When I think of cut scenes in a game, I imagine the CGI rendered scenes from Final Fantasy VII, or the animated sequences from Cosmic Fantasy 2 (Has anyone else actually played this game? You totally should). I think these types of scenes are pretty clearly cut scenes.
But what about the vast majority of 2D RPG’s – and even some modern games – that used long sequences of character dialogue? I wonder if those count as cut scenes.
Wikipedia indicates that such scenes do, in fact, count. And let’s face it, Wikipedia has never led anyone astray. But I think that article does leave room for interpretation: at what point do limited control and extensive dialogue translate into a cut scene?
I’ll take a moment to freely admit that this distinction doesn’t really matter all that much. So let me explain what caused me to ponder the question.
I was playing yet another RPG Maker created game, and the intro sequence stretched on… and on… and on. Without any actual control granted to the player. It felt like I had to wait in line for an hour to play the game.
The wait wasn’t worth it. Frankly, I’m not sure any game would have been worth that wait.
Yet, I think cut scenes are a legitimate, perhaps even necessary, plot device in any game with pretensions of a story. I also think that several games have used cut scenes to the point of borderline ruin. Episode I of XenoSaga comes to mind. Several Square games come close.
I like the idea of a game completely stripped of cut scenes, but I think that we may just be arguing semantics when it comes down to whether full control during voice overs or written dialogue (dialogue overs?) are cut scenes. Sure, maybe I get to move around and talk to people, but if I’m still restricted, and still getting plot forced on me, then… Well, it’s not gameplay, so what is it?
But given the option, I know that I, at least, definitely prefer limited control during these sequences, as opposed to a completely passive experience.
I’m left pondering more questions. How do you balance cut scenes with the action? Can you allow the player to retain control throughout the entire game? Can you tell a real story without anything resembling a cut scene? Might as well ask if you can tell a story without dialogue…
PS: My first use of a “non-free, could qualify as fair-use” picture in a post. Hopefully, Working Designs and Nippon Telenet (wait, they’re both defunct) realize that I’m just trying to inspire a Cosmic Fantasy 2 craze. I have fond memories of that game.