'Drive!" is a single player level for Gears of War. The player, in his vehicle, dodges incoming vehicles at breakneck speeds in a Quick Time Event sequence.
Tension & Accessibility
"Two lights far out in the distance, looks like some vehicle up ahead. The lights, they're getting closer, brighter. F@#$ it's rushing pretty quickly towards me! I need to get the hell out of the way, left or right, left or right?! RIGHT!" When I'm creating a QTE, I want it to feel natural. A QTE shouldn't ask a player to press one of 10+ buttons on their Xbox controller to do an action such as dodging a blow or shooting their pistol. The reason a QTE designer would do such a thing would be to increase tension by making the experience difficult. In this scenario, the player's instinct is the get the hell out of the oncoming vehicle's way. Left or right, press left or right, it's as simple and as intuitive as that.
I set the scenario up so that the player has plenty of warning of the oncoming vehicle. They see the vehicle far enough away so that they have a good couple seconds to dodge it. I'm not trying to sell tension through difficulty, but rather through the set-up encounter. To set the vehicle up so that it's not visible a mile ahead nor pops into view suddenly, I add a semi-thick fog so that only the vehicle's bright lights can puncture through. This adds to the tension because, just like driving through fog in real life, you have much less visibility. In here, I take it a step further as the player drives at blazing speeds with a thick fog ahead to boot.
Camera Cuts + Tension To take advantage of QTE cutscenes, I gladly embrace the ability to cut the camera. One shot, the player presses right (with the oncoming vehicle somewhat still a good distance away). The next shot, I teleport the oncoming vehicle to a set position closer to the player's vehicle so that when I change the shot, the player's vehicle just baaarely dodges the oncoming vehicle. Player feels awesome, player is on the seat of their pants. Player feels like, "AHHH, thank god I just pressed the button on time!" Either that or they realize how I tricked them and curse me for trying to manipulate their brilliant minds, but lets not dwell on that.
Camera CutsIn these shots, our player car is spinning out of control at a supposedly Mach 5 speed. Spin spin spin the car goes as it hurtles towards the camera. As it spins closer to the camera, one of its spins "catches" the camera right through the player's seat and the game cuts to the first person view of the player. Of the 20 hours spent working on this, I spent two thirds of the time on researching what clicked in a quick time event. This is what I spent 13 of my 20 hours working on before I scrapped it altogether:
Cuts were pretty jarring there. Also, the high speed action wasn't very well pronounced compared to driving right next to the ground. Another issue was that the ducking and weaving of the flying vehicle (reaver) made for extremely costly cinematic sequences for myself. The last issue was that creating a scrolling background scenery was a lot more costly in this case compared to the driving sequence because Gears of War already had assets that would work very well for a driving sequence but not so much for a flying one.