Saturday, 19 October 2013

QTEs, Story and Dialogue Disconnect

Quick time events (QTEs) are sequences in games where the player has to click a button at a specific time to initiate an action. They started surfacing some years ago and there was an outcry against them and developers seemingly stopped using them for a time in PC games.

Then there was a developer which had the good idea to resurrect the point and click adventure genre on the global market, TellTale. They remade Sam and Max, made some (passable) Monkey Island games and a Back to the Future game series but then they made a terrible QTE ridden Jurassic Park game. The later was a huge flop but then they brought us The Walking Dead...

The Walking Dead is a really good story driven game where the player is glued to the screen because it the story is fantastic and you really feel part of it. But! The flip side to that is players the do not like frantic game play are somewhat pushed away because of timers in dialogues and QTEs. There is a part in the second episode that stopped me from playing because of a QTE that I could not complete...

They just brought out a new series called The Wolf Among Us. They used the same engine like in The Walking Dead which so far worked out OK. There is only one episode out by now.

There is a scene in The Wolf Among Us that made me furious and that reminded me of some gripes I had with Mass Effect and that is something I call "Dialogue Disconnect". What I mean by that is a short answer in a dialogue that can be interpreted in different ways and does not match the voice over at all. In Mass Effect there was time to read the short answers, choose one that might be what you want to say and then the voice over says something completely different. In The Wolf Among Us there are longer lines but shorter time to read because of timed dialogues. I had to replay a scene several times because dialogue options have story consequences and if you picked the wrong answer the later game might be changed in a way you not intended.

I understand the move by TellTale to appeal to a broader audience but I really do not like QTEs and I kind of hate the timed dialogues. I really loved the Sam and Max games and liked both the Monkey Island and Back to the Future episodes but I have a problem with the new engine because I am either to slow for it or am not playing with a controller. It is kind of sad that TellTale which I saw as a shining star on the adventure game world. Fortunately there are still developers that make more classic point and click adventure games.