Cutscene is an in-game cinematic sequence that usually creates a break in gameplay to usually show plot development, character development, new character/enemy introduction, or provide background information, dialogue, atmosphere and clues. Nearly all cutscenes either remove or severely limit the player's control.
Live action cutscenes are very similar to film. Where some games would use actual film footage such as Lord of the Rings, other games have fully utilized sets with their own actors.
There are two types of animated cutscenes most often used: pre-rendered and in-game cutscenes.
Pre-Rendered cutscenes are a full motion video similar to Live action. They are created by the game developer, often employing the full use of CGI to create stunning visual quality that the game engine wouldn't be able to run in real time.
In-game cutscenes actually use the game engine to render it on the fly. The benefit of this is that it can minimize the visual breakaway from actual gameplay, and more sophisticated games give the player limited control of the camera during the scene.
Quick Time EventsEdit
A Quick Time Event is a type of interactive cutscene where the player's character is controlled by the comptuter while prompting the player to folow a certain sequence of commands. If the player performs them correctly, they succeed and perform the action in the cutscene. One of the benefits of QTE is that it allows the developer to have the character perform unique actions that wouldn't normally fit into the mechanics of the gameplay.
Each of the types of Cutscenes have been criticised one way or another. Live Action often suffered from sub-standard acting and created a large break away from gameplay. For pre-rendered animated cutscenes, the quality gap between scene and gameplay became both its benefit and curse. As for the Quck Time Events, one of the common complaints in some games was the fact that there was no warning for when they occured, often making the player fail and having to play through the sequence again.
The common issue with cutscenes is the general breakaway from gameplay. Extra Credits' view on cutscenes is that the problem is that they are used too much for narrative but aren't used enough to create the context of the game.
There has been a rising trend of games that work towards avoiding cutscenes alltogether. In games such as Half Life, the player always has control of the character. Instead of using cutscenes these games use Scripted sequences that occur in real time in the game, including dialogue.