Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (PS1, 1996)
For some utterly random reason today, I was of a mind to rewatch the Bat Flight sequences from Blood Omen, a now 25 year old PS1 game.
The graphics are ... beyond dated, now (I mean, come on, the PS1 wasn't that graphically powerful by today's standards!).
Blood Omen used these half-minute FMV cut scenes to fast travel the main character around the game world to different zones of the world (click to unlock access to fast travel). So it was technically a "long range teleport" kind of feature (only available while "outside"), but within the context of the game where Kain (the main character) is a Vampire (before vampires became sparkly and emo stupid!), so you transform into a BAT and fast fly through these FMV scenes to rapidly travel from where you are to a preset destination point (that you had to unlock).
As a game element, I still consider these Bat Flying sequences to be a superlative bit of game design, since they help buttress the suspension of disbelief that the game world is "larger" than the mere playable areas.
From a thematic standpoint, each and every single one of these half-minute sequences do an excellent job of being part thrill ride and primer, setting the stage and "feel" for where you are going.
I would recommend that MWM take inspiration from these examples of how to effect zone transitions, noting that despite the 25 year old age of the graphics (and sound), simply watching these first person point of view animal (bat) nap of the earth flying sequences STILL ... to this day ... have just as much power to make my skin tingle and induce mild roller coaster vertigo as they did when I first saw them, more than 20 years ago.
- The lighting is impressive, because not everything is straight up day/night ... sometimes there is flying through shadows.
- The flight path is impressive, because it's more of terrain hugging nap of the earth type of movement that is more animalistic than mechanized, having more in common with a rollercoaster than an airplane. The camera tilts and banks, swerving around following the ground, rather than just being a straight line auto-run from Here to There.
- The music is impressive, each flight having its own soundtrack that sets up and delivers on the sense of where you're going and what you SEE once you get there. A lot of the musical and sound cues are just riveting to the point of making all the difference in overall impact.
- Even the transitions within the flights (when they happen) are impressive, usually flying into fog or cresting a ridge, or in one case flying straight up into the sky before diving straight down(!) into a hole in the ground(!) to enter a cave(!), before arriving at the final destination. The first flying sequence even "masks" the transition to the Pillars by flying through tree canopy foliage before entering the clearing where the Pillars are.
Yes, this was the highest image quality video (360p) I was able to find on Youtube for these ... and each of the flights in the video is still impressive to watch.
Just while composing this post, every few minutes I stop writing and watch the video of all of the flights again ... because they're just that awesome and inspiring.
Which then brings up the point ... why am I posting this here at all?
Well I'm glad you asked!
I'm thinking that these sorts of FMV cut scenes could inspire a similar(-ish) sort of use in City of Titans.
Not for zone transitions within the city of course (north/south of the bay, for example) ... but instead for use as transition scenes for going outside of Titan City ... to what would normally be an instanced Mission, usually for a Task Force and the like, although this kind of thing could also be used for the ending of a Story Arc as well.
A story culminates in the PC tracking a named NPC, who flees from the city to a general aviation airport some 40 miles away inland from Titan City so as to attempt to make their getaway from the PC in a private business jet they have stashed at the location, fueled up and ready to fly.
The PC's objective is to capture the named NPC before they can make their getaway.
However, the PC has to get to this location outside the city in order to effect their capture.
Now, the way that City of Heroes would have handled this kind of situation would be to just send the PC(s) to a PCT Tram Station or to Portal Corp (or some random Mission Door somewhere, like a tug boat or a submarine) and just throw up a splash screen and have the PC zone into the instanced Mission Map.
Compare and contrast that kind of "static" zone transition experience with instead doing something akin to the fast flying half-minute FMVs shown above ... and I think you can quickly imagine a very immediate to the point of visceral change in the impact of such a zone transition.
You basically leave the City of Titans by "roller coaster ride" on your way to your destination ... and at the very end of the first person view FMV, as the camera comes to rest, your PC arrives in frame using one of their available Travel Powers, just before the FMV ends, giving you the sense that you just got to "watch your PC fast travel" from wherever they were inside the City of Titans to wherever they are Now™ OUTSIDE the City of Titans.
If you can make these zone transition FMVs as exciting to watch as the ones created for Blood Omen, you might easily wind up with Players NOT wanting to "skip" over the transitions (even if they can!) simply for the enjoyment of watching the roller coaster ride.
Speaking of which, I'm going to watch the flying sequences video again now, in full screen, just so I can enjoy them again. *^_^*
So I'm thinking that doing something akin to these Bat Flying FMVs ought to be yet another option for MWM (a tool in the toolkit) for how to do zone transitions that take PCs outside the city to external destinations, whether they be inland, out to sea (surface or submerged), through a Portal Corp wormhole to another dimension, or even riding a rocket up to a moonbase (so to speak). These kinds of half-minute FMVs would both entertain and "prime" the Player(s) for whatever they are about to encounter on the other side of the zone transition, by setting the stage (and mood) for it on the way there.
Additionally, these kinds of half-minute FMV could even be used as the transition into a Mission Instance copy of an "outside" part of Titan City (so events don't happen in the shared world) while still inside the city.
Let's say you've got a Final Mission for a story arc that needs to happen up on the skyways of NERD somewhere.
The Mission Door "outside" in the shared world is somewhere blocks away down at ground level (could be anything, but for this example, let's say it's an NPC on a street corner, rather than a door on a building).
Click on the NPC to zone into the Mission.
A half-minute FMV plays "zooming" through NERD, starting from where the NPC was, racing through twists and turns of NERD, climbing up onto the skyways, fast moving the entire time (remember, roller coaster ride!), until arriving at the part of the skyway where the instanced Mission starts ... and at the very end of the FMV the PC arrives into view, using one of their Travel Powers ... and then everything fades out to black and just as quickly fades in with the PC standing next to the Mission Exit, inside the Mission.
Obviously you couldn't do that kind of thing for every single Mission in the game, but you could do that kind of thing for the final Mission of Story Arcs ... including the final Mission of Task Forces ... if you were so inclined.
And even better yet, you wouldn't even necessarily need to create all of the half-minute FMVs needed for this kind of thing all at once, but could instead produce them "as scheduling and resources permit" to be dropped into completed Story Arcs and Task Forces at a later date as a further refinement of those Story Arcs and Task Forces. In other words, you can append such transitions into existing arcs in later patches as an optional upgrade to the Player Experience™.
So ... yeah ... something I wanted to share with MWM Creative Staff.
Sometimes you have to have an experience demonstrated for you before you can figure out how to assimilate that experience and make use of it yourself.
And sometimes, you just have to throw down the gauntlet to see if anyone is willing to pick it up. ^_~
Verbogeny is one of many pleasurettes afforded a creatific thinkerizer.