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May 2nd, 2021, 09:24
Narrative designer for Wolfeye Studios, Lucas Loredo, talked to Gamesindustry about how he plans to tell a story without using cutscenes in Weird West.

Though plot specifics are under wraps, Weird West's storytelling seems to favor unique player experiences over traditional cutscenes. With this dynamic approach, the real story comes from how the game reacts to player input.

"In my ideal world, honestly, there would be no cutscenes -- which is a weird thing to say as a writer," says Loredo. "I think they can be used effectively… but do they even belong in this medium at all?"

To Loredo, taking control from the player creates experiences that "are not the fullest realization of the medium." What keeps Loredo excited is the search for and continued refinement of an alternative source of storytelling in games that feels more organic.

"What does it look like to tell a super story-driven game without cutscenes?" says Loredo. "How would you make The Last of Us Part II without cutscenes? I don't really know but I'm curious to be a part of figuring it out."

[…]

"The strongest tool I have is imagining environments the player gets to move through in order to communicate to my level designer what the stories of these spaces could be -- the way the scene is decorated and how the NPCs are moving about the space, for example," he says.

For Loredo, narrative design is "the ultimate playground" for writers like him who are "interested in expressing themselves not only through words but also through ideas, objects, sets, and moods."

"[This kind of writing] is so much more vast than [prose] fiction," he continues. "It's sort of like you have a billion toys to play with."
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May 2nd, 2021, 15:28
Not entirely convinced. But it's nice to see they're thinking about it.

Cut scenes give a rhythm to the game and make it breathe, if you will. It allows the player to focus on the narrative, rather than being distracted by the scenery.

Cut scenes usually come with dialogs, which are an important side of the game. For instance, that's when the charisma-related game takes place, to extract information or to influence the world through key NPCs. It's also a way to communicate to the game which choices the player wants to make.

It's great to make the world coherent with the story and push the player to observe and explore it, but I hope it's not at the expense of those other important features.

For the dynamics, perhaps a system like Cyberpunk would be interesting (but more difficult to implement). From the videos I watched, the player can continue to move and act during dialogs, even go away.
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May 2nd, 2021, 17:28
They can be effective and informative, especially to the player, yet I agree with Loredo that they aren't always necessary, meaning cut scenes. One can do a lot with dialogue along the journey, and other forms of period updates.
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May 2nd, 2021, 17:54
Originally Posted by Carnifex View Post
They can be effective and informative, especially to the player, yet I agree with Loredo that they aren't always necessary, meaning cut scenes. One can do a lot with dialogue along the journey, and other forms of period updates.
Actually I prefer dialogues than pure cut scenes, just for the format, not the content. Here I considered both as the same feature because the article seems to do the same. Dialogues as in NWN or D:OS2 are less disruptive but give this opportunity for storytelling, focusing on C&C, and using speech craft.

Here Loredo seems to try and tell the story by environmental clues as much as possible ("Loredo's writing needs to account for constants and variables influenced by the player, which means emphasis is placed on environmental storytelling over dialogue"). It could be quite interesting if it's done consistently in the level design. Instead of generic maps with the occasional obvious clue for the player, it's more customized to what happened, to the story (or at least, that's how I understand it). A bit like a detective's crime scene.
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May 2nd, 2021, 20:43
I find that cutscenes often break the rhythm rather than add to it, but I guess it depends on the the quality and how often they're being used. The timing is obviously a factor as well.
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