When I showed off my zombie idea, one detail that caught some attention was the idea of having QTEs (Quick Time Events) in my game as a way of surviving attacks. There were a lot of negative reactions about this, and after some thinking I decided to remove that part from my design document. While I was deciding this I had an epiphany, not once have I ever enjoyed a QTE.
Before I begin my rant in full I want to define a QTE for the sake of this entry. A QTE is an interactive cut scene in which the outcome is determined by the player inputting a correct set of commands. I’ve been playing games with QTEs since Dragon’s Lair; now that I think about it the mechanic is pretty dull. Basing the player’s survival on a split second button press can be punishing, especially if it is random each time (I’m looking at you Resident Evil 4). This mechanic seems arbitrary to me, an excuse to make things more exciting and give the player more things to do. My complaint is that I’d rather just watch the character do something cool, instead of me pretending that I’m doing more then just pushing a random string of buttons. Thinking back even though I enjoyed Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair, it was less about the game play and more about watching the animations. I’m having a hard time believing that people like QTEs, if anyone can give me a good reason why QTEs should still be in games, I’m all ears.
Personally I think this mechanic has out lived its usefulness and like having to enter in multi character passwords to save games, it needs to go the way of the dodo. I’m at a lost of the reason why developers still use this mechanic; a cut scene means that the player doesn’t interact with the game, hence the word “cut”. I can just imagine the horror of having QTEs in the Devil May Cry series, every cut scene would be a button mashing nightmare. Before I move on I want to make one important distinction, having the player quickly hit a button to avoid attacks using a dodge mechanic during combat is not a QTE, the player still has control of their character and skill is a factor while in a QTE it isn’t.
The opposite of this problem are incredibly long cut scenes in which the player has nothing to do for 30+ minutes (I’m looking at the Metal Gear Solid series this time). I wouldn’t mind going into a rant about long cut scenes removing the player from the game world, but we’ll save that for another entry. So to make a long entry short, I’ve decided to remove the QTE in my zombie game, the action will happen automatically as the player was going to die without it happening.
A few years ago while I was playing Soul Calibur 4 they actually thought it was a good idea to introduce QTEs into the game, worse is that the commands were set up for the game play commands(attack 1, block, etc) and not the actual button presses . So instead of having to press triangle in a split second I had to press “attack 2”, I failed a lot of QTEs to say the least. QTEs seemed to have become a game design fad, in no small part thanks to the God of War series since then just about every action game has had them. The only example I can remember when QTEs were decent was in the last Prince of Persia game, where during combat they were renamed “Speed kills”. My complaint however still stands, during a QTE the player is given the belief that they’re doing something, but all it is really a pass/fail string of commands.
I’m willing to make a small concession in this matter for fighting games like the Dragon Ball Z and Naruto titles, where during ultimate attack cut scenes both players have to input a series of commands to either increase the damage or decrease it for the one who is being attacked. They play out more like small mini games during the rounds rather then a full blown QTE. I’m left to wonder what will be the next game design fad that will replace QTEs in the majority of titles.