I remember you said with Fahrenheit you had put in supernatural elements because you felt there was a need to appeal to the game audience, who expects that kind of stuff. You moved away from that for Heavy Rain. I understand that obviously there are some supernatural elements in this, but I doubt they were put there for the same purpose. I was wondering why you moved back towards that.
DC: You know, as a writer I think I really changed in many ways. In the past, I thought -- when I was working on Omikron, I thought I was writing about sci-fi. That was my subject. When I was writing Fahrenheit, I thought it was about supernatural things. And then on Heavy Rain, there was a big change in my approach, which was, "Wait a minute. These things are backgrounds, but they cannot be the theme. They are just the background. What do I really want to talk about?"
Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy
And this is something that all writers go through, one day or another. Writing about things they don't know, until they hear their own voice, and finally write about something they understand, something that they experience themselves. It's the only way you can be really true when you write. Heavy Rain is really about me and my experiences as a father, having a son, and this strange relationship you have with your kid.
But with Beyond, yes, there are still supernatural elements as there were with Fahrenheit, but at the same time it's really an element of background. It's not about supernatural events. It's about growing, it's about learning, it's about accepting who you are. It's about death. It's about what's on the other side. So it's a totally different thing. Yes, there is a supernatural element, but it's just an element of background, it's not the subject matter.
How much freedom has Sony given you to pursue your vision?
DC: Total freedom. Total freedom. No constraint in anything. Many publishers, after the success of Heavy Rain, would have said, "Well, you need to do Heavy Rain 2. And do what you want, but it's going to be called Heavy Rain 2." And we never had this conversation with Sony. They just asked me, "What's next? What do you want to do?" "Well, I have this idea, what do you think?" "Yeah. It looks great!"
We talked about it, explained the concept. They never asked for me to change anything in my script. And, no, total freedom. I think this kind of project can only be made in complete freedom, because otherwise it's not the same experience at all. I'm not the kind of guy who works on command and someone tells you, "You should write something about sci-fi, or about this, or about that."
I think the real value of this type of experience is that they are true and they are sincere. It's really a story that I needed to tell, and Sony gave me the opportunity to do it. Which is quite unique. It's really incredible in this industry to have the possibility to work like that.
Very few developers are in my position, so I feel incredibly fortunate to be here, having this level of creative freedom, and at the same time having the financial means of a triple-A title. Usually, you make indie development, and you have limited resources, but you have freedom, or you work on a triple-A and you have the resources, but limited or no creative freedom. And I'm in the strange position where I have both.
Do you pay attention to things that are being done with story in indie games, or indie games in general?
DC: Oh yeah. Yeah, of course. There are some interesting things going on. I'm a big fan of Thatgamecompany, Jenova Chen's work. I'm a big fan of Fumito Ueda, and his very specific approach. I really like Japanese designers in general. I think they're really crazy in a good way. They really try different things.
I was talking with a friend yesterday about a game called D on PlayStation 1, which was something totally different, out there. It was a Japanese title. They have really crazy ideas.
And more recently, I mean, there was this thing about The Walking Dead, which is also a different approach to storytelling that I find interesting in many ways. So there are different people trying different things, and that's what makes this medium so interesting.
It's funny that you mention D, because in a way I think it was a predecessor to some of the stuff you're trying to do. It's very different, and also very technically constrained -- it was pre-rendered video made on an Amiga, so it's not exactly anything like what you do. But that idea of having this sense of a real central female character, experiencing this kind of story...
DC: I don't pretend that what we do was created from scratch. There were predecessors and inspirations, including in the game space. French developers played a very important role in the beginning of the video game era, 20 years ago. They developed many interesting adventure games.
I don't know if you're old enough to remember this, but Delphine Software, they did some very interesting games. One of them was Maupiti Island, and there were many different types of adventure games. It's part of a French tradition.
And, yeah, I was a big fan of all the Cinemaware titles on Amiga where you had, like 20 floppy disks that you needed to swap all the time. I'm just mentioning this because I read somewhere that Cinemaware is coming back, so, hey, welcome back guys!
I am old enough to remember, but I don't think a lot of the French games were available in the U.S. just because the market was so fragmented.
DC: Definitely. But they were very interesting games. Very interesting. And very story-driven.