Let Me Skip

Let me skip.

I know you worked hard on those words, those animations, that music. I know it was distressingly expensive. I know you think it’s extremely important that I understand the context of my impending actions, or that you have my full attention while you introduce an unusual mechanic. I know I wouldn’t skip a chapter in a book or forward wind a film by ten minutes to get to the explosions. I know it’s disrespectful, I know it can be lazy, I know it ruin my own experience, I know it can even be actively anti-intellectual, but please, let me skip. Let me skip anything that isn’t me playing the game, no matter how detrimental it might be to your concept of your own game.

I know you don’t want to risk complaints that I didn’t understand something or the game was too short. C’mon, you’ll get complaints about something whatever you do. I know you don’t want to risk NVIDIA complaining or a marketing director screaming at you. I know you think it’s your game and not my game, but please, let me skip. Let me not have to sit there watching, doing nothing, if I don’t want to. Let me choose. I’ve given your game my money and my attention, so please respect my time and my choices.

Don’t try and find a compromise – it’s even more frustrating when I can skip one cutscene but not this other one, or if I’m allowed to skip a cinematic on the second viewing but not the first. And no, you can’t get around it by allowing me to walk around or pan the camera without a cutscene. Just let it be. I appreciate that thousands of dollars were spent on that mo-capped facial animation or cameo voice appearance by Shane Richie, but you can’t force me to like that stuff if it hasn’t grabbed me immediately or I’m just in no mood. I’m already a lost cause, perhaps. What’s the point in fighting?

Worry instead about pleasing the people who do lap their cutscenes no matter what, not about those who are too impatient either intractably or simply in the here and now. And absolutely do worry about those who’ve played your game one or more times before and shouldn’t be forced to sit through hand-holding or scene-setting they’re already intimately familiar with.

Let me skip if I want to. Just because I do and he does and she does and they do doesn’t mean everyone will. If anything, when I see that Skip option on the screen I’m more inclined to give the cinematic my time, because I don’t get the panic reflex that I’m stuck watching this damn thing when all I want to do is play the game. If I know I can get out the moment I want to, I will feel that the game and I are on the same page. Because it has shown that it won’t force me to waste my time, I will have more faith that the cutscenes will be strong enough that I won’t regret watching them.

Games have gotten better at this, by and large, but there’s still a clear reluctance to fully release control. Just do it. It’s just tradition that leads to unskippable, non-playable scenes, and that tradition means games neglect to find more integrated, interactive ways of telling their tales. If it’s not compelling enough for me to be told it even as I perform some other in-game activity, then perhaps it’s just not compelling enough at all. Let me skip, and let yourself skip too: see what your game is like when all uncontrollable frippery is skipped, and if new ways of inserting the information you really, truly think the player needs then occur to you.

Let me skip. It’s about trusting me to work your game out without your help, yes, but more than that it’s about trusting that your game can stand on its own two feet without unavoidable expositional interruption. And for the love of God, stick a ‘skip logos/intros’ option into your settings menu.

Click here to skip this article.

This article was originally published as part of the RPS Supporter Program.

118 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    You could stop reviewing any game as soon as it has an unskippable cutscene. That might get people’s attention.

    • mewse says:

      Or better, adapt Old Man Murray’s “start to crate time” metric; since gamers keep demanding numeric scores in reviews, RPS could perhaps provide objectively-verifiable “start to unskippable-cutscene time” as a numeric score on every “Wot I Think” from now on.

  2. IaIaFhtagn says:

    Tell me about it. The number of times I’ve bounced of Dishonoured because of the inability to skip some of the earlier sections. Especially considering I’ve now played the first couple of missions about four times and am nearly word-perfect…

    • Shadowflame66 says:

      You can skip any cutscene in Dishonored. Also, he’s not talking about skipping gameplay, but Dishonored *does* allow you to select any mission you’ve played before. So I’m not sure what you’re complaining about.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    “Let me skip. It’s about trusting me to work your game out without your help, yes, but more than that it’s about trusting that your game can stand on its own two feet without unavoidable expositional interruption.”

    I actually think this is the rub here; not every game SHOULD be trusted to do so. Now, you can absolutely argue that these are Bad Games, but that’s different than arguing that all games are parseable without the intended exposition.

    I agree, people should have the option, and if they come back and say “I didn’t understand what to do or why X” that’s their problem and not yours (as the developer) – but I think arguing that on the basis of player choice is strong enough without putting forth the idea that every game should be complete and playable with all non-interactive bits stripped out.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      Alternative, if you want to put on your auteur hat, you can just say “if you don’t like it, don’t play my game.”

      It’s not exactly a strong defense, but it’s also the mode of thought that underpins are lot of weird and wonderful alt-games, games that would be much weaker if they let players “play how they wanted.” So I’m thinking this criticism should really only apply to mainstream commercial games of the Assassin’s Creed variety.

    • iainl says:

      The problem there is that if you put your important information about how to operate your game, or indeed what I have to do next, in a cutscene then I’m not going to notice it anyway. Even if I’m not skipping your cutscene, I’m probably hitting a random series of buttons trying to find the one that does skip it, or have tuned out and am reading Twitter while I wait for the next level to load.

      Yes, I know I’m an awful person. Deal with it.

      While I’m at it, let’s assume for a moment that you’ve created a cutscene that can actually hold my attention and contains useful story information. Hey, it could happen. Then as well as letting me skip, for the love of God LET ME PAUSE. Some of us have other demands on our attention, like doorbells, telephones and children.

      • LexW1 says:

        It’s a bit more complicated than that, because different people regard different things as cut-scenes to skipped.

        I mean, sure, if the camera is panning on faces or landscapes and you literally have no control, that’s definitely a cut-scene. But what if it’s in first-person and you’re given some control, but not full control? That’s specifically complained about above. Yet that’s how the tutorials of virtually all first-person games work. It’s immersive and effective, which is why it’s re-used so much. Certainly this is what the tutorial-as-cutscene is. You can’t “tune out and read twitter” because it’ll wait, more or less patiently, until you press the right button.

        I mean, if you do tune out and ignore tutorials, and then say “OMG I DONT KNOW HOW 2 PLAY!!”, well, there’s no real way to deal with that for a developer. The best you can do is have “replay tutorial” or some kind of in-game guide (which is surprisingly hellish to get right, design-wise), so it’s often best to just realize few people will do that, and let them work it out themselves.

        These cutscene-tutorials are also incredibly annoying if you’ve done them before for that game, so they probably do need a skip option, at least once you’ve played to past it once.

        I do agree completely that you need a pause button on cutscenes – particularly long ones which contain important information. Real life happens.

        • iainl says:

          Ah, sorry – I was specifically meaning non-interactive ones. Tutorial information is far better delivered through me doing things in response to a prompt, rather than telling me what I’ve got to do in a non-interactive cutscene, then expecting me to remember once you give me back control later.

          Because, and this also goes for why QTEs are evil and should be destroyed, while a bad cutscene makes me pick up my phone, even a good cutscene makes me put down the controls and pay attention to the story like I would a good TV show. I’m not ready for you to suddenly tell me I’ve got half a second to press X.

          • Cronstintein says:

            Man I hated that so much in AssCreed. I wasn’t even holding my controller, 3 minutes into a cutscene, then it flashes “PRESS X” ffs!

  4. caff says:

    I want to interject that what is really needed is “let me skip by pressing a button twice”. Twice, not once.

    I HATE seeing a beautiful intro animation ruined with the apologetic “Press any button to skip” forlornly sitting in the bottom corner. Those words should only be shown after I press a button once, then the second press confirms my decision.

    It would also prevent accidental skipping.

    Get it right, developers.

    • draglikepull says:

      The best solution to this, which I’ve seen a number of games do, is only let you skip a cut-scene in the pause screen. There’s virtually no chance you’ll accidentally skip one if you have to pause the game first, and it’s also a sensible place for the SKIP SCENE indicator to be placed.

      • jrodman says:

        Corollary: LET ME PAUSE YOUR DAMN CUT SCENE.

        If the stupid thing is 6 minutes long, and I’m actually caught up in the plot and want to see it, I shouldn’t miss it because I have to go to the bathroom.

        • Lakshmi says:

          Pausing the cutscene is the bit that’s missing for me. I don’t always watch all of them but sometimes I want to and the phone rings, or life happens and I can’t pause. Let me be able to.

        • Munin says:

          Yeah, that’s definitely a thing I would appreciate being universal.

          I don’t play that many games with stupihuge cutscenes but the ones were I do I want to be able to pause everywhere gameplay or otherwise. That then feeds into the other common thing these day though were due to always online open world stuff you can’t pause the gameplay either…

        • MrPin says:

          Or answer the phone. Or open the door. Or take the pie out of the oven before it’s charred. Or go see why the kids are fighting (again).

        • bill says:

          Yes! THIS.

          I don’t really care about not being able to skip cutscenes the first time, because I want to actually know what the hell is going on. I’m much more likely to have the “whoops I just accidentally skipped the cutscene and now I’ve missed some crucial information” problem.

          But even more likely than that, something is going to happen in real life just after that long cutscene starts, and my options will be to leave it running and head out the room, or to randomly press buttons in the hope of finding a pause and usually finding myself skipping it entirely and then leaving the room.

          One press of any key should pause the cutscene, and then ideally you’d pe presented with a mini menu of controls.
          |<<(Restart) (FF)>> (Skip)>|
          Or at the very least, restart, resume, skip.

        • suibhne says:

          Also! If your cutscenes are lengthy and critical to understanding the game, give me the option to view them again later. C’mon, this should appeal directly to your auteur sensibilities, you silly studio that spent 12 gajillion dollars on a subculture-famous Japanese anime director walking Patrick Stewart through your in-game cinematics.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Similar: Let me reload whenever I want. Even in the middle of a cutscene or dialogue. When I hammer the quickload button, I want to see a loading screen, immediately.

    When an action scene has two different possible outcomes that are not game-over, and I really want one of them, and not the other, then I don’t want to first watch a cutscene that shows me the outcome I didn’t want before I can go back and try again.

    When I miss a piece of dialogue I wanted to hear because I had to cough or a car honked in front of my window, or whatever, then I don’t want to first go through the entire dialogue before can reload and return to that point.

    Just let me reload when I want to – I won’t pay attention to the game anyway between the time that I decide I want to reload and the time I can actually do so.

    • jrodman says:

      At times like that I appreciate kill -9.

      • Premium User Badge

        Bluerps says:

        Yeah. Usually I just wait, but sometimes I get frustrated enough to just kill the game.

  6. Sin Vega says:

    That this still needs to be said, EVER, in 2015, is a bloody embarassment to the industry. Any dev/publisher who even considers making their cutscenes unskippable is not fit for the job.

    • caff says:

      I totally agree. But what is furthermore embarrassing is that some developers have gone too far, by making cut scenes apologetic in their nature.

      Maybe we need to just move away from them entirely, and empower the player at all points.

      • Beefenstein says:

        This would get rid of the easiest (not necessarily the best) way of making games a narrative and character-driven medium. It’s something similar to getting rid of dialogue balloons in comics — something we all know is a little terrible but can’t seem to do without. While cutscenes are not as essential for conveying dialogue and story they do serve that purpose well at least some of the time.

        I agree games should be about the player making stories as much as possible, but at the same time great games (and art-as-games experiences too) incorporate cutscenes to stunning effect.

        In short: let’s be careful, eh?

    • thedosbox says:

      Yes, the seeming lack of institutional memory about how annoying these things are makes me wonder if the industry is ever going to get out of making the same mistakes repeatedly.

      • LexW1 says:

        I think it opens the question as to whether this is actually an issue that matters to most people who buy most games, though?

        I suspect not.

        I mean, we’re largely talking AAA games, because cut-scenes elsewhere are rare and typically brief (because they’re expensive), and most people buying those might moan about cutscenes but they don’t flip out and they usually only play through the game once anyway.

  7. qrter says:

    By putting the “Click here to skip this article” at the end of your article, you’re pretty much doing what you’re complaining about (which I wholly agree with, btw).

    • caff says:

      I cannot believe you’ve missed the joke off this link. Surely not.

    • pepperfez says:

      The link to skip to comments is right there on the front page. git gud scrub

  8. mavu says:

    I’m still waiting for the much anticipated and more widely relevant prequel to this post: Let me pause.

  9. amateurviking says:

    Skip cutscenes, pause cutscenes, replay cutscenes. There are no reasons not to do this.

  10. Blackrook says:

    Rightly said.

    Bought my 11 year old daughter The Crew in last weekends sale – so we can play together.
    Now telling her to skip the cut scenes on the story missions as some of it isn’t suitable.
    Unfortunately you still get the odd bit of non suitable ‘overtalk’ on some of the missions,
    but she’s probably heard worse at Grandmas house!

    Not sure why they decided make the game ‘adult’ by doing a totally pathetic fecked up storyline,
    when a racing game like this should be suitable from age 8 upwards.
    Really need more multiplayer family orientated games not less.

    • Jediben says:

      You’re trolling, right? What sort of titles would buy a game with an age rating which has been assessed by professionals based upon the content within it, and then complains when said content turns out to be unsuitable for users below said age? Here’s a hint – serving her White Lightning won’t be suitable either, even though it is mostly apple juice!

      • April March says:

        Calm down there, friend. There’s a reason professionals call their reviews “recommended rating”, and not “definitive rating that you must follow or else”.

  11. Stardog says:

    The best solution I can think of it the “Press Start to skip” prompt appearing after you’ve pressed Start once, as mentioned above, but also add a countdown timer so those who might skip will see there’s only 20 seconds remaining and will actually watch it.

    Also, there should always be a cutscene viewer/transcript in the options menu somewhere.

  12. Wulfram says:

    Sometimes unskippable cutscenes are there to disguise loading screens, which is acceptable.

    • Rich says:

      Unless it’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, in which case the cutscenes are there to give you a break between losing screens.

  13. Loam says:

    Now about skippable combat scenes…

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Skippable everything!

      (Selectable at an individual level, I mean. Obviously you can skip everything by just not starting it in the first place)

      • tormeh says:

        This. Some gameplay is just really bad and bog the cutscenes down. It’s a rare occurrence but it comes up more often for me than the unskippable cutscenes. So, yes, just let me enjoy the favorite parts of the game, please. Also let me pause.

    • machineageproductions says:

      Seriously. I would love to replay Dragon Age: Inquisition to try a few new story possibilities and romances. But I don’t want to sit through 30 hours of god-awful combat to get there.

    • Chiron says:

      Tutorial combat scenes, fucking hell Assassins Creed, I have roamed Florence and murdered about a hundred people and your making me learn how to fight with my Uncle?

      Fuck you

  14. shinygerbil says:

    skim-read the article, it was ok

  15. Stuart Walton says:

    I like games where I can skip through cutscenes one line of dialogue at a time. That way I can read the full sentence the character is going to say but then ‘edit’ the dialogue, cutting away the latter half of overly long sentences. So that exchanges like this:

    A: Do you think it could be the pink banoffee unicorn, the destroyer of sugary treats?
    B. The pink banoffee unicorn? Don’t be daft, it’s just a legend, meant for frightening children.
    A. You know legends do exist, especially with what you’ve seen lately.

    Becomes:

    A: Do you think it could be the pink banoffee unicorn?
    B. The pink banoffee unicorn? Don’t be daft.
    A. You know legends do exist

    If the voice actors are good, then you don’t need to hear the extra stuff, their tone and your reading are enough, and you don’t have to sit through almost half of the dialogue.

    • MrPin says:

      Agree. I always turn on subtitles and skip through the voice acting as fits my mood. Love how Witcher 3 does this exactly right.

      • Sian says:

        The Witcher 3 needs the option to skip the whole thing instead of having me hammer the button until I’m through all of the dialogue. I play on the highest level of difficulty because I’m daft like that and need to reload certain fights several times. Coupled with the fact that the game doesn’t let me save after cutscenes in certain cases this means I have to skip those lines one by one a lot.

  16. Windows98 says:

    This is why I stopped playing Alien Isolation after only a couple of hours. I kept dying unpredictably (seems like this was game-marmite, I hated it, others loved it) then being shown the same unskippable cut-scene over and over again.

    • Beefenstein says:

      This killed my interest in playing, even though I loved the atmosphere.

    • jrodman says:

      That logo actually scared me. I’d forgotten what windows 98 looked like.

      It was like a ghost had risen.

  17. John O says:

    I wish more games made the story optional. I just have zero interest in the story with most games on the market right now, and if I do, it’s because it’s a niche I happen to enjoy, like Darkest Dungeon. The rest, be it GTA, Ass Creed or Dragon Age, just make me cringe. There’s many games I can’t play. They look like a lot of fun, but I’m not going to sit through those cut scenes.

    • LexW1 says:

      I really doubt you’d get much out of Ass Creed without the story, and you’d get shit-all out of DA or Pillars of Eternity or really any RPG which makes the story important. A series of meaningless RPG battles is probably not going to thrill you much. Similarly the Mass Effect series, though hilariously you CAN make the story optional in ME3, by selecting the auto-story at the start and then just skipping all the convos/cutscenes (it’s a lot of skipping but it’s doable). Without the story, characters and so on, it’d just be a decent cover shooter (for ME2/3 – a terrible RPG-ish cover-shooter for ME1).

      With GTA, I wonder what you even mean by “make the story optional”. You can pretty much entirely ignore the story and go on endless rampages in GTA V, for example (might have to do the tutorial but big whoop). GTA Online (part of V) is pretty much what you’re asking for, too. You can skip the shit out of cutscenes in GTA V, for sure.

  18. ButteringSundays says:

    I can’t really get behind this call if I’m honest.

    A game can be one of many things. Sometimes it’s a sandbox play area, sometimes it’s a curated experience. Whether a cutscene, etc. is skippable is up to the developer, in the same way as allowing you to customise your protagonist, or display subtitles. If it’s part of the experience they’re creating it;s entirely their prerogative if they wish to allow you to skip something.

    Sometimes I skip, sometimes I don’t. But I can think of several situations in which I’m glad I couldn’t skip.

    Maybe you just need some help with your ADD?

    • Beefenstein says:

      “If it’s part of the experience they’re creating it;s entirely their prerogative if they wish to allow you to skip something.”

      Get back to your prog rock albums which are rumoured to tell a story, Grandad, and let us skip tracks at will on our iPhones and shuffle the shit out of any curation.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      If you can think of several occasions where you’re glad you couldn’t skip, maybe it’s you who should seek some help with your ADD. The rest of us enjoy not having to see the same cutscene for the 8th time.

    • pepperfez says:

      I was able to skim parts of Paradise Lost and it’s still one of the best things I’ve read. So here’s my test: Unless you think you write better than Milton, you should let me skip your story segments.
      If you do think you write better than Milton, you should stop writing.

  19. Eiv says:

    If you want to see Unskippable cutscenes in a funnier light, check you tube for ‘Unskippable’, it was a series that used to run on The Escapist Magazine. Rather amusing.

  20. Det. Bullock says:

    That’s the reason I uninstallled Fables after barely starting it, one fucking hour of tutorials and cutscenes with no possibility to save your progress made simply impossible for me to progress, with skippable cutscenes said tutorials would have amounted to 20 minutes or so, still long but I think I would have been able to make it to a save point.

    And how about the ability to pause cutscenes?
    I tend to get interrupted often during my spare time and not being able to follow a critical dialogue because I get a phone call is incredibly irritating.

  21. illuminerdi says:

    Ok, first off, let me preface this by saying that I am 1000% behind skippable cutscenes. I believe every game should have them and they are a blight upon the gaming world.

    That said, I would like to take a moment to give some of you here an insider’s perspective. I was a level designer on 5 published games for a variety of platforms over the last decade. I did extensive cutscene work on 3 of them, so this is a subject I am well familiar with.

    Making cutscenes skippable is/can be a GIANT PAIN IN THE A**. See, building a cutscene varies greatly depending on the engine and tech you’re working with, but generally speaking there is still a lot involved. You have to queue up and synchronize the various animations for each character. For the games I worked on the cutscenes were not built as a “scene”, our engine required you to play an animation for each character. Other (dialogue-centric) cutscenes were ad-hoc, meaning that the animators didn’t do squat and I had to cobble together the cutscene using pre-existing “talk” animations, and calling the “walk here” function, doing the camera pans and cuts myself, etc. It was really fun getting to play director, but it was also exhausting. I wish I could show you guys screenshots of the process, but without the kind of directorial tools that actual animators have at their disposal, working for a small studio with a shoestring budget meant that building cutscenes in the engine was like trying to film Lord of the Rings with an iPhone 1 in the middle of downtown Detroit.

    Here’s the problem: making all of this stuff skippable is basically “extra” work. Depending on what is going on in the cutscene at the time, skipping it means basically resetting everything to the way it needs to be after the cutscene ends. See, if the player lets the cutscene play out, then naturally the characters are going to end up in a certain position doing a certain thing, the camera is in a certain place, etc. The “natural” end of a cutscene might only involve 2-3 additional changes for gameplay to resume.

    Meanwhile, if the player skips a cutscene midway through, a bunch of extra setup has to be done. More or less you need to destroy everything in the scene and re-create it.

    Here’s an example: let’s say as part of the cutscene you have some falling boulders and the main character heroically pushes the sidekick out of the way of during the cutscene. So during the cutscene at some point you spawn the boulders in (off camera), you then play an animation or otherwise cause them to fall, and then you probably delete them and spawn in static versions of those boulders (with collision, etc) immediately after the final frame of the “falling boulder” animation. If the player skips the cutscene you have jump immediately to spawning the static versions of the boulders. But since this task was previously executed BY the completion of the “falling boulder” animation so as to be seamless, you now have to first call a command to delete the falling boulders, and then spawn the static ones manually. This is assuming that calling a command to delete the falling boulders doesn’t crash the engine if they haven’t spawned yet, because your engine is a piece of garbage and the studio doesn’t put any money/time into fixing “non-essential” bugs like that. If THAT’S the case, then you have to first create and IF statement in your scripting to check if the falling boulders have even spawned yet.

    This creates a sort of domino effect – killing a running animation might trigger the next block of script to start, regardless of whether or not the animation was killed by player skipping or by the engine reading the last frame of the anim.

    The net effect is that skipping a cutscene often means hitting the entire thing with a sledgehammer and just deleting everything in the cutscene and recreating it all from scratch at the end. While this sounds like a good practice to get into, the truth is that when you’re working 17 hour days 6-7 days a week to get a project finished on schedule (because delaying was NOT an option on some of the projects I worked on), taking the extra time to build skippability into cutscenes was an easy step to…skip, because it was a huge timesink.

    For the record: I put in extra time (on my already overloaded schedule) to build skippable cutscenes into several of my games, because I feel that strongly about it. I even made some other designers’ cutscenes skippable, just because I couldn’t stand the inconsistency that much and because I hate unskippable cutscenes that much.

    That particular game still got an average score of around 5/10 from most reviews. But at least it had skippable cutscenes…

    • Faxmachinen says:

      You’re doing it wrong. If the programmers can’t make a generic skip in-game animation button, you turn the cutscenes into video files and have them make a skip video button instead.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      Urgh! No to FMV cutscenes, digital downloads are getting big enough as it is without adding FMV made using the game engine.

      Thanks illuminerdi for this input. I suspected that this was the case, I recently played some KOTOR 2 and I noted that while dialogue could be skipped, any animations that moved characters or changed scenery could not be skipped. I think that’s still the case with the Mass Effect games.

      It’d be nice if the game engines allowed the developer to take a ‘snapshot’ of all the changed elements in a scene since the last snapshot, so that it allowed the player to skip a rigged scene to the next snapshot. But such things need to be programmed in and don’t dynamically account for foreign objects in the scene (unless more programmer resources are devoted to accounting for them).

    • Dilapinated says:

      That was a really interesting comment, thanks for making it. :)

    • iainl says:

      Reading all that frankly terrifies me. Partly because it sounds like an awful lot of very hard work, obviously.

      But mainly because if you’ve not made it easy to set up the gamestate to post-cutscene mode when I tell you to skip ahead, you’ve also not made it easy to get the gamestate to that position when I die 10 seconds after the cutscene ends. And if you don’t reset the game back to where it was when the cutscene ended when -that- happens, I’m going to have to sit through your whole unskippable cutscene again.

      And again.

      And again.

    • buxcador says:

      It does not matter how much work it took to make a crappy cutscene.

      No excuses for bad design. If cutscenes are trouble that is just another important reason to not include cutscenes.

      It does not make sense to spend money on things that players universally hate.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I don’t think you read the comment. His point wasn’t that cutscenes take a lot of work to make so they shouldn’t be skipped. It’s that a lot of engines don’t support cutscenes easily, so they have to be hacked in. Without the cutscenes the devs made, the game wouldn’t load right.

        I definitely agree with faxmachinen. Just make them FMVs, if devs don’t want to make FMVs because it disrupts the flow of the game, then that’ll be a good lesson about cutscenes in general.

  22. kikito says:

    ❤❤ Skip intro logos option ❤❤

    Pleeease.

    Pleeeeease.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      A lot of games have a command line option to suppress these (put in by developers who were sick of seeing it every time they restarted a crashed instance, I’d guess)

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      This. Starting games by having to bash escape is not a good first impression.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Or second, or third, or, yes, Valve, I’ve played this game for hundreds of hours, I know you had an unfortunate industrial accident…

  23. bill says:

    I can’t think of a time I have ever wanted to skip a cutscene THE FIRST TIME.

    So, personally, I can’t find myself getting too worked up about this. As long as cutscenes are skippable the 2nd time, I don’t see it as an issue. There are a lot more annoying things, like the dozen of logo videos that play every time I load the game, or the game letting me accidentally skip past an important cutscene by pressing a button by accident, or putting big cutscenes after / between checkpoints, making me press half a dozen buttons to get back to where I was after I die, etc..

    I also can’t blame the game developers if they actually want people to see their work (the first time around, at least). They are the ones making the game and we can choose to like it or not, buy it or not, give it a good review or not…

    My personal opinion was that the Prince of Persia games had the best cutscenes, you could fast forward them, rewind them, etc..

  24. Core says:

    Isn’t the main reasons why some cutscenes are unskippable because they hide the load times there?

  25. oravalag says:

    Unskippable cutscenes in GTA Online heists are just unbearable, specially when failing a checkpoint is so easy due to random disconnections, players who don’t give a f*ck or the fact that everyone selects the maximum difficulty but then invite low level rookies to the party.
    I haven’t yet been able to complete a heist for these reasons. I just don’t have the patience.

  26. fish99 says:

    I’d support skipping second viewings of cut-scenes, and I’d like devs to think more about where they put checkpoints in relation to cut-scene and non-interactive elements. Also all startup movies should be skip-able after one viewing.

    Other than that though I’m good.

  27. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Or, if we can’t skip, at least let us jump up and down. Even in the prerendered bits, if I hammer spacebar I expect to see my character jumping up and down no matter what’s going on. Because all dialogue and exposition in games is tolerable so long as you’re jumping up and down.

  28. SuperTim says:

    If you want to skip things then start being better reviewers in the first place.

    I’ve seen so many reviews that miss the point of a game, that the reviewer (or some rather blogger) complaining that he (she, or it, don’t care) can’t do something because he didn’t read the manual, or the tutorial or the in-game messages because they don’t want to, or intentionally has skipped. And when they got told it’s their fault, they’re too stubborn to acknowledge them, and blame the developer not making it more obvious. Sure.

    When unskippable scenes result in lesser point reductions than giving up a game because someone didn’t get it, developers won’t ever going to change. That’s life. As long as these bloggers going to blame everyone and everything for their own laziness, they really shouldn’t be called reviewers. But everyone is a reviewer/blogger/vlogger nowadays, so that’s not going to happen.

    I’ve been watching some vlogs reviewing games lately, the easiness of them not reading anything before starting a game, and then screaming and complaining loudly is probably good for their viewers. But unfortunately these are influential people because they’re more comedians than reviewers. And comedians, they get a prime time shows on the BBC, but reviewers and normal players, well, nowhere.

    tl;dr: Why are you complaining everyone else about a problem that you created in the first place?

    • Xantonze says:

      Why should we care about the reviews here? As a player, I’d like to be able to skip the cutscenes, period.
      Don’t put this on the reviewers, they have nothing to do with it, as several comments by professional developpers in this comment section made abudantly clear.

      tl;dr: why do you let your hatred of game journos cloud your judgment ?

      • pepperfez says:

        If only the journilluminati censorship board made that easier to do…

      • Premium User Badge

        Damien Stark says:

        It may seem emotional or paranoid to you, but it’s pretty legitimate argument.

        1. Devs have to care about reviewers (both the professional journo ones and the regular player ones who fill up Steam reviews and metacritic user ratings) because that directly drives recognition and purchases of their game.

        2. Reviewers and players both love to skim and skip and then complain that the game “won’t let you” do something which it actually does let you do and tried to teach you how to do a minute ago.

        So it’s like calling a helpdesk – yes those first 15 questions they ask you are stupid and you wish you could just speed the conversation past that point, but they have to ask those 15 stupid questions because they have to defend themselves from all the people who need those questions.

        I still come down on the side of “they should take that risk and make these skippable”, but it’s hard for me to blame them when I know the “customers” they deal with.

        • April March says:

          But this article shows that doing that doesn’t work. A person, be a journo, a youtuber or Bob the Player, who doesn’t want to watch your cutscene, won’t start to pay attention because you didn’t let them skip; they’re just going to pay attention to something else, then return and make the same complaints they’d made if they’d skipped. Even more, they’re going to be harsher because the dev has just 1) did something they disliked and 2) made them leave the game’s headspace.

          I’ve also never seen a RPS review that was bad because the reviewer hadn’t paid attention to cutscenes. Elsewhere, but not here. This is the land of If Only You Could Talk To Monsters.

          • SuperTim says:

            Er, what you said is that the one occasional (straw) person who was going to skip anyway can’t be stopped. Well, there’s nothing a developer can do to make this person happy. If this person can’t complain about the non-skipping (s)he will complain about everything else. In the meantime, that really important explanation helped everyone else who understand what they have to do next instead of being stuck or missing some very important dialogue. So, er, your idea sounds nice in theory.

  29. Lionmaruu says:

    ONLY LET YOU SKIP IF YOU SAW IT ONCE… no I wont let you skip on the first time, it is part of the game, you cant skip a part of a movie on a theater can you? it is part of the experience.

    now after you saw(or looked away, whatever) once, then you can skip it… :P

    • Zekiel says:

      You can’t skip a movie in a theatre… but you can skip a movie on your TV/PC/phone so that’s not a great argument. And you can skip paragraphs or pages in a book, or article. AND a game’s supposed to be a more interactive medium than either of the above two examples, not a less interactive one. Let me skip cutscenes whenever I damn well want to.

    • w0bbl3r says:

      Ah that’s all well and good, but comparing it to a movie is kind of wrong.
      Because I am PLAYING a videogame, I am WATCHING a movie.
      I am not here to WATCH a videogame, I am not there to PLAY a movie.
      If you were to say, “could you skip the interactive parts of the movie?”, then I would say yes. That’s all the menu stuff. You skip as much as you can, and then get to the movie, which is what you are wanting.
      The OPTION to skip cutscenes should always be there.
      More options in videogames is never a bad thing, as long as they are optional, and not mandatory.
      Nobody is forcing you to skip a cutscene, so what’s the problem if the option is there? Especially if, as you say, you can skip once you have seen the scene for the first time. That means they added the option, then went out of their way to remove the option the first time it plays.
      Why not just have the option? It wouldn’t hurt anything. And in games like shadow warrior, xcom, sniper elite, fallout 3, or even the new wolfenstein game, skipping the custscenes is understandable because the gameplay is what makes those games, 100%.
      The story really doesn’t matter at all, you just want to get to the sniping, slicing, dicing, exploding and exploring. Who cares what people are talking about?

    • iainl says:

      NO.

      Even if not because your creative genius is lacking in some way, then at least because you’re a computer. And you have no idea if I’ve seen this cutscene before, really. Maybe it was another family member on this PC, and I’ve not really seen it at all. Maybe because I played the game extensively last year, but don’t have a save file on this computer. Maybe because I just upgraded from a consolebox version, and saw it there.

      Trust me. I know whether I want to skip your cutscene better than you do.

    • buxcador says:

      A game is NOT A MOVIE.

      Every game trying to be a movie is a big fail.

    • April March says:

      I skip parts of movies in the theatre all the time, by going to the toilet.

  30. craigdolphin says:

    Let me skip? Yeah, fair enough but a minor quibble IMO. What really upsets me is that they won’t let me PAUSE a cutscene. Y’know that long exposition filled scene that you really need to pay attention to in order to have a clue as to what is going on….and the doorbell rings just as it gets going. Or the phone. Or the missus comes in asking about what we should do for dinners for the upcoming week and it has to be right then. God forbid you have a kid (or a dog) that chooses that moment to throw up on the carpet.

    Skipping…eh, that’s a matter of mild irritation. PAUSING is vastly more important in my opinion.

  31. w0bbl3r says:

    The worse thing than not being able to skip?
    Games like mass effect or the witcher 3, where you have to press space, TWICE, to skip each individual spoken line of dialogue.
    For instance, I played the first 15 hours or so of the game, only to have a major PC problem. I upgraded everything, lost all my saves (apparently GoG galaxy doesn’t have a cloud for saves yet) because I had to install fresh windows on a fresh HDD.
    So, there I am struggling to get through those first hours again, knowing all the dialogue already.
    Then not only do I have to press SPACE to skip each line of dialogue, I have to press it TWICE. Once to bring up the “press space to skip” message, and then once again to skip.
    Some of those scenes are ridiculously long. Even if you are watching them for the first time they are needlessly long-winded and boring sometimes.
    Just give me the option to skip the whole thing all the way to my next dialogue option. Like “press space to skip, press enter to skip whole scene” or something.
    I would rather they just not have a skip option than have this. It is so annoying hammering away at the space bar to get through 10 minutes worth of dialogue you have already heard.
    By this point, I have almost caught up to where I was, and I find myself just leaving the room for a few minutes rather than have to keep hitting space or sit watching all this boring dialogue over again.
    I do love the game, but boy this is really tedious now.

  32. Erithtotl says:

    Hey, how about just getting rid of cutscenes altogether? The are a crutch.

    The Rockstar games, especially Red Dead Redemption, really rely on cut scenes. Because they are trying to be movies, and tell an emotional moving story. So I see this dramatic cut scene about the tenuousness of life and existence and hopes and dreams, then I murder 50 faceless people in the next ‘mission’. How about trying to integrate your story and your point into the mechanics, instead of having mechanics and story that are so at odds with each other that you have to drop out of the game entirely in order to tell the story?

    • Premium User Badge

      Damien Stark says:

      No thanks.

      I understand people who complain about Assassin’s Creed and GTA games, but I just finished Witcher 3 and I’ll stick with the version which contains cutscenes over your cutscene-removed version.

      But I do agree that games which have them should make them:
      1. Pauseable
      2. Skippable
      3. Re-playable

      If at all possible.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        You haven’t even played his cutscene-free version of The Witcher 3, so how could you know? Was Half-Life a bad game?

        • Premium User Badge

          Damien Stark says:

          Yes, it definitely was a bad Witcher game. The Signs were really underpowered, and I couldn’t find any decent Alchemy recipes. You can’t override an argument about game X with “oh but here’s a totally unrelated game Y, which I think is good”. “This FPS I like is better than your third-person RPG” is pretty disingenuous.

          But even widely beloved Half-Life and Half-Life 2 do not escape Alec’s gripe here:
          “And no, you can’t get around it by allowing me to walk around or pan the camera without a cutscene.”

          Any of the scenes in Half-Life where stuff is happening and you aren’t free to ignore it an move on the next part (like the intro ride, or G-man scenes near the end) also qualify under Alec’s “I should be able to skip this”

  33. Goose says:

    I don’t mind a scene being unskippable on the first playthrough. I really don’t mind watching them, because if I’m playing the game, I’m clearly becoming invested in the characters and environment and want to know where its all headed. Second playtime forward (even on new games created after the first playthrough), skip buttons are required.

    I only say this because I’ve accidentally skipped more than a few scenes in games, and it always pisses me off because I almost always have no way of going back to see what my cat hitting the keyboard made me miss.

  34. Goose says:

    I also have an addendum to this article: let me pause. Seriously, if you’re going to give me an unskippable scene, you have to actually respect the fact that in the middle of it my dog might decide to go batshit looney, and I have a choice between watching your scene or handling my dog to try and avoid waking up the baby. Oh, and the baby might wake up too, and if she needs a bottle she sure as hell isn’t going to care that I can’t pause the goddamn mid-game diatribe. So now my choice is between responsible parenting or not knowing what the hell just happened to characters I invested 60 hours into. That’s not a choice I should have to make.

    Let me pause.

  35. liquidsoap89 says:

    If a cutscene can be skipped, it should also be able to be paused. I can’t stand when something comes up, and I’m in the middle of a video that I WANT to watch, but have to miss a moment or two.

    If a cutscene can be skipped, please don’t put a big message on the screen telling me so every time I press a button. If you’re telling me to press space to skip, and I’m pressing Caps Lock to take a screenshot, you can be quite certain that I’m not mistakenly pressing Caps Lock repeatedly thinking it’s the space bar… Basically, The Witcher 3, fix your shit!

    And as a person who typically doesn’t skip cutscenes, you can be damn sure that I WILL be if you go all ludonarrative dissonance on us and start having my character do game things in the videos that can’t actually happen in the game. If I can’t do a backflip off a wall and kick the hat off some robot with a keyboard, Action McAwesomeman shouldn’t be allowed to do it on his own either.

  36. cristoffson says:

    You would totally skip chapters in books right? I do it all the time. Here’s a secret truth about books: sometimes they’re boring. And when your work involves reading them, you have less patience for bullshit. Also: sometimes you just want to read that amazing chapter again, fuck all the rest. It is an awesome aspect of books that they’re skippable, and games should strive toward that freedom instead of the linearity and passivity of filmwatching.

    • pistolhamster says:

      I do that too. The most blatant chapter skip I remember in my shameful literature reading is the entire second last chapter of “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry. Just saw a mile away what that chapter was about. Didn’t bother to read it. My wife was exasperated! IT was the author’s vision and I just trundled on his fine work just like that!

      • cristoffson says:

        Haha yeah, I totally get you. Well, sometimes a book was in need of some extra editing. Sometimes you’re just not into it but you still want to finish it. First time I read the Illiad it was for school and I just skipped through entire sections of eternal descriptions of soldiers and whatnot. Second time around I took my time and it was like a different book. I think it’s part of the charm of literature. There’s a book, Hopscotch, by Julio Cortázar, in which you reach the end of the novel and you realize there are several chapters left unread. Then there’s an author’s note that invites you to read the book out of order, intercalating (I’m not sure if this is a word in english) the original chapters with the short ones of the latter part (the one you didn’t read), and it just completely changes the novel, it become kind of a self-parody the second time through.

  37. SuicideKing says:

    Let me skip.

    And in the game.

  38. jellydonut says:

    Cutscenes?

    LET ME FUCKING SKIP YOUR STUPID-ASS OVERLY LONG INTRO LOGOS THAT NO ONE WANTS TO WATCH.

  39. Dominare says:

    tl;dr this article

  40. Shadowflame66 says:

    I like that you start this article with like 50 reasons they shouldn’t let you skip, and then say “do it anyway”. That’s an interesting debate tactic there.

  41. unraveler says:

    Who remember Red Faction 2?

  42. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Also let me pause it. Sometimes the dinner is cooking or the bell’s ringing. Real life doesn’t stop just because you’re about to explain the plot.

    -Also add optional captions in case I don’t understand your acting
    -Don’t autosave, cutscene, boss fight

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Sample:

      Player puts on short-time buffs and prepares mentally for hardcore action.
      Game autosaves.
      Cutscene showing hero falling down a slope into a monster pit, something steers in the dark.
      Monster makes a long entrance flying around and lighting stuff on fire, begins a taunting dialogue, hinting at secrets.
      Player gets edgy while selecting some important moral choices.
      Buffs run out, player becomes sleepy.
      Cutscene ends unexpectedly and monster instantly rushes hero. ;p

      Oh and I just remember now that werewolf section in Witcher 3 – he slaughtered me like a dozen times.

  43. Jane Doe says:

    Even Wing Commander 3 with its Hollywood-cast allowed skipping. They were just good enough that you didn’t (until the 20th playthrough or so).

    It should be optional to view non-playable parts of a game, no exceptions.

  44. buxcador says:

    There are two things I hate more than cutscenes:

    1-Quick Time Events. Those make me mad in anger. There are no words to describe how much they rage me.
    On a QTE, I do not care at all about anything going on the screen, only on the key I’m forced to press, sometimes repeatedly. I don’t have any idea about what is going on. I don’t care. All my attention is focused on the puking disgusting key pressing, and I don’t want to know what is the supposed cause that made me press those keys. I want to forget it as soon as possible and definitely.
    QTE do not make cutscenes interactive. They break immersion. They kill the game flow.

    Cutscenes are boring and unbearable. Cutscenes with QTE are the summit of cheap and disgusting.

    2-Forcing me to replay again and again some part of the game including a cutscene. I don’t pay for that. If I knew beforehand that the game had a single of those human rights violations, I would not had bought the game.

    I demand from game reviews to tell me if any game has unskippable cutscenes, QTE, and repeated unskippable cutscenes. It is one of the most important aspects of a game that I need to know before purchasing it.

  45. Lacero says:

    I go on about this to anyone who will listen, since it was first published, and this is another excuse.

    A bbfc game report from 2007ish including a section on storylines.
    link to bbfc.co.uk

    “In comparison with graphics, storylines – clear and compelling narrative
    progression – are less often mentioned amongst criteria for assessing games
    and seem relatively unimportant to many gamers. The tension and suspense
    in gaming usually arises from the immediate situation, rather from
    speculation about the ultimate resolution. With a few striking exceptions in
    this sample, notably among the professionals, it is a sense of progression
    through the game, as distinct from a strong linear storyline, that is
    appreciated.”

    If the industry had proper telemetry for conversation and cutscene skipping it might learn that it spends a lot of time and effort on something professionals like and players don’t.

    Personally I just get annoyed when they put in something to skip to the next line of dialogue and then suddenly the same button skips an entire cutscene. I am way too impatient to listen to someone act a line of story when I can read it and press “next!”.

  46. Premium User Badge

    Masked Dave says:

    Also: let me pause! When it’s a cutscene I want to watch and my wife comes in to ask a question it’s very hard to explain that I need her to stop talking while I ignore her for no good reason.

    Just stick a couple of icons on the bottom of the screen when I move the mouse/controller: Play/pause, skip, fast forward and rewind. We know what these controls do. We’re used to them. Why do games designers have to be special snowflakes?

    • Sarfrin says:

      THIS! Just today I started fighting back against an alien invasion with no earthly idea of what I was doing because of this problem. I tend to ignore the cutscene instead, what with it not being a person and all.

  47. ffordesoon says:

    Great article, Alec!

    I watch cutscenes. I watch them when I can skip them, and I (obviously) watch them when I can’t skip them. I’m the type of player who it is often alleged does not exist – the one who cares about the story the devs wanted to tell, no matter how shit it is.

    As one of these mythical creatures, I can say conclusively that I pay less attention to cutscenes I can’t skip and/or pause, because all I can think about is how little the makers of the game respect me and my time.

  48. InternetBatman says:

    It’s worth pointing out that not creating scenes that take player control away allow for really neat options. Deus Ex let you prepare for an invasion while Paul was doing his save yourself speech. It’s also really fun to interrupt monologuing.

  49. Frings says:

    When you said that it’s just tradition that lends to this situation, you’re very right. It got me thinking, though, what was the last time I was genuinely EXCITED for cutscenes – when I’d drop my controller/mouse and get that little closer to the screen to pay rapt attention.

    Honestly, I cannot think of the last time that happened for me in a PC game.
    On consoles, I remember Tales of the Abyss; before that, I remember the feeling of watching FFX cutscenes the very first time. Those are for the most recent examples I can think of.
    (Also all of Final Fantasy Tactics’ scenes, because of course. I would never get tired of them.)

    But for PC…? I mean I certainly enjoy cutscenes, but that wonder is mostly gone.
    WAIT NO LIFE IS STRANGE – but that game has a gift. The best “cutscenes” are actually ones you can choose to partake in and can stop them at any time.

  50. prettychillguy says:

    In my opinion, for the majority of games those cut scenes are there because there was someone who wanted to tell a story or portray a message. For someone paying money to experience that tale or story that someone is creating, I think that games shouldn’t be able to skip the majority of scenes. Of course in RPG’s there should be the option to skip some of the dialogue, but when it comes to major story and background that should be something that is required to be experienced.