Let's Talk About Quicktime Events

Post-Dragon’s Lair, QTE-style gameplay mostly faded away until the Dreamcast era, when games like Shenmue and Sword of the Berserk reimplemented it. Now it’s gotten pretty ubiquitous in 3D action games.

My questions are these:

  • What do you think of QTEs in general? Do they make you more interested in sequences that would otherwise be non-interactive, or are they just an unnecessary hassle?
  • Should QTE use be more widespread in other genres? They’ve been in adventure games (eg. Indigo Prophecy) and RPGs (sort of–I’m referring to things like the timed button presses in Super Mario RPG/Lost Odyssey), to name two.
  • How can QTEs evolve past the Simon Says-style of button mashing they are now? Or are they an evolutionary dead end in game design? My feeling is the latter. If you’re going to make a really advanced QTE, you may as well just implement a full-fledged gameplay system.

Hate them.

100% suck in all occurrences. Thank you, Shenmue, for fucking up games forever.

  1. Hate them
  2. no but Shenmue was ok.
  3. I perfer they faced extinction

Simon Says is not good gameplay, and you can’t watch the cutscenes if you’re mashing buttons. Total fail.

I’m apparently an idiot because I still don’t quite get what you guys mean by “Quicktime Event.” Are there some good examples on the PC?

Wasn’t God of War what really popularized it? Was there anything after Shenmue that used it until GoW? Seems like that was a big chunk of time.

Anyway, I like them in God of War. It depends on how they are used… If it’s an auto-fail (or you have to do them super-super quick) like in Resident Evil 4/5 cutscenes, then no, but if it just means that the monster (or whatever) regains its composure, then fine.

It looks like in GoW III they’ve improved it by putting the buttons on the sides of the screen, so I would presume you can more or less catch them peripherally and still watch the action…

The latest Tomb Raider games, where you have to hit the buttons in the right order as they appear or you get crushed by the rock/fall off the ledge/fail to grab the vine, etc. Edit: They’re actually not so bad there since if you fail, you immediately repeat that segment to try again. They’d piss me off a lot more if I had to redo everything since my last save 30 minutes ago because I failed one that came out of nowhere.

Other games with the suck:

Resident Evil 4
Dead Rising (When you get pounced)
Bully (classrooms)

There’s a lot more, but that’s all I can think of in the time I have before my next phone call.

I don’t feel that Bully’s classes count. They are simon says but they are a minigame on to their own. For me, QTE are where they stop the normal action going on to start a simon says and then action resumes.

I dislike QTEs even though there are some games I love that use them sparingly (eg. Resident Evil 5). They aren’t a complete dealbreaker for me but I’ve never gone through a QTE sequence and thought ‘gee, that sure made the game more fun’. Not once, EVER.

Would Bully really count? Those are more minigames than they are QTEs. You don’t need to do them to move on in the game. And if Bully’s music class is a QTE, then you might as well count Guitar Hero as a QTE heavy game.

Infamous’s QTEs weren’t bad, but there were only like 3 of them, they were at least somewhat inventive, and they made a small amount of logical sense, rather than just being arbitrary button presses. I can’t say they bother me all that much in general, but that’s because I’m so used to them at this point. In fact I hardly even notice them any more.

And Dead Rising was just button-spazzing - not really QTE.

You have to have a sequence of chained events with pauses between the button-presses - usually working at the cross purposes of providing very dynamic action visuals while requiring you to focus all of your attention on the tiny portion of screen where the next button cue will appear.

Tedious, boring, distracting … Big fan.

I love how “Quick Time Events” is a bullet point on the back of Ninja Blade. Awesome game.

I can’t say I’ve ever played through a QTE and actually enjoyed it.

Well, that’s not true. I did learn to play through to the end of Space Ace on one quarter back in 1983 or so. But I was just a dumb kid back then and the game’s story was suitably amusing to me to keep me pressing (!) on through.

Resident Evil 4 they didn’t usually mean insta-fail, either…just a critical move in a fight.

The Force Unleashed, they were more like fatalities (or sometimes critical hits, I guess), and I’m totally okay with them in that scenario, though it gets old after a while.

No Poll?

I think there’s some issues with even talking about QTE’s in general. I think there’s a world of difference between the button slamming mini games in God Of War and the FMV continuance prompts in RE 4 (GoW has both kinds, actually).

The thing people seem to really rail against is the arbitrary insta-fail QTE, which seems to be on the outs already. This sort of QTE usually comes in the FMV format (or extended scripted sequences, which are essentially in-engine FMVs). Here, the problem is that the game lulls you into not being ready to press the button (with a cutscene), and then kills you and makes you lose progress if you fail to press the button. This is just bad design: punishment out of scale to failure, ignoring previously learned incentives (ie cutscene is reward, watch and relax). Also, many QTEs simply have too narrow a window in which you can complete them, which is basically a difficulty issue (ie lower difficulties should increase the timing windows).

QTE’s in general are just another tool that can be used well or poorly. An example of good usage is the old classic Die Hard Arcade, one of the first games to use them. It worked for several reasons: arcade gameplay (user never relaxes to watch cutscene as they do on home consoles), and lack of instant failure (failing the QTE generally led to harder path / more enemies, but never an automatic loss of life).

The GoW QTE’s for killing average enemies are also a good implementation. They’re (usually) not required, but give larger rewards if you do play them. If you fail, you lose a small amount of life, but otherwise continue to play. (The boss QTE’s, like Zeus in GoW2 are poorly implemented, as they have insta-fail consequences) In these cases, there’s a small risk-reward calculation with every enemy: take the time to play and chance of failing the QTE vs. a potential greater in-game reward. The time to play the QTE is part of the cost, since it does slow the player’s progress, possibly leading to a more tedious experience.

As per the OP, Mario RPG has it about right: (potentially) major reward for using them, but no outright punishment for failing them, just lost opportunity.

I think when some people talk about QTE’s they’re really talking about the on-screen prompts, as they can reduce immersion. I don’t see any good reason for the on-screen prompts. They’re a lazy, UI heavy solution for something that should be integrated more naturally. But the optional timing based micro-mechanics aspect of QTE’s is fine with me. I don’t think there’s really any way to evolve QTE’s short of eliminating the interface elements or integrating them with other mechanics, but in general I think they can still be used sparingly to punctuate slower sections of gameplay.

Why are we still posting in this thread? Alex nailed it.

I think they are counter-intuitive shortcuts taken by designers, diametrically opposed to the cognitive functions and decision making processes fostered by legitimately compelling gameplay, be it twitch or strategy based.

Q: Wouldn’t it be cool if X happened to Y?

A: Yes, but we don’t have a game mechanic implemented to reflect that behavior, nor do we have the time and resources to take away from the busywork that consists of filling our game with generic claptrap and invisible walls to hold the players hand - hence, QTE.