Are games becoming more cinematic? Patrick Gilmore, head of Foundation 9 studio Double Helix (Silent Hill: Homecoming
), thinks he sees a major trend in that direction, and that tools and talent are driving it.
"I've been looking at trends in the industry, and I haven't seen many people writing about this, but there has been an absolute explosion in cinematic quality in games released through last year and this year," observes Gilmore, speaking in a new Gamasutra feature interview
To Gilmore, the sum of "cinematic execution" is about more than its parts: "It's not just the core mechanics of the game, it's the core mechanics of the game woven into a setting that is rich and emotional and has a very, very high set of stakes," he describes.
"If you look at how close the teams are here to understanding film-level IP and large-scale, story-driven entertainment, they're tapped in to that, and they have a good understanding of that stuff," Gilmore continues. "That is a direction that I think you're going to see PS3 and Xbox 360 games continue to go."
Part of that direction is being determined by a cultural shift, he asserts: "As a developer, I can remember a time not too long ago -- five years ago -- when people were quick to dismiss storytelling or character development. Like, 'Get on with the game. If I'm not interacting...' It was a badge of honor to say that you skipped through all of the cinematics."
"I don't think the culture has that attitude anymore," Gilmore continues. "I think we've gotten a lot better at telling story, and people are as entertained by the story and the setting and the richness of a game as they are by the mechanics themselves. Look at Uncharted
, or Assassin's Creed
, or any of the games that have come out this year, and I think you'll see ample proof of that."
What's driving the trend? Increasingly sophisticated development talent and
audience, plus one major factor: "I think a lot of it is being driven by development of tools," says Gilmore. "Our pipelines for shooting and jumping were developed far in advance of our pipelines for cinematics, editing, voice acting, facial performance, and camera movement. Those tools are now catching up to the basic game mechanic tools that we had before."
"I think that when you get a lot of developers that are incredibly creative, and they understand cinematography, and you get a set of tools in their hands, then there's no longer anything stopping them from fully describing a character or creating a great, cinematic moment that is seamlessly woven with gameplay," Gilmore adds. "That's going to continue to develop."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature
on Double Helix, which is currently developing Front Mission Evolved
for Square Enix.