Cutscenes in AdventureQuest 3D

Artix Krieger | Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Paladin Artix Painting

Sit down, let me tell you a story...

Actually... WAIT! Stay RIGHT where you are. Let me tell you a story about telling stories.

The #1 thing that wakes me up in the morning is the opportunity to create "a moment." Not just any moment, but a killer, surprising, remember-able, and significant moment. If you have played any of our previous games than you probably know exactly what I am referring too about. If you were there in DragonFable when the entire player-base defended the town of Falconreach... we defended that town until there was only one board of it left! Or our 1st LIVE Friday the 13th Event with Voltaire when over 30,000 players set sail together to a forbidden island. The event was so original that GAMER magazing ran an article about it. Or perhaps our most strange, unique and... LOL, somewhat embarrassing moment, where the players of all our games unified to battle EbilCorp across 7 different games to save the entire game studio. (If I have not properly apologized to anyone who thought that event was actually real, please accept my sincere and humble apology...) It was an incredibly challenging event to pull off requiring the cooperation of all of of games, and real life videos, in an all out attempt to excite, engage and entertain you in a way that I am pretty sure no video game studio has ever tried before. Creating unique experiences for you, is what truly motives me.

AdventureQuest 3D, as a multi-device game, means we have the opportunity to do all kinds of interesting things that we... and possibly no-one,  has ever tried before!

This past summer, I had the honor to writing two story lines for AdventureQuest Worlds. They were "Ebil Dread Space."  and "Titan Hollow - the living dungeon." The response on both of them was overwhelming. There is no greater feeling in the world then getting a stream of cheers in-game, on Twitter and on Facebook after going all out on a release.

Titan Hollow
("Titan Hollow" Art contest submission by Axeros!)

I really like creating stories in AdventureQuest World's engine for three reasons.

1.) We can put your character directly in the cutscenes, and can allow you to make decisions in them.

2.) We can add ANY code in the cutscenes or map that can do anything... I cannot even begin to tell you how powerful this is in creating unique experiences. (For example, your character can do things in cutscenes that they cannot even do in game!)

3.) Because of the two things above... we can change things in real-time so the world changes based on what you do. (Example: In the Thanksgiving Quest, Oishii starts off crying... but as you do quests she gets happier and happier. Only you see this relationship between Oishii and you. It is a very personal experience in a huge MMO. This allows for very powerful storytelling in an MMO.)

But... none of these features are easily available to us for AdventreQuest 3D (yet)

So, for AdventureQuest 3D we will have to get VERY clever!

When we made the decision to go multi-device... it came with a lot of really tough obstacles. First of all being storage size. We need to keep the game small. We also need massive item customization... and an ever expanding world that somehow, does not take up more and more space. Thankfully, Zhoom made the game self-cleaning. Then, there were multiple interfaces for multiple devices... then figuring out how we were going to make a downloadable version with Occulus Rift Support. Easy cakes! But the biggest obstacles came when we started talking about cutscenes and storytelling. O_O WHAT!?

How to make a Cutscene in AdventureQuest 3D

Right now you are likely thinking, "Wait... this is simple! Just make cutscenes take place real time, or make it load a 3D cutscene that uses our characters." And, for the most part you are right. The obvious long term solution is to build our own cutscene generator/player for the game. Something that would let us do at least 80% of what we were able to do in AQWorlds, but in 3D. Zhoom said he would build this after the current list of priorities.

But what do we do until then?

I had a few interesting ideas (That is why they keep me around... I think.)

"How about we use YouTube videos?"

WHAT!?

Yes... how about we make videos like the GrandTheft Frogzard video and use them as narrative to establish areas. Like, when you enter DoomWood, we could open with a scene of some skeletons breaking through the Paladin's defense, a few horrific shots of creatures storming through the forest, and then some eerie necromancer saying a few lines about how everything is going according to plan. Then, you are standing there.. right in the creepy forest you just learned about. We could put a little icon over someones head when they are watching a video like they did in Knights of the Old Republic.

This could actually be cool. (Thank goodness I did not say we were going to make live action cutscenes..... although, I see the potential for some Easter eggs here.)

Now, this idea is actually pretty good to tie us over until the regular cutscene is working, but it comes with a few challenges too. First, the way you stream video is different on different devices. Zhoom made a quick test for me and on Apple and Android phones to try it out. It is quite seamless and does not drop your game connection while you watch the video. On the web, it is a bit trickier. There is no way to run a YouTube video through Unity, so we would have to do some tricky Javascript. It might work. But no matter how clever we get, you know SOMEONE is going to figure out all of the links to the videos and post them somewhere.... oh the spoilers. SPOILERS! But maybe we can use this to our advantage. What if we made the videos in such a way that you actually wanted to share them as you unlocked them? (Or if we made non-spoiler versions for you to share with your friend... bonus content?)

The second challenge, is if they are videos, we cannot simply insert your character into them. We will either have to tell a story from a narrator's point of view, or from the point of view of a character in the zone. Which... could let us do some really creative things.

Imagine this!

You enter a brand new forest in AdventureQuest 3D... at the center of the area is a giant tree with a face on it. It tells the story of the evil that has invaded it's sanctuary as the camera pans past evil monsters and dangerous situations like the intro to a block buster movie. As you take quests and make decisions.... you unlock new video cutscenes. Each of them are told from the perspective of the tree. Perhaps you did something amazing and the tree face thingy thinks you are the greatest! Or... perhaps you do something bad. Something really bad. Let us just say Smoky the Bear would not approve. So instead the next cutscene video talks about the stranger who entered his woods who was supposed to be their savior.. but turned out to be their ultimate nightmare. Oh the interesting twists and turns we could weave like this. Stories that are unique and decided by you.

I have always been a huge fan of finding "story clues." In Dreadspace you explored an abandoned space station trying to figure out what happened. Story clues were give to you through red buttons on the wall. You did not have to press them. But those who did got to see how deep and strange the story really was. It added fear and excitement for what was likely to come.... making every new room you entered more meaningful. We could get voice actors (maybe you?) to help us voice notes and other "story-clue" videos players find.

Tree?

Imagine you are walking through the desert... there is a skeleton half buried int he sand holding a note. You click on the note. The video starts and you see the words as a voice narrates them, "I have traveled half the world to find my love... the only one I have ever loved... but I am so thirsty. I know my love is just in the pyramid ahead... my lovely magical sword. I must make it just a bit further. The only sword I have ever loved."

Upon reading this you would be able to see a mirage of a Pyramid and be able to enter it to find the sword. Of course, the sword probably talks. The video cutscenes for the talking sword alone could be hysterical. Just a thought.

There are other options. We could tell stories through a series of images, or even a single image. I think, until we have a working system to do interesting things in real time 3D, videos are probably our best option. There is also some incredible irony when you think that most people screen capture video games to put it on YouTube... if someone actually did this, it would be funny because that is where the video already is!

QUESTION: What were your favorite "MOMENTS" from our previous games? What are your favorite types of stories?

QUESTION 2: What do you think of that epic graphic of Artix that Dage painting? To keep you in the that story driven RPG spirit.... here is what it would look like if AQ3D was in Japanese! :D

Japanese AdventureQuest 3D

Play AdventureQuest 3D

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