, once the custcune is set up, changes can be very expensive, if not expensive. it is impossible to do. “Any changes that come later are more expensive,” says Hutchison. “Changing the whole story on the first day costs nothing because you haven’t invested anything, but changing something in the last month is not only very expensive, it may not be possible unless it is something completely different. separation.” Campbell talks about motion capture as an example of limiting options when things take longer. “Depending on how much money and production time you spend on the cutscene, once a cutscene is done and recorded, you can’t do much editing with the physical capture that happened.”
While the cutscenes are written and built, it’s up to artists like Alex Kanaris-Sotiriou to see if they’ll work. “The sketching phase for a cutscene usually begins early in a project when the main gameplay and event/narrative flow are established,” said Kanaris-Sotiriou. “Most producers want their custscenes not to be in alpha in some way (alpha: an end-to-end playable stage using temporary assets). The cutscenes at this point can be animated motion (motion sketches) or raw cutscenes with unfinished camera angles, raw character models, and lame dialogue.” During this process, combining 2D and 3D assets for rough renderings before focusing the resources on them into full cutscenes.
As development accelerated, designers got to work—especially in cases where the cutscene was rendered using the game’s engine. James Henley, former cinematographer at BioWare, reveals a few shortcuts to perfecting the amount of digital content for Jade Empire, Dragon Age: Origins, and Mass Effect: “Working with existing animations , we often blend motion back and forth, or use small pieces of longer motion to add in a completely different action… Extra motion is often added to the jiggle at the beginning or end of other movements. and carefully choose the camera angle to create the action.”
Once the cutscene is in production, it turns to the likes of Michael Elliot, a former Mass Effect 3 content checker to make sure everything runs smoothly. Sometimes it requires replaying a scene over and over again. One day, the job may be to find the problem in Mordin Solus’ final confession. “There was a moment, at the end of the scene,” repeated Elliot, “when Mordin caught Shepard by the throat during the argument and shouted, “I made a mistake!” (I made a mistake) Then everything paused for Mordin to calm down and repeat “I made a mistake”… “During the demos when I tested this cutscene on the computer, there was a brief pause in between. Two dialogues are lost. Without it, this pivotal moment feels wrong, it feels so rushed, you don’t feel what Mordin realizes when he says that.”
“Just a few seconds of silence makes all the difference in the cutscene, helping you realize how well-focused everything in the game is in development, and how I enjoy what I’m doing.”
That’s what everyone on the team aspires to achieve. Just two seconds of rest means a lot.
Developers’ favorite cutscenes
Alex Kanaris-Sotiriou, Polygon Treehouse
Kanaris-Sotiriou appreciates the use of Batman-style sound effects and subtitles in the fight at Governor’s Mansion to give players the freedom to imagine.
Jake Rodkin, Valve
Rodkin recalls the opening sequence in Full Throttle, which was limited by technology, but beautifully crafted, combining pixelated models with 3D vehicle models.
Oxspring recalls the shocking moment when Prince Arthas fell in Warcraft III. “I recall it like this ‘ I understand why it happened, but couldn’t there be a better way?”
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