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Skippable cut scenes has been the standard for a long time now, but its actually not much of a solution. Gamers arent skipping scenes because they hate stories, theyre skipping them because they interrupt what they want to be doing (playing a game). So now gamers are less bored, but more confused. They also have not spent the blink of an eye on something that cost an enormous amount of resources to create. This is not an improvement. Unskippable cutscenes prevent gamers from doing what they want while skippable ones tell players that the story doesnt matter. Both approaches will lead gamers to the conclusion that story in video games is worthless, and in most cases, the enemy of fun and good game design.
This is why I feel the second of the two rules is actually the most important: no words should be skippable because all words should matter. I argued for something a bit more extreme in the case of Mirrors Edge, and thats because I think that every word in a game needs to really matter to justify being there.Words and PacingTake Braid, for instance. Braid has the pleasant philosophy of letting players complete challenges in whatever order they choose, at their own place. This is a philosophy that works very well, and it ensures that everything is nicely tied to together and the player has experienced everything the game has to offer while allowing them to do it however they choose. Its story, on the other hand, is sort of jammed in at the beginning of every level, and its completely skippable--which is a reversal from the way the game itself is presented.The result is that the text just isnt designed with the same sort of obsessive attention to pacing that the rest of the game is. Having to delay my experience of the game to read text is a problem. The problem is that it will always be an interruption.
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