30 in 30: Quantic Dream
21st Nov 2011 | 17:08
Quantic Dream takes its time on its games. Although the French developer has only released a trio so far, all three titles have been innovative, interesting and unique. The company operates on a slow cycle - releasing a game, on average, only once every four years and four months, and clearly favours quality over quantity. But what it makes is worth waiting for.
Founder David Cage in many ways is Quantic Dream - much like Kojima Productions is a showcase for Hideo Kojima's personal projects, David Cage creates games based on his own stories and vision of where he thinks gaming should be going.
Quantic Dream's games are the antithesis of endless sequels and formulaic first-person shooters, instead bringing to the table characters, choices and cracking stories. With every game the company makes, it pushes a little further the possibilities of what a game can be.
Location: Paris, France
Killer Quote: "I hate when someone tells me something is impossible. I can't stand that. I never have. I thought, okay, let's do it and see if it is impossible." - David Cage
Quantic Dream's main man is David Cage (a pseudonym - his real name is David De Gruttola), who comes from a background in making music - his career for 15 years. He worked on writing music for singers, TV commercials and other people's video games, but after a decade and a half, Cage tired of the music industry and founded a video game developer so that he could make the kind of games that he had always wanted to play.
David's a man who wears many hats - he's not only the founder and co-CEO, he's also director, lead game designer and screenwriter. He would likely not be described by his co-workers as 'a hands-off kind of guy'.
He's outspoken and has plenty of negative things to say about the current state of the games industry, including, "There is much more we can do with interactivity than just killing people", and, "Many people I meet in studios today tell me they want more emotion and better storytelling in their software. They're bored of creating the same games again and again."
QUANTIC DREAM GAMES WE LOVE
The Nomad Soul/Omikron
Adapted from a 200 page novel that David wrote, Nomad Soul was released in 1999 for the PC and 2000 for the Dreamcast. It was far ahead of its time, set in a sci-fi sandbox city called Omikron, two years before Grand Theft Auto III popularised the genre. You play as yourself, a gamer, answering a plea from a police officer called Kay'l 669, who needs your help in catching a demonic serial killer.
There are numerous other characters in the game whose bodies you can jump into and control, and five distinctly different areas of the city to explore. The game mixed together various genres and there were fighting, first-person shooter, puzzle and adventure elements.
Cage drew on his contacts in the music industry to secure a banging soundtrack, including songs from David Bowie's album 'hours...', and the game also features a concert in a dive bar by a virtual incarnation of Bowie himself.
Fahrenheit/The Indigo Prophecy
Although it was heavily censored in the US, Fahrenheit had the balls (so to speak) to put sex scenes into a game and show the world that games weren't just for kids - like movies and other forms of entertainment, we could make games for adults, too.
Along with adult content, there were a number of interesting ideas in the game - including a mental health meter which represented the character's emotional state. Frustrating, horrific or sad things like seeing a mutilated corpse lowered the meter and pleasant experiences like taking a bath or listening to music raised it. If a character's mental health meter ever reached zero, it was game over.
Sadly, the second half of the game seemed to become something of a muddled mess, as if the plug had suddenly been pulled on a trilogy and the remaining two and a half games had to be squeezed into the short development time remaining.
Heavy Rain was released in early 2010 and is a story about the relationship between fathers and sons. In the game, the son of the main character, Ethan Mars, has been kidnapped by the mysterious Origami Killer, who sends Ethan a series of twisted challenges he must complete if he wants to save his boy.
These include killing a man, driving at high speed the wrong way on the motorway and cutting off his own finger. It makes you think about the question - how far would you really be willing to go to save someone you love?
People initially dismissed the concept of Heavy Rain as being just another FMV game, but although interactive movie is probably the best way to describe it, it soon became obvious it was much more than that. Like Fahrenheit, you play different characters including Ethan himself, a private investigator called Scott Shelby who has been hired by the victims' families and Madison Paige, a journalist who also finds herself looking into the Origami Killer. It's so unique that it's the kind of game everyone should play, if only to decide they hate it.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
David has gone on the record to say that he has no interest in making Heavy Rain 2 as he believes the company's strength lies in breaking new ground. In interviews, he's hinted that the next game will be similar to Heavy Rain in terms of gameplay mechanics and style but with a very different story. It's been confirmed that Sony will be publishing the next two games from the studio.
A big fan of the classics, David has expressed an interest in making a game based around one of the Shakespearian tragedies, but it's not known if he was just theorising about it or if he was serious about putting the idea into practice. In 2005, it was revealed that The Nomad Soul 2 was in development and would be called Omikron: Karma, but then it was put on hold to focus on Heavy Rain.
Another title that was announced in 2005 was Infraworld, about which literally nothing is known. The project was said to have been cancelled, but earlier this year a trademark was taken out on the name, fuelling speculation that it might be back from the dead.
A film based on Heavy Rain is on the way from Warner Bros., with NYPD Blue with Deadwood writer David Milch working on the script. The movie is titled 'Rain'.