Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Quick Time!

A Guest Article by Falco

Quick Time Events (or QTEs) are such marvellous ideas, playing out a highly orchestrated cut-scene like something from one of the best action movies. It started out as the most basic of gaming. In the days of Sega's Mega Drive add-on, the CDi, there were games that were nothing but cut-scenes and QTEs, such as Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, which was merely the first episode which played out in a massive QTE chain. This has recently been brought back by games such as Shenmue, then later God of War and Resident Evil 4, which utilised them them in a much better way; you weren't forced to watch the cut-scenes - you actively took part in them. Running from boulders and engaging in knife-fights in RE4 to impaling four storey high Krackens on broken masts of under-siege ships in God of War. Now that wouldn't look nearly as cool from a 3rd person back-cam.

These days QTE has evolved past cutscenes… kind of. Now QTEs can be a whole Boss fight, such as in Marvel Ultimate Alliance, some bosses can't even be harmed unless you tap the buttons as they tell you. Now that pretty much every game does it, a lot of people are tired of them, but that's more to do with the fact that most are poorly done, forcing them on you from nowhere and having such precise inputs that they just frustrate the player. Blue Dragon was annoying for this minor problem.

The Force Unleashed, however, goes some way towards fixing the problem, once you've suffered through a boss fight, you press X (or square) to activate the finisher. Failure to complete the QTE on some of the harder bosses would have Starkiller parrying and going back to where he started so you could have another go. With easier boss fights you just activate the QTE again.

But the big question is, where do QTEs go from here? Do they stay at the same point giving us something to do in the cut-scenes or do they become something more? One idea that could be used in the future is using them to teach the player without them knowing you've taught them anything, a la Mr Miyagi! For example: in a game the character learns the combo X, Y, X, Y, B. Long and complex with specific timing. This combo is the best weapon against the level's Boss. The player will get a side mission to help a local farm with the harvest, once there they will be given a QTE of X, Y, X, Y, B with loose timing, then get challenged to beat a farm hand at the same task. Beating the farmhand will require the player to pull off the combo, thus teaching them a daunting looking attack without them knowing. It adds fun and when the player reaches the boss they'll be able to nail him a lot easier because of it.

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