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Beyond Heavy Rain: David Cage on Interactive Narrative
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Beyond Heavy Rain: David Cage on Interactive Narrative

May 25, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

You must have done a postmortem on Heavy Rain at the end of the project and really identified things where you felt you succeeded and failed. I was wondering if you'd share some of the things that you feel strongest about.

DC: [Big sigh] Well, there were different things. With the team, we were pretty much unhappy with everything. We thought we could have done a better job in all areas, and have better rendering, and better visuals, and better gameplay, and better everything.

So, yeah, this is definitely things we took into account designing the new technology, wanting to work with performance capture. And we wanted a better blend of storytelling and interactivity. We thought that sometimes in Heavy Rain there were moments where the balance wasn't exactly right. We are working on new ways of merging this in a more natural and fluid way.

There were so many things, after Heavy Rain, that we learned. We felt on a marketing point of view, I would say that some people maybe didn't give Heavy Rain a chance, just because they felt it wasn't a game for them. Maybe some people thought it was just a game where you would just press buttons, and some kind of interactive movie thing, which Heavy Rain absolutely was not.

We felt we lost some people because we couldn't convince them to give the game a chance. So, this is also something we took into account in trying to convince more people that they should give the game a chance.

On the flipside, what were you maybe the proudest of in terms of your accomplishments with Heavy Rain?

DC: I'm really proud of Heavy Rain. Not in an arrogant way, like, "Look at how good we are"; we're just proud of having made it. I mean, to meet people every day, telling us about their experience playing Heavy Rain. And many come to me and tell me about the scene where they need to cut the finger, and how the wife was sitting on the couch with them and saying "Do it" or "Don't do it" or whatever, and how it generated conversations and dialogues within the couple. Many people played with their wives.

I'm really proud of the fact that for the people who really enjoyed the experience, it seems to be a part of the culture now. It's something that they really lived, not just a game they played and they closed the box and that's it, "Forget about it." It's something that they keep talking about and that really left an imprint in their mind. Yeah. I'm incredibly proud of that.

Do you see yourself as an auteur?

DC: It really depends on what you call an auteur, because it has some positives and negatives to it. If you mean do I consider myself doing art? Honestly, certainly not. I don't think I'm doing art. I'm just doing it by passion, and I'm doing what I believe in.

It's more about crafting something, and building something all together for two or three years with a team. That's really what we do. And if something of what we create today, people still talk about it 50 years from now, then we'll say, "Okay, it was art." But that's really not something I have in mind every morning. Honestly, I don't care.

Now, I think I'm an auteur in that sense that I spend a year writing this stuff. It's one year of my life doing this from morning to night, non-stop, for a year. And I put a lot of myself. I'm not talking about me -- I'm talking about what I feel, what I think. Heavy Rain was really about me becoming a father, and all the fears that go with it. Yeah, all the fear and all the promise and all the things... In that sense, yeah, I think I'm an auteur, in a way.

Now, I know that a lot of time, obviously, during production of games, things change. And a lot of developers like to be really reactive to that and go with what works. But when you're working with a heavily written piece, it may not have that flexibility. So, can you talk about that process?

DC: My games are really written. I spend a year writing them, and very little can change. So, what I try to do when I write is identify areas where I know there is space for changes. Usually it's about interface. It's about gameplay. It's these kind of things that, yeah, you cannot plan it on paper, but you know that you'll need to do it on-screen and see if it works. And if it doesn't, you need to have a contingency plan.

But regarding the story itself, the production pipeline is so heavy -- because you need to build all these assets and shoot all these animations -- that you cannot really change your mind in the middle. So, I try to identify these places for potential changes, but if I've done a wrong decision regarding the story, there's usually little you can do along the line, just because the process is so heavy that you cannot really change.

But there are many things that changed during development. All of the 3D interface in Heavy Rain, for example. It was an idea that came in the middle of development. We were going for 2D interfaces in the lower corner.

Similar to Fahrenheit.

DC: Yeah. We said, "Well, wait a minute. We need to find..." We had this idea in Fahrenheit, of having them in 3D in the environment, but we couldn't find a way to make it. I just wanted to try again. And we tried again, and we found new solutions. We decided to implement it.

So, these are the kind of things that can happen during development, and you need to leave space for new ideas during development. Otherwise you are just implementing, and you lose track of what you try to achieve. When you know there is space for discoveries, and this is still a living being in a way. Your project becomes like a living being. You need to be careful that it breathes, that it's alive all the time.

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