I'm currently developing a 3rd person game with dynamic cutscenes (using in-game objects instead of a pre-rendered video). During some playtesting of my game I noticed that some of my playtesters would have trouble identifying when a cutscene would end, sometimes killing them because they didn't react in time. For example:
- Player walks into hallway
- Cutscene start
- Camera pans to look behind player
- Monster drops down from the ceiling behind player
- Player character starts running by itself
- Cutscene end
- Player expected to keep running, but doesn't know cutscene has ended so doesn't respond in time and gets killed.
My playtesters comments:
- They can realize when a cutscene starts because something out of the ordinary happens (e.g. camera view changes).
- They sometimes don't realize when a cutscene ends because the out of the ordinary thing doesn't change back (e.g. camera view doesn't revert to normal).
What I've tried:
To try and teach players that it's common for I used popups during the tutorial stage of the game:
- Cutscene end.
- Display message "Hey! Did you know you can ACTION by pressing KEY?"
I've also tried to give them examples during the tutorial where you have to be quick after a cutscene by pausing the game after the cutscene and displaying a popup, giving them time to react:
- Cutscene end.
- Game pauses.
- Displays popup: "You're being hunted! RUN by holding SHIFT!"
Both of these methods makes the user realize (at that time) that the cutscene has ended, yet it doesn't seem to successfully teach them that this will happen in the future and they are still confused about if a cutscene has ended. I don't want to have these popups after the tutorial stage since it sort of defeats the point of tense moments.
So my question is: How can I more clearly convey to the players that my cutscene is about to end without explicitly telling them?