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When I'm playing a game -- like God of War -- yes, it's violent, but I think that violence is abstracted. Even when it's realistic, you know it's not a realistic context. But if you want to up the realism of the narrative -- up the realism of the world -- then suddenly the violence is, in the case of Yakuza, incongruous.
You have the abstract, concrete; abstract, concrete -- a switch back and forth. Walking down a street in Tokyo, even if you're a gangster, you're not going to get into fistfights with -- by the time you beat that game, we're talking like 2,000 guys or something. (Laughs) You know what I mean? It's just not realistic.
DC: Well, that's the problem with most action games: that the story, at some point, needs to justify that the hero goes from jungle level to the snow level to the sand level, so this is already something difficult.
It also has to justify that there are zillions of people attacking you all the time wherever you are; there are people shooting at you because this is what the game is about. So it's really difficult to have decent storytelling in most games, and I think that games like Uncharted 2 or God of War III did a great job at that, trying to have a story really supporting the experience.
At the same time, I made a different decision, which was to get rid of the violence, the mechanics, the patterns in the gameplay. I think that this is not an absolute necessity; there are other ways of offering gameplay than using the same loops in a way.
Did you kill the drug dealer?
DC: No hesitation?
Yes, there was hesitation. In fact, after I did that part, I got up at the next break and grabbed my roommate who had already beaten the game, and I said, "Did you kill the drug dealer?" I had to ask him immediately. I had to compare notes. Yeah, there was hesitation; that was a moment where I said, "Look. I know I'm playing a game, so I can..." I knew I had that power because there wasn't a real consequence. So I was able to play around with that.
DC: But is it something you would have done personally, in real life?
It's so hard to say. We're talking about a scenario that's very -- I don't have kids, so I don't have that bond. I can't anticipate what my reaction would be in this scenario at all.
DC: It's difficult to tell what you would do. Did you cut your finger?
Yeah. I've done everything, basically.
DC: Okay. Did you kill the religious guy?
No, I didn't; I saved him. think I do behave differently with the different characters -- with Jayden, I really don't like the other cop. I mean me; I don't like him. I don't like him at all, and I like the rational approach.
DC: That's funny. Many people shot the religious guy when he takes the crucifix out because they thought it was a gun, and it's incredible how many people shot him. It's funny.
Why'd you record the English voices in France? I think that's a common criticism of the game.
DC: Yeah. It's really funny because most of the actors are American, actually. Scott Shelby, Madison Paige, Carter Blake. There are a couple of English actors: Ethan and Jayden are English actors, actually. But there are no French actors.
I haven't heard the English voice acting because I was about a week late in starting it, and everyone I talked to said, "Play it in French with subtitles."
DC: (Scoffs) That's absurd.
Really? You think?
DC: Yeah, it's absurd. I think the English version is really the real version; the original version. But some people probably complained about the accent, and this is something we tried to care about; but actors have so many technical constraints on stage that it was really difficult to fight for everything.
They needed to know their lines by heart. Facial animation... Many technical constraints. A lot of text to record. Plus, you want them to act and to deliver their lines, etc. etc. So, yeah, we'll probably pay more attention to that and probably work with American actors only in the next game to make sure that this is not in the way.
How did you do the recording? Did you just record them in booths, or did you actually have people acting together?
DC: We actually shot in a sound booth for facial animation because it's a different camera setup. They had an actor delivering the lines to them; they were actually acting with someone.
That's just another thing that's different in games; finding the footing, as we move into these more dramatic, serious games that require really convincing acting. To have Kratos shouting like, "Ah, Ares, I'm gonna fucking kill you!" doesn't require the same sort of depth as a guy screaming about his son getting run over by a car.
DC: Mm; agreed. You know, the cast was really amazing; there are some really great actors. We gave them so many technical constraints, and we're working on this. The goal is not to find better actors; the goal is to find ways of allowing them to deliver with less constraints. That's the main goal. But we learn, we discover, we improve the technology and the way it produces kind of things. I also notice that many people felt the emotions that we wanted them to feel, and it's also due to the acting.
Oh, yeah! Even my friends and people I've spoken to -- everyone is feeling the emotions of the game. Well, not everyone; you have to be aware that there are people who totally don't like the game at all, and that's going to happen with any piece of media or art.
DC: Very few, to be honest. Very few, to my big surprise. (Laughs)
Did you feel like you had to set the game in America to appeal to the widest audience? Why not set it in France?
DC: Well, because the genre's really a dark thriller, and it made sense -- as this is a very codified genre -- to use the rules of the genre; and the rule is it takes place usually in the U.S. There are some great thrillers taking place in South Korea, which is also very interesting; so I'm not saying it was impossible to set in France, but that was not how I felt about it.