Quantic Dream's next game: What we want to see
4th Sep 2011 | 15:00
Heavy Rain is a game you either love or you hate. With its narrative-driven focus, its QTE reliance and its unconventional controls, it did little to help ease itself into a cynical gaming market.
But it was successful. Not Call of Duty successful, granted, but successful in terms of a new and risky IP.
We're glad it was as well, because it's surely encouraged Quantic Dream to continue to punt strange new titles into the world of games, ones that move against the grain.
David Cage has more in development - and while he won't talk details, it does sound like we're going to get more emotion, more narrative and more side-stepping of the traditional gaming output.
But artsy emotion only goes so far and Quantic Dream needs to strike a balance between new ideas and a great game that will win over audiences old and new.
Here are some of the things we think are crucial for the studio's continued success.
We understand what Quantic Dream was trying to achieve with the funny controls in Farenheit and Heavy Rain. Having to hold a finger-breaking combination of buttons to keep your character in a cramped position does actually add an element of physical stress to a situation dragging you further into the experience.
But, when it comes to walking, the task of holding down a shoulder button and then guiding your seemingly drunk avatar by turning his head does the exact opposite. Not are you left frustrated on your third attempt at walking through a door and getting nothing but frame, but it makes you incredibly aware that you're playing a game.
Let's have a mixture of the two in the studio's next effort. For actions that are second nature like walking, we want controls that are second nature, like pushing an analogue stick left and right.
But if the zany Cage controls help make a complicated physical activity feel physically complicated, we'll welcome them with open arms. Probably by pushing both analogue sticks apart and pressing triangle with our tongue, or something.
DON'T FORGET THE GAME
We're all for talk of a more sophisticated story, a more emotional experience and gaming for grown-ups but let's not get so bogged down in maturity that we lose that key ingredient - fun.
You only need to put a cookie-cutter FPS in front of a gamer to see that most of us expect more from our experiences than 9 hours of solid shooting, we're with Cage on that one. But when he pointed out to us that few "non-gamers" have any interest in that, we were a little bit concerned.
We don't ever think that someone like David Cage would pander to the masses in a Kinectimals kind of way, but we could see him exacerbating further what a lot of people felt was a flaw with L.A Noire.
We loved Team Bondi's effort but it was incredibly close to putting narrative before gaming, in which case we'd rather watch a film. Games are never going to tell a story as well as films but there's a massive market out there for developers that keep trying.
But, as much as we demand sophisticated story, the game comes first.
No we don't want to see Quantic Dream developers worked into the ground until release day.
What we mean is, with David Cage being vocal about his ambitions to break the mould, to create new genres, his studio is going to have to deliver when it comes to the crunch. You know, it's a 'money where your mouth is' situation.
This could be where the Quantic Dream comes undone. While we might have been happy with a good - but fairly typical - action game that was loaded with award-winning writing, now we're expecting more. Much more.
Cage's Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit formula is in itself pretty mould breaking - with its funny controls, more on them later - but even that won't quite cut it this time.
There are a lot of supporters of Cage's vision within the games industry but plenty of people will be pushing against it as well. They'll be waiting for the lofty ambitions to fall short.
We want to see David Cage and Quantic Dream dodge the doubters. To do that they're going to have to do something big.
We probably shouldn't refer to Team Bondi's MotionScan technology directly when referring to David Cage's next project. He's probably sick of people giving LA Noire side-glances in front of him, like it's an emotional elephant in the room that trumped Heavy Rain in terms of nuanced expression.
The outspoken studio head doesn't seem all the impressed by the Team Bondi technique anyway, calling it an interesting dead end.
But the ability of the technology used in LA Noire when it comes to portraying emotion can't be denied and, if Quantic Dream's focus is on exposing the soul, it needs something similar.
Hopefully, David Cage and his team have one better up their sleeve. Cage has spoken of a new technology that allows performance capture of both the face and body at the same time. Cage implies it's another step along the road towards photorealistic graphics, which he's tipped for arrival in six years.
We're excited, but the technology will have to have the same wow factor as LA Noire's MotionScan otherwise we can see subtle advances being overlooked and copycat claims prevailing.
Delivering on this innovative motion tech would benefit the gamer with breathtaking experiences but it's also crucial for the studio, which has put itself forward as a champion of innovation. Baby steps won't be enough.