The way conversations are done in most games now is so boring



  • BioWare popularized this crap. Where previously these conversations would be presented as cutscenes with lots of different camera angles, timed sound effects and appropriate music, and characters moving around the scene, doing things, now the camera just switches from face to face while the dull background music continues uninterrupted and the same few animations are repeated.

    Youtube Video

    Youtube Video

    I can’t stand the second example. I’ve started skipping Control’s dialogues because they’re delivered with so little imagination, and there are tons. In most of these games, including Control, the dialogue options don’t even change the outcome of the story, so the conversations might as well be cutscenes.

    I’m not using Metal Gear Solid 3 as an example of great writing. This is about the presentation.



  • I kinda agree with you. Well, I DO agree with you but the games industry is unnecessarily sheltered and only recently do they begin to open up about how the process of making games works. From what I understand, these kinds of cinematic cutscenes and dialogue scenes are improved with time and budget.

    Most companies nowadays create an algorithm for their camera angles in dialogue scenes or cutscenes. BioWare went the extra mile and tried making algorithms for animations which was a mess in its own right.

    The thing is, it actually works sometimes. You’d have no idea but CD Projekt Red uses this method in The Witcher 2 & 3. Most dialogue scenes in that game look amazing. OTS shots, wide shots, panning low angle dolly shots. They go hands on and have cinematic directors for key scenes and every scene gets reviewed and approved but the algorithm is there and it works.

    Control is pretty bad with the standard 3 cam setup for dialogue. Over-the-shoulder, over-the-shoulder, wide. Rinse and repeat. It definitely gets old, but what else can a AA-budget game actually do?

    AA-budget games are expected to look, feel, and play on the scale of AAA-budget games. They’re reviewed and treated the same but the resources are different. It’s kinda a losing situation if you ask me.

    Also kinda leads to a greater issue that John Carmack brought up in his Joe Rogan interview. Games cost so much money nowadays. Salaries are high and the quality expectation is high and it takes so long. In the end, the budgets can go BIG. It’s not unusual for a company like Ubisoft or Rockstar to spend $100M-$500M on a big game. So therefore, you want the biggest return possible and you get games that are “focus tested to death” meaning you get similar feeling games. So I find a lot of games like Control come off as super commonplace with its DNA coming from many other games. Despite having some of its own identity, Control and other AA games have to feel like the AAA ones but they come off as lesser in many ways.



  • I think it's important to remember that video games are still a young art form. Developers are still playing around with the medium to try and see what works. I think many of the older examples that you probably liked were trying to replicate film, whereas more recently creators have been trying to incorporate the interactivity that is the cornerstone of the experience. I'm also not a fan of the shot-reverse-shot system that seems to be in every game, but I get why it's there. The difference is that gaming is much more beholden to the available technology than any other medium. I haven't played the Witcher yet (can't wait for the Switcher), but from what @DIPSET says it sounds like they're starting to figure out how to make these scenes more visually engaging. Usually it only takes one or two visionaries and people will start aping and improving on their techniques - I like to give Calvin and Hobbes as an example for how Watterson challenged the way comics could use the physical space of the page to tell a story, and Watchmen for how Moore and Gibbons used their book to comment on both culture and the medium itself. Give it some time and others will catch on and begin to improve as well.



  • L.A. Noire is an example of how bad the direction of games cinematics is. You've got the genre you're trying to be right there and they still mess it up. It has all the detail and art design, but it doesn't look like film noir in the slightest---there's no attention to how those films were crafted or even written (though that's a different issue). I think some of it was the technology though; the process they used to do facial capture required a lot of light, so everyone has washed out faces and the environments are very flat and pale.



  • @ezekiel This is honestly one of the few negatives I can say about Control. I especially hate the internal monologue facial shots.



  • @naltmank said in The way conversations are done in most games now is so boring:

    I think it's important to remember that video games are still a young art form.

    No, they aren't.

    Developers are still playing around with the medium to try and see what works. I think many of the older examples that you probably liked were trying to replicate film, whereas more recently creators have been trying to incorporate the interactivity that is the cornerstone of the experience.

    They're still trying to replicate film with these half-baked cutscenes, except now they are doing it worse. I would rather have a conversation with any NPC in Zelda or NieR: Automata or FromSoftware's games, simplistic as those are. Give me that or give me good cutscenes. This lifeless in-between style is so fake and bland.



  • I agree both the opening 2 posts. They should have just made controls cutscenes into tapes that have you listen on a mobile. Horizon had this but it wasn't bad and it wasn't the only way information was passed onto the player.



  • @ezekiel said in The way conversations are done in most games now is so boring:

    No, they aren't.

    I can't think of any that have started more recently. Pong came out in '72 -- less than 50 years ago.

    And my point is that as they've incorporate more interactive elements, they've hit a snag where they have these boring dialogue moments that you don't like. I can't speak to Control, but the consensus seems to be that it's especially egregious in this regard. I'm also a fan of the more simplistic 'interact with character to hear their line' that you get in most standard rpgs, but I also recognize that those kinds of moments are inherently more passive. I think Mass Effect was when I started noticing these new kinds of systems becoming more prevalent, and that only came out in 2007. It seems that the movement has been towards more in-depth choice/dialogue options, as opposed to making those scenes more visually interesting, which I'm guessing you would prefer. I would prefer that as well, but if you think of progress as piece-meal I think you should have faith that games will progress to a point where you can have the same level of interaction with NPCs that these current games are trying to push while also maintaining a semblance of visual flair present in more classic-style cutscenes. My guess is that we'll get there in the middle of next generation, but who's to say.



  • @naltmank said in The way conversations are done in most games now is so boring:

    @ezekiel said in The way conversations are done in most games now is so boring:

    No, they aren't.

    I can't think of any that have started more recently. Pong came out in '72 -- less than 50 years ago.

    And my point is that as they've incorporate more interactive elements, they've hit a snag where they have these boring dialogue moments that you don't like. I can't speak to Control, but the consensus seems to be that it's especially egregious in this regard. I'm also a fan of the more simplistic 'interact with character to hear their line' that you get in most standard rpgs, but I also recognize that those kinds of moments are inherently more passive. I think Mass Effect was when I started noticing these new kinds of systems becoming more prevalent, and that only came out in 2007. It seems that the movement has been towards more in-depth choice/dialogue options, as opposed to making those scenes more visually interesting, which I'm guessing you would prefer. I would prefer that as well, but if you think of progress as piece-meal I think you should have faith that games will progress to a point where you can have the same level of interaction with NPCs that these current games are trying to push while also maintaining a semblance of visual flair present in more classic-style cutscenes. My guess is that we'll get there in the middle of next generation, but who's to say.

    47 years is not young! We've had eight console generations. Games have had a long time to iterate on and modify the old and figure out what works. We've already had plenty of amazing games that were constructed with what has been learned and improved upon. As for storytelling, games have had other already mature mediums to take inspiration from. At what point are they not young anymore? It's time to stop making excuses. If they struggle so much at this particular thing, then maybe they should not try to incorporate such expansive stories loaded with quests errands. Majora's Mask still has more meaningful guests than most modern games with a much smaller budget. I would have preferred a more minimalist story in Control over all this talking and talking. Instead of a hundred different conversations, it could have had a few important cutscenes. The graphic novel Blame! is an epic adventure that takes place in a similarly strange megastructure. There's little dialogue. The author uses visuals to tell the story, which more game developers should probably do. There are characters in the megastructure, but they only say enough. It has a satisfying sense of eerie isolation. Control and most games like it have dull, tedious stories.



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  • @ezekiel said in The way conversations are done in most games now is so boring:

    47 years is not young! We've had eight console generations.

    I think this is where we're mainly disagreeing - 47 years is incredibly young for an art form. It's younger still if you consider Pitfall didn't come out until '82, which, as the first adventure game, arguably opened the door for player/narrative driven games down the line. Just look at how long it took for film to develop into its current form. Like video games, film had previous art forms to build from, and I would argue that the vast majority of films prior to the 60s skewed closer to theater than anything uniquely filmic. Obviously there are exceptions - Nosferatu in '22 and Metropolis in '27 pushed film as a visual medium forward, followed by the Wizard of Oz in '31 and Citizen Kane in 1941. Hitchcock revolutionized how to use editing and framing to build suspense throughout the 30s, but he was essentially unparalleled until much, much later, in my opinion. The majority of dialogue and acting was still primarily theatrical until Brando hit the scene in the 50s, albeit in adaptations of famous stage plays. Brando was really the first to try and go with a more naturalistic approach to his performances, and he changed cinema forever. I think one of the reasons The Godfather is so spectacular is because it essentially encapsulates almost a century of progress in using film as a visual medium for storytelling, and even though there were obviously great movies that came out before then, I think it would be difficult to argue that they were all capturing those essential revolutionary moments that their predecessors did that were uniquely filmic. I also think television is still going through this, and people are still trying to figure out how best to distinguish TV shows as a medium of storytelling separate from film.

    Regarding your other issues - I largely agree with them. From Software is great for the way that they use the medium to tell stories experientially and through interactivity. Not every studio is there yet, though, and not every story can be effectively told this way. I think a lot of the problems you have with this method of storytelling are absolutely valid. I just also think they're a growing pain. Every medium goes through this, and it takes visionaries to break the mold and create something that truly pushes the industry forward.



  • Pretty much the next youngest medium of art is film/television. And for the first 50 years or so of film, they didn't even have recorded sound.



  • Sometimes going the cinematic route isn’t better. I actually prefer Fallout New Vegas to Fallout 4. There is something immersive and true to RPG games when you just zoom in on someone’s head when you’re speaking to them.

    Edit:

    to add to that, I really didn't like the opening in-game cutscene in Persona 5 (not the anime cutscenes). The animation felt wonky, and sometimes JRPG games feel uncanny when they try their hand at proper blocking. Despite me being tired of shorthand JRPG animation and blocking, for example, hand flipping gestures and everybody standing in a line - it still kinda works and is pretty effective for the genre.

    So sometimes the simple way is the right way.



  • Why can't everything be like the stuff I like? Why do things have to be different?

    As others have already stated, there are various reasons for why these things are the way they are. Budgets, limitations, developer skill, time constraints, artistic vision, etc etc etc.

    But hey, I would love to see more games be like God of War, where they try to maintain a cinematic air while still having deep and engrossing gameplay and mechanics.
    That is what you are trying to say, right?

    For somebody who often complains at length about how games are trying to be too much like movies, you sure do want videogames to be more like movies.



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  • I've been having the same problems as the Op but it's with daily conversations I've been having in real life. People just look at me & reply when they talk to me. Sooo to spice things up everytime someone wants to talk to me I blast some power metal & knee skid up to them. Brightens my day right up.



  • @paulmci27 Vanquish sequel when?



  • @naltmank One thing at a time I'm trying to help the Op with his question first.