So how much do you have to determine your characters before the game is made and build the game around those characters? And how much are they created through what you are actually accomplishing with the development process? How much is the character established in the beginning, or does it evolve?
DC: I establish pretty much everything before I start, so I know who the characters are. I try to have a real understanding of where they're coming from and what their narrative arc would be. There are many theories about narrative, but one of them is to say, "Story is what is going to change a character." So he'll be in a certain state starting before the story, and he should have changed or evolved or something through the story. He's different.
I try to establish my characters as much as possible before I start, and make sure I know who they are before I write the story, because it would help me to know how they would react to different situations. If you know who they are, you see that if that happens, they would do this. It helps.
But it's not that separated. You have to build the characters, but at the same time, you think about the story, even if you don't have a clear idea of what you want to tell and what the themes you want to talk about are. It's good to work on both together.
You have a strong link, it seems, with the idea of games as a cinematic experience. You reference movies a lot in explaining your ideas.
DC: Yeah, I think this part is generally misunderstood, because some people maybe didn't really read my interviews and think that I'm promoting cutscenes and that cinema is the absolute model. I'm not someone who's frustrated at not being a director and ended up doing video games. I'm here because I decided to be here and because I'm excited about interactivity in video games. I'm not a frustrated movie director.
What I want to say is that no creative media has been created from scratch. When photography started, they didn't invent everything. They started copying painting. When cinema started, they started to copy from photography and theater. When television started, they started to copy cinema. But in this industry, I don't know why people seem to think that we are pure geniuses and we are going to invent something entirely new that no one has ever seen.
But that's not true. Every single game being made is inspired by something else. That's normal. That's fair. So what I'm saying is that one of the closest media to games is cinema. We shouldn't copy it. We shouldn't imitate it. We should get inspired. We should take what is good there, because it's going to save us time, and if something is effective and works in cinema, why wouldn't you copy it?
As long as we take what is good and add something new that is absolutely unique to our media... we don't want to make cinema, we want to make interactivity. Let's borrow some code from cinema, but let's not copy it. It's challenging, too. I don't want to make cinema, and I don't promote a vision of video games being only narrative-driven or whatever. I'm just saying, "Let's learn."
I remember that's not actually your aim, but there's a lot of that, and I believe it is because some of the most accomplished mass-market characters, experiences, and stories that can be told have been done through cinema. And indeed, it is much more similar than novels or stuff like that.
DC: It is.
So what then inspires you the most in what you're currently doing?
DC: I write something very dark with things, that as far as I know, are serious and have never been used in games. That's what made this project interesting and exciting. It's not a story about a king and a princess and a dragon. It's not something about the second World War. It's not, "You're a rookie and you need to go on this mission." It's a real story with some very personal things in it, and I hope all this will come through and people will feel that the story is pretty good.