Big Ideas: Video Games According to David Cage
August 27, 2012 Page 3 of 5
I read about French adventure games and the stuff that was being done in the '80s, and it sounds really fascinating, but it's nothing that I ever access to at the time in the U.S. [Ed. note: the book referenced here is Replay.]
DC: Well, one of them, the one that I mentioned, was called Maupiti Island, and it was done, I think, by Delphine Software [Ed. note: actually a developer called Lankhor]. And you were on an island, and it was this kind of Agatha Christie type of stuff. So there were people living on this island, and there was a murder, and you had to investigate and ask the right questions, and try understand what happened.
And it's still a very appealing idea. You would probably do it very differently today, but still it's a valid idea, of being this investigator in a closed environment, and you need to understand who did it.
What did you do prior to Omikron? That was the beginning of Quantic Dream. What did you do prior to that?
DC: I was a composer. So, I worked in music for 10 years, and I was a composer working for TV series, movies, commercials, and games. This is how I got into the game space, actually. I was one of the first musicians in France to start working on interactive music. That was really in the early days of CD-ROM, the first time when you could start to consider having real music with real instruments.
How did you decide to move into this kind of direction, away from music and into being more of a director?
DC: Well, I started working on music for games, so understanding how games were made, and I started talking to programmers, and having friends in the teams. And in parallel, I always loved writing, so I was writing at night and weekends -- novels, books, stuff, whatever. And being also an avid gamer, I thought, "Hey, why not try to write the game I'm dreaming of playing?"
So I started working at night, having no clue of technical constraints, or what development exactly looked like. So I just wrote this game, and it would be sci-fi, take place in a city, and there would be a dictator, and whatever, and you would be free to go wherever you want, and that became Omikron.
When I was done, it was a huge thing with 200, 300 pages, and I showed it to a bunch of friends working in the industry, and my friends told me, "Well, you're dreaming. There's no way we can do a full city with a crowd, and complete freedom with vehicles in the street, the possibility to enter any building at any time, and having a story on top of that. That's just a dream."
I thought, "If that's impossible, then this is what I want to do, because I strongly believe in this thing." I felt like games were, at the time -- it was 15 years ago, and I thought that games were really focused... Tomb Raider was a big hit. They were really focused on shooting and jumping on platforms and I thought, "No, I think this medium can become much more than that. It can actually become a way to tell a story and to trigger emotions." So I wanted to do Omikron.
I hired these friends. I wanted to pay them, so it was not a bunch of friends in a garage. It was actually a bunch of people I hired for six months, because that was all the money I had, and we worked in a sound booth that was no bigger than this room. Six, seven people, for six months in a soundproof room. We made a demo, and we showed it to different publishers, and we ended up signing with Eidos. This is how everything started.
Omikron: The Nomad Soul
To change tacks just a little bit, how do you feel about writing for female characters, writing for women? Is it a challenge, and is it an interesting challenge?
DC: Strangely enough, it's easier for me. I really realized that. I feel really close to these characters. And working for male characters, I often end up with, I think, less interesting things. More standard things, ones you would expect from a male hero. What I love with females is that they can fight, they can be very angry, they can be upset, they can cry. They have a palette. They have a range of emotions that is actually larger than male characters.
I really enjoy writing for women. Writing Kara, for example, was a really big pleasure for me, because you could really go from being naïve, to being really funny, and come to tears. And fear. And they can really express all this, whereas males, we don't express our emotions publicly so much. And same thing with that in Beyond. It was a real pleasure to have access to all this palette of emotions that you can show and display without feeling ridiculous, or whatever. You can be who you are.
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