Visit our sponsors! (or click here and disable ads)
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous Kickstarter Update #47: Making Cutscenes
Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Fri 17 April 2020, 19:54:52Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
In a community update published last Tuesday, Owlcat said that the Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous backer portal would be launching this week. It turns out that the portal has a few micro-issues remaining, so in the meantime they've put together this Kickstarter update about designing the game's cutscenes. It includes a couple of work-in-progress videos. Here's an excerpt:
Generally speaking, a cutscene is like an in-game movie clip. Control is taken away from the player, and a pre-designed scene is shown on the screen. We use cutscenes to highlight moments that are important for the story or to introduce new monsters and bosses. But there is also another type of cutscene, which is used to make the game world more real: non-player characters have animated conversations, walk here and there, react to the player running past them, and so on.
Groups of enemies attacking at pre-defined time intervals; crusaders breaking through a gate using a battering ram; giant rolling stone balls you need to dodge—what do all these have in common? In our case, all of the above are created using cutscenes. Cutscenes are a truly multifunctional tool for us and they help us solve very different challenges—from advancing the plot to creating unique gameplay.
[...] Background cutscenes allow us to make the surrounding world more immersive, so that NPCs don’t just stand there like dummies, that demons fly in the sky, and that when a massive door to an ancient tomb opens, a rasping sound is played, the dust of ages settles, and the camera shakes a little, emphasizing the importance of the moment.
Cutscenes can be quite complex! Imagine you command your character to hang an artifact banner over the gates of Drezen. Control is taken away from you, the character runs to the edge of the wall, and a special animation is played. The banner appears, it unfolds with the corresponding animation and a special effect that shows the banner’s magical impact on the environment. Then the camera smoothly moves to the square in front of the gates, the fog of war clears away, and you see a group of friendly crusaders fighting demons. The crusaders are inspired, the demons are weakened by the banner and try to use teleportation to flee. But teleportation does not work, so they try to flee on foot, and they die. The crusaders triumph. All this is one giant cutscene. Each crusader and each demon follows a designated sequence of commands: they hit, use abilities, die, or try to flee at the right time at the assigned locations. It's like a puppet show, where all the string-pulling is scripted in advance.
In the editor, this scene will look like a lot of parallel command sequences, which are started and stopped by different conditions and events. Depending on their complexity, cutscenes can take from a few minutes to several weeks to create.
In most cutscenes, characters carry out the same sequences of actions as during gameplay—they run, fight, and use spells and abilities. All this is assembled in the editor by one person, usually a level designer. But sometimes we need to show special animations that have never been used before: pensively scratching one's head, hitting something with a battering ram, or running to a balcony and leaping off. Inanimate objects might need to be animated, like stones rolling down a hill, a gate breaking open, or a column collapsing. In these cases, cutscenes will require extra work by artists, animators, and FX artists.
That’s why we normally use existing assets in cutscenes, but sometimes we order new unique animations and effects. Needless to say, we use the coolest cutscenes to emphasize the most important, emotionally significant moments in the game. In Wrath of the Righteous, for example, we'd like to celebrate the player's character reaching each subsequent stage of the mythic progression by adding dramatic camera spinning, zooms, and distinctive animations and effects.