Since God of War popularized Quick Time Events, they have become fairly common in modern gaming and sort of been accepted as a “thing.” It seems to work its way into almost every game coming out. Why is this? Most likely because programming something to happen because of one button press is easier than programming all these different animations to trigger because of using this combination of movements and button presses that will then make it so enemies will react in a certain way and… Let’s just say it is less complicated.
While Quick Time Events are not really cancer, it is like finding a zit on your first day back to school.
It is kind of annoying seeing a new game’s first game play and it is riddled with Quick Time Events. Specifically the new Tomb Raider was a huge offender of this. It left me feeling pretty unimpressed seeing the developers rapid tapping buttons to get through a tense scene.
The idea of trying to make an interactive cinematic moment is fine but there is no need to make it so obvious. Uncharted 2 did such an amazing job of making you feel like you were barely in control of a tense and crazy moment. Instead of just making a cutscene and throwing in button prompts, they would have you guide the character and maybe make you jump over something. While simple in concept, this made me tense up and worry about the character as he runs along a bridge that is collapsing under him. This is because just like in real life, you now need to watch what you are doing as the next movement could be your last! Also, they did not need to complicate the situation for animators, programmers and modelers. This is opposed to a QTE where all you need to do is watch for the prompt and slap that button. Hardly any effort needed.
I will admit that some games pull it off in a rather spectacular fashion like Asura’s Wrath. Not only did it have QTEs, the entire gameplay was BASED around QTEs. Honestly, it was an anime that was made to be controlled by QTEs and and only about 20% ever let you actually do something on your own. It was very much a welcomed experiment and honestly, I have no idea how Namco-Bandai was convinced on making this game. I am glad it did though because the story was something to behold and had moments that honestly took my breath away but had it simply been an action game… I most likely would have put down the controller much earlier.
So just like I mentioned above, there are ways to do them right and many ways to do them wrong.
A quick brainstorm:
If I am threatening another character with a gun in game and I start to slowly pull the controllers right trigger, zoom in on the gun a little and show his finger applying some pressure to the trigger too. Have the other character notice and start to panic as he knows you are getting serious. These subtle cues make for powerful moments without making them overly obvious.
Making a moment monumental is vital at times so please do not throw a giant “X” button on screen to break that moment. Make it a cut scene or give me control. Even small things can make a world of difference.
Honorable mentions to Shenmue for really pioneering them, and Quantum Theory for pretty much making games around them as well.