As a result of cooperation with Epic Games, another game from the French studio Quantic Dream was released on PC on July 22, namely Beyond: Two Souls. After the success of Heavy Rain in 2010, BTS had huge expectations, expecting the title to take the «interactive movie» genre to a whole new level. According to many, this time the game designer David Cage did not cope with the task, although he himself categorically disagrees with this.
“I make games because I love discovering new things. When creating each title, I take risks, said Cage. — It would be easy to decide on the creation of Heavy Rain 2 and make the same game, but with a different plot and characters, which would definitely sell well. However, I am captivated by the possibilities of the gaming industry, and therefore prefer to experiment.
While Heavy Rain was partly inspired by Cage’s thoughts on his role as a father in his son’s life, in BTS he wanted to explore the theme of death. Cage lost a family member and wanted to speculate about what might happen after death. However, along with this in the game, he wanted to touch on positive motives for changing for the better and accepting ourselves as we are.
While creating Heavy Rain, Cage took a lot of inspiration from films like Seven and Memories of a Murder, but in the case of BTS, he chose to act without any clear references.
“You can’t write all your life only under inspiration from other people’s work. At some point, you need to find your own voice and find out what you have to tell the world, ”the game designer believes.
Despite the above, Cage still noted that Inside by Playdead and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons by Starbreeze Studios made the biggest impression on him, not to mention Fumito Ueda’s work.
As a rule, Cage writes at home in the living room in order to be constantly surrounded by family.
“If I put on soundproof headphones, I find myself in complete silence. Your breathing slows down, you hear your heartbeat, and it even becomes scary. But in this way I build a barrier from the outside world and I can focus on work, ”explains Cage.
Although at first glance it may seem that the story of BTS is centered on Jodie Holmes, Cage emphasized the relationship of the heroine with an entity named Aiden, chained to her since childhood. The game designer gave Aiden his own character and goals and told about the history of the development of their relationship with Jodie.
Through Aiden, Jody can interact in a certain way with the outside world, which is part of the mechanics of BTS. For example, Aiden can heal, move into various characters, see the past, and also protect Jodie from ill-wishers.
On top of that, Cage wanted the player to be attached to Jodie by the end of BTS like a true friend. As you progress, the game jumps a lot through different periods of the heroine’s life from 8 to 24 years old. Throughout the game, we see forty variations of Jodie Holmes.
Of course, since we are talking about a game from Quantic Dream, in BTS it is the player’s decisions in a given situation that determine how the plot will develop and how the story of Jodie Holmes will end.
With Heavy Rain completed, Quantic Dream decided they needed to develop a new engine for their next game. First of all, they worked out a new lighting system so that they could shoot better close-ups.
Other important changes were made to Motion Capture, which now allowed you to capture voice, facial expressions and body movements at the same time. The result obtained during the filming was not much different from what the players eventually saw.
Actually, this is also why the development itself took less time when compared with previous titles. Quantic Dream started working on BTS at the end of 2010 and finished two and a half years later. True, it is worth noting that about two hundred people worked on the game, which is twice as many as compared to the development of Heavy Rain.
Cage never writes a game based on any technical limitations. He just gives the script to the team, and they already figure out how to bring it to life.
“I understand the technical aspects of development quite well. I am aware of what is impossible to do and what is not difficult to implement. More often than not, we prefer to be somewhere in between,” Cage said.
One of the highlights of the game ever since it was shown at E3 has been the fact that BTS featured two well-known Hollywood actors, namely Ellen Page (Inception, Juno) and Willem Dafoe (Boondock Saints, » Murder on the Orient Express).
Paige starred as Jodie Holmes, while Defoe played Nathan Dawkins, a physician.
“When I wrote the script, I imagined Ellen in Jodie’s place, and then I realized that although I have a script for Ellen Page, I don’t have Ellen Page herself,” admitted Cage.
To the surprise of the developers, the actress really liked the script sent to her. According to her, many events in Jodie’s life echoed Paige’s past.
Both Paige and Dafoe had to first figure out the specifics of working with Motion Capture under Quantic Dream’s roof before they agreed to take part in the project. According to Dafoe, filming in BTS was as close as possible to his performances in theatrical productions.
“On the first day they were confused, but on the second day the actors were in love with our format. You immediately feel when talented people themselves want to give their best. At such moments, everything goes by itself, ”said Cage.
During a press conference at E3 in 2012, Cage introduced BTS to the public for the first time, showing viewers a one-minute trailer and a cutscene from the game.
From what he saw, it was difficult to get an idea of what exactly awaits the players, but Cage himself assured that compared to Heavy Rain, BTS will have much more action and interactivity.
“For us, gameplay is just a tool. By itself, it doesn’t matter. However, we want to create an emotional adventure for the player, and gameplay is one way to interact with the story,» said Guillaume de Fondomier, executive producer of the game and co-founder of Quantic Dream.
De Fondomier believes that a huge number of games in the industry work due to the dependence of players on the same type of patterns, which is completely unsuitable for the company’s projects.
As for the soundtrack of BTS, the game’s music was originally supposed to be handled by Norman Corbeil, who wrote the music for Fahrengheit and Heavy Rain. Corbeil managed to start work on BTS, but in mid-2012, the composer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As a result, Corbeil was forced to pass the baton to composer Lorne Balfe, who finished the work on the soundtrack.
BTS was dedicated to Norman Corbey, who passed away on January 25, 2013.
The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hutcoff with the goal of promoting independent cinema in the community. Until 2013, only LA Noire was honored to be featured at the festival. However, six months before the release, BTF Quantic Dream presented a new trailer and a 35-minute demo of the game at Tribeca.
When BTS finally came out, the game received surprisingly lukewarm reviews.
Even during the development of Heavy Rain, David Cage actively advocated the use of QTE as a worthy interactive tool.
“Some people on the Internet drive me crazy with their statements. No, we are not creating a second Dragon’s Lair! Do you think I’m an idiot? Do you think I’m developing a game for the PlayStation 3 and want to introduce another Dragon’s Lair? Of course not, ”said the game designer.
Nevertheless, when the release of Beyond: Two Souls happened, it was in this direction that the main criticism was directed. According to many, the game turned out to be just a kind of movie with a little bit of interactivity.
“Of course, you always hope that everyone will like your game, but this is not always destined to happen. Sometimes you satisfy the needs of the market, and sometimes you don’t. Is it worth overestimating everything that you believed in for twenty years just because one game of yours did worse than the previous ones? I don’t think so,» says Cage.
The developers do not argue that perhaps BTS was released at the wrong time. A month before the release, GTA V came out, and a month later Sony presented the PlayStation 4. In any case, Quantic Dream are proud of the title they received and that they took the players on an exciting journey.
“Based on reviews, it’s hard for us to understand what we did and what we didn’t do, because one portal praises aspects of the game that another portal praises,” de Fondomier said. — Another thing is that we do not develop games for specific journalists. We create games to speak to a specific audience, and based on feedback from players, our goal has been met.”
In a sense, de Fondomier’s words confirmed the sale. By mid-2018, Sony had sold almost three million copies of the game, one of the best ever for the PlayStation 3.
Interestingly, in 2013, after the release of BTS, Cage was going to try to develop a small game with a team of twenty people, having been impressed by games like Journey and Papa & Yo. At the same time, he noted that working with a large team has its serious advantages.
“If you need to change something, there will immediately be a bunch of people who will deal with this problem. A big team can move pretty fast and do things that a team of 20 can never do.”
Obviously, in the end it was this idea that won, because, as everyone knows, the next Quantic Dream project was Detroit: Become Human, which should be released on PC sometime in 2019.