Sunday, 30 September 2012

Turok (2008) Machinima Elements.

I have chosen to do a brief study of the ending sequence from the game 'Turok', released in 2008. I managed to find a video of the PC version:

The video includes lots of gameplay footage, so I will give the times when relevant events take place. The cutscenes here run in realtime using the game engine. This means that there is no varying in the graphics like you would expect moving from gameplay to pre-rendered animations. This seems to be an effective way of keeping the player in the moment. Often when you are taken from a pre-rendered cinematic and thrown straight back into the gameplay, there can be a sense of disorientation and discourse. This is likely why many games opt to run cutscenes on the same graphics as the gameplay itself. The whole experience of immersion is achieved better this way, as both the gameplay and cinematic elements flow almost seamlessly. The two elements seem to merge, sometimes as if the gameplay is expanding on the cutscenes, the player becoming the director and puppeteering the protagonist. 

Another way in which Turok does this so effectively is with the use of quicktime events. A prime example of this is with the knife fight between the hero and the antagonist at 2:30 in the video. The player is required to tap buttons to defeat the antagonist, keeping the player active during the sequence. This means that the player is not simply looking on as the cinematic runs, but interacting with it, maintaining a level of immersion. Another example of this merging of both cinematic and gameplay elements is at 3:40, when the player climbs on the T.rex's head and sticks a grenade in the dinosaur's eye. This cinematic event is triggered by the press of a button whilst the player is holding his knife, meaning that the cutscene isn't too far distinguished from actual gameplay, as an action by the player has determined the outcome. 

Although form a gaming point of view, Turok is simply a generic first person shooter, it works well as a piece of narrative, combing gameplay elements and realtime events effectively. Many games adopt this style of storytelling. I am reminded of the 'Mass Effect' series, where the player is given the ability to choose the dialogue the protagonist uses. This can ultimately determine the player's karma, reputation, and unlock special dialogue options. There are also realtime paragon and renegade (good and evil) events which can be triggered by the player during cutscenes. On top of this, dialogue often takes place while the player is undertaking a mission. Squad mates will often make observations when navigating a level, giving background information on either the characters themselves or the location. There are very few moments throughout the games where the character isn't in the moment. There are almost always dialogue options to be selected or paragon/renegade events to be triggered throughout all of the cutscenes.

In conclusion, I feel that an effective piece of machinima should have some level of interaction from the player. They could simply have the ability to navigate their character within a limited space, a method used in the 'Assassin's Creed' series. Ultimately, it seems machinima is an effective tool for immersion, replacing pre rendered cinematics which were used so frequently in earlier games.

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