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Introduction – Who Are We?. Marty Stoltz Studio Cinematic Director, Midway Chicago Mortal Kombat: Deception/Shaolin Monks, Psi-Ops, The Suffering: Ties That Bind, Sanitarium Richard Rouse III Director of Game Design, Midway The Suffering, The Suffering: Ties That Bind,

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Introduction – Who Are We?

Marty Stoltz

Studio Cinematic Director, Midway Chicago

Mortal Kombat: Deception/Shaolin Monks,

Psi-Ops, The Suffering: Ties That Bind, Sanitarium

Richard Rouse III

Director of Game Design, Midway

The Suffering, The Suffering: Ties That Bind,

Drakan: The Ancients’ Gates, Odyssey,

Game Design: Theory & Practice


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Introduction – Cinematic Games

  • What are “Cinematic Games?”

  • Often people mean:

    • Better/more cut-scenes

    • Better story/dialog

    • More custom-scripted

    • Over-the-top Hollywood action


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Introduction – Cinematic Games

  • Heavily loaded term

  • Avoid “Hollywood Envy”

  • Don’t want

    • Interactive movies

    • Uninteractive games


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Introduction – Cinematic Games

  • Our definition of “Cinematic Game Design”

  • Draw from cinema’s 100-year-old library of techniques

  • Integrate these devices into actual gameplay

  • Not just copying, expands our medium


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Cinematic Technique #1: Rim Lighting

  • Used to “pop” a character from the background environment

  • Can also be used for specific emotional effect

  • Example from:

    Bride of Frankenstein


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Rim Lighting: Gameplay Application

  • Useful in third-person games where the avatar should not disappear in a dark environment

  • Slightly unrealistic, but that’s OK

  • Sometimes referred to as “Edge Lighting”

  • Example from:

    The Suffering


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Cinematic Technique #2: Camera Following a Character

  • When tracking a character, principles of photography apply to the cinema

  • Obey the rule of thirds

  • Avoid “computer” camera moves

  • Example from:

    Goodfellas


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Camera Following: Gameplay Application

  • With a third-person game, always keep the character framed appropriately

  • Avoiding fading out/making the avatar disappear

  • Balance player control with good shot composition

  • Example from:

    Max Payne 2


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Cinematic Technique # 3: Slow Motion

  • Many films have used slow motion to emphasize the beauty/brutality of a scene

  • Can also be used to slow/quicken an event where the audience won’t notice

  • Simulates real-life dramatic events seeming slow

  • Example from:

    Aliens


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Slow Motion: Gameplay Application

  • Lots of games have stylishly used slow motion as a game mechanic or an FX component

  • Slow motion can also be a tool for storytelling

  • Could also be used more subtly

  • Example from:

    FEAR


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Cinematic Technique #4: Subjective P.O.V.

  • Often multiple non-realistic effects can be combined to make the audience see a scene from a particular character’s POV

  • Effects include: FOV adjustment, slow motion, exaggerated lighting, screen filters, audio mix

  • Example from:

    Raging Bull


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Subjective P.O.V.: Gameplay Application

  • Used for literal sensory changes:

    • Drunk (GTA)

    • Drugged/Stoned (Rise of the Triad/Narc)

    • Dream Sequences (Max Payne)

    • Shell Shocked (Call of Duty)

  • Could be used more subtly to indicate emotional state of the main character


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Cinematic Technique #5: Parallel Editing

  • Inter-cuts two scenes that are happening at the same time

  • Great way to build suspense

  • Example from:

    The Silence of the Lambs


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Parallel Editing: Gameplay Application

  • Underused technique in games

  • Not the same as plot-driven cut-aways

  • Perfect for breaking up long navigational sections, if kept short & quick

  • Has to be done carefully to not frustrate or confuse the player

  • Example from:

    Karateka


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Cinematic Technique #6: Split Screen

  • Similar to parallel editing, but different pacing

  • Can be used for suspense or emotional juxtaposition

  • Example from:

    Kill Bill


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Split Screen: Gameplay Application

  • Also underused in games

  • Excellent for in-game storytelling

  • Do not force the player to intently watch multiple views simultaneously

  • Example from:

    Indigo Prophecy


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Cinematic Technique #7: Building Tension

  • Keep the pace changing but maintain a general direction

  • Don’t be afraid to slow things down in an action sequence

  • Use audio to keep the audience on edge

  • Example from:

    Alien


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Building Tension: Gameplay Application

  • Design game mechanics in ways that will give the player some information, but not all of it

    • Motion sensor in Marathon and AvP

    • Radio static in Silent Hill 2

    • Audio design in System Shock games

  • Interactive music perfect for building tension in gameplay


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Cinematic Technique #8: Emotional Setup

  • This technique breaks down the barrier that protects the audiences’ emotions and catches them off guard

  • Can create a roller coaster ride effect

  • Example from:

    28 Days Later


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Emotional Setup: Gameplay Application

  • Perfect technique for scripted/highly-controlled games

  • Many games do some (but can do more)

  • Tricky to do during gameplay, but more effective than in cut-scenes

  • Important to make the emotional manipulation feel logical, not arbitrary


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Cinematic Technique #9: (Mis)Leading the Audience

  • If audience figures out the story: bored

  • If audience can’t figure anything out: confused

    (Both are bad.)

  • Hitchcock said: audience likes to be one step ahead of the story

  • Mislead audience away from what will actually happen

  • Example from:

    A Clockwork Orange


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(Mis)Leading the Audience: Gameplay Application

  • Games have repetitive mechanics

  • Players expect them to work consistently

  • Thus players are susceptible to being misled

  • Be clever/devious in how you mislead, but don’t go for “cheap shots”

  • Example from:

    The Suffering


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Questions?

  • Contact:

    Marty: [email protected]

    Richard: [email protected]

  • Final slides available at:

    http://www.paranoidproductions.com/writings.html


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