Away From Reality

July 15, 2011

AFR #139 – Cut(scene) it out!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — tabulacandida @ 10:34 AM

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Ok, I know I’m a little late to the hating-on-the-Uldum-cutscenes party, but it took me a while to figure out how to do this comic.  My AFR characters just ran Stratholme, so they’re a long way from getting to Uldum themselves.  I could have saved the idea for a few years, but by then it would have been old news.  So, I finally decided to fudge it and came up with this.

It seems to me that Blizzard learned the wrong lesson from the response to the Wrathgate event in WotLK.  The lesson they should have learned is: “Players like being surprised by something new and different; they like to see the usually static game world change; they like seeing important moments of story and lore play out; they like feeling like they are part of big world-changing events.”  The lesson they actually learned was: “Players like cutscenes.”  And thus was born Uldum, where you can’t swat a fly without getting a cutscene in which you miss the fly but accidentally knock over an umbrella stand which bumps into a baby carriage that then goes flying down a hill towards a sheet of plate glass, until Harrison Jones swoops in riding a dinosaur, lassos the baby carriage to safety, and surfs down the dinosaur’s tail to land beside you with the baby in his arms.  The dinosaur then eats the fly.

The problem with the Uldum cutscenes is not that they are bad in themselves.  In fact, a lot of them are brilliant.  Someone put a lot of love into those scenes and the geek in me thrills to see one of the great movie series of my childhood so charmingly brought into WoW.  The problem is that WoW is a game, not a movie.  I come here because I want to do awesome feats, not watch someone else do them while I cower in a corner.  I come here to be the hero, not to have someone else’s hero thrust in front of me.

There are many thing I don’t like about the Uldum cutscenes.  One is how long they take (some are mercifully skippable, but some aren’t).  Another is that they take control of my own character away from me, which is something I think a game should do only rarely and for a very good reason.  Another is that they seem pointless– is there any good reason, in or out of game, why I shouldn’t be able to do the awesome fun stuff instead of sitting there watching an NPC do it?  But the thing that annoys me the most is that they turn my character into an incompetent idiot.  I just got back from storming the Lich King’s icebound bastion and kicking him in the snowballs (if you know what I mean), and suddenly I’m cowering in fear in front of a puffed-up goblin with a pop gun?  When I control my own character, I’m a hardened veteran of battles against demons, dragons, and deranged demigods, an explorer of ancient caverns untouched since the days of the Titans– but up pops a cutscene and suddenly I’m a bumbling sidekick who’s fit only to knock over lanterns and wave in the rescue plane.

It’s a shame, really.  Otherwise, I love Uldum, both the serious Tol’vir storyline and the tongue-in-cheek Harrison Jones vs. the Schnottzis story.  If I had just gotten to actually play a bit more of it myself, I’d have called that zone the most fun in the game.

7 Comments »

  1. “But the thing that annoys me the most is that they turn my character into an incompetent idiot. I just got back from storming the Lich King’s icebound bastion and kicking him in the snowballs (if you know what I mean), and suddenly I’m cowering in fear in front of a puffed-up goblin with a pop gun? When I control my own character, I’m a hardened veteran of battles against demons, dragons, and deranged demigods, an explorer of ancient caverns untouched since the days of the Titans– but up pops a cutscene and suddenly I’m a bumbling sidekick who’s fit only to knock over lanterns and wave in the rescue plane.”

    This. 1000 times This.

    Comment by HunterTure — July 16, 2011 @ 12:50 AM

  2. Yeah, concur with the above. Especially when you go around riding on rockets that a goblin built, surfing an explosive harpoon, and having chats with some of the aspects. I’m sure with those in character history you are very afraid of that goblin! I understand trying to make ‘Harrison’ important… but seriously laying off the ‘awed incompetant fool character’ would have been nice.

    Comment by Robert — July 16, 2011 @ 6:18 PM

  3. man, I’d love to have that “glyph of instant replay”!!!!

    Comment by Coffinshaker — July 20, 2011 @ 8:47 PM

    • Ooh, Brann Bronzebeard walks away from the Casket of the Promise EVEN SLOWER! :p

      Comment by wowafr — July 26, 2011 @ 1:36 PM

  4. They have an arguably sordid past and yet they are in our game in league with the Lich King no less..I suppose the obvious counter point is that you mean in living memory. Would those movies have worked in a story sense just as well if they had been an imaginary group of evil doers? The experiences Thrall goes through as a slave mold him into the extremely well known and capstone personality of the Warcraft franchise..Whether it happens subconsciously in developers minds as they create characters based on their own life experiences and knowledge of history or overtly in a blatant un pop culture reference we will get historical references in WoW for good or evil..My last argument is that WoW is the World of Warcraft.

    Comment by hemp — July 26, 2011 @ 11:01 AM

  5. By similar logic you could argue that we should make helms shoulders trinkets and even mounts at low level because theyre awesome upgrades and players are going to get them anyway. At that point stats like crit start to look pretty attractive because they increase your spells throughput without increasing the mana cost.

    Comment by hemp — August 1, 2011 @ 9:44 AM

  6. The NDA was lifted tonight and now theyre ready to share that information with the rest of the world. At the end of the day they realized that they had ripped it all down until it resembled an upgrade to the glyph system.

    Comment by Sugel — August 6, 2011 @ 3:39 PM


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