Compared to five or six years ago, are there more cinematic games, or fewer? Will cinematic be the future of gaming?
A while ago, Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann mentioned on the podcast that he had already written the story outline for The Last Survivor: Part III, even though the game hadn’t even started production yet.
Last year, Neil directed “The Last Survivor: Part II” which won praise for its rich details and snappy action scenes, and at the same time, sparked controversy for its plot arrangement. This action-adventure game has a cinematic use of camera and character acting, and the plot unfolds linearly like a movie. Players will inevitably use a word when describing it – “Cinematic Game” (Cinematic Game).
Cinematic game is certainly not a new concept, in the last game generation, there are many such works. Mysterious Seas” has exciting action scenes, like a Hollywood blockbuster; “The Last Survivor” tells a story with detailed graphics and diverse camera work; “Detroit: The Incarnation” is built from a large number of animated episodes. Their graphics texture is close to the real world, the camera use is extremely filmic, and the story structure refers to genre films, constituting the general impression of cinematic games in the eyes of the public players.
The Last Survivor: Part II’s use of camera work is at the top of the game industry, and we rarely even care whether the game plays well or not, but rather write “movie reviews” of its story
The reverence for cinematic games reached a peak five or six years ago. It was always exclaimed that these games took presentation to a new level, and that gamers would always say “it’s like watching a movie” when they praised a game. There was even a wave of thinking – it may not be the mainstream, but it has gained a considerable degree of recognition – that cinematic will be a major direction for the future of gaming.
Today, when the extremely realistic “Unreal 5” engine has been announced and two next-generation consoles have been released, do you think there are more cinematic games, or less?
What exactly is a cinematic game, are we talking about the same thing?
Before happily discussing cinematic games, it’s actually necessary to sort out what exactly we mean by cinematic here.
Cinematization existed in the days when the game storage medium had just switched from cassette tapes to CD-ROMs and when 3D game graphics rendering was low. At that time, it generally referred to games that inserted elaborate transitions and animations. Although there were games like “Ninja Dragon Sword Legend” in the FC era that used illustrations to present the plot, better graphics were difficult to achieve due to the limited functionality. A game that included beautiful animation throughout, like Dragon’s Lair Adventures, was nothing more than an over-the-top attempt in 1983, when it was created, and Dragon’s Lair Adventures had a high demand for hand-drawn animation, making the same model difficult to reproduce.
Entering the PlayStation era, game developers began to use live-action video or pre-rendered animation to show the plot, “X-Files” “Resident Evil” over-the-top animation is like watching a VCD video disc, “Parasite Eve” “Final Fantasy 7” and other games are in the process of adding first-class visual effects of 3D animation. The presentation of video games went to a new era, causing a CG animation boom at the end of the century – players went through a lot of trouble to pass the game, maybe just to watch a few minutes of exciting images, even if the game genre is not much connected with the film narrative to create a 3D animation opening, to attract the attention of cinematic fans, which This has even become a yardstick for many people to measure whether a game is a big production.
Final Fantasy 7 uses pre-rendered 3D animation to compensate for the lack of functionality
In the beginning, cinematography and game content were often separated, and it was more common to play a section of the game (often with poor graphics) and then watch an animation (because it was pre-recorded, often with amazing visual effects). Later, the cinematic narrative began to intermingle with the gameplay. In the era when 3D games mostly took fixed-point shots, “Alloy Gear Solid” took a big step forward in video game narrative techniques with its natural camera arrangement and plot animation that seamlessly integrated the game’s action. The QTE system brought by “Shagi” also achieved a high degree of integration of gameplay and cinematic camera.
Today, along with engine upgrades and performance leaps, as well as the creative minds of developers, cinematic techniques and the game itself have become highly integrated. Nowadays, cinematic games are more often referred to those games that borrow a lot from film and television in terms of audio-visual performance.
In terms of gameplay, the “Mysterious Seas” series and the new “Tomb Raider” series have made the exciting action movie scenes into the gameplay itself that players can actually operate. Graphics, “Crysis” once drained graphics performance, beautiful light and shadow and exquisite tropical adventure is unforgettable, “Unreal” “CRYENGINE” and other engines continue to allow players to move towards the cinematic dream. In terms of script and camera work, the Call of Duty series is increasingly comparable to war-themed movies. From a stylized point of view, there are also games in the history of the game like “Day at School”, which is composed of animated clips throughout the game, so that players can play as if they are watching an animated film “animated” game.
Call of Duty 4″ is no less than a Hollywood war movie in terms of audio-visual experience
In the PS4 and Xbox One generation, the combination of cinematic games and gameplay has changed more, such as the shocking “one shot” of the new “God of War” in 2018, and the “wide linear” narrative of “Mysterious Seas: The Lost Legacy”. The design of the film was further designed to ensure the cinematography of a major production.
In short, over the past decade or so, major manufacturers have been exploring cinematic games. The graphics are becoming more and more “real”, the cinematic features and gameplay are becoming more and more closely integrated, and the related discussions are becoming more and more frequent and extensive.
From the perspective of game history, cinematic games represent many works in a specific period of time and may be classified as a game genre. But from a more dimensional perspective, the language of cinematography is widely used in various media. Basic techniques such as split-screen composition and camera movement are common to animation, commercials, music films, and other fields. Narrative theory in storytelling has a much longer history, going back to ancient Greek drama. From a technical point of view, very often it’s just that as the level of functionality and development progresses, creators add techniques to the game that weren’t available in the past.
So, in reality, it’s hard to go into a precise categorization. After all, in less cinematic games, there is also a certain amount of cinematic expression interspersed. We can only say that when the main body of a game is obvious and significantly film and television presentation, we can call it a cinematic game – the American drama “Mindhunter” can be considered, then the American comic features and film tribute bridge obvious “Heroes” is not considered? Does “Control”, with its small open world and cinematic narrative, count?
These ambiguities show that the definition of cinematic games has a certain ambiguity, and because of this, it is more worthy to be repeatedly discussed.
Video games in the era of cinematography, with evolution and dilemma
After cinematographic presentation became a widely used technique in games, whether because of the creative liberation brought by technological progress or the integration of different mediums of expression, this expression method has brought considerable benefits to the game industry. After the introduction of plot animation and cinematography, games have higher quality transitions and more infectious shots, which also bring impactful graphics, and QTE and other gameplay methods have greatly broadened the interaction of games.
It can even be said that after incorporating the advantages of movies in the visual field, the game can surpass movies in some aspects.
For example, “Little Nightmares 2” has a passage through a corridor level that clearly pays homage to Roman Polanski’s classic thriller “Cold Blooded Fright”. Similar scenes have been seen in various horror films, but in the game, the player personally operates the weak protagonist to dodge around and die if caught, which simply doubles the level of fright. The game’s unique interactive features, immersion makes the clip in the horror of the depressing atmosphere overflowing out of the screen.
Coldblooded Fright” itself is an all-time classic, but watching it on the big screen and doing it yourself will ultimately bring different feelings
Mysterious Seas 4: A Thief’s End” has a car chase scene in the Drake brothers’ escape, with racing, gunplay, and gag-worthy protagonists, all the elements of a classic Hollywood action film. With powerful technical capabilities, Naughty Dog makes chase scenes full of cinematic effects and third-person behind-the-scenes action perspective seamlessly switch, tense and exciting and in one go.
There are many similar scenes in the “Mysterious Seas” series, but of course, from another perspective, you can think of it as “just restoring what was in the movie”.
At the same time, there are many people who oppose and resist the excessive cinematization of the game, citing many reasons and developing some theories.
This category argues that, in a sense, movies and games are born different, and that there is a natural limit to how much the two can be integrated. The literary critic Marie-Laure Ryan, in her narrative book The Transformation of Story, points out that “interactivity” is the main difference between the new media represented by video games and the old media represented by film, theater, and literature. Moreover, narrative meaning is the product of top-down planning by the storyteller or designer, while interactivity requires bottom-up input from the user. “Thus, there needs to be a seamless interface between bottom-up input and top-down design in order to produce narrative patterns of formal sophistication.”
Games that draw on the audiovisual effects of movies do not involve a conflict between these two narrative directions, so they can create a situation where everyone is happy. But problems can arise when trying to graft two narrative devices with very different logics.
Hocking has spent almost all of his career at Ubisoft, designing the Splinter Cell series in its early years and later taking major credit for the crude “engine showcase game “In his spare time, Hocking often writes for the gaming press, and in a review article for BioShock, he said he felt a narrative “dissonance” in the game (Ludonarrative Dissonance). Ludonarrative Dissonance): the characterization of the story and the actual behavior of the protagonist in the game have become detached. Games sometimes have to sacrifice plot logic in order to make the gameplay more “interesting” (in action games, this usually means more action elements and more enemies to kill).
In the relatively distant year of 2007, amidst the critical and industry acclaim for BioShock, this view was indeed novel, and not without merit.
It is perhaps easier to understand by taking the example of The Last Survivor: Part 2, which is much closer to home. Naughty Dog has designed its thinking about violence and revenge from the top down, trying to put players in the moral dilemma of whether or not to kill key characters. But the gameplay they intended for the player was to act as a god of war all the way through the game, killing hundreds of “stragglers” with his teammates as he progressed through the game. According to Hocking’s theory, this is clearly a departure from the original intent of the story.
The developers did try to dovetail two completely different logics: the enemy will call out their names when their companions die, those sneaking through the level to make people annoying dog is usually cute, and so on. But this is another “top-down” and does not fundamentally change the player’s experience of “killing people like heck, not this one”. So, many people can’t empathize with the ending of the story after accepting the battle logic.
If “The Last Survivor: Part II” has any merit in the interactive mechanism, it is probably in the killing method and gore performance more or less made a sense of immersion. In the process of operation, it is obvious to feel the memories of the passage in Joel’s sense of hitting the killers more powerful, the girl Ellie is much softer, and even most of the time the action shaky. To the main story of the youth stage, Ellie’s attack is full of desperate feeling, very different from Abby’s fist to flesh rage. The overly realistic gore is also easy to make the player feel extremely uncomfortable during the killing process.
Perhaps this is the right, the narrative in a silent place into the game mechanics, so that players in the interaction of subtle to feel the story, it is a pity that these factors in the game did not carry forward.
Even if the overall gaming experience is controversial, Naughty Dog can still be praised for its level of detailing
Some of the other problems are familiar. On a commercial level, the cinematography of the game means high costs. If you want to pursue meticulous character performance and environmental details, you will inevitably have to invest more in modeling, motion capture and many other aspects. They have the commercial advantage of stable and high return, but they also raise the threshold of game production step by step, and the project becomes more and more huge.
Twenty or thirty years ago, a top scale video game would not cost more than $1 million, which is not possible today. Cyberpunk 2077″ development costs more than $ 120 million, “The Last Survivor: Part II” development took seven years, the team of more than 300 people, even counting the “small team” works “Detroit: Incarnate”, production costs also reached $ 36 million. At the same time, the price of console games has remained at $60 for a long time, and only recently began to climb to $70. Even if manufacturers can afford to invest so much money, they will be more cautious in creation for the sake of commercial achievements.
The next problem is all connected: the richer the game, the more testing time required will grow exponentially, and it is already common for games to be updated with first-day patches at launch. This problem may not be new, but it has been especially somewhat uncharacteristic in the past two years. The new crown epidemic has left many manufacturers with office problems – delayed releases, miscommunication, and increasing overtime. Naughty Dog, CDPR and other major manufacturers are not immune ……
Wait, we are actually talking about the problems of cinematic games, but why do these problems seem to be similar to 3A, to all the problems faced by the big manufacturers of big productions? Cyberpunk 2077 itself seems to be troubling, it’s a first-person perspective game, its camera language is not so cinematic, but there are always people categorizing it as cinematic, so does it count as a cinematic game or not?
From cinematic game to game cinematic
Most manufacturers have actually answered this question with their actions: from the over-the-top broadcast of the first CD-ROM era, to the techniques that can be seen in various games today, it can be said that cinematization has gradually turned from a vague type of game to a feature and label.
Although there are games like the “Mysterious Seas” series, which can be called cinematic without hesitation, most of the works, cinematography and narrative structure is only one of the elements. Grand Theft Auto 5, for example, is extremely free-flowing and only uses cinematic performances in its episodes; The Witcher 3, with its high level of transitions, has the impression of being more of a role-playing game with an emphasis on open exploration.
Can these games be considered cinematic games? It may be difficult to make such a judgment, but we can say that these games have cinematic characteristics.
Another point is that today’s big games are concentrated in the action and role-playing categories, and cinematic features are seldom absent, but most manufacturers only use cinematography as a way to improve the game’s performance without emphasizing that their games are “movie-like”. For example, the plot of “Souls of Tsushima”, which plays like a samurai movie, is particularly impressive in the design of sword and spear battles; “Death Stranding”, which maintains Hideo Kojima’s usual camera style, is recognized for its unique “delivery” gameplay. The cinematography in these games provides an important expression, but it is not the whole game.
What makes people remember Death Stranding may be the story, but what keeps people playing is the delivery method.
From cinematic games to cinematic games, the cinematic approach has changed from the direction of game production to a means to an end, and most games have wisely stopped being “cinematic for the sake of being cinematic”, and cinematics have since become as common an element in games as role-playing and card draws. -Today, if it replaces the ending illustrations with exciting 3D CG, it is still the combat system itself that deserves attention, just like “Ninja Dragon Sword Story” on FC.
This is probably one of the signs that the game industry is coming to maturity. When Photoshop was first born, art designers couldn’t wait to use all the filters and effects to design complex and fancy anthropomorphic style game UI. Many of them were actually not good-looking, but it was a product of the times, when computer hardware and software were advancing rapidly. When the technology boom receded, when people returned to reason, the simple and bright flat style became popular again, but the anthropomorphic style has not lost its future, gorgeous and good-looking anthropomorphic design is still attractive, and in the right combination, anthropomorphic and flat style can coexist harmoniously.
Back to the question at the beginning: compared to five or six years ago, are there more cinematic games, or less? Will cinematic games be the future of gaming? It depends on your point of view: there don’t seem to be more games that clearly imitate the cinematic style and emphasize their cinematography in their promotions, so those who advocate for a cinematic future may be disappointed. But the naysayers probably haven’t won either, as cinematic games can be said to be ubiquitous as a label and an indispensable means of expression.
The cinematic games of the past sought to “make the game look like a movie,” but today’s cinematic games are a way to “take the game to the next level” when it is already as beautiful as a movie.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/today-are-there-still-people-who-are-obsessed-with-cinematic-games/
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