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David Cage's 'biggest concern' about  Heavy Rain  - gamers who wouldn't try it
David Cage's 'biggest concern' about Heavy Rain - gamers who wouldn't try it Exclusive
August 27, 2012 | By Staff

August 27, 2012 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Design, Business/Marketing, Exclusive

In a new feature interview, the director of the upcoming Beyond: Two Souls tells Gamasutra that his "challenge as a game designer" is getting those who ignored Heavy Rain to give his new game a chance.

"My biggest concern about Heavy Rain was not so much what people who played it thought, because the feedback has been consistently very positive about the game. It was much more about the people who didn't play Heavy Rain, what they thought of the game. Just the image they had of it," Cage tells Gamasutra.

Cage says he's "shocked" when people say "Oh, Heavy Rain, it's like Dragon's Lair, with prompts sometimes, and that's not really a game."

"Wait a minute. There are less cutscenes in Heavy Rain than in many first-person shooters that I can see these days," Cage says.

The game, he said, was not about cutscenes -- "It was not about watching. You were in the shoes of the character. You were making the choices, and you were telling the story through your actions, and not through prompts, or whatever," he says.

Unfortunately, says Cage, "some people just stay stuck outside the game, having an image, an idea of what it is that in my mind was wrong."

But getting more gamers to give Beyond a chance is not a question, he says, of selling more copies. It's more a situation where Cage wants to say to gamers, "Hey, we worked really hard to create something we believe in. Please try it, give it a chance!"

"So we really worked on how we can find a way of making the entry barrier as low as possible," for Beyond, he says. "'Please come in.' Open doors. 'Come on and, see, look. It looks like something familiar. But once you're in, I can take your hand and show you stuff that will really surprise you.'"

"That's my challenge as a game designer: to deal with all those things, and stay true to the experience we want to make, of course," says Cage.

The full interview, which covers his thoughts on the evolution of the industry, writing for a female lead character, and exactly why he cast Ellen Page as lead character Jodie (pictured) in Beyond, is live now on Gamasutra.

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Stanley de Bruyn
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I tried Heavy rain demo on PS3 with move. But just keep in mind you can't please all gamers. Realy emotional games are not my thing.
To please me you make a game with triple A funding like Xseries Albion pride. Or competition for X-rebirth.
Or the next Soldiers of fortune extreem violent and much gore.

Because I fell in that group: Oscar movie titanic don't care about.
Rambo4 that my thing.

With games like heavyrain you service a specific adience. Wenn that group is small it a niche market. Wenn its big then there is potentional for a big sucses.

Like TV series like BSG and Stargate Universe.
Not all people like extreem dark, extreem character build up, excesive drama, excesive personal conflict. Some do some not.
You can't please all.

But combine it with balanse dosis it could make it better. But pure is often a overdose.

I believe that also in failed games are often made with blood sweat and tears.

Jon Shiring
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It probably didn't help that David Cage said:

"Heavy Rain is not a videogame anymore in my mind, because it breaks with most of the traditional paradigms, but it's fully interactive."

Gregory Kinneman
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@Gama: Feature link at the bottom actually links back to this article.

Matt Robb
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So it's not Dragon's Lair, it's Choose Your Own Adventure?

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed those when I was young, especially the Lone Wolf ones with how some "gamification" was thrown in. But one could easily argue that when you strip the "game" out of a product that still sits in the land of games, you're probably not hitting your target audience very well, especially if that audience is unaware of itself. Not sure how big the "interactive cinema" market is.

Chris Charla
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Heavy Rain a straight up adventure game, with puzzles and consequences and sections that require hand / eye coordination. Story driven, sure, but way more of a game than Shen Mue for instance, which was mostly QTEs.

k s
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Give us something with real gameplay instead of a slightly interactive movie and gamers will "play" it.

Bernardo Del Castillo
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The term interactive is badly used in both cases. And its not even the conflict here.
Pressing more buttons and turning more cranks and pulleys doesn't make a game "more interactive", in the same way that simple linear game doesn't stop being interactive. That discussion is pointless.
We can't say mario is more interactive than skyrim, or Modern warfare more interactive than Heavy rain.

The real question is: Is the experience using the medium to enhance it's experiential effect? I'd say Heavy Rain mildly succeeds at that, but it doesn't come even close to harnessing well the active potential of the medium. As it never really accomplishes The creator's purpose: I could never feel that I was actually in the game, because the interface and the options given to me were awkward lacking in ergonomy and quite frankly felt unnatural and hostile.

The game kept pushing me away from the experience with its many narrative and functional incongruences.

Rob Wright
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Wait, so it's the people that DIDN'T play Heavy Rain that are to blame for the title not being a huge hit? Right, okay....

Sometimes I wish David Cage would just stop talking. His interviews are driving me crazy. I know people have given Denis Dyack a lot of crap over the years, but in my mind no one invites more criticism/eye rolls/scoffs than Cage.

I'm exactly the kind of gamer that should love Heavy Rain. I value story and narrative choice almost above all else. I play RPGs five or six times to explore all the angles. I play the single player campaigns of Call of Duty and StarCraft II and barely touch the MP. I love video game stories, and I really enjoyed Indigo Prophecy. But Heavy Rain had tremendous flaws that interrupted the story. And sure, the game didn't have a lot of true cut scenes....but some segments of the game where the player DOES have control felt like long, drawn out cut scenes. If Cage wants to make Beyond more engaging, well then, don't have your players fumbling around with cleaning dishes, setting the dinner table and carrying groceries for the first hour.

Rob Wright
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The way I read the quote was this: Cage is saying that the people who played Heavy Rain had pretty much nothing but good things to say about the game, but the game didn't do as well as it should have because people that DIDN'T play the game were badmouthing or spreading misinformation.

In any event, I find his point laughable. Heavy Rain isn't Call of Duty; there aren't hoards of gamers out there badmouthing it on every social media outlet, message boards or article discussions. It was a niche game on a exclusive platform that catered to a specific kind of audience. And if Cage was really worried about the public perception of the game, then he should have marketed the game better.

And for the record, I liked the game (even though I've routinely criticized the game's woefully slow start and barriers to entry) and I'll be purchasing Beyond on Day 1. But I find some of Cage's comments in recent years to be beyond pretentious and incredibly self-defeating.

Brian Bartram
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Played it for first two hours, then put it down bored to tears. Didn't detect any gameplay whatsoever, just cutscenes triggered by mundane QTEs. If I want to watch a linear story, I'll watch a movie. Games that aspire to be movies are missing the strength of the interactive medium. You're not advancing the medium, you're neutering it.

Naoki Lambelet
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Making it an exclusivity didn't help either.

John McMahon
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I agree, I don't have a PS3. I doubt I will ever get a PS3. Started playing PC games after a decade of separation from it. But I just don't have the time to play games like I used to.

Not to mention I'm not going to get a new system and play those games I couldn't before.

I watched a youtube playthrough (no commentary) for Heavy Rain and it really interests me, but because I am not doing anything to affect what I see I just couldn't watch it anymore.

It does seem cool and so does Beyond, but those games are just outside of my realm to experience them.

Dan Jones
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I was going to say the same thing. I fall into the category of "people who were interested in giving it a try, but who have no plan to purchase a PS3."

c anderson
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I was thinking the exact same thing; if it had been on an additional platform (ie PC) there would have been a larger pool of mature people who might have played.

[edit - clarified since I replied using the wrong "reply"]

Maria Jayne
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I would have bought this for PC, assuming it wasn't a lazy port of course. I really loved indigo prophecy and Omikron:Nomad Soul. Very different to the majority of games out there, sad they seem to have abandoned the PC platform.

I have never understood platform exclusivity, there is no game, ever made, that would make me go out and buy a console so I could play it.

Chris Daniel
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Exactly. I think they lost a huge amount of money not bringing it to the PC and the chance of targeting the interested crowd.
Make the price 20-30 bucks on PC and many people would have tried it.

And as Maria says: why limiting your game to a specific platform (console) and close out hundreds of million of people who own a PC = potential customer?

Victor Reynolds
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As a person who had no interest in playing the game, i don't see why i should give Heavy Rain or Beyond a chance. Nothing I seen or heard about either game makes me want to "play it." to be honest, I haven't heard much about Beyond, but I heard a lot of Heavy Rain (from the media and friends). From the information I gathered, I don't see ANY fun in it, and I imagine many others feel the same way. If the game seemed like it was a lot of fun, more people would have given it a shot, and decided for themselves if they liked it or not. However, since there was no indication that it was fun, people who aren't into these types of games passed it without a second thought.

To put it another way, I don't like horror films, so, you wont see me giving horror films a chance either.

Nat Tan
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^ this.

As Dev's, i think we all know and respect the amount of work and effort that goes in. However, the price of business for making a niche game is to know what to expect and know your audience. It's like expecting hardcore COD fanboys to purchase and play a Disgea-type game just because you spent some time making a new type of tactical rpg system.

That being said, if it's really not a matter of selling more copies, he could always make it free or donationware if it's a matter of lowering entry barriers. However, we all make games to make money and it's just the way the world works. People are just not going to pay for games (however interesting or unique they are) if they dont think it's in their interest.

Kimo Maru
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A lot of people didn't buy Heavy Rain because it's hard to sell a game with no replayability for 60 dollars. If it sold for 15 bucks, every PS3 owner would have bought it. It was too expensive for what it was.

Adam Bishop
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It was a game with branching storylines in which major characters could die and the story would continue. There were several starkly different endings. That's practically the definition or "replay value" the way most people use the term.

As for me, what gives something replay value is if it's provides a compelling experience. Heavy Rain provided me with a compelling experience so I've played it more than once.

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I guess a lot of people were just disappointed that the villain didn't vary, which is what they mean when they criticize it's "replayability". I think it's a good game with flaws, and so I'm really looking forwards to his next one to see how he iterates on this.

c anderson
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If I recall correctly, Mr Cage specifically stated during the initial publicity flurry that the game should be played only through once.

Adam Bryant
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Along the lines of what Kimo Maru said... If the game was available for a much lower price, and on other platforms, a lot more people would play it. I, for one, am very interested in playing B2S but I have no interest in buying a PS3 in order to do so.

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I didn't like the "Simon says" game play. The only game today where that kind of game play worked for me was RE 4.