Even with all the possibilities the adventure creator allows, sometimes our ideas can be too big to fit in a single adventure. While trying to come up with a way to represent information more compactly in adventures, I accidentally stumbled upon a method for creating comic book-style cut scenes.
This technique relies on clever prop building and camera trickery. This is an advanced tutorial – I wouldn’t recommend trying to add the cut scenes unless you have a fairly firm grasp of the adventure creator and some of its more basic techniques.
Planning the Cut Scene
Before you begin work on your cut scene, you’ll need to have the frames planned out in advance. I would recommend sketching them out beforehand. Also, creating the cut scenes for an adventure should not be done until you are nearly finished with it- you’ll need to make sure you have the story and props for your adventure in place before you reach this step.
The Camera Prop
After you’ve decided what you want to happen in the scene, you’ll need to create the camera prop that triggers the cut scene. Your objective in the adventure will be to examine the prop. The camera prop is built in a way that takes advantage of the way the examine goal camera works. The game camera will always zoom in from the front of the prop, giving you a predictable path to build on. These props are built backwards in the building creator, so when you examine the prop, the camera is zooming in from the opposite direction. The camera prop can be any item you want, a computer screen, a record player, a dinner plate, or anything else you can think up. For my adventure, my character is about to leave on a trip, so the camera prop is a suitcase. My prop looks like this:
The long black cylinder is the front of the camera prop. The cylinder is there to control how far the camera zooms out. The duffel bag is there so the prop has more than one use to save adventure item slots, and it will be hidden from view. Here’s what the prop looks like in the adventure:
Adjusting the Camera
Once you have your camera prop built, you can start building your cut scene. Make sure that the object to be examined is in front of something the player cannot see beyond, like a wall or a rock formation. Place a creature or another prop in front of the camera to adjust where the “examine” camera will zoom to. The distance the camera zooms out is affected by the size of the prop, so if the camera is constantly too close, you may need to increase the size of your prop. In the picture below you can see where the camera zooms to after “examining” the camera prop.
Make sure the camera prop is in a place you like, because you will not be able to move it after you start building the scene.
Creating the Frames
Now comes the hard part: creating the frames. For this adventure, I used a prop that was just a couple of black cylinders to create the borders for the frames, which is the best method I’ve found so far. Don’t worry about how the scene looks when it’s zooming in, only worry about how the scene looks when the camera stops zooming for now.
This is what the finished cut scene looks like in the editor. Pretty messy, huh? Something you might notice is the blocks or “backgrounds” are all at different distances and positions. This is a key factor in selling the illusion of a comic book style cut scene. You will need to have objects “cut off” at the frame lines to give the appearance of them being separate scenes. The cut scene will not look very convincing if every object is in full view in every frame.
Using Non-Gameplay Objects
A very important thing to note is some items like buildings and fixed objects will sometimes disappear in the cut scenes – the only items that will never disappear are gameplay objects, like disguised blue gates and keys. Buildings and fixed objects disappear depending on if they are directly in the path of the camera. If they are too close to the center, they will disappear. For this reason, the prop you use to create the frame borders must be a disguised gate. I used a few buildings in my cut scene, but I was only able to do so because none of them were directly in front of the camera.
- Try to find ways to reuse the props in the cut scenes if you can – the cut scenes take up a lot of complexity, and so far, I haven’t been able to fit more than 3 or 4 into an adventure.
- When the scene is finished I use a black box to block the camera off from seeing the scene until it’s all the way zoomed in – it would be sort of anti-climactic if the player saw the guts of your cut scene while the camera moved into place.
- The trick to getting your cut scene to look good is editing, editing, and more editing. You’ll adjust things a tiny bit, check things in-game, then adjust things some more. It’s going to take forever, but it will be worth it.
You should have everything you need to know to create cut scenes of your own now! I hope you find this technique to be as useful as I have. If you have any further questions about the method, please feel free to ask.
You can message me on Discord at Derezzed#3177 with questions, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.