With two weeks to go from today, I thought I should plug that I’ll be speaking at the Montreal International Game Summit, with the talk entitled Cinematics Sans Cutscenes. Here is the abstract:

Cutscenes are a divisive subject amongst videogame developers. We rely on them as a relatively production-safe solution for imparting exposition and story progression, to give the player objective location information, and to reward achievement and successes like level completion. However, they cut more than just the camera. The flow, immersion, and most of all, interactivity uniquely enjoyed by the medium of videogames all take a hit for their (often unskippable) duration.

In their defense however, attempts to forego their inclusion can result in a weaker visual presentation and take us further away from an emotional connection with characters and story. Additionally, a quick scan of screenshots previewing upcoming games illustrates our growing reluctance as an industry to present titles from the in-game perspective, where cameras are rightly skewed towards gameplay.

This talk explores various techniques used by games over the years to create a cinematic look outside of the traditional reliance on cutscenes, with the pros and cons of each, finishing with suggestions on how these might be combined in the future to offer cinematic moments while keeping the player in the game.

Takeaway: Techniques alternative to cutscenes for imparting interactive story and cinematic moments in games.

Intended Audience: Game Designers, Writers, Animators and those involved in storytelling.

Should you be attending the conference please stop by at 2.45 on Monday afternoon. If at least one of my observations is taken onboard then we might just reduce our reliance on cutscenes for storytelling.