Getting straight to the game as quickly as possible: How important is it?

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by codeb0t, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. codeb0t

    codeb0t Active Member

    Oct 31, 2011
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    I'm designing a mini-games collection, and my idea was to link the games with a small story. This would include a short animated cutscene before starting, and also between levels. The idea was to add some theme and charm to the experience.

    If you think about some of the most popular casual games though (Angry Birds, Temple Run, Tiny Wings etc.), they seem to throw you straight into the game, without any extraneous hindrances.

    So, is mercilessly cutting out anything that is peripheral to core gameplay fundamental to a great mobile game? Is there any room for laid back whimsy, or are users inevitably just mashing their fingers on the screen to get bypass anything that isn't strictly gameplay?
     
  2. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    Really depends on the game. Final Fantasy or The Hacker wouldn't be the same without the full story.

    Other games like cut the rope and Angry birds show that one or two pieces of the story are enough for charm.

    Still other games like Zombie Gunner don't have any story at all.

    When in doubt - I take the less is more and nothing is most approach. If my games don't need a feature, I cut it.
     
  3. worldalpha

    worldalpha Active Member

    Jun 29, 2012
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    Hmm, I'm in the process of creating a least one screen to show before the game starts, of the back story for my sniper game, because a couple comments I got were they we thrown into the game with no real idea why they were fighting. I thought a sniper game didn't need it, but I think people are looking for a little something.
     
  4. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    Remember: You don't need dedicated screens to tell stories. The main menu, splash screen and/or loading screens can be used to do that if your game-play isn't enough.
     
  5. ToySoldier

    ToySoldier Well-Known Member

    Aug 16, 2011
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    Just think about the audience you want this game to reach, the overall tone of the game and your design goals. Mini-game collections have a range styles out there, from Wario Ware DIY for the DS to Kinect Adventures on the Xbox.

    The trend right now is to get as many people playing (and understanding) the actual game as quickly as humanly possible. It comes from the thought that people can play any game they want with the tap of a finger and any downtime means that potential to play has been lost.

    It presents an interesting choice if you decide to follow the trend: do you let others come up with the story or do you use all the extra stuff (menus, characters, settings) around the game tell the story? Agent Dash does a particularly good job at the latter.
     
  6. GSnyder

    GSnyder Well-Known Member

    Nov 11, 2010
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    I think there's always room for story and character. But I think most games would be better off if that material didn't come first, as a multi-minute text-and-movie barrier to reaching the actual game.

    The conventional wisdom is that the story "makes you care" about the game action. But I think that's mostly backwards. If you enjoy the game, then you will eventually want to learn more about the backstory and characters. If the game doesn't hold players' attention, they are just not going to care about Hopscotch the bunny who must save the warren by gathering carrots (or whatever your milieu may be).

    In other words, I greatly prefer cut scenes interspersed with gameplay to a long introductory story.
     
  7. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    I'm not sure about this.

    Imagine cut the rope without that original cut scene. Throwing you into level 1 without the cute backstory of 'Feed me candy' would have caused me to say 'WTF is this?!'

    Multi-minute ANYTHING is a bad idea. Players' attention spans (from what I've seen) are limited to multi-seconds at best!
     
  8. I think that it depends in how casual is your game, I personally don't care about any story because I am a pure casual gamer and all I want is to play, but that's just one segment of the market.
    Also remember that creating an animation can take time and effort and if poorly executed can have a negative effect.
     
  9. ColeyWoley

    ColeyWoley Active Member

    Jul 3, 2012
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    Artist, Disparity Games
  10. Zenout

    Zenout Well-Known Member

    'Pac-Man' original arcade, loved the cut-scenes after (guess important?) a few levels. Was always excited to see a new one! I seem to remember being stuck on the 9th key - which was ? cut-scenes later - turned out that was a relatively rubbish achievement to some of the players.
     
  11. codeb0t

    codeb0t Active Member

    Oct 31, 2011
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    #11 codeb0t, Aug 7, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
    A cuter version of Warioware is probably a good description of what I am aiming for.

    For the intro, I was thinking 3 or 4 static screens with partial animation (probably around 10 - 15 seconds in total). For the cutscenes, maybe 1 or 2 screens, 6 seconds at most. Does that sound too onerous for players? To the point it might (consciously or unconsciously) affect ratings?

    I thought it would help to provide some context for the game, and maybe get players a bit more attached to the characters as the gameplay itself is fairly simple and dexterity based.

    Thanks for the feedback so far.
     
  12. HitStop

    HitStop Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2012
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    iOS developer
    Of course, ideally you would be able to try different cutscene lengths and playtest each. Then you have real data to back up your final decision.

    As for the cutscenes themselves, if they are entertaining enough they can probably stretch longer. No one wants long, boring cutscenes. Except Kojima.
     
  13. Shane Turner

    Shane Turner Member

    Jun 16, 2012
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    That's interesting too because when I think of what to my mind are the more successful games in the series, some of the Final fantasy titles (like VI and VII) dropped you right into the action at the start of the game with minimal cut scenes, and you had to actually play the game to start to figure out what was going on. I also like the approach I first saw in Half Life 2 where the 'cutscenes' didn't interrupt the game, you actually walked through and interacted with them. Kept the game going.

    I think cutscenes should be appropriate to the game. If a game is designed to be a diversion and played for small chunks, it makes no sense to take the player away with lengthy cut scenes. AKA the ever-coming classic arcade retro remakes of pong, breakout, etc.. Some of them come with pointless epic back stories that quite frankly aren't interesting and add nothing to the game. S&SEP or Machinarium on the other hand, the story is totally part of the gameplay, and is quirky and interesting. Go back a few years again with Katamari, another quirky game with minimal cut scenes yet still tells a bizarre story..

    Anyway I've nothing in particular against most cutscenes as long as they are skippable. Especially when you pick up a game to play it a second or third time and just want to jump in. Another great design decision--opening cut scene plays before you start the game, on loop.
     
  14. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    This is huge. No one wants to see the same cutscenes on the 3rd of 4th playthrough; and you want your game to be lasting enough for that 3rd or 4th playthrough... right?
     
  15. HitStop

    HitStop Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2012
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    iOS developer
    The man speaks the truth. Pay attention, Square Enix. Don't pull another Crisis Core/Kingdom Hearts.

    1. Include New Game+ feature
    2. Don't allow skipping cutscenes
    3. ???
    4. Profit!
     
  16. nvx

    nvx Well-Known Member

    Jan 7, 2011
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    Cutscenes are important to progress the story (or game) between different maps or levels, definitely not essential.

    But enough information needs to be provided from the outset to put players in the right frame of mind, otherwise they would lose interest in the game very very quickly.


    I think you mean "2. DO allow skipping cutscenes"? ;)

    IMO they should be thinking less about Profits and more about Content (point "3. ???").
    FF13 was great and all but they shouldn't be milking it so much, typical SE.
    I miss Squaresoft
     
  17. HitStop

    HitStop Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2012
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    iOS developer
    #17 HitStop, Aug 10, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
    What I meant was, that was what Square Enix did with Crisis Core. They didn't allow skipping cutscenes, but put in a New Game+ feature, which was absolutely baffling.

    I miss Squaresoft too. Maybe the only way to see what Squaresoft would do with this generation of consoles is to play The Last Story, which both Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu had a hand in.

    Re: topic, pausing and resuming cutscenes Kingdom Hearts II style is really nice as well. It may not make sense if the cutscenes are extremely short, though.
     

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