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David Cage

Beyond: Two Souls SE photo
Beyond: Two Souls SE

Beyond: Two Souls special edition bonus looks like Portal


Beyond: TWO Souls... Portal TWO... Coincidence???
Sep 30
// Steven Hansen
The special edition of David Cage and Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two Souls comes in a nice steel book case. Also included in the package is a soundtrack and exclusive making-of videos starring Cage as well as actors Willem Dafo...
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Let's watch the full Beyond: Two Souls gameplay demo


Why play when you can just watch?!
Sep 25
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Beyond: Two Souls is getting a demo on October 1, 2013. Some people can get it right now though if you know where to look. Like on GameStop's Facebook page. For everyone else, the entire demo has been uploaded to YouTube. And you know what? That's fine by me in this case. I have never been able to get into a David Cage game before. So I'd much rather watch someone else play.
Microsoft & Heavy Rain photo
Microsoft & Heavy Rain

Microsoft turned down Heavy Rain because of kidnapping


Didn't want to rein in any possible controversy
Sep 04
// Steven Hansen
It seems Microsoft turned down PS3 exclusive Heavy Rain because it featured the kidnapping of children, according to developer Quantic Dream's David Cage, speaking at the BAFTA Annual Games Lecture in London, Polygon reports....
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David Cage will put you to sleep


Sony's Shuhei Yoshida takes a little nap
Aug 23
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Jetlag can be a total bitch, especially when traveling overseas. Combine that with having to hear David Cage talk and it's totally understandable that the head of Sony's Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, would fall asleep during a panel. Sweet dreams, Mr. Yoshida. [Via NeoGAF]
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Beyond: Two Souls

Get beyond touchy with the Beyond: Two Souls app


Two-player co-op also confirmed
Aug 21
// Wesley Ruscher
David Cage's Beyond: Two Souls has been one of my most anticipated titles ever since my first glimpse of it during E3 2012, and now it's confirmed I'll get to share the experience with a friend.  Revealed during gamescom...
Behind Beyond: Two Souls photo
Behind Beyond: Two Souls

Weird mo-cap kissing & more in Beyond: Two Souls video


Into the happenings of Willem Dafoe's imagination
Jul 09
// Steven Hansen
I don't think I'll ever get used to motion capture suits. They're just so goofy. Coupled with little ball speckled faces, it's always hilarious seeing people do things in them, especially acting because the serious tenor of ...

Finally controlling Beyond: Two Souls

Jun 11 // Dale North
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)Developer: Quantic DreamPublisher: SCEARelease: October 2013 It took me a bit to remember that part of Jodie's story is that she comes to work as a CIA agent. And when you consider how much of an advantage that Aiden, Jodie's invisible friend, gives her in an environment like this, the setting makes a bit more sense. Nothing was shown to show how she got here, and that's good as it probably would have ruined the story. But I didn't have long to think on the game's setting and situations as things became heated rather quickly. [Spoiler alert: While I feel you'll be okay reading this preview, as it gives nearly nothing in context and is set later in the game, those looking to avoid any plot points may want to steer clear.] At what Quantic Dream tells is about an hour into the game, the stage is set during a Somali civil war. Jodie was sent in by the CIA to use her unique powers to aid in a warlord hunt there. The scene opens up with Jodie trying to part ways with a young local boy named Salim. She tries to reason with him, telling him that she has to work, and that he can't come with her.  "Someday this is all going to be over and you can just go back to being a kid," she tells Salim. Getting to her mission, I was supposed to guide Jodie to where the warlord was holed up. Not sure where to go, I walked along back streets where I eventually encountered an armed guard. I thought I might be able to sneak up behind him and take him out, but I flubbed the controls and quickly found the tables were turned, with the guard's gun pointed at my face. Aiden took over automatically, knocking the guard out.  I asked if Aiden was supposed to come out and take over in this situation, but was told that I could have took him out with Jodie, though the option was always there to control Aiden and do what was done automatically for me. Surprised, I asked if Aiden will always come out to save Jodie from my mistakes. Not always, we were told.  But Beyond is almost always open to choice as far as how you proceed, Quantic Dream told us. It took me awhile to get used to the option of using Aiden at any time for a given situation, and that's probably because he's invisible. For example, I felt I was doing fine in working my way through the city to where I thought the warlord might be hidden, but when it was suggested that I just take over as Aiden and fly high above the city for a better vantage point, I was kicking myself for not thinking of that. Being invisible, he'll never come into danger. When you think about it, walking around this war zone as Jodie is a silly choice. Later, as I drew close to where the warlord was hidden, Aiden transitioned from being a play option to becoming fully necessary. With Jodie safely behind cover, I had Aiden fly through the wall, across the street, and into the compound where the target was. He sat in a room, surrounded by armed men, so entering as Jodie would have been a mistake. Aiden has the ability to possess some people, but the warlord was not able to be taken over. Instead, I flew just outside of the compound to a nearby guard and managed to possess him, though I failed to properly grab a weapon, ruining my chance for taking out the warlord. Thankfully, Beyond provides plenty of options to a given challenge. Trying again, I flew through the wall and found another soldier to possess. With him, I managed to steal a weapon from a locker and used it to gun down everyone inside. It was brutal. The only thing that was left to do was to open the door (Aiden can interact with some objects) to let Jodie in.  When Jodie entered she saw what Aiden did and vomited. Shocked, she walked around the site, reflecting on what had happened and her involvement. Just then, the boy she spoke with earlier, Salim, quietly walked in behind her to see the same scene. It turns out that he was related to one of the deceased. He starts to cry over one of the bodies, and when Jodie tries to apologize the boy pulls a gun and fires at her. Aiden quickly forms a shieldaround her to block the bullet. She's safe, but still greatly affected by what has happened.  Leaving the scene, tears in her eyes, she notices that gunmen from all over the city are up in arms, some out for blood. What starts as a steady walk through the streets turns increasingly tense. Controlling Jodie, I wanted to dart for the nearest cover as more angry locals flooded the streets, but she was cautiously controlling her speed. But her movement became more brisk when as the heat increased, finally leading to a dash toward a building to escape.  Distraught from the day's events, Jodie tries to kill herself, but Aiden again jumps out of her body to protect her. Frustrated and scared, and now trapped in this building, totally surrounded, she finds an opening in the building's roof, and starts looking for a way to escape. She spots a ladder inside and uses it to climb to the roof. Unfortunately, more angry men await there. As they draw in, it looks like it's all over for her.  I won't spoil the resolution for you. Reading the last three or four paragraphs of this preview, you may have wondered how much control I was given, as these read more like movie scenes than game play. Surprisingly, just about every interaction has the player in full control. All of the movement in the scenes above were controlled by me, using the left analog stick. With Aiden, aside from the couple of story bits where he jumps out to save Jodie, I was in full control of both his movement and view. Button presses, combinations, and directional movements are used for all of the object interactions. Beyond uses onscreen prompts to guide you for some of them, but for others you're on your own, left to do what seems most natural with the controls.  Those that played Quantic Dream's last game, Heavy Rain, may be concerned that this control for Beyond: Two Souls sounds more like prompting for interactive scenes. It does, but know that they've worked to make it so that just about every aspect you'd think you should be able to control, you can. You control all the movement, the camera, and just about every interaction. Despite looking like a movie, this game definitely leans more toward the action side of things than Heavy Rain ever did.. We've talked a lot about Beyond's cast, design, and direction, but it's nice to finally talk about how it plays. While this was just a short taste, it lets us know that Beyond will be more than something we just watch.
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Jodie in camo, in war-torn Somalia
We've had our time with upcoming PS3 title Beyond: Two Souls before, but only briefly. But for E3 we've finally got our first sizable hands-on with Quantic Dream's latest, and it surprised me in several ways.  First surp...

Beyond: Two Souls trailer photo
Beyond: Two Souls trailer

Beyond: Two Souls goes militant in new trailer


Skimps on Dafoe, though
Jun 11
// Steven Hansen
I've seen a lot of shots of Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two Souls set in the same run down urban environments that characterized Heavy Rain, but this E3 trailer focuses on Jodie Holmes' (Ellen Page) military training in the Middl...

This is not an article about David Cage

Apr 29 // Allistair Pinsof
It's kind of uncomfortable. The Tribeca host who introduced Cage on the stage is now staring at the side of Cage’s face with dead eyes, like a cat high on feed who believes the kitchen wall has something very important to say about cat life. It makes me think of that wonderful Konami E3 press event. Meanwhile, the audience is staring at their answerphones, occasionally looking up to see if that guy ... yes that guy is still talking, well okay then ... In the most long-winded way possible, Cage explains that his latest game Beyond: Two Souls is about a homeless girl on the run and a ghost buddy that helps her out. He says that but with 500 extra words about emotion, art, and thoughts on the future of videogames. I'm just kind of occupied by the press notes I was handed that proclaim him to be the creator of "story bending," an innovative technique that blurs the line between player and storyteller. Tribeca should have also included the rumor that Cage invented the internet. The Cage may leave GDC, but the GDC may not leave the Cage.Who is David Cage? I thought I saw him pretty clear in one moment. Actress Ellen Page, who plays the female lead in Beyond: Two Souls, commends Cage's directing in a really forced, Hollywood-nice way, like you do on a panel in front of 200+ people. Cage just stares at the ground with a goofy smile. Like a shy fat kid complemented by his piano teacher, he's so overwhelmed he can't work up the words. These are the moments Cage lives for. Moments of validation. He's a starf*cker, too, but of a different type. He wants to be a fox skin that David Lynch wears around his neck and occasionally pets. People seem to really dislike Cage around here. It's rare a Cage-related story is posted without the majority of comments ruthlessly tearing the guy apart, staff included. I can't help but laugh at some of these comments because there is truth to them. There is also truth to something Herman Hesse said, "If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us." Reacting to low review scores like falling on a sword, gamers can be overly emotional -- just about every topic online is met with a heated reaction. There is often a desire for validation, wanting film critics and politicians to respect and love our medium as we do. You ARE David Cage (how's that for a twist ending?) OK, I lied again. I'm going to talk about David Cage for five more paragraphs. But know now, starf*ckers, this is not an article about David Cage. It is about the technology, creative talent, and studio that lets Cage be Cage as he approaches a new era of MAXIMUM CAGE with Beyond: Two Souls and his upcoming PlayStation 4 title, of which we only know contains old-man tech. Hollywood olds need love too. Despite being flown across the country, shacked up in a hotel that looks like a futuristic, glass hen house for humans with more money and escorts than they can shake their dicks at (Dear fellow at room 1908, I enjoyed the discussion you and your two female friends had at 2 A.M. about who has the “most perfect tits.” Glad you settled it. Sincerely.) and invited to a game demo disguised as a film premiere, I didn’t actually talk to David Cage. Frankly, I don't think I'm missing much. The man has said a lot. He’s a vocal and emotional speaker who wants games to progress. Whether you agree with him on what a game is or what “progress” really means is not as important as that he is such a visible figure that you can know what he stands for at all. This is a man, after all, who recreated himself virtually so he could introduce the player to his virtual game (see: 2005’s Indigo Prophecy). He stands up for what he believes in, sometimes against gamers and sometimes against ratings boards. I think this is a good thing. So, really, this is an article about everything not David Cage that goes on at Quantic Dream. But, you probably shouldn't take my word for things at this point. Similar to Cage, I too like to pause the dialog so I can seek validation for my interests and hobbies. I spent $40+ on macarons: please let me know if this is agreeable, dear reader. Dat dank motion capture tech I’ve been thinking lately, is it David Cage’s fault that Heavy Rain kind of sucks? Do note I say “kind of,” as I enjoyed the game. The atmosphere, quick-time events that made interacting with controller into a game of Twister, and pace of the script was a bold and refreshing approach to adapting adventure games for current consoles. Mention TellTale's Walking Dead and I'll mention its sluggish pace, gameplay at odds with storytelling (slowly investigating every area of a train for a vague magical adventure game object while in dire straits = double ugh). But like most, I was dumb-founded by the performances and finale of Heavy Rain which is where the "sucks" part comes in after the "kind of." A better question: Is it David Cage’s fault that Beyond: Two Souls is kind of awesome? Like any Cage-related post on Destructoid, there will be comments below saying Cage isn’t even capable of making a movie. Hey poo-brains: Cage has never attempted to make a movie. That is known. What is unknown to most is the bizarre, convoluted performance capture setup Quantic Dream used during Heavy Rain: first, voice is recorded in a sound booth and captured alongside facial animation. Then, body animation is captured while the audio recording is playing. Finally, these two different elements are spliced together. Strangest of all, each performance is done solo. These different performances are stacked together to make a series of awkward conversations on screen. As Cage observantly points out, “All subtlety is lost.” Beyond: Two Souls may not be a next-gen title for consumers, but it may be called a next-gen title for those working on the production. The leap in capture equipment between Heavy Rain and Beyond is significant. Quantic Dream’s new tech lets Cage be an honest-to-God director instead of some sort of magician, miraculously making the most out of amateur French actors playing Americans with stilted dialog delivered through a complicated performance capture process. Now, Cage gets to place up to seven actors in a room that act out scenes in a tiny 20 x 20 theater where performers must wear skin-tight black suits and white balls (90+ on face alone) all over. It’s not exactly a natural setting, but neither is sitting in a make-up trailer for two hours before shooting a film. "At first it was [distracting], you can't physically touch your face if you are crying you have to break everything up," Ellen Page said at a panel following the Beyond: Two Souls screening. "I got used to it. When you shoot a movie you need to do make-up and hair every morning; this was nice because you just put on your suit and you're done. That was actually faded away pretty quickly, but of course on the first day it's unusual." This new capture setup lets Cage, at long last, be an actual director. Free of two-part recordings and isolated performances, Cage can now direct the flow of conversation, action, and (HOLY FUCKING SHIT SNACKS) emotion. The results are good. The performances are natural and, at times, powerful, even when the words are not. "From a tech standpoint, we now have the ability to capture faithfully their performance and present it in real-time 3D," Quantic Dream co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière told me in an interview (ostensibly, the 12 minutes that I flew out to New York for -- well, that and the macaroons at Bouchon Bakery which are delicious, especially the lemon). "That wasn’t the case before. To a certain extent, why ask these terribly talented people to bring their craft to videogames if we can’t do anything? Today we can." Can? Sure. How about should? On why Ellen Page will probably never do a game again (it's hard work!) Like their writer, the characters of Beyond: Two Souls are direct, vocal about their feelings, and intensely emotional. Despite a lack of subtlety in writing, Ellen Page and her surrounding cast make it work. Color me surprised. When Heavy Rain debuted in 2010, the term "Uncanny Valley" graced many an editorial. The facial models of Heavy Rain were advanced for the time, but the crude emotional reactions created an unnerving effect -- by looking too human, these characters were suddenly freakishly non-human. Going into Beyond: Two Souls, I expected the effect to be tenfold since these are faces I know very well as a lover of film. Even Rockstar, a developer that played a key role in progressing videogame performances to where they are now, has turned against celebrity actors since the PlayStation 2 days. "When you know the actors, it’s a little more challenging for us, the developer. I think it's still not perfect. but the more tech evolves, the more we are going to have means for faithfully representing the actors," Fondaumière said, "but only now have we reached a point -- I hope you seen it tonight -- we are not totally through the uncanny valley but we are close to it. We are through it 99-percent of the time. It’s a challenge." It may read like hyperbole, but I agree. When watching the in-game performances side-by-side with the studio performances, it becomes clear how uncanny valley is a thing of the past. Part of this has to do with stylization, changing Page and Willem Dafoe's (getting that PS4 old man wrinkle tech may be the missing 1% that Fondaumière suggests) faces just enough so that they aren't an exact representation of them. Rockstar used celebrity actors to bring character depth to its rough PS2 polygonal models, leaning on immediately recognizable voices and personalities. Samuel L. Jackson plays Samuel L. Jackson, even if the script says different. In contrast, Quantic Dream is bringing character depth to celebrity actors, in hopes of weaving a more believable narrative that keeps the illusion of high stakes and consequence alive throughout the adventure. With no camera, 360 capture, no lighting, and no marks on the floor, Beyond's cast is able to enter a natural stage second only to theater. "It takes you back to the purest form of acting. It was really wild. He guided us and we had a lot of fun together," actor Eric Winter said at the panel. The experience is still a grueling one, Page said, due to shooting 30+ pages a day (compared to 3-to-5 on the set of upcoming indie thriller The East), memorizing a 2,000-page script, and delivering separate reactions that play on different emotions within the same recording session. These are issues specific to games writing that have nothing to do with technology. These challenges will be here to stay. It will be interesting to see what performers are capable of rising to the tremendous task. Ellen Page may be one of the first. Meet David Cage's dad Before meeting Fondaumière, I didn't know what a co-CEO is. I'm still not entirely sure. A nice way of putting it is that he runs the business while Cage runs the creative process. Another way of putting it is that he's Cage's dad. He's the one that sets Cage up on his playdates with Hollywood talent, finds the funding to let Cage be Cage, and pushes for better, new technology. Without him, Cage would still be around but he wouldn't be nearly as well known. Also, dude's been knighted! KNIGHTED!!! I had one question I was very anxious to ask Fondaumière: David Cage is a very visible game designer who is vocal about his feelings on design, people either hate him or love him -- are you ever concerned with how this affects business? Fondaumière's response in full: We talk a lot about it. He and I. It’s always difficult. On one hand, we both want to move the medium forward. I, on my side, step forward and try to move things. I had a talk last week about "Are games culture?" We both don’t want to be here just to make money. We make it for a living, but we love the medium and want to push it forward. But of course there is always a risk; by talking out loud, people start pointing fingers at you and disagreeing with you. Maybe that affects the rest of the business … you have to be careful sometimes. David has even said, 'I don’t want to speak out anymore,' but I keep pushing him. He says important things and he should continue to say them; sometimes it hurts; sometimes we may lose sales because of it, but in the long run, we are pushing certain discussions forward or at least contribute to it. I think it’s important. Fondaumière shied away from directly discussing it, but it appears that he tries to influence development in subtle ways. Lately, he has been bringing on Hollywood talent to work at Quantic Dream, guiding Cage in developing his stories. You can read this one of two ways: Cage only can write so many 2,000-page scripts on his own or Fondaumière read the reviews of Heavy Rain. It may just be a mix of both. "David has so many ideas that Quantic Dream doesn’t have enough resources to put all of these ideas into games," Fondaumière said. "Our job is to turn these ideas into projects. So we are trying to attract talent: script writers, directors, photographers. That’s currently what we are working on. It’s challenging but a very interesting process." Cage is now joined by two other writers in script writing Quantic Dream's PS4 game in development. The results are "very positive" Fondaumière said, but are they positive enough to sustain Quantic Dream? No other developer puts such a focus on narrative storytelling while pursuing expensive talent and production, which makes me wonder if Quantic Dream can survive the FPS-hungry market climate. Does Beyond: Two Souls have to sell more than Heavy Rain, in order for Quantic Dream to continue, I asked. "If it’d sale the same, yes. It’d be sustainable business. The production budget of Beyond is comparable but a little higher than Heavy Rain," Fondaumière said. Fondaumière said the project will be a success if it sells 2.5 million units, but he hopes it well sell more. MAXIMUM CAGE Evolving capture technology, Hollywood talent, an amiable business partner. These are the things that let David Cage be David Cage. But, there is one other thing that I haven't mentioned yet: YOU, the people who buy his games, discuss his GDC talks, and listen to what he says. It's validation Cage wants and it's validation you give, even by hating him. But why not validate him and his arguments, when no one else is getting on stage? No one else is going to Tribeca or insisting on spending a chunk of its production budget on Hollywood talent. Cage is a contradiction of sorts. He's a pioneer but not a visionary. A director but not one always concerned with game design. He is not gaming's David Lynch, because gaming's David Lynch hasn't arrived yet. David Cage has to come first, along with all the things that prop him up.There is no red button we can slam that will prevent David Cage from being David Cage. So, let's hope MAXIMUM CAGE is a good thing.
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Ok, I lied
The first twelve paragraphs are about David Cage. AKA David De Gruttola. AKA Composer-turned-game designer. AKA Founder of French developer Quantic Dream, responsible for excellent implementation of David Bowie (see: Omikron)...

PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

David Cage joined by film writers and directors on PS4


Cage refuses to direct anyone else's screenplay
Apr 29
// Allistair Pinsof
It's not normal for a man to write a 2,000 page script or direct a 10+ hour film, so I can't blame David Cage if all of Beyond: Two Souls isn't golden. Realizing how this strains developer Quantic Dream's game director, co-CE...
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

Quantic Dream's PS4 engine predates Beyond: Two Souls


Company began work on PS4 over two years ago
Apr 28
// Allistair Pinsof
When I asked Quantic Dream co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière if its upcoming, untitled PlayStation 4 game would be based on Beyond: Two Souls' engine, I got a response I wasn't expecting. The developer began development ...
Hollywood photo
Hollywood

Heavy Rain was written for John Goodman and Clive Owen


David Cage's ideal Hollywood cast revealed
Apr 28
// Allistair Pinsof
David Cage has said in the past that he writes characters with actors in mind for roles. With better tech and a bigger budget, Cage finally got the cast he wanted with Beyond: Two Souls which stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe...
Beyond: 2 Soups photo
Beyond: 2 Soups

Watch hour-long Beyond scene and trailer on stream


Live from Tribeca Film Festival
Apr 26
// Allistair Pinsof
Just because I'm in New York this weekend covering Beyond: Two Soul's presence at the Tribeca Film Festival, doesn't mean you have to. Have to be in New York that is, since the hour-long clip and trailer will be live streamed...
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Here's the 2,000-page script for Beyond: Two Souls


(not really)
Apr 23
// Dale North
I could see the FedEx delivery man hobbling down the street. I knew he was coming for me, but he was taking awhile as he was carrying a small box that looked like it was giving him some trouble. I met him halfway and he gave ...
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls box art is the Ellen Page-iest


EMOTIONAL
Apr 18
// Tony Ponce
Ellen Page. Polygons. Emotions. Mature. Beyond. On a related note, David Cage and Ms. Page will be screening Beyond: Two Souls at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, April 27. Because it's a movie, I guess. BEYOND: Two Souls Box Art Revealed [PlayStation Blog]
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Marketers wanted guns on Beyond: Two Souls promo art


Quantic 'categorically refused' generic action artwork
Mar 22
// Jim Sterling
Beyond: Two Souls had to fight to stop its promo art being reduced to a character holding a gun like 90% of the rest of videogame advertising, Quantic Dream recently revealed. Had marketers had their way, Ellen Page would be ...
No QTE for Beyond photo
No QTE for Beyond

Cage: No QTE for Beyond: Two Souls


Good news
Mar 21
// Dale North
At a preview event earlier this week, Quantic Dream boss David Cage revealed that their upcoming PS3 game, Beyond: Two Souls, would not use QuickTime Events (QTEs). In an effort to create a more discreet and fluid UI, they've...

Preview: An emotional ride with Beyond: Two Souls

Mar 21 // Dale North
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)Developer: Quantic DreamPublisher: SCEARelease: October 2013 In this time, Jodie is an adult, a fugitive on the run. She has no family or friends, and her need to escape has left her alone, homeless, on the streets of a snowy city in the middle of winter. By this point she has moved fully beyond the down-on-her-luck stage, passing out from cold and exhaustion in the snow. She would have been left for dead if it wasn't for her invisible protector, Aiden, calling attention to her in the street so that a fellow homeless person could tend to her.  When she finally comes to, Jodie struggles with her self worth, to the point that she feels like going on isn't worth the trouble. Luckily, the homeless people that took her in cared enough to give her some purpose, which gradually puts her on the road to recovery. She begins to care about these people enough that she eventually opens up to them, sharing some of the secrets of her gift. This same gift, her tie to the invisible entity she named Aiden, lets her repay the saving favor in many ways. It's too bad that her past ends up catching up with her in the end. Watching Jodie get to know these people played out exactly as it would in a movie, which made it very easy to be drawn into the story. There's a lot going on under the hood to make this possible. First, the seamless and nearly invisible system of Beyond: Two Souls had everything from character movement to item interaction looking like a cinematic event. It was easy to forget that this was not a string of cutscenes with button prompts, and that a player was controlling the entire session, making every choice and movement. Save for a couple of instances of graphical glitches (the demo was only in alpha state) or where another animation pass might be needed, watching someone else play was like watching a film.  While the game never breaks form in looking like a movie, it does lean slightly more towards the game side of things during action combat scenes. Thankfully, Quantic Dream ditched QTEs in favor of a nearly invisible, prompt-less system where the game slows motion down during combat and awaits simple input from the right analog stick. Players will have to watch the action for context clues to know how to move the stick. We saw a really impressive fight scene where Jodie takes on multiple attackers in the street, where she kicked, punched, dodged, and countered through this input system. Despite the use of "bullet time," the scene managed to be fast-paced and exciting.  Quantic Dream has the PS3 pulling off some graphical sorcery that goes a very long way toward making Beyond look like a feature film. Their engine does some absolutely stunning stuff with depth of field and bokeh, giving every scene the look of a filmic camera shot. Watching snow fall onto already deep snow drifts in the evening, as street lights flickered in the distance, made me wonder how the PS3 was able to display such quality. Quantic Dream told us that some of their early work on renderers for the PS4 showed them that they could apply some new techniques to their PS3 engine. What they've been able to pull over and implement is unlike anything seen in any current generation video game. Dazzling stuff. The performance capture equipment and techniques used during 12 months of shooting real actors really paid off. Their impeccably captured performances seal the deal when it comes to working toward a convincing cinematic experience. Outside of some of the walking/turning animations, every movement is so realistic that the line between game and film is so blurred that you'll forget to think about it. It's also good that the photorealistic faces of the characters never dip into Uncanny Valley. Forget stretchy texture maps with eye holes for faces -- these look like real, living, breathing people, with reactive eyes that have depth and soul.  I could go on about how fantastic Beyond looks, but it's not really about the visuals. All of this tech and mo-cap was to be used to further the storytelling power for the game, and from what I saw, telling an engrossing story was mission number one. The session was bookended by two rather critical story moments, both of which had my mind wandering, but even without knowing where the story started or ended up, all the stuff in the middle had me totally drawn in, itching to know what happens next. Just about every scene moved me in some way -- harrowing, uplifting, reflective, or tense moments that came together to make for a supremely entertaining hour of watching. There was one particularly beautiful moment that I keep thinking about, even some days later. I can only imagine how these sensations would have been heightened if I were able to actually play it.  If you played Heavy Rain, you'll know that Quantic Dream was already well on their way toward their ideal cinematic game experience. It's just that the game was rough around the edges in so many ways that you could never fully be drawn in as intended. Too many off moments had it missing the mark. From everything I've seen of Beyond, it looks like they've figured the rest out since then. All of their work, from the cast, performance capture, graphics engine, and new systems, makes it seem like everything has finally come together. Their desire to share an interactive emotional journey comes through cleanly, with no hindrances. Perhaps all of that ambition has paid off, as it seems they've been able to take a very large step from their last game. Beyond: Two Souls looks to be something special. I can't wait to see more.
Beyond preview photo
Beyond goes beyond
After watching about an hour of live gameplay of Beyond: Two Souls, I felt like I witnessed a string of truly meaningful moments in the life of a gifted yet misunderstood person. In this small glimpse into what was probably j...

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Jimquisition: Innovation - Gaming's Snake Oil


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Mar 18
// Jim Sterling
There's nothing wrong with a game that innovates. There's everything wrong with a game that goes out of its way to innovate without reason. Like any tool, innovation is neither good nor bad, and it has its specific uses. How...
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Jimquisition: Emotions, Polygons, and Ellen Page


David Cage is your daddy
Mar 07
// Jim Sterling
This week, Father of Dreams and visionary game director David Cage hosts the show and tells us all about emotion. Emotion. Emotion. What is it like to feel? What can videogames learn from film? How well does David know Ellen Page? Watch this soul-scorching video and prepare to be impressed. Emotion.
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Jimquisition: New Generation, Old Bullsh*t


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Feb 25
// Jim Sterling
The PlayStation 4 was announced last week, but Sterling wasn't quite feeling the buzz. The PS4 is interesting, Sony's plans are promising, but the industry itself, and the culture of business around console games? THAT is what needs a new generation. Hardware is just a placebo if the attitudes showcased at the big PS4 reveal are anything to go by.
PS4 event PR bull photo
PS4 event PR bull

Here's all of the PR bull from the PS4 event condensed


It's a lot less fun if you just watch the lowlights
Feb 22
// Chris Carter
Everyone has their opinion of how Sony's PlayStation 4 event went, but if there's one thing we can all agree, on, it was that there was more than the average amount of market-speak involved. Like most flowery presentations, ...

David Cage is wrong: Violence is essential

Feb 11 // Allistair Pinsof
The notion of senselessly unloading a fire arm into houses is a distressing one, naturally. It's also far from a necessity in order to feel attached to my environment and reality, since my senses guide me, even as my mind wanders. And I'm not the least bit schizophrenic (no, really.) David Cage, and to a lesser extent Warren Spector, gave speeches at D.I.C.E. last week that called for industry action in steering away from violent games and creating ones that reflect our lives and the complexities that come with them: Caring for family, facing familial and employment crises, or simply appreciating the beauty that surrounds us; the subjects we often come across in film and literature. It's nothing that hasn't been said by dozens before -- or attempted by many indies -- but that these ideas are being delivered from directors of multimillion dollar productions makes these declarations of anti-violence have a special, headline-grabbing impact. After the chin-stroking, blogging, back-patting, and heavy drinking that industry conferences bring, all parties go on their way, acting on market demands at the office while continuing the discussion of ethical theories in private. I'm not going to explain immersion, the necessity of violence (action), and the future of technology for developers' benefit; no, this is for the public's: we suffered too many boring, navel-gazing indie games that are based on the theories that Spector and Cage now preach. The idea of a talented designer following suit with a multimillion dollar project, an edge case should one like it ever exist, is too much to bear. I am not here to claim Journey didn't have an emotional impact on me, to call misty-eyed bloggers a bunch of sissypants, or to say we shouldn't have another game like it. Instead, I wish to focus on why Journey had impact and speculate just how far that impact can go, given the current state of technology. On immersion: From the Greeks to videogames today, the focus of art has always been on immersion: the ability for a creator to envision a reality and convey it with viewers. Art gives us an escape to another reality, while offering the ability to let us return with renewed strength and insight. That immersion increased as Greeks evolved from pottery to Hellenistic sculptures that tower above the viewer with lifelike details. And so it was with the theater that gave way to the cinema: A place where sound and vision surrounds the viewer, as increasingly convincing fantasies play out. And so it is, too, with games. How we have gone from the basic lines of Spacewar! to the complex narrative decisions of Warren Spector's Deus Ex (though time has indicated it may have been more of Harvey Smith's Deus Ex that I love so much) in such a short time is one of the most remarkable evolutions of an art form since time began. So, what makes videogames the most immersive art form, following the logic that pottery -> sculptures/paintings -> plays -> film -> videogames (factoring where novels and music fit is a can of worms I rather not open here)? The most immersive aspect of each art form is embodied in the ones that follow. Plays contain props (pottery) and backdrops (sculptures/paintings); film carry all those and takes out the set and fixed perspective; videogames carry all those and then grants the viewer agency in narrative and interaction in a fictional world, thus granting entrance to devised alternative realities that can be believed through their own logic and rules, so long as they don't break the ones they previously establish (tsk tsk). So, there we are then: videogames. If the evolution of art depends on immersion, then how do we make games more immersive? After all, a game of Tetris can be as immersive as a stroll through the lush world of Ni no Kuni or navigating player choices of Dishonored. Immersion can come from mechanics, aesthetics or system-deep narrative interplay. Like a game of basketball, an intense round of Street Figther or Tetris has a way of dimming the lights on the real world. Taking in the sweeping vistas of Journey makes us temporarily forget there is a controller in the hands. Realizing that choices made hours ago led to a moment unique to one's playthrough in Dishonored has a way of making a dead reality feel alive. When a game has all three of these types of immersion, transcendence is achieved, but even this transcendence is only temporary. Cordless or not, the controller and distance to the television serves as a constant reminder that we are only peeking our head below sea level, not quite swimming. On the necessity of violence: Have you ever played a game where the world is ugly and the gameplay is a chore, yet you feel compelled to continue for the story? But, what about the opposite: A game where the action is all that counts? Immersion in game world come from our actual senses: touch, sight, and sound. More specifically, immersion in game worlds comes from the combination of all these things, i.e. feedback and sense of possibility (or possibility space). Proteus is more immersive than Dear Esther because the possibility space is larger (not a set path) and feedback is more noticeable (environment reacts to your movement and presence). How could Proteus be made even more immersive? Violence! Put a gun in the player's hand, surround the island with threats on legs, and let the code bring the two together. Action has a way of immediately increasing our investment in a game world, since it triggers our reptile brain and makes us focus on a threatening non-reality than the harmless actual reality that our body is inhabiting. If a distinct lack of enjoyment (through faulty programming and design) is present, the illusion is ruined. Going back to the opening of this essay, violence can make me more aware of my current environment but the power of my senses does that enough. This can also be true of games. Antichamber has no immediate threats -- one can argue falling and losing a small amount of progress, I guess, but that's a stretch -- it finds immersion through sight and sound. The abstract architecture overpowers our tendency to compare to reality, and the sound design is rich and ubiquitous. Puzzles, objectives, and first-person movement maintain the immersion. The ability to shoot (action) increases it. Perhaps it sounds like I'm backpedaling here, but I'm not: Action can exist without violence (harm against another thing), but there is no more immersive action than violence. Would Journey have been a more compelling experience if the player wielded a shotgun and gunned down hordes of enemies? Yes, it would have; but it wouldn't have maintained the same tone and sense of space. In other words, it wouldn't have been Journey. Journey is something of a compromise between immersion and aesthetics. To make the game more immersive through action, it would no longer maintain the same emotional complexity and impact (aesthetics). Journey stands out because its developer focused on feedback and possibility space. The sense of weight, flight, and movement is convincing. The environments are large and freely flowing, expanding while directing the player in slight ways. It's hard to imagine what can improve the experience without changing its expression. On the future: I have a lot of admiration for id Software's John Carmack, but I didn't expect him to agree with the above. Yet, he did just that when I interviewed him at QuakeCon, last year. Carmack admitted to making games with guns in first-person because it's more immersive. Firing a gun introduces possibilities for feedback that are unparalleled in games. I then expected him to tell me how the Oculus Rift VR headset, that he is promoting and tweaking, would further improve this. Instead, he told me how it'd change this, ushering in a new era of non-violent games. By introducing head-tracking (interaction via touch) and enclosed panoramic HD visuals, a new state of environmental immersion will be introduced, easing pressure off the necessity for action. The Oculus Rift is a baby step toward this future, but the jump from 2D to 3D could also be considered a baby step from where we now stand. I am not under the impression that the visual impact will be enough to do away with violence and immediate threats in games, but it will open the door for games like Journey that favor expression over immersion (even if not by design) to become more believable. No longer having the world confined to a screen in a living room, or the player's view fixed (or guided by a camera), will create a more intuitive world; one where the impact from moving may compare to the impact of virtual violence without a VR headset. Take away the weight of the headset, add realistic body feedback, introduce smell, and you can have realities that are virtual in name only. It's a frightening Snow Crash future that may exist in a Mad Max world, but that's the only way games will be able to tell stories of emotional impact without relying on violence. In a way, film and novels are still more immersive than games, since they carry a greater level of immersion to more kinds of stories. Recreate episodes of Mad Men or a great novel in a videogame world and you'd be bored silly. Our mind and senses guide us through art; our bodies occupying an almost catatonic state. This state, however, cannot be reached with games that require us to push buttons and fiddle with thumbsticks -- things we cannot do without thinking about them. And putting the controller aside for cutscenes forsakes the medium (sorry, Walking Dead). Dear David Cage: Dreaming of games without violence is a lofty goal. One that we may achieve in the near future. But, before we tell the masses that it's time to do away with violence, we must wait for technology to catch up to artistic expression, first, through new and improved ways of interacting with our senses. For now, let's get emotional with our fists. [Image courtesy of Jeuxactu]
David Cage is wrong photo
On immersion, violence, and the virtual
How is it that a walk around the golf course outside my house, with its scummy pond, ugly ducklings, boring grass, and the dull sky above is so much more immersive than exploring the psychedelic world of Proteus or mystical l...

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Heavy Rain composer Normand Corbeil passes away


Passes at 56
Jan 28
// Dale North
Composer Normand Corbeil, the man behind the musical score for Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain, passed away yesterday at age 56. He was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer late last year, and passed away yesterday ...

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