Bringing Live Action Back into Gaming
by ZackC on November 28, 2012 at 01:00 PM EST

Games developers have begun to put live-action back into gaming.  Instead of doing cut scenes with live actors, the developers are producing video game related content.  This content is most often promotional in nature, such as the recent Halo 4 miniseries.  Live-action should limited to content that is outside of the game, so that the game can have its own story and the live action content can have another story.

For a long time live-action content made up the majority of cut scenes so as to set the story.  This made sense because at that point in time, computer generated images (CGI) were still not popular and were not up to the standards that they are at today.  There was a problem with those cut scenes; they looked like they had been filmed in someone’s garage.  Command and Conquer was one of those games that didn’t have a very high production value, and the sets looked like they were built out of cardboard.  Over time most things got better, but this did not happen with live action in video games.  Need for Speed: Most Wanted used live action to tell parts of the story, but the acting was terrible in that game.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted was one of the most recent games that used live action. Now developers have deserted live action in favor of CGI.  This is a good thing because a lot more can be done with CGI than with live-action. In CGI you deal with simple animations, compared to dealing with human actors.

Since the developers have moved away from putting live action directly into the game, they now want to include live-action somehow.  Halo is one of the better games to now include live action into the game.  Halo 4 has a game mode called Spartan Ops, which are little side missions that allow for more game play and variety.  Along with the Spartan Ops is a small movie, which is episodic like a TV show.  The episodes are done in live action and unlike the old games the production is much better.  Where Command and Conquer used bad sets; Halo 4 pulls out of the stops for its sets and costumes.

This is how live action should be used, to supplement the main story of the game.  With the Halo 4 Spartan Ops, they are telling the story of a group of Spartans who work off of one of the ships in the Story.  Other games will soon catch up to this idea because these sorts of things are popular.  The Halo 4 miniseries Forward Unto Dawn tells the story of the training of a character from the game.  This series was immensely popular and other people will produce material similar to that simply because there was one popular series.

Developers are removing themselves from including live action into video games, and are instead using live action to supplement the game.  Halo 4 is leading the way with a miniseries and including the live action to tell a story.  Unlike in the past where the production value looks like it is on a shoe-string budget, the new production is over the top in terms of quality.  This is how live action should be used; it needs to be separated from the player’s action to provide a better interaction with the game.

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