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Feature: The History And Evolution Of The Quick-Time Event

In Gamasutra's latest feature, Tim Rogers provides a close look at the various manifestations of Quick-Time Events, from their inception and their evolution in t
In Gamasutra's latest feature, originally published in the December 2010 issue of Game Developer magazine, Tim Rogers provides a close look at the various manifestations of Quick-Time Events, outlining their inception as well as their evolution in the modern era. Rogers examines the full history of the Quick-Time Event (QTE), revealing how this mechanic has changed the ways in which games include the player in action sequences, and how these button prompts allow titles maintain interactivity while breaking up the traditional flow of gameplay. "The sequence of a typical QTE involves normal controller input being taken away from the player for an instant before the on-screen action snaps into a cinematic camera angle." Since QTEs made their debut in Dragon's Lair, and later were popularized by Shenmue, they have served a range of purposes, from building tension during cinematics, to breaking up lengthy combat sequences, to providing players with new ways to interact with a game world. Rogers argues that these QTEs open up opportunities for games to appeal directly to the player's interest and provide visual payoffs that could not be accomplished during traditional action-based gameplay. "QTEs are a powerful game mechanic in that they offer developers the opportunity to show the player something really cool -- and that's why gamers play games: to see really cool things." He also notes that these mechanics have taken on a wide variety of forms since the QTE debuted in the original Shenmue. Using the 2007 title Stranglehold as an example, Rogers explains how QTEs can exist even without the traditional on-screen button icons. "The first-person camera snaps from attacker to attacker. The crosshair is always a bit off of the deadly pressure point. You move it manually, at just slower than its usual speed, as you savor the super slow motion reaction time of the enemy in front of you. You pull the trigger. The camera follows the bullet impact. The enemy flinches, deforms, crumples, or explodes backward with terrific physics calculated by the impact point of the bullet. This is as exciting as QTEs can possibly get: the action fits story context, character context, and game control context, and the payoff is visceral and instant … Stranglehold shows that QTEs can be part of a game and not be sudden, intrusive, demanding situations." For more on the history and the various forms of the Quick-Time Event, read the full Gamasutra feature article, available now.

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