Interview - David Cage for Beyond: Two Souls


Interview - David Cage for Beyond: Two Souls
The Quantic CEO talks story and more
During our recent visit to the Quantic Dream Studios in Paris, we were given a tour by founder and CEODavid Cage. The 43 year old has also acted as the director on every project completed by the company to date, including 2005 Fahrenheit and interactive adventure Heavy Rain.

He's back in that capacity for the companies latest venture, an ambitious title by the name of Beyond: Two Souls which traces the life a character called Jodie Holmes (played by Ellen Page) from the age of 8 to 23. The gameplay bears some similarities to Heavy Rain but with less focus on QTEs and prompts, adding to the seamless nature of the storytelling [read our hands on preview here].

During the tour, Click's Daniel Anderson also got a chance to sit with Cage to talk about his work at Quantic and the new title. A familar face at Sony press briefings where he gives complex speeches about the nature of story and emotion in gaming, Cage is much less strident in person, almost quiet. But he's also incredibly passionate about what he does but also willing to admit that his experiments don't always work.

Read on for his comments on interactive story-telling, his thoughts on film and TV and what Ellen Page's presence brings to the project.

CLICK: Firstly said that if I ever met you, I would tell you that I loved Fahrenheit. So I did!
DC: Oh well thank you!

CLICK: You founded Quantic Dream 16 years ago, what was your goal with the company?
Well it was when I saw the first demos in real-time 3D. And it made me think that now this is the moment where we see a new medium coming to life. And now that 3D is there, we can use it to create deeper experiences. Not just characters jumping on platforms but meaningful experiences. And that was 16 years ago and I thought it would happen over the next two years. And here we are today wondering when it’s going to happen and I still don’t have the answer!

CLICK: So you looked at it as a new way to explore stories in an interactive medium?
DC: Definitely I think it’s a very exciting medium because everything is new. And it’s the only medium in which you can have this audience participating with the experience rather than just outside. And this is really unique to our medium and what makes it so exciting. .

CLICK: Heavy Rain was a big success - how did you decide what to do next?
DC: Well there was always this question when you make a successful game do you want to make a sequel. But this is not in the DNA of the company; we’re about trying to reinvent ourselves and discover something else and to challenge ourselves. So we wanted something different, more ambitious and apart from Heavy Rain. Though we wanted to build on the same foundations. We discovered many things that we found very exciting on Heavy Rain, that story-telling was possible, that we could create interesting emotions that the audience reacted very positively to. And also that talking about mature themes was something possible in our medium. And all those things seem more and more obvious today. But at the time Heavy Rain was really one of the first games of that type - it was about child abduction, it was about love and how far you’ll go to save someone you love. Which is not the kind of questions you’re used to in video games. And with Beyond we wanted to explore more mature themes and ask you what it means to grow. What it means to accept who you are. But also what is death and the other side and how you can be confronted with your own fears and these kinds of things. So that’s why we wanted to try something different.

CLICK: Moving on from Heavy Rain, were you responding to any particular feedback from that game, either positive or negative?
DC: Well you never make games in reaction to any feedback, otherwise you make a product and I’m not making products - I try to make something that is more sincere than that. So I guess we heard many things, positive and negative, about the game and you take those things into account. But we were mainly driven by our desire to create something strong and unique.

CLICK: Where did this story come from - I was talking to Guillauime [de Fondaumière – Quantic CEO] earlier and he was saying you have five or six stories in your mind at any one time. Was this one of those?
DC: Well I always have many stories in my head but I’m not rushing them, I’m just waiting for one of them to be ready to be told. And this one was inspired by something personal that happened to me, and I was confronted with the loss of someone I felt close to in my family. And being confronted with death, so close, there’s always something really disturbing and shocking and violent. And I wanted to see if I could write something about it and say something meaningful about my feelings.

CLICK: If we were going to put this in a genre - it’s quite like an interactive movie. Is that a reference you agree with?
DC: It’s always confusing to talk about interactive movies because in the mind of some people that means it’s not really interactive and not really a game - it’s just something you watch and press a button. And this is not what we’re doing, the games we make are fully interactive second to second, you are really in control of what’s going on. I mean you could maybe more relate it to the first text based adventures in the old days where you were typing what you wanted to do. It’s similar in that sense that you have this freedom and it’s within the context of a story but now it’s fully graphic of course, you see what’s going on and you have characters moving and talking and acting. But it’s the same philosophy behind it I guess.

CLICK: Your projects are always very ambitious, do you ever feel like you’re putting too big a challenge to your team?
DC: Yea… yea. I have opposite thoughts about this. In one sense I think that if Quantic Dream is still there after 16 years it’s probably because we worked on very ambitious games that nobody else did. On the other side yea being confronted with challenges is something very difficult because you live in doubt. And this is what people don’t always realise from the outside because sometimes people think we’re always so sure of what we do, that it’s obvious what they wanted. But we live in doubt from the first second to even after the release. Even years after Heavy Rain you still don’t know if you did the right thing or if you could have done better. So its always being confronted with your own doubts and questions.

CLICK: What does it mean to have a star like Ellen Page in a project like this? Does it help to make people see games as more accessible? What does she bring to the project?
DC: Well I was interested in Ellen not because of her fame, not to have a nice name on my packshot but basically because she’s a fantastic actress. That was the only motivation I had in mind. Now you can’t ignore that yes she’s famous and there are people who really like her and that’s going to generate some buzz around the game but that was really not the initial goal. She brings something very unique I think to the experience. When you play Beyond, you won’t see Ellen Page playing a role, you’ll see Jodie Holmes, this character, because she gives her flesh and bones - and more than that, she gives her soul. That is truly unique. And very few actresses I think could have been capable of doing what she did in Beyond.

CLICK: Would you ever like to make a movie or TV series? To work on something less interactive?
DC: I think it’s a very different job. It looks very similar because we have actors and we have a script but I think it’s very different. And no I’m not a frustrated filmmaker, I’m happy to be here, I’m doing this for 16 years, I chose to be here. And I still have so much to discover and learn in this medium that I’m not impassioned to go and learn something else, no.

Beyond: Two Souls is coming exclusively to the PS3 from the 8th of October. Click the links for our hands on preview and studio tour, in pictures!

Interview - David Cage for Beyond: Two Souls on
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