Some games do a great job with cutscenes to progress the storyline and immerse the player into the game. Others, not so much. Follow these tips to nail those cutscenes just right.
Let Us Skip Your Cutscene
No matter how much time you spent on your cutscenes, not everyone wants to watch them. I don’t care if you hired the greatest artist in the world, I came to play a game. Not to watch a movie. If I’m not interested in your storyline, I’ll just open another window while I wait for it to finish. So please, allow players to skip your cutscenes.
Don’t Make us Rewatch Cutscenes
You just came to the final boss and everything is going great. You’re about to beat him when suddenly you’re distracted by a lion roaring outside. You turn back to your game, only to find you’ve lost. Disappointed, you hit replay only to find that you’re forced to rewatch the whole introduction cutscene again. Not only have you lost, but you’re punished again for losing by being forced to watch that stupid cutscene. After a couple deaths, the cutscene grows unbearable and that’s when you seriously start considering punching a developer in the face.
Basically, if you want to avoid being punched in the head, don’t make us rewatch those cutscenes.
Don’t Show Moves the Player Can’t Do In-Game
Ever watched a trailer for an upcoming video game and been wowed by the moves the player could pull in the game? Then, once you started playing the game, you realized those moves were only available in the cutscenes.
It’s frustrating when you know the potential power of your character, yet can only pull mediocre moves in-game. So, if you want to pull some awesome moves out in the cutscene, go ahead, but you better have some equally amazing moves in-game.
Make Your Cutscene Interactive
Let the player have some input into your cutscene. They came to play your game, not to watch a video. If they wanted to watch a movie, they would have gone to their local movie theater. So let them be part of the cutscene. There are a couple ways to do this:
- Have players push buttons at the right moment for the player to do an action. Called a Quick Time Event, games like Mercenaries will do this when the hero is hijacking a vehicle. You have to push a certain button on the controller, and your character will throw the enemy out of the vehicle. More powerful vehicles = more button moves. Careful though, because if you make a player sit through a long movie, only to fail the button mashing part, you’ll have an angry gamer on your hands.
- Allow the player to move around in a talking cutscene. During the cutscene, it’s not like the player is going to have any enemies around to hurt him. So let him walk around a little. It gives them a little more sense of control over the action.
- Let them be part of the action. If a baddie is being shot by a sniper in your cutscene, why not let the player actually shoot the baddie. Make it a mini-game of a sorts for your cutscene. Then, if the player doesn’t want to do it, just let them skip the mini-game.