on Jul 18, 2010
Let’s talk about quicktime events some more. Here is a reference video, which shows someone completing the first encounter with Krauser in Resident Evil 4.
While this is perhaps not the most gripping cinema ever penned, I have this sneaking suspicion that these games sound a lot less idiotic in the original Japanese. I’ve been told that Japanese is a very poetic language. English can be poetic, but it’s not used that way regularly and it takes a good writer to pull off. So the translation from Japanese to English is a bit like translating Gandalf’s dialog from “You shall not pass!” to “You won’t get by me!”. It’s not wrong, but the words lose their potency and come out sounding childish. I think the occasional odd phrasing shows that the translator is a native Japanese speaker. I wonder if a good native English translator couldn’t help a scene like this by smartening up the dialog and improving the flow. (Of course, this does nothing for the plot, which is drivel. But Quentin Tarantino has proved that you can go a long, long way with a drivel plot and brilliant dialog. Kill Bill was both cliche and preposterous. And if you showed it in chronological order, it would be incredibly predictable. But the movie came off as fun, witty, and surprising through the magic of clever dialog.)
But whatever. The point is, this is a scene about pushing buttons. The scene is broken into eight sections, with seven quicktime cues between them:
Scene 1 » Quicktime » Scene 2 » Quicktime » Scene 3 » Quicktime » Scene 4 » Quicktime » Scene 5 » Quicktime » Scene 7 » Quicktime » Scene 8
If you miss a cue, it replays the entire scene again from the beginning. This is a horrible idea, because this scene is barely tolerable once.
Now, let’s assume the player has a 95% chance of success. They will pass 19 out of 20 cues. In tabletop terms, they can only miss by rolling a critical failure, which is pretty good in a gameplay sense. I wrote a program to simulate 1,000 players doing this scene with 95% accuracy, and on average, here is how many times players had to watch each scene:
Scene #1: 1.5 times.
Scene #2: 1.4 times.
Scene #3: 1.3 times.
Scene #4: 1.2 times.
Scene #5: 1.2 times.
Scene #6: 1.1 times.
Scene #7: 1.1 times.
(Of course you’ll never see scene 8 more than once, so I didn’t include it.)
This is not intolerable, although I can think of better ways for a player to spend their time. Now let’s assume the player has just 80% accuracy:
Scene #1: 4.8 times.
Scene #2: 3.8 times.
Scene #3: 3.1 times.
Scene #4: 2.4 times.
Scene #5: 2 times.
Scene #6: 1.6 times.
Scene #7: 1.2 times.
That’s a really drastic increase in how many times the player is going to end up watching this thing. On average, the player will watch that first section nearly five times. Now just a slight reduction in performance:
Scene #1: 7.7 times.
Scene #2: 5.8 times.
Scene #3: 4.4 times.
Scene #4: 3.3 times.
Scene #5: 2.4 times.
Scene #6: 1.8 times.
Scene #7: 1.3 times.
Been a long time… “comrade”.
KRAUSER walks into frame, spinning his knife.
I died in a crash two years ago. Is that what they told you?
You’re the one who kidnapped Ashley!
As they talk, JUSTIN BIEBER continues to make scowly faces and forgets that he has TEN GUNS on his person.
You catch on quick. As expected.
KRAUSER faces away from JUSTIN BIEBER, exposing his neck while he examines the TOTALLY UNINTERESTING PIPES in the background. JUSTIN BIEBER makes scowly faces.
After all, you and I both know where we come from.
I’m glad they abandoned this idea of mixing quicktime cues with dialog in Resident Evil 5. Even good dialog can be wearisome after just a couple of back-to-back viewings, and terrible dialog is excruciating under these circumstances. RE5 cuts way back on quicktime events, and uses them only for action sequences. Imagine watching the above scene six times in a row. Then imagine how fast you would betray the Alliance and give Vader the plans for the Death Star if he threatened you with a seventh viewing. Man, I’d be ready to punch Bikini Leia in the face after seeing it that many times.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.