Lost Planet Community's Brian Dunn, Cutscene Director Yoshiyuki Tonoe and Director Kenji Oguro discussed the differences between how cutscenes are used in Western and Eastern gaming worlds. Their decision to use real-time cutscenes in Lost Planet stems from their research into how Western developers tended to tell the story within the game engine, whereas Japanese developers typically rely on CG graphics for the cinematic storytelling.
Tonoe dates the Eastern obsession with CG cutscenes to the original Biohazard (released March 1996), though arguably Square Enix had already begun to look into CG before the horror title's release with Final Fantasy VII, whose long development process began in 1995. "The latest CG movies found in games are stunning and really help sell the game," said Tonoe, "but when I think about how they are used to tie the story to the gameplay, I wonder if they are effective at making the games any better."
Pictured are some of the games used as reference material during Lost Planet's development. Tonoe cites The Lord of the Rings games, whose cutscenes were amalgamations of movie footage and in-game footage, as "above what Japanese developers were doing at the time."
Specific to their game, Tonoe remarks that there are 33 cutscenes in Lost Planet, totaling 73 minutes, averaging just under three minutes with the longest cutscene at around six minutes in length. What's your preference -- explosive CG eye candy or more immersive real-time storytelling?