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patterns:cutscenes [Motivational Design]

Motivational Design

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Cutscenes, also referred to as in-game Cinematics, is one of the commonly used techniques that portray narratives in games. Some games render these on the fly, using in game rendering, while most others prefer pre-animated ones for better quality. In both cases, these are generally scripted scenes and are often triggered by in game events. Cutscenes can broadly be differentiated into two categories:

  1. Pure Visual: In this category, the player is given little to no control over the scene. The player may only watch, but not interfere with the events within these cutscenes. The purpose of this category is only to allow the player to cruise through the story events like advancement the plot, introduction of new characters or places, etc. These are prevalent in both Linear as well as Non-Linear narratives.
  2. Interactive: The main purpose is to empower the players with autonomy and control over situations. The most common use is to provide interactive dialogue in Roleplay games with Non-Linear stories. Alternatively, these are also used in Quicktime events where a player must quickly respond to the event in order to progress.

Use to ...

  • Show the players their progress within game world.
  • Give them a preview of what lies ahead.
  • Add context to gameplay and enhance player experience.

Can be instantiated by


Assassin's Creed Series

The Assassin's Creed Series utilizes a variety of cutscenes. Leap of Faith is an example of a cutscene rendered by the game, on the fly, where the player also loses control of his character. Alternatively, Escorting missions are examples of cutscenes where the player retains limited movement controls while escorting and conversing with NPC characters. The game also has narrative driven moments where the player loses all control and watches the plot development instead.

The Elder Scrolls 5 - Skyrim

An interactive model of Cutscenes is ubiquitously implemented in Role-Play Games like Skyrim and Witcher 2. Here, the player is presented with dialogue options.


  • Identify the purpose of cutscenes in your game.

Since cutscenes can serve a variety of purposes, it is important to be aware of which category would best fit your game's needs. Additionally, although Animated cutscenes offer higher quality, they would also require more content production, whereas, using cutscenes on the fly, is more prone to bugs. Thus, it is crucial to understand both, the game's technical limitations, as well as narrative requirements to use them effectively.

  • Time the cutscenes appropriately.
  • Don't have too many or too few cutscenes.


This pattern is industry standard.




patterns/cutscenes.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/20 03:14 by arunabraham