Friday, February 27, 2009

Watching a...and...Trailer?

Over the past week, I've had to revisit some ideas and preconceptions I've had on the ol' cutscene issue once again. As I've found out in my latest DFB through Xenogears, "scene" is a very broad term which has in essence given a face to some sort of evil in the gaming community. I've always enjoyed games that use them more, but I always recognized this as a crutch becoming more and more of a blatant use. Don't get me wrong, I still hate how they're being used; I'm just a bit more open now to the extent.

A large point of contention most would have with me here is my personal favorite game of all time, Metal Gear Solid (1998). If I hadn't played MGS at the time and place I did, I guarantee I would be ten times as more critical of cutscene usage now. Because of this, I'm looking at the point a little more pensive than I was this time last year. What I came to grasp not too long after making that post was how stuck up I was being in the first place. Like I stated in my last post, games have to translate whatever they're trying to convey in order accomplish anything worthwhile.

I don't necessarily like when someone plays the "a game HAS to play card" with me, because I can't really bring myself to argue with it, I just know that I don't like the statement at all. It may be the signifying distinction of the medium (that I won't argue). However, I don't pretend to let it govern my perception of it, it's far too limiting for me to even begin to look at it that way.

With posts like Michael's turning up this past week, it's hard for me not to revisit the concept again (also you can see it from me specifically at the current roundtable at Forwards Compatible). I thought I would bring this up now, as I've run into this what...three times over the past month now? I should stop there though, as I may be starting my annual playthrough of the MGS titles sometime over the next few months and I'll have to beat that dead horse (that I've already killed with a stick)...once again.

"My current problem is that I haven’t figured out how these scenes can be further engaged by the player. Then again, I’m not going to play martinet for “NO CUTSCENES” (further illustrating the point of one-track minds...heh). Games should be able to have scenes when they need them…perhaps this IS just one of those instances."
--- DFB - Xenogears Fraction VII

Another thing I wanted to briefly visit is the nature of video-game trailers, as it stems from a similar issue. The vast majority of games always seem like all flash when they're presented in most trailers or commercials and it's because of how that hook that goes in with watching all over again. Unless the game is minimalist (i.e. Everyday Shooter), we're typically watching cutscenes in tune with insultingly ostentatious music. It's either going to dip into being pandering or confusing ("Is this meant for me or the masses?"). In my opinion, Hollywood's infiltration of the game's industry is at it's most noticeable here. As a trailer is the baby of that medium. It's not ours.

Does this mean we should be asking for a glimpse of what the play looks like? Developers seem stingy showing such things now (or am I mistaken?). Should demos be even more of an available privilege for us? I don't know, I can think of some pretty good examples of how demos ruin or distort things concerning the final product. The only thing I can think of where a game has to the "right" to promote in such a fashion is once again...MGS, where it's directive to be a "serious parody" of Western film is up front and center. I just don't really see it in anything else. Of course, some games begin to approach this on their own terms as individual pieces, but it's almost more implied in most of these that marketing is dumbly running things...as usual. I guess their job is to solely notice what sheep will buy...that doesn't mean I have to like it any more. I actually feel compelled that it's my job to hate it...