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Cinematics are still the best storytelling option for RTS games, says Blizzard
Although the game industry as a whole has been steadily moving away from cinematic cutscenes, Blizzard believes that they're still the best way to humanize the story in an RTS.
Although the game industry as a whole has been steadily moving away from cinematic-style cutscenes, Blizzard believes that they are still the best way to humanize the story in a real-time strategy game. Cinematics are expensive, slow, and difficult to alter later into a game's development, reasoned Blizzard leader writer Brian Kindregan at GDC Europe today. They can break immersion, and generally there are plenty of reasons not to tell a video game story through cinematics. Yet despite all this, Kindregan and his team decided that cinematics would work for the best for StarCraft 2 and its expansions -- and the reason for this is that it's the best method for pulling players into the story of an RTS. Using cinematics in an RTS game allows the developer to bring the action down to eye-level, he explained, and allows the players to become more engaged in the characters and the story. If a studio decides to instead tell the story through gameplay in an RTS game, you simply end up with tiny pixel characters on the screen, and it's far more difficult to feel anything for them. As an example, Kindregan described a cutscene in which three large ships storm out of the darkness and launch a large-scale attack on a building. While you can really feel the action and intensity in a cinematic version of this scene, you wouldn't get any of this at all from the gameplay point of view -- instead, you'd see three small ships roll in and shoot at a tiny building.