Heavy Rain: David Cage Interview
Quantic Dream founder spills beans on QTEs, Project Natal versus PS3 motion control, "primitive" emotions in gaming and a private tête-a-tête with Hideo Kojima.
Kikizo: So the quality of the acting...
Cage: It's first of all the script, the story, the characters. It's the quality of the acting, the quality of the direction. Emotion is not one thing, it's not one button that you press and say OK, this is emotional now. It's the combination of all these things, including interactivity and interface - interface should be a part of the emotion.
Kikizo: Certainly for story, I couldn't agree more. I cried my eyes out recently over a film called Seven Pounds. Will Smith's in it. True fact.
Cage: The first playable scene we showed is not the most emotional one. We wanted to introduce the game with a very classic action sequence of a dark thriller, you know. That was very much the idea. But the night club scene is different and we'll reveal a new scene and a new character in Cologne this year, and another one at the Tokyo Game Show, and the closer we get to release the more emotional and original we'll be about what we show.
Kikizo: Could you give me a fuller idea of the gameplay package in Heavy Rain? So far we've seen exploring the environment, the QTE-action sequence - I don't know if you're calling them QTEs or not...
Cage: No, we call them "PARs" - "physical action reactions". It's difficult to describe the package, as you called it, of the gameplay - I guess we can say that there's some action, exploration, interaction with the environment, interaction with other characters, and on a purely technical point of view yes there are some action sequences. It's the idea of the QTE developed in Shenmue, except we wanted to take them to the next stage, and make them next gen. So we tried to figure out what we could improve.
What we liked about them was that they were contextual, so instead of having a punch and a kick you could really have very choreographed scenes with a real sense of directing, and each movement being entirely unique. So we really enjoyed that and this was really something we wanted to keep. So we put the symbols in 3D in the environment, instead of having them in 2D on top of the screen they are in 3D, they animate with what you want to interact with. So if you want to interact with someone the symbol would move with them. And we tried to play with everything on the controller. We played with the sticks, we played with the buttons, we played with the triggers, and the Sixaxis motion-sensing.
Kikizo: I spoke to Hideo Kojima at last year's Leipzig show, and the final topic of discussion was the cut scene. As I'm sure you know, there are a lot of cut scenes in the Metal Gear Solid series. So my question to him was: could you think of a more interactive, less passive way of telling your story? And his answer in a nutshell was "I don't know, I'll have to think about this more. I'm not sure the technology exists for it." Right after that interview, I saw Heavy Rain.
Cage: Kojima heard about Heavy Rain last year and we met, because everyone told him about Heavy Rain and he wanted to talk, discuss this topic. It was a very interesting discussion. But yeah I believe that the only real challenge is to treat the storytelling differently, not through cut scenes but directly through gameplay. As you play you tell the story. And that's the most difficult thing to do, but also the most interesting thing.
Kikizo: Can you tell me anything more about that particular meeting of minds?
Cage: That was a private discussion and I can't really discuss it [laughs], but it was very interesting and I was really pleased that he heard about us and wanted to hear more.
Kikizo: Had you met him before?
Cage: No, it was the first time.
Kikizo: And are you a fan of his games?
Cage: I certainly respect his work, definitely, although it's not the type of game I want to make myself. But yeah he's a huge star, I guess.