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French Community Manager Guillaume Couturier finally published David Cage answers to fan questions. Some of them have been rewritten, other merged in order to answer as much questions as possible. You can read a Google translation here: http://www.n4g.com/News-476596.aspx
Or read the interview below with my own translation. David Cage talks about inspirations, sequel, DLC, demo and more.
Q: How do you feel few weeks before the game releases? Stressed, excited or confident?
A: Excited, a bit exhausted too. Excited because we receive the first review scores, and we see reviews are extremely high and we're pretty happy our work is paying and rewarded. Very exhausted because I didn't take holidays since 2 years and all my February month is devoted to the marketing support, which makes much travels. I was in Madrid, Milan, Norway, the premiere in Lodon then in France.
Q: What are your sales expectations, knowing biggest PS3 sales are from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, action game which is usually a genre that sells a lot, while Heavy Rain is far away of that kind of games. What public do you target?
A: It's a frequently asked question, and I find it quite insidious. There is a huge expectation surrounding Heavy Rain. It's an adult and emotional game, a bit more "sophisticated" than other experiences with a more brainless ambiance and it doesn't mean because that's it, Heavy Rain wont sell.
I think the public is a diversified public and there are players with different expectations. There is a public for a "Modern Warfare", but there is also much expectation for a Heavy Rain. Everyone don't want to play a FPS. There must be something for every tastes. There is an older public, today players are around 30 and 35 years old and especially on PS3, I think we have a public that wants something else than shooting on zombies with an AK-47.
Preorders are important while the marketing campaign hasn't begun yet. The interest is extremely high, so we haven't released yet a demo neither an official trailer. So I don't see why it wouldn't sell. Q: I read in an interview that Ethan's story is based on what you lived in a shopping mall with the loss of your son. But the story of the other characters is a bit blurry, could you say a bit more about it?
A: The real thread, it's Ethan's story and more prosaically the fact to become a father that changes the life. It's relatively unexplainable, and I wanted to see if it was possible to tell that, to have a story that turns around the love of a father for his son, and how far we are prepared to go for love. And all Ethan's story started from that envy, from something personal.
What I wanted was the destiny of the 4 characters turning around that but in very different ways. Each one will have to answer how far he is prepared to go for love in a way or another. But as the contexts are different the question is asked differently and the answers are as much different. Ethan is definitely the more personal. After, we always put a part of ourselves in our characters. May it be good things or flaws.
All the challenge of Heavy Rain is to project ourselves in the characters and to share what they feel, we are afraid with them, we laugh with them, or we cry with them. Q: Are there works that inspired you? (comic books, movies,...)
A: Heavy Rain is full of easter eggs, it's some kind of homage to cinema, and players will find tons of cinema references, which are completely intentional. With Ethan, we're totally in a "Unbreakable" by Night Shyamalan, with Norman Jayden, we're in a "Minority Report", with Scott Shelby, we're in a film noir...
Q: Why this origami, is it one of your hobbies?
A: No, I started for the game, trying with the installer that permits you to create your own origami. Q: How long is the game?
A: Regarding the lasting appeal, I'd say we're around ten hours for a walkthrough. Knowing in one walkthrough, it is not possible to see all the game, because we make choices and we miss some things. This game thus have a great replay value, as we can restart certain scene, we are not obligated to restart all the game and see what would happen if you made other choices. Q: How many possible endings are there in Heavy Rain? Some people say it can reach 102 possible endings !
A: The question of the number of endings has no sense because it's the player's actions that will bring to different conclusions. The player will always ask himself that question, "And if I chose that action what would happen?". Either he will keep the mystery either he will play again to check.
The interest is that there is no GAME OVER, even if characters can die. If a character dies, the story continues without him. Q: Now that the game is gold, did you manage to do what you wished? Does it give you ideas or envies for your next game? What are you the most proud of?
A: Envies, yes, I have a billion of it !
In a technological point of view, people are extremely flattering regarding the graphics or the ambiance. It's our first PS3 game, whereas there are already second generation games. We know we have tons of possibilities to enhance the technology, the narration or the gameplay. Those are things we really want to work on.
And we already have upcoming projects, on which we start to work to rebound. When we look at the game we the team we tend to only see its flaws, but with some recoil, the game fits to what I was thinking. We're proud of the accomplished work. We wanted to create a game where we feel empathy, sorrow and different feelings, without guns, enemies, cars or zombies. And for this the bet is successful.
Q: I've read that without Sony and PS3, you declared the game would never born. How happened your collaboration? Did you approach Sony or did Sony approach you?
A: When Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy in USA) released, Sony came to see us, asking us what we planned to do after this game. At this moment, we were working on a virtual actress prototype, "Casting". We wanted to continue to work on narration, on the actor. The emotion vector, it's the actor.
Sony found the idea nice, and told us "In 3 months there is E3 (we were in 2006, the year of the PS3 launch), if you are able to accomplish that demo in three months and to fulfill the scope statements, you'll be on the E3 stand with us". So we worked like crazy during 3 months to accomplish that challenge. We showed the demo to Ken Kutaragi and he validated it.
Sony hold its promises and invited us to the E3 Playstation stand. After the show, Gamespot announced Heavy Rain as the most expected game, and the demo have been downloaded one million times. While the only thing the public knew about Heavy Rain was its name, the Casting demo and that we were the team behind Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy), which means not much.
Sony came back to see us to ask us to talk about Heavy Rain then we began to work simply.
We had the choice of the publisher, as we had many propositions. We put all those choices in front of us and Sony quickly imposed itself as the best choice available. We were all in love of the console, culturally we're very attached to the Playstation, we though it was the best hardware, and we found Sony's approach very sane. We had in front of us very pragmatic people but able to trust very crazy ideas and that's what appealed us. Q: How and where did Sony help you? Did they set objectives or material or financial limits?
A: We were completely free, and Sony never intervene, excepted financially. Q: We often talk about the "French touch" in video games, how would you describe it? Can Heavy Rain whip the French creation? Is it easy to develop a game in France, in a legislation point of view for example?
A: I don't think Quantic Dream is a worthy representative of the French touch, we're an atypical studio. Atypical, because we're one of the rare studios to have a game designer as CEO. And I think this is the specificity of Quantic Dream, because we put the game design above everything. It's the game design dictatorship in the production. This is really the originality of this studio. I think it's a kind of structure and organization that, I hope so, prefigures a bit the evolution of the whole industry. I think the power must be in the hand of the creative guy, as it's done in the cinema.
Q: Heavy Rain is the kind of game that could give birth to a movie, do you think about it?
A: We never though about it but I know people in the cinema industry are thinking about it. If the game interest [cinema] studios, it's them that will knock to the door, and that's what is currently happening. Q: You declared a sequel wasn't planned but instead you talked about DLCs, do you have an established release schedule? Or will they happen following the success of the game?
A: There wont be a sequel, I don't have that purely marketing reasoning to think that an IP takes time and money to be renowned [and so to make Heavy Rain a franchise with a sequel]. But I also work much and Sony helped me to make of my name a brand. Which allows me to say: "Take a look, it's called differently, it's not Heavy Rain 2 but it's produced by David Cage and Quantic Dream". Our envy is to be able to overcome any marketing approach, and to protect our creation freedom.
Regarding DLCs, a part is already signed and in development with 2 DLC, another one is conditioned by the success of the game (= two DLC already planned, three DLC if the game is successful). Q: The demo which will release in February 11, will it be from the game or more based on an upcoming DLC?
A: Those are two scenes of the game, for people who preordered Heavy Rain or intend to buy it on Day One, I advise them to not play it, to keep the mystery. However those who wonder they will buy the game, that will permits them to verify it's a real game and it's totally interactive. They can make an idea of the gameplay as each scene will propose a different gameplay, as it's the case of every scenes of the game. Q: How did you choose the different aspects of the gameplay? Because it's quite disturbing.
A: It's disturbing because it breaks up with what is usually done in the video game world. We wanted to tell the story through the gameplay and not use cutscenes like in many games. So we oriented the game to a contextual gameplay, which means it totally relies on the move emulation, we roll the move, and not through QTEs like it has sometimes been said. That's exactly the same principle as for Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy), we roll the moves to create the illusion that the player controls the move of the character. It's a little immersion element based on the movement.
Thus, there are many breaking, and this may disturbing for ultra-conservators. The interface is really a link between what you have in the head and what happens on the screen. Q: As a gamer, what is the last game you played? What kind of gamer are you? What is your favorite game?
A: Professionally I play everything, almost everything. Personally, I'd be more a casual gamer, that plays 3 or 4 games per year, for a simple reason, as of today I'm 40, and I don't find many games that look like me. Q: Finally, what message would you share to all your fans that follow you since Nomad Soul (Omikron) and Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) and that will discover Heavy Rain?
A: I'm very touched by the fans, and we're extremely flattered. We want to thank them because it's for them we're working. I want to say them, play Heavy Rain because for me it's the end of a cycle that started with Nomad Soul (Omikron) and continued with Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) and that ends with Heavy Rain, and this is really the result of 12 years of work. It's really a game that has a soul. Sangria's note: Yes, it hurts to write for 2 hours a translation no one will read completely. Please let me die in peace.