Scott Pilgrim… Oh, hello there! Oh don’t worry! I was just doing the set piece that every youtuber has to do sooner or later where he acts like he doesn’t know the audience is there. Anyway, Scott Pilgrim… I love this comic But I believe I’m one of the few that loves the movie even more and it’s mostly thanks to this guy. Edgar Wright, Specifically his transitions. (If you want to know more click the annotation for a great analysis) But for the time being, welcome on MVidya, my name’s Mont and this is Player One, a series about game design and video game analysis. Today we talk about Persona 5 and forced transistions. Transitions Transitions, in movies, are what ties togheter two scenes or shots They can consist of a simple cut or something more… complex. The thing is that in movies it’s almost always an editing choice when and how to use a transition, to the point that you can find movies, such as Birdman, where they are apparently absent and the whole movie looks like a single, long, shot. One of the few instances where the hand of the director is kind of forced are the opening credits. And I love how in Scott Pilgrim Edgar Wright uses them to introduce and link the characters to their respective actors: skateboards, two Xes and the number 2 for Chris Evans who plays Ramona’s second evil ex boyfriend, Gideon’s symbol and glasses for Jason Schwartzman, Knives’s sais for Ellen Wong and so on. In a similiar fashion to opening credits, game designers rarely have full controll on transitions. And I’m not talking about the ones in dialogues or cutscenes, but more importantly to loadings, menus, even game over screens. The pieces that split up the game, but rarely originate from a stylistic choice. They simply are needed to make the game work. Some try to get around the problem keeping these elements to a minimum. For instance with dynamic loadings, or cutting alltogheter the main menu, or even turning it into a physical place to explore. With… variable degree of success. The risk of going about it haphazardly is to ruin the user experience simply because of artistic whims. On the contrary Persona 5 doesn’t try to hide these elements, but incorporates them in its design. Exactly like Scott Pilgrim VS the World uses the head credits to his own advantage. The first time I took notice just how much it exploited what I will from now on call “Forced Transitions” was in my first random encounter. You should be familiar with how random encounters work in RPGs: you find a monster, music starts, the screen turns black and you are in the fight. As much as it gets the job done it kind of breaks the rhythm between exploration and fights. Well Perona 5 solves the problem thanks to a series of interesting choices. In the game there is a mechanic that allows you to enter a fight ambushing enemies… And yeah, sure, the transition itself is really cool, but the overhelming coolness is used to hide the change of setting. The camera zooms in towards the enemy, light gets darker, kinetic lines guide the eye towards the middle of the screen focusing on mobs and characters. The transition itself is so hidden that I never really took notice of the setting change. And it’s not just that, even the fight’s end is used to link the encounter back to the exploration. The main character walks in a setting similiar to what the dungeon looks like, but at the same time every important
piece of information is conveyed. Experience, money, items found. Instead of splitting up the action in three different moments, it’s as if it was a singular, long, experience, but at the same time none of the functionality is lost. And if in dungeons these “forced transitions” are used to keep up the flow of the game, in menus they have different uses. The map is placed in the game world by locating it inside a GPS on the phone, shoppers menus help to give them character more then the first dialogues with them. Charisma and personality are simply overflowing. And the same could be said for the main character and the main menu. But without a shadow of a doubt the loadings are the best “forced transitions” in the game. Persona 5 is not top notch when it comes to technical advancementes: before you can do anything you will be faced with a loading screen, but what’s incredibile is how well it hides them. Almost every activity in the game has a different loading screen, and each one of them has its trademark style: are you moving between locations? Workers silhouttes in the subway. School? Busy students holding their books. Suburbs? Old men and housewives holding their shoping bags. What’s more, loading screens don’t just show you where you are but also the state of what’s around you. If it’s daytime silhouttes will have warm colors, while if it’s evening they will be cold. If it’s raining there will be umbrellas, depending on the hour and the weather there could even be more or less people. These loading screens help to make the game world feel more entertwined, you never feel like you are teleporting from one place to another, but it’s as if are actually moving in a city. Loading screens are not perceived as a necessary evil, but as something that adds value to the experience. Style is merged wonderfully with usefullness. For instance: the loading screen betweend days shows the passage from night to morning, the change of day on the calendar, and a survey on your website which basically shows your complition percentage, you can even see the citiy buildings lighting up more and more. All of this happens at the same time on a single screen. This fusion of usefulness, style and necessity is what differenciates Persona 5 from everything else. It certainly isn’t the first game to focus on some of these elements Stuff like the GPS map has already been done from GTA V and Watchdogs 2, in The Witness the menu is simply the protagonist closing its eyes, and the recent What remains of Edith Finch uses it to show the family tree Bayonetta uses its loading screen to let you practice moves and combos, and Resident Evil used slow opening doors to make the tension go up. There certainly isn’t scarcity of games before Persona 5 that made good use of “forced transitions”, but what distinguishes it is how often they are used in clever ways throughout the whole title. Besides the ones I’ve already talked about there are many others: to get out of dungeons you litterally break out of a window and are showed a list of all the rooms you’ve explored, when you die you get scolded and reminded that it’s just a game, Finishing some of the side quests causes a knife to pierce the request and mark it as completed. Even the conversations on your phone, even though they are a simple dialogue where you could simple go from text to text have a little symbol that show when somebody is typing. It trully is incredibile how, even though they didn’t abandon any gameplay element, they have been able to make each one of them unique and unmistakable, how nothing has been left to chance. In Persona 5 you never feel like you are jumping from section to section with no continuity: be it menus, loadings or even the story, everything belongs unequivocally to that world, and this is the most important lesson Persona 5 has to give to every game designer: a game can have graphics out of this world and the best gameplay ever but the finished product is much more then the sum of its parts. Sometimes to create something more interesting then a transition to black, you just need to take your time. Thanks for watching! I’ve got a few announcements regarding the channel and I thought I’d do it live next week, I’ll be playing Overwatch and answering questions. Anyway, this is all for now, see you next time!