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Cinematic Game Design III

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  1. Cinematic Game Design III Action! * orNine (More) Ways to Make Your Game More Cinematic Without Adding Any More Cinematics Richard Rouse III and Marty StoltzGame Developer’s Conference, 2009

  2. Introductions Marty Stoltz Cinematic Director Big Huge Games Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Stranglehold The Suffering: Ties That Bind Mortal Kombat: Armageddon Mortal Kombat: Deception Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks Psi-Ops Sanitarium Richard Rouse III Lead Single Player Designer Kaos Studios Wheelman The Suffering The Suffering: Ties That Bind Drakan: The Ancients’ Gates Centipede 3D Damage Incorporated Odyssey Game Design: Theory & Practice Some Games We’ve Worked On Slides available online – link at end of presentation

  3. What is a “Cinematic” Game? • Not the “bad” definition • Shouldn’t mean non-interactive • Learn from, do not copy • Use established filmic techniques to craft an emotional experience • Integrate the devices into gameplay

  4. Talks of GDCs Past Cinematic Game Design The First • Rim Lighting • Character Framing • Camera Following Character • Slow Motion • Subjective P.O.V. • Parallel Editing • Split Screen • Building Tension • Emotional Setup • (Mis)Leading the Audience

  5. Talks of GDCs Past Cinematic Game Design II: Storytelling • Exaggerated Camera Angles • Voice Over Narration • Image Juxtaposition • Audio Juxtaposition • Visualized Thoughts • Altered Reality • Misdirection • Picture within Picture • Visual Storytelling

  6. CGD3: Action! • Action games are superior at tension and immersion • Action movies are great at pacing and imbuing combat with meaning • Cinematic techniques allow us to instill more gravitas in a game’s action, without making it less interactive

  7. Technique #1: Starting a Fight • Entrances can have different styles and can set the tempo of the scene • Fight scenes composed of small sequences/”fight blocks”: • The Entrance • The Fight • The Special Event • The Finish • Examples from: Conan The Barbarian

  8. Starting a Fight:Gameplay Application • A new enemy is positioned in a highly visible but unreachable position • Immediate understanding of how the creature behaves • Enemy gets to wreak havoc before player can do anything about it • Companion NPC provides reinforcement • Example from: Half-Life 2: Episode 2

  9. Technique #2:Pacing a Shootout • Stylized slow motion can be used for different purposes • Direction of action can be chaotic or precise • Amount of shooting defines the pace • Examples from: The Wild Bunch The Untouchables

  10. Pacing a Shootout:Gameplay Application • Mexican stand-off starts with a brief non-interactive setup • Mini-game builds on gameplay of the main game, but with altered mechanics (unjustified) • Recreates a trademark dramatic situation • Example from: Stranglehold

  11. Technique #3:The Suspense Change Up • Build to a moment the audience is expecting • Unexpected event alters the payoff • Often we arrive at the same destination but take a different route to get there • Examples from: Unforgiven Dawn of the Dead

  12. The Suspense Change Up : Gameplay Application • Some of the player's abilities are taken away (carefully justified) • Remains highly immersive • Player must quickly master surprise situation with somewhat altered mechanics • Example from: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

  13. Technique #4:Car Chase Camera • Different scenes view the car from different perspectives • View of the driver is important, altering immersion • Examples from: The Hidden The Bourne Supremacy

  14. Car Chase Camera:Gameplay Application • Third person camera makes experience playable • Shooting transitions to almost-POV shot from within car • Works better for gameplay and drama • Emphasizes the main character • Example from: Wheelman

  15. Technique #5:Foot Chase Tension • Use open shots to see both pursued and pursuer • Use close shots to see either the pursued or the pursuer • Example from: 28 Weeks Later

  16. Foot Chase Tension:Gameplay Application • Player is deliberately kept weak and weaponless • Heavily scripted, without being too obvious • Situation is “unfair” but forgiving • Example from: Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

  17. Technique #6:Getting a Sense of Height • How to add suspense to a scene with continuous danger • Different shots can be used for scale • Selectively show the ground to focus on other things beside danger • Example from: Saboteur

  18. Getting a Sense of Height:Gameplay Application • First person perspective immerses with feeling of real world vertigo • Forgiving controls, but with tense “just avoided falling” animation • Falling to your death is uniquely disturbing • First person creates a world awareness challenge • Examples from: Mirror’s Edge

  19. Getting a Sense of Height:Gameplay Application • Long shot of objective to be climbed • Third person perspective allows you to understand what you’re climbing better • Less immersive • “Synchronize” and “Jump Off” mechanic emphasizes sense of height • Examples from: Assassin’s Creed

  20. Technique #7:The Unexpected Location • Throws the audience off a bit • Environment presents unusual obstacles and unusual solutions • Can be used to change the mood of a scene • Example from: Enter the Dragon

  21. The Unexpected Location:Gameplay Application • Carefully chosen familiar yet novel place for a gunfight • Space feels real and functional • Clever player gets to go "behind the scenes" • Example from: Duke Nukem 3D

  22. Technique #8:The Confusing Environment • Throws the main characters off a bit • Nature of the location makes the viewer feel vulnerable • Break from reality gives us a chance to play with surreal effects • Example from: The Lady from Shanghai

  23. The Confusing Environment:Gameplay Application • Confusing space keeps players guessing, constantly on edge • Player feels he's never safe, even though it is not dangerous • Allows for self-referential naval gazing • Example from: Max Payne 2

  24. Technique #9:The Intimate Death Scene • Stylized slow-motion draws out the event and can focus on suspense and brutality • Often audio is distorted or drops away • Can be used to wrap up the story or characters • Example from: The Dead Zone

  25. The Intimate Death Scene:Gameplay Application • Everything is kept first person, extreme character close-up, forces the player to be “hands on” • Tie to the plot and core mechanics • Example from: Bioshock

  26. The Intimate Death Scene:Gameplay Application • Death is most meaningful when the player spends game-time with a character • Cameras and fancy graphics not necessarily required • Example from: Planetfall

  27. Nine Cinematic Action Techniques • Starting a Fight • Pacing a Shootout • The Suspense Change Up • Car Chase Camera • Foot Chase Tension • Getting a Sense of Height • The Unexpected Location • The Confusing Environment • The Intimate Death Scene

  28. Questions? • Contact: Richard: Marty: • Slides (& previous year’s slides) available at: Special thanks to Coray Seifert for a lot of video tomfoolery.