I'm sorry to sound so dismissive of so much but I don't think this actually says anything about the meat of what I was trying to say. I think continuing to write about how cinematic scenes are necessarily at the cost of player agency and that this game isn't the "pure sandbox we all wish it was"... I don't know what you're trying to change anyone's mind here about because I think the ideas you're arguing against aren't actually expressed by the people posting here.Sorry to disappoint, but this is a discussion I can have for literally years. I have, actually -- Writing, Literature, and Theatre is what I do for living. I love it!
What I've actually done is used a single, signature example of how rising action is necessary to create scenes driven by established characters exploring an established theme, then deliver them successfully through cinematic presentation. A single example is not the be-all-and end-all of an argument. It is a single example used to highlight the particular point being discussed. The focus of my argument has nothing to do that particular scene. This applies to any such scenes in this game, other games, in books, or in film. It was an example.
In this case, I specifically chose something that was not about V, Johnny, and the main theme because I have already addressed that numerous times (in detail) and wanted to highlight how even smaller, non-central scenes can be utterly reliant on the established characters and the prior narrative arc. That's what qualifies the action and allows it to resonate with an audience. Players can now vest themselves in the experience, suspend their disbelief, and engage in the scene at an emotional level. And the reason for that is because players have had the characters of Judy, Evelyn, and Woodman, their motivations, and their experiences well established and explored by the carefully structured plot up to that point. Storytelling.
That effect simply won't happen without a specifically crafted narrative arc.
Let's challenge the process. Let's take that scene again. Let's pretend that the game is more open-ended, offering more interpretive motivations, and more sandbox play. The player is never required to meet either Judy, Evelyn, or Woodman. There is no guarantee their characters will be established. We'll never be able to deliver that scene. We won't be able to deliver a scene like that with other characters about other parts of the plot, either. Or, we will be able to deliver only scenes that the player has chosen to engage in. Well, then, since there's no guarantee that the player will follow any particular chain, there's no guarantee that the player will ever see any cinematics like this.
OR -- if we just deliver them anyway -- the player will have little no context to qualify such an intense, dramatic scene. Comments that follow would be:
- "Where the hell did this scene even come from?"
- "I just met this Judy character, and now I'm carrying her dead friend's body to a bed -- wtf!?"
- "Woah, the cutscenes in this game are so over-the-top and cringy!"
- "The story in this game is all over the place; there's basically no pacing at all."
^ This is focus of my argument. If the presentation of a game is going to rely on cinematic delivery of narrative, then that narrative arc must be clearly established (for whatever theme my game is about. Can't tell a gripping story without a strong theme. I can kiss dramatic action goodbye if I try.) Player agency will now necessarily be limited to the framework of that narrative. If not, we're right back to either:
1.) I'll have to make individual playthroughs shorter in order to allow more narrative arcs with qualified conclusions.
2.) I'll have to forego cinematic presentation and deliver the narrative through other means (written text, visual storytelling, emergent storytelling, etc.) to ensure more player agency.
My argument is not that there is no way to deliver a game with more choices. My argument is that I cannot deliver more choices if I also intend to include a gripping narrative arc delivered cinematically. As I said the very first time I addressed this consideration:
It's totally possible to deliver more open gameplay...but that isn't the type of game that CDPR has ever made. Their games have always created strong narrative arcs and very cinematic presentation of the story.
Also, please remember, I sympathize and largely agree with players' desires to have a more sandbox Cyberpunk experience in the future. (Just because I loved the story [including the endings ] it doesn't mean I'm against a less-restrictive approach to the narrative!) The main purpose of my argument is to try to offer an alternative approach to that end, one that I believe will reach more ears. One that argues for an alternative approach to the gameplay, instead of arguing against a very well-crafted and rather impactful story.
This was my reaction after Johnny says, "You don't want to hurt your friends, I get it, let's just YOLO this shit and see what happens" and I come out the other side a detached asshole seeking metaphorical immortality. If you could break it down percentage-wise, which part of that reaction is me just completely missing what was going on there and what part was the game not adequately explaining itself?OR -- if we just deliver them anyway -- the player will have little no context to qualify such an intense, dramatic scene. Comments that follow would be:
- "Where the hell did this scene even come from?"
Though also as a side note, even if you were able to convince me that I totally made up everything about what you can control about V and was wrong about all of it, the 6-month ending is still going to be a (reverse?) deus ex machina on par with that Stephen King novel that ends with untelegraphed literal divine intervention. I'm not seeing "well crafted" or "impactful" there.
Edit: added the bit in the middle.