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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lambchops's Avatar
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    Mashing a Button or two is . . .

    . . . a bit shite really isn't it?

    It's something that's patently obvious but is often unsaid, perhaps taken unread as part an parcel of "press X not to die" mocking of what we know and loathe as "quick time events." As such this gameplay mechanic has perhaps escaped from the vitriol it truly deserves. Since it's introduction as an alternate two button mashing variant in Daley Thompson's Decathlon* it has subsequently been dumbed down for the modern audience to the mashing of a single button** and features in a wide variety of games.

    The question is, why the fuck is that?

    Seriously, is there anyone out there that finds repeatedly hitting a single button for an arbitrary amount of time in the least bit fun? Raise your hand now. Nope? Thought not.

    So I repeat, why is it there?

    Not to mention the abuse the poor keyboard suffers as a result (usually the space bar, poor lad). At least it makes it easier button mashing with a controller is a nightmare for the underdeveloped thumb of the PC gamer*** leaving them having to put down the controller and manically stab at the button with their forefinger, somehow contriving to make themselves look even stupider than they would waggling a Wii remote. If nothing devs should shy away from it on the basis that this sort of thing might just turn away the older audience who are more prone to self examination and thoughts like "why, as a grown man, am I doing something which makes me look like a hyperactive toddler throwing a tantrum?"

    Nothing could be more distracting from the lovely animation somebody has oh so lovingly worked on than having to focus on a monster mash**** session. Seriously, if you have to do it I'd far rather press buttons in a sequence or if sequences are going to be deemed too complex have hitting the button at a steady pace be the marker for success. It'd still not be fun but at least it would be less not fun. Heck, even the Daley Thompson thing would be preferable in that it at least has some semblance of skill.

    Plus there's the fact that most developers seem to set a required pace from these events at random from a dartboard containing the options "fairly fast," "too fast," ""faster, faster" as the Beach Boys once sang" and "the finger tapping equivalent of Usain Bolt." They can't be solely to blame of course, whoever had the misfortune to test the sequence can't, as I'm fairly sure has been established, be having fun so the only possibly reason the damn thing stays in the game must be that people running quality assurance are so bitter about their jobs that being able to inflict a heap of shit upon the average gamer is one of the few sources of joy in their day.*****

    In short, single button mashing is a rubbish mechanic that is dull, unimaginative, frustrating and above all not fun and should be consigned to gaming's scrapheap.****** Much like 80's joystick's after the Daley Thompson game!

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/sport/...-2012072435450

    *This may not actually be accurate
    ** Or the waggling of a Wii remote, but at least that sometimes bears a vague resemblance to what the character is doing.
    ***Yes, yes, it's just me I'm shit at games, carry on.
    ****It was a graveyard smash. Sorry.
    *****Disclaimer: I have no idea of the actual mechanics of testing games but considering that one of my friends who once did it got bored of playing a popular footie game that he was a big fan of I'd imagine testers look pretty miserable all of the time so whoever collects their feedback probably assumes they're overstating their complaints!
    ******I'd propose a boycott but then I wouldn't have been able to play the Walking Dead and that would have been a shame. At least it's mashing sections were mercifully brief and easy. Still shit though.

  2. #2
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    It's a simple, stupid little thing developers started throwing into cutscenes when they realized they had more of them than gameplay. It's a lazy developer's shortcut - instead of making cutscenes into actual gameplay events where the player actually has control it's so much easier just to make two different movies (success and fail states) and slap a QTE in there.

    It has been stupid, unnecessary, and awful since its inexplicable explosion in popularity in Resident Evil 4.
    Virtual Pilot 3Dô NEVER NOT SCAM!

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus DaftPunk's Avatar
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    I remember playing RE4 for the first time,oh boy did that game interrupted me during cutscenes,at first i didn't know for that and i was like "Oh look a cool cutscene" then suddenly PRESS X in split sec.. Wait what, buum dead. Then after some time you get..oh who am i kidding i still fucking hate them and can't get used to them. Its really useless stuff,just give me game to play and fuck off with cutscenes.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus SirKicksalot's Avatar
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    Some designers care more about the ideas the mechanics convey than how fun - or even playable - they are.
    Others don't even think about them.
    In God of War, mashing a button to rip open a health chest is supposed to emulate the effort Kratos makes. In Dante's Inferno, Dante puts his cross in the water of a health fountain... and you mash a button. What for? It doesn't make any sense, it's there just because a blockbuster did it.

    The QTEs were simple enough in The Walking Dead to tolerate them. They were even fun sometimes when you had a choice of buttons or had to quickly find and grab an item. But there are a couple of scenes in which MASH A got me killed.

    One particularly annoying game is The Saboteur. To climb anything you have to mash the space bar. It's not a QTE, but it might as well be one because you do it a million times in quick succession. Every building has dozens of ledges/bricks/ornaments to grab and each requires a button press. It's incredibly tedious. Sometimes automation is better than asking for player input.

    And then there are scenes which change the controls. For example, Crysis 2: sometimes you're knocked to the ground and crawl with M1/M2 or Space. Controls for basic actions like moving forward should never change. You end up paying attention to the interface to see what you're supposed to press next instead of paying attention to what happens in the game. On the other hand Bulletstorm handled this well by making M1/M2 wire crawling a rhythm-based minigame, but that's a score attack shooter so the situation is unique.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lambchops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirKicksalot View Post
    Controls for basic actions like moving forward should never change.
    A million times this. An addendum to this would be to never change to an unusual or different camera angle if this creates any doubt over which direction the character will move in, even if it is a really snazzy camera angle. You're just going to end up frustrating people when they have to play the game of "correctly guess which button is forward or else you'll run straight into the arms of a zombie/sea of fiery lava/endless chasm of doom"

  6. #6
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    Track and Field was great on NES to mash! More so if you had the powerpad and had to tip toe mash with your feet.

    Then all was lost with the Turbo enabled controller.

  7. #7
    Lesser Hivemind Node Oak's Avatar
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    They're tiring and silly, but I mostly find them patronizing. Being prompted for one is like being asked to clap so that Tinkerbell can survive.

  8. #8
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    Used well it's to require a tiny bit of physical exertion and effort from the player. I don't really think it's meant to be pleasant and enjoyable in itself as a mechanic, but it can allow for a stronger connection with the on-screen character. That was the basis behind Decathalon really and where it's been used most since.

    That said, it's often used badly and for no reason, and those games like Batman and GoW that use it for pointless things like opening doors or chests can sod off.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Casimir Effect's Avatar
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    I'm amazed there are still so many bad implementations. I enjoyed it in God of War because it provided an energetic motion to go with what was happening on screen. But in other games they can just feel pointless. Some get it half right like PoP2008, but there the amount of mashing required is pretty damn tough: using keyboard I can just about manage it (but worry about destroying keys) but when I tried to use the gamepad I physically could not hammer 'A' or whatever quickly enough.

    Likewise, when it comes to taps rather than mashing so many devs still get it wrong. I just saw the lastest trailer for Bioshock Infinite the other day and the first interaction a palyer gets is "Press X to climb the ladder". To me there is just so much wrong with that. I know ladders are often the bane of players in FPS games, but going up has never been a problem.
    My favourite implementation has been in The Last Remnant, where QTEs provide an additional dynamics to the combat, influencing it in what can often be a big way while providing the player with something to do while the otherwise turn-based combat plays out. And best of all it can be set to auto so essentially turned off, should the player choose.

    Insta-death QTEs can die in a fire. RE4 was mentioned above but my first enounter was in Sword of the Berserk: Gut's Rage for the Dreamcast. Fuck everything about cutscene death QTEs and shitty checkpointing.

  10. #10
    Activated Node P7uen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lambchops View Post
    A million times this. An addendum to this would be to never change to an unusual or different camera angle if this creates any doubt over which direction the character will move in, even if it is a really snazzy camera angle. You're just going to end up frustrating people when they have to play the game of "correctly guess which button is forward or else you'll run straight into the arms of a zombie/sea of fiery lava/endless chasm of doom"
    I just played the bit in Far Cry 3 where your bloke angles his body slightly to walk across a thin fiery thing, and then it prompts you for the standard 'walk forward' button so that you know to walk forward. This was ludicrous.

    I agree it is a lazy thing developers invented so they could have more "movie moments" while still pretending the player was involved somehow. Of all the John Walker Dos and Don'ts, etc, QTEs are the first thing I would get rid of.

    Strangely, I adored Heavy Rain and what it tried to do, but I think that's because the reason for QTEs was sort of the opposite, plus it was the chosen mechanic, not just a tacked-on bit because someone realised it'd be hard to to that scene without taking the controls away from the player.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Arkham City is the game I've played most recently that bothered me in this fashion. I don't like unnecessarily abusing my peripherals, but every time I went up to a grate I was expected to mash the A button or space bar a billion times.

    I also got fed up with all the pop-ups in Arkham City. I disabled the tutorials, but some of them still showed up. I seem to remember having success with one hack or another ... it was frustrating because I could easily find forgotten combos in a small number of button presses through Wayne tech--even with a controller, it wasn't frustrating in the slightest to do so. The pop-ups weren't necessary all the time, but there were nice while I was still memorizing combos--it can't be that hard for these sorts of things to simply have a toggle switch in the menus somewhere.

    I find the "press this button a bunch of times fast" thing a lot more annoying than Quick Time Events in general. It creates a sense of tedium unless it is used very very carefully. I don't like saying mechanic X or Y shouldn't be used ever simply because I haven't encountered a particularly god version of it, but I haven't played a game with a good reason for the rapid-QTE mechanic.
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  12. #12
    Activated Node P7uen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    I don't really think it's meant to be pleasant and enjoyable in itself as a mechanic, but it can allow for a stronger connection with the on-screen character.
    I remember in Heavy Rain, threading the needle very slowly and carefully while stitching up a wound using the analogue stick. It certainly worked on me, I thought it was a brilliant way to achieve this. As you say, I can't think of an FPS game that has anything beyond "Mash X".

    I think the problem is when you buy a FPS game, you are signing a contract that you have FPS controls and interface, and basing your experience on that. Personally, I can apply the same sense of incongruity I get to QTEs to anything that uses other controls, on-rails sections, cut-scenes, even scripted gun emplacements and stuff does that for me.

    Rightly or wrongly, it's not what I signed up for when I bought an FPS.
    Last edited by P7uen; 04-01-2013 at 02:55 AM.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casimir Effect View Post
    Likewise, when it comes to taps rather than mashing so many devs still get it wrong. I just saw the lastest trailer for Bioshock Infinite the other day and the first interaction a palyer gets is "Press X to climb the ladder". To me there is just so much wrong with that. I know ladders are often the bane of players in FPS games, but going up has never been a problem.
    Hmm. I think there are games where not having control over particular movement modes in real-time is perfectly acceptable. And ladders are just another special movement mode. How is this particularly different from having an elevator? I suppose it could be problematic for some players, to be able to move around so much in 2.2D and then be disallowed the next .2D that fully-interactive ladders provide ... for me it is no more or less problematic than being restricted from picking up every semi-interesting object I see on the screen, press every button, and more than anything else at least try every door.

    Personally, I don't think being able to climb ladders in real-time is an essential part of the Bishock experience and I can't see why this would change in Infinite. It might be nice but I don't think the absence of the feature is wrong.
    I think of [the Internet] as a grisly raw steak laid out on a porcelain benchtop in the sun, covered in chocolate hazelnut sauce. In the background plays Stardustís Music Sounds Better With You. Thereís lots of fog. --tomeoftom

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  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P7uen View Post
    I remember in Heavy Rain, threading the needle very slowly and carefully while stitching up a wound using the analogue stick. It certainly worked on me, I thought it was a brilliant way to achieve this. As you say, I can't think of an FPS game that has anything beyond "Mash X".

    I think the problem is when you buy a FPS game, you are signing a contract that you have FPS controls and interface, and basing your experience on that. Personally, I can apply the same sense of incongruity I get to QTEs to anything that uses other controls, like on-rails sections, even scripted gun emplacements and stuff does that for me.

    Rightly or wrongly, it's not what I signed up for when I bought an FPS.
    See, that seems wrong to me. Saying that all games have to fit into these little stereotyped boxes and do control schemes the same way for eternity. What about the first FPS game you played? Was it fun? It sure was the first time I played. Having a new control scheme--let alone a new "foreign" element on top of an old control scheme--doesn't do anything to damage the integrity of the game.

    Part of my gaming experience is that I've learned how to adapt to new technology and new control schemes. I don't need them all to be the same anymore. I can use a controller, a keyboard and mouse, just a keyboard, a motion-sensor, a touch-pad ... and it all works because I've learned how to adapt to that. I've started customizing my controls not based on FPS tradition but based on the specific mechanics of the game--how much crouching happens in the game and what other controls I tend to be pressing when I'm crouching.

    I'm not suggesting that standards are bad. Standards are friendly to new players who don't have enough experience to be especially adaptable and they're convenient for everyone. I just prefer--when it comes to mechanics, control schemes and interfaces in games--chaotic innovation to organized monotony.
    I think of [the Internet] as a grisly raw steak laid out on a porcelain benchtop in the sun, covered in chocolate hazelnut sauce. In the background plays Stardustís Music Sounds Better With You. Thereís lots of fog. --tomeoftom

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  15. #15
    Activated Node P7uen's Avatar
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    No, I am an old man but I agree with you and am not averse to scary change in things I'm used to. That's why I can happily enjoy other games and other FPS with control schemes, if that's what they are. But to my point, the first time i played an FPS game with new controls, I decided to play an FPS game with FPS controls. I don't mind QTEs in QTE games, but I would probably mind a sudden 5-second long FPS section in my Ice Hockey Management Sim that doesn't occur again for the 80 hours I play it.

    For example, I'm playing Planetside 2, and planes, tanks, army men, all controlled slightly differently. Even the planes have different controls from each other I still use "C" to ascend, but in some it hovers, in some it doesn't.

    You're talking to a guy who has a boxed copy of Rebel Assault II for crying out loud, but when I play it I expect to have random levels of different genres with that were created by children. My point was that I decided to get in the plane, so I'm happy now using my 'planes' mindset and control scheme. If, on the other hand, the devs decided that at unannounced moments they would change my control scheme, that would be jarring.

    It's a bit like a POV shot in the middle of a film, it's a bit surprising, which could be the deal (Blair Witch, Cloverfield) or the deliberate and intended effect (Doom 3... eww), that's just dandy.

    Or, it could just ruin the immersion for a lot of people, and since it's not just me that hates QTEs in FPS games, I think that seems to bear out.

    Also there is no skill involved, only reaction times. So, nerrr!

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P7uen View Post
    No, I am an old man but I agree with you and am not averse to scary change in things I'm used to. That's why I can happily enjoy other games and other FPS with control schemes, if that's what they are. But to my point, the first time i played an FPS game with new controls, I decided to play an FPS game with FPS controls. I don't mind QTEs in QTE games, but I would probably mind a sudden 5-second long FPS section in my Ice Hockey Management Sim that doesn't occur again for the 80 hours I play it.

    For example, I'm playing Planetside 2, and planes, tanks, army men, all controlled slightly differently. Even the planes have different controls from each other I still use "C" to ascend, but in some it hovers, in some it doesn't.

    You're talking to a guy who has a boxed copy of Rebel Assault II for crying out loud, but when I play it I expect to have random levels of different genres with that were created by children. My point was that I decided to get in the plane, so I'm happy now using my 'planes' mindset and control scheme. If, on the other hand, the devs decided that at unannounced moments they would change my control scheme, that would be jarring.

    It's a bit like a POV shot in the middle of a film, it's a bit surprising, which could be the deal (Blair Witch, Cloverfield) or the deliberate and intended effect (Doom 3... eww), that's just dandy.

    Or, it could just ruin the immersion for a lot of people, and since it's not just me that hates QTEs in FPS games, I think that seems to bear out.

    Also there is no skill involved, only reaction times. So, nerrr!
    Honing your reaction time is a skill so ... neerrrrr! :P

    I guess I don't understand what's so different between sticking a segment that requires your "planes" mindset into the middle of an FPS and sticking one that requires your "QTE" mindset or what-have-you. I've quite enjoyed QTEs in some games and I really think it's much more about implementation than some sort of inherent wrongness. Just Cause 2 used QTEs effectively, I felt. As I've explained elsewhere, they add a bit of tension and create a need for precaution (kill nearby guards at pipelines, watch out for cliffs while jacking a plane), without creating arbitrary difficulty. They weren't hard, they just took time--and I think they were well placed in that sense. Assassin's Creed II slipped them in without any warning or consistency into the cut-scenes. I missed all of them because I didn't expect them at all and they weren't really a mechanic. Those were arbitrarily difficult ... but on the other hand they had no effect on the game (and only limited effect on the cutscene). It was stupid but harmless.

    I don't think "immserion breaking" is particularly relevant here. These are people who can forget they're playing games while sitting in front of a (in my case) 15.4 inch diagonal box on a desk in a lit room while hammering on keys with a noisy desk fan on because m--their laptop has shit for cooling* while someone is on the phone down the hall and a cat jumps onto the desk. What breaks immersion and doesn't depends, again, much more on the quality of the implementation than the specific mechanic.

    Then again, I enjoyed Frog Fractions. Maybe my brain requires dissonance to function.


    P.S. I'd also argue it's not what you signed up for when you bought that game. The fact that the game is part of a larger genre is sort of irrelevant. If you consider QTEs to be inherently non-FPS-like than you're wrong** but also, based on your classification scheme the game is a pseudo FPS in the first place. By which I mean, the game was designed to have those QTEs. It either works or it doesn't, but defining the game first as an FPS and second as breaking the rules of an FPS is begging the question and thus fallacious.


    *Or did until it half-died after a good 6 year run last week ... I was already counting pennies for an upgrade before that, so now I've got a new one that has pretty good cooling. Now I can finally play Crysis without my computer vomitting horrendous sounds and out of the speakers slowing to a crawl whenever a firefight breaks out. :) I'm quite happy with it.

    ** ;)
    Last edited by gwathdring; 04-01-2013 at 03:54 AM.
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    You ruined his point by putting it in context thatís cheating -bull0

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    But I like button-mashing and I like simple control schema and I like context-sensitive reactions. QTEs are basically that.

    I like button-mashing in beat-em-ups. punchpunchpunchpunchpunchthreepunchcomboKO
    I like button-mashing in shoot-em-ups. pewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewomegabombpowerupPEWPEWPEW

    Most of what I do in FPSs is abusing one button (mostly the left mouse button). Especially for semi-automatic weapons. blamblamblamblamblamblamblamblamPING. Practically everything in FPSs that involve that one button are very time-sensitive, from controlling one's breathing while sniping to controlling one's fire with full automatic weapons to controlling one's openings while meleeing.

    Mirror's Edge put a lot of context-sensitive motion control into two buttons, based entirely on timing, and felt quite fluid. And god knows how many games now use E as the "do everything non-violently" catch-all.

    I think this is one of those things where people complain about cutscenes when what they're really complaining about is bad cutscenes. QTEs are jarring because they're badly implemented, not because they're categorically bad. After all, you can fuck up context-sensitive controls: Look at Mass Effect 3.
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  18. #18
    Activated Node P7uen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    I missed all of them because I didn't expect them at all and they weren't really a mechanic. Those were arbitrarily difficult ... but on the other hand they had no effect on the game (and only limited effect on the cutscene). It was stupid but harmless.
    Yeah I think maybe you PRESS X TO HIT NAIL ON HEAD! there. Firstly the difference is I choose when to get in a plane, but QTEs usually are unannounced. But secondly, if they have no effect on the game then no problem, although quite often they seem to end in death/restarts, or at least something negative, so implementation is key. Heavy Rain was good in that sense, you just got a different story, not necessarily better or worse.

    Although having said that, if they really have "no effect on the game"... why were they there?

    @Nalano:
    Maybe it's just horses for courses, I hate context sensitive stuff too, the first time I remember for me was the original Splinter Cell. I pressed the button and rappelled down a thing into a window and then later pressed it to deflower a duck or whatever. I initially thought it was cool, but then realised I didn't have any impact on the action so you may as well remove the button press as well. Same with Far Cry 3's various takedowns, I generally shoot people, since at least then I can do a cool thing/fail miserably.

    Anyway, "E" is jump, you monster!


    TL;DR: If QWOP had QTEs it would be boring.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P7uen View Post
    TL;DR: If QWOP had QTEs it would be boring.
    QWOP is the mother of all QTEs. It's all about timing. And the quickness.

    Just about the only thing I have against QTEs are that

    a) a lot are poorly implemented
    b) they show the button you're supposed to use, killing immersion
    c) the button you're supposed to use isn't often a button you would use

    But the QTE-based boxing minigame in Witcher 2? The QTE-based karaoke minigame in Sleeping Dogs? Gimme gimme.
    Last edited by Nalano; 04-01-2013 at 06:25 AM.
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  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Maybe it's just horses for courses, I hate context sensitive stuff too, the first time I remember for me was the original Splinter Cell. I pressed the button and rappelled down a thing into a window and then later pressed it to deflower a duck or whatever. I initially thought it was cool, but then realised I didn't have any impact on the action so you may as well remove the button press as well. Same with Far Cry 3's various takedowns, I generally shoot people, since at least then I can do a cool thing/fail miserably.
    You and Nalano are describing different things there, I think. In Mirror's Edge, you don't "Press Button Z to do a random, scripted cool thing." You press button Z to do a specific scripted cool thing that is sensitive to the motion of your character and is consistent throughout the game. I agree with Nalano here--QTEs and rapid-button-QTEs and scripted combos and PRESS X TO DO COOL THING mechanics aren't fundamentally different from clicking to fire the gun, tapping out combos in a fighting game, or what have you. It's all about implementing the right flow, not using specific control schemes or traditional keyboard layouts or a particular set of mechanics without gimmicks or changes.

    Arkham City had a great combat system that matched the source material--the hard part is timing and maneuvering rather than punching and as such you can take down five or even ten enemies down fairly easily ... but larger crowds of enemies with varying weapons and possibly firearms? That's a matter of rhythm and positioning and can be difficult to pull off on the highest difficulty setting. You get to feel like batman: adept at taking enemies down from the shadows and impossibly capable in a fight, but up against staggering odds. When you do it right, it feels easy. When you don't, you have tons of gadgets with which to evade, escape, reset, and try again. It uses simple controls very effectively to create a game with a very Batman-like flow. I don't care that I can't control his every motion. I get to control the important parts and look cool in between button presses.

    I like that kind of thing. But even looking at the sort of thing you're describing, I'm also not convinced that having your only impact in particular scenes be reacting to an event is a bad thing. I feel like this could be used effectively even in a cut-scene, but for some reason game developers seem to continue taking notes during a lot of the bad implementations instead of paying attention to how their game flows and what the player is probably doing with their eyes and fingers during a given sequence. This is the sort of thing you use focus testing on. Sit people in front of the game and see how often players expect the QTEs, how interesting players find them, etc. I think it can be done properly, and at least outside of cutscenes, I feel like it has been done properly. Finally, sometimes that "Press Button to do Random Awesome Thing" works in that it's basically an area transition. It's you telling the game you're ready to drop down a few flights to the site of the next level. It means designers can give you a more awesome and/or fictionally sensible way to progress without designing fully interactive systems for one-shot mechanics. In that way it's not really a mechanic--it's just a start button with an entertaining animation sequence. I think it's fun. It's often done wrong, but so are non-controversial mechanics like firing a gun in an FPS.
    Last edited by gwathdring; 04-01-2013 at 06:43 AM.
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