Cut Scene Stun

In preparation for the Lord of the Rings Online expansion, I have been trying to pump through the epic quests.  The other night I completed Book 5 with the help of my guild.  The last instance of Book 5 is a mission to stop a Gaunt Lord and Nazgul from resurrecting a dead, frozen dragon in the Misty Mountains.  Once we got to the actual site of the resurrection the whole party was stunned while the scene played out.  It was a really cool scene with the Gaunt Lord sacrificing fell souls and basically trying to zap the dragon back alive.  It was not so cool to see 6 people standing there for a minute wobbling like drunks when we should’ve been Nazgul-bashing.

There are three basic cut scene types.  The first is the Evil Plan Cut Scene where players can move and use skills as they wish but cannot affect the big bad until it concludes the history of its plan to eliminate said players.  The second is the Stunned Stupid Cut Scene where players are unable to move or use skills (although, they are usually equally impervious) but retain complete camera control.  And the third is Cinematic Cut Scenes where control of the camera and player character is taken away to give more theatrical shots one would not ordinarily see in normal play.

Turbine has included all three in Lord of the Rings Online.  You can hop over Samwell Gamgee’s hobbit head to your heart’s content while Elrond bids the Fellowship farewell.  You can get stunned stupid on multiple occasions in order to hear what the thing you will be killing 3 minutes later has to say.  Or, you can allow the developers to show you cinematically how it’s really supposed to go (actually if you watch this example, you can see all three cut scene styles including jumping over the impervious big bad’s head… and SPOILER warning).

Bobby Stein, writing team lead for ArenaNet, discussed in a recent Ten Ton Hammer interview the difficulties of implementing cinematic cut scenes in an MMO engine.  Guild Wars primarily uses cinematic-style cut scenes mixed with some James Bond-style evil plan cut scenes.  In the interview Stein discusses the difficulty of keeping a player’s attention and getting them interested in the lore.  He says the challenge is to impart the story in the smallest space possible.  Cut scenes, in my opinion, are a lot easier to digest than ye ol’ wall o’ text.

I have to say that my favorite is the cinematic cut scenes, and my least favorite is the stunned stupid cut scenes.  Usually the writers and programmers take the time and effort to make a cinematic cut scene a worthwhile break, and if the cut scene is boring I can jump around like a 12-year old needing Ritalin for time-passing amusement in the evil plan cut scenes.  However, with the stunned stupid cut scenes I have to sit there watching my hero drool like an idiot while a Gaunt Lord takes 2 minutes to use its fell-powered crash cart on a decaying dead dragon.  I should be a hero, not an invalid.

…movies make psychos more creative!

11 thoughts on “Cut Scene Stun”

  1. I don’t like the 1st kind as much since it is often the source of bugs and encounters that can’t be finished. How many times have we reached the end of a dungeon only to not be able to finish due to the bugged endboss? In WAR at the beginning a few PQ bosses were annoyingly bugged esp in the dark elf t1 area.

    I guess it’s arguable whether being stunned is more “immersive” than jumping around. Esp the 10th time you kill that boss.

    I like Cinematics the best, but sometimes at the beginnings of games they are probably overused – like the beginning chapters of the Witcher and Mass Effect I felt has too many. I was like “let me play!”

  2. There is a cinematic cutscene at the penultimate climax of the first Moria Book (Vol 2). I won’t give away any details, but it does actually help set the scene and impart the right feeling in the player – or at least it did for me.

    Plus, you don’t have to complete the Vol 1 Books before you can start on Moria. You do have to complete Vol 2, Bk 1 to get into Moria, but it’s soloable, and doesn’t take too long.

  3. Cool, I am looking forward to it. The other problem is I am stuck in the uber-grind (feels like) of the late 40s in LOTRO as a Captain (we can’t farm that easy). Right now I am about 40% through level 47, and I seriously doubt I will be 50 by MoM.

    However, if the LOTRO community stays as friendly as it is… I think I can still get help. I pray that with this expansion Vol. 1 doesn’t go the way of WoW.

  4. Speaking of books, I’m level 37 now and have completed exactly 0 books. Hard to do those things solo and even harder to find a group. I’ve done bits and pieces of the first 4 books, taking book 1 all the way to the last chapter even. I gave up trying months ago.

  5. I should be a hero, not an invalid.
    You are not the hero. Enjoy watching the cut scene where the real heroes get to finish the Big Boss. You are the pig-slaughterer who is occasionally allowed to help the heroes.

    Ethic: “/joinchannel glff” will solve your book-finishing needs. It is filled with off-topic chatter, but it is where you can find the other people you need on Landroval.

  6. @Zubon, been there done that – rarely works for off the wall chapters in the middle of a book when almost everyone seems to be on book 10 or something. I really don’t care, so don’t fret none.

  7. Actually, being level 47 isn’t that bad. The Eregion zone kicks off at about level 48 and will take you through to 50-51(ish). This might actually be a good idea, as there will likely be a large number of people heading straight into Moria, causing a remarkable deficit of quest mobs.

    @Ethic: I’d actually recommend joining a helpful Kinship (if you’re not in one already). All you would need is a level 50 or two to help you complete the majority of the early Chapters. That said, the Chapters aren’t mandatory, unless you want to explore all of Angmar, and you can start those Chapters without having completed the previous ones.

  8. im all for the “stun the player” and show the szene with ingame graphics. i think they are cheaper to produce then cinematics and more immersive then letting the player jump around.

    since im a fan of storyteling in mmos id like to see a lot more cutscenes in game because its one of the few means the devs have to tell a group of players:

    some more of my pov this:

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