David Cage of Quantic Dream talks about their upcoming action-adventure game.
It's taken a bit longer to release than first announced, switched publishers in mid-stream (from Vivendi Universal Games to Atari) and gotten a name change for the US market but developer Quantic Dream is now getting close to releasing their action-adventure game Indigo Prophecy (titled Fahrenheit for other parts of the word). Gamecloud got a chance to chat with Quantic Dream CEO David Cage to find out more about their plans for the game.
Gamecloud - First, how did the idea for Indigo Prophecy come about?
David Cage - I play games for twenty years, and I often had the feeling that I play the same games for twenty years. The technology has massively evolved, but game concepts are still the same.
As an adult, I am not interested anymore in playing the same games. Like many other players, I am looking for deeper content and a richer experience, not designed for ten years old kids but for an older audience. I know a lot of gamers who stopped playing just because there was no content for them out there.
Indigo Prophecy is a game for them. It is the first interactive drama, as we call it, with this simple idea : you are the hero and your actions can change the story. The story, the acting, the directing are close to a real movie, except you can interact with everything and see the consequences of your actions.
Indigo Prophecy is not an adventure game, it is not a Survival Horror, it is a very different kind of experience designed like a movie but where everything is interactive.
With Indigo Prophecy, we tried to design an "Emotional Ride".
In books, movies or in art in general, part of the pleasure comes from the different emotions we go through. Watching a movie, the audience may feel happy, sad, jealous, in love, many emotions that are conveyed by the story. In most games, very few emotions are offered, mainly Power, Anger, Fear, Frustration, only a few words that define the game language today.
One of the goals of Indigo Prophecy is to demonstrate that an interactive experience can offer just as many different emotions as a movie or a book. By making the player go through different emotions, it creates a unique experience.
"Emotion" is the key word that drives the game. The player will live in the intimate lives of the main characters, learn to know them, discover where they live and be involved in their personal affaires. He will start to care for them.
Gamecloud - What can you tell us about the storyline for the game?
David Cage - Lucas Kane is a normal guy working in a bank. One night, in a diner in Brooklyn, he suddenly falls in a sort of state of trance. Like a puppet on strings, he stands up, takes a knife, and goes in the restroom. He draws strange symbols on his wrists, and he is going to kill the first person who will enter without any apparent reason. During the murder, he will have the vision of a man, doing the same moves, and he will see a little girl, asking for help.
Then he becomes himself again, and realizes what just happened. Now, Lucas is a murderer. He will want to remain free and escape the police long enough to understand what happened to him that night in the diner. He will have to investigate on the paranormal side, and fight against these strange visions that try to kill him.
At the same time, Carla Valenti, a young female detective is in charge of the case (she is also controlled by the player). As she investigates, she will soon discover that many identical murders happened in the past. Although there was no apparent link between the victims or between the murderers, all murders followed exactly the same ritual.
While new victims are found, temperature in New York gets colder and colder, which may have a link with these strange crimes…
Gamecloud - What kinds of locations and settings will Indigo Prophecy have?
David Cage - Indigo Prophecy entirely takes place in Manhattan. I am really fascinated by this city, the strange mix of high tech and mysticism, since I spent a lot of time there in winter during my collaboration with David Bowie on my previous game “Omikron”.
I came back with my team to film and take pictures. I did not want to create a postcard of New York, or New York seen from Paris, but really to see the “real” New York where people live. I think the city gives a very special atmosphere to the game.
Gamecloud - What can you tell us about the gameplay style you are developing for the game?
David Cage - When you think about game mechanics, you mainly talk about “patterns”, which means a sequence of actions that you can perform. You usually have ten of fifteen animations assigned to specific controls, and you are supposed to use them with a specific timing or in a specific order to go through levels. This is exactly what Indigo Prophecy is not about…
The game is a story-driven experience, which means that I wanted to have no pattern in the game, no mechanics in the traditional sense.
Indigo Prophecy allows the player to play almost physically with the story, stretch it and deform it like a rubber band, and assume the consequences of his actions on the plot. All actions are defined by the context of the story, there is no real mechanics, just a story to play with. This is really what makes the experience so unique. A lot of people may be disturbed by the concept, and wonder where are the weapons, the zombies and the cars. Nothing like that in Indigo Prophecy. Just “be in the hero’s shoes in a movie ala David Fincher”.
Indigo Prophecy also offers some very unique features : Multi-Paths Story (your actions change the story), Multiple characters (the player can control ALL the main characters of the story), MultiView (like the TV series "24", the game can open several windows at the same time to show what is happening somewhere else while the player controls his character).
The interface of the game is also very different. It is not just a remote control to move the character around, it is an important element of immersion for the player. He makes the moves at the same time than his character, makes efforts at the same time than him, and always feels physically like him.
The last important point about the innovative game play of Indigo Prophecy is “Mental Health”. The Mental Health of the characters can change depending on their actions, their moral choices and the relationships they have with other characters. The player must care for Lucas and always make sure he feels ok, otherwise he may commit suicide, become mad or turn himself to the police.
This is seamlessly integrated to the story, and gives another dimension to the game.
Indigo Prophecy offers several moral choices where the player will have to ask himself : “what would I do if I was in his shoes?”. The topics exposed in Indigo Prophecy are not about princesses or zombies : they are about our real lives and ask ourselves questions about who we are.
Gamecloud - What kinds of missions and puzzles will be encountered in the game?
David Cage - There is no mission or puzzle as such. Indigo Prophecy tells a story in a similar way than movies, by following the main characters through different scenes. As the player can control all the main characters of the story, he can play in very different situations with characters with different personalities.
The story creates context for choices, which we could call “puzzles”. There is no 2D puzzle to solve like in many games, no crate to push nor key to find. If you were a murderer in the toilets of a diner with a dead body at your feet and a cop drinking coffee at the bar that may come in at any time, what would you do? Just run out? Try to hide the body? Hide the knife? Make your decision quickly and see what will happen. This is the kind of contexts we create in Indigo Prophecy.
Gamecloud - What sorts of characters and enemies will Indigo Prophecy have?
David Cage - In Indigo Prophecy, the player will mainly be confronted with realistic characters, as real as possible, with an intimate life, emotions, relationships.
Enemies don’t necessarily walk around with an axe, but they can use Lucas’ mind to modify his reality and try to kill him.
Discovering who is behind all this is an important part of the mystery. Don’t expect me to reveal anything…
Gamecloud - What other unique elements will the game have?
David Cage - What makes Indigo Prophecy really unique is the fact that the player never knows what to expect next. All scenes are different, offer a different character and a different situation, sometimes in their daily lives or in a very spectacular situation. The challenge is not about mastering the controller, but really about discovering what will happen next. It also creates a very unique relationship to the characters, making them real characters and giving often the feeling that we known them for real.
Gamecloud - What can you tell us about the graphics for Indigo Prophecy?
David Cage - We tried to create a very unique atmosphere with the graphics. We worked on post-rendering to alter colors and grain.
All the game is also animated in optical Motion Capture. Indigo Prophecy is probably the most ambitious game in matter of Motion Capture, with more than 12 hours of high quality animations, captured on more than 50 actors, stuntmen and sportsmen.
Music is also a very important part of the experience, with an original soundtrack specially composed by Angelo Badalamenti, known for his work with David Lynch for example on the theme of “Twin Peaks”.
Gamecloud - What is the current status of the game's progress and when will it be released?
David Cage - The game has passed the Beta stage. It will be released on all platforms (PS2/PC/Xbox) on September 9th worldwide.
Gamecloud - Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Indigo Prophecy?
David Cage - There are very few games with a vision these days. Indigo Prophecy is one of them. It is a very unusual game in an industry where doing something different is usually considered as a sin.
I hope that gamers will give its chance to a game like Indigo Prophecy although it is radically different from what they already know.
Autor: John "JCal" Callaham
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