David Cage, founder of developer Quantic Dream and director of Heavy Rain, aired grievances over his ambitious 2010 noir adventure in an interview with Gamasutra:
"With the team, we were pretty much unhappy with everything. W...
David Cage would like to remind the world that he's different from everybody else and will change games for the better. The Heavy Rain director has criticized the industry's focus on violence, calling on software to be more c...
According to thatgamecompany designer Jenova Chen, the reason why games like Flower and Journey are on the PlayStation Network is that PS3 owners are more mature than Xbox 360 or Wii users. Apparently, those who bought the Bl...
Mar 30 //
I was something of a late adopter when it came to digital distribution. I clung to my boxes and physical media for as long as the world let me. Everybody has a price, though. It turned out that my price was the complete Space Quest collection on Steam. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that it was far from the only example of a classic adventure game on the platform, indeed, there were plenty of new ones as well. Steam already had a massive user base and it offered a great space for promotion.
Telltale Games is no stranger to digital distribution; its games can be found on all manner of digital platforms, including those of the console variety. CEO Dan Connors explained, "Digital distribution allows independent publishers to reach the customers without taking on the costs associated with building and marketing a retail title." Telltale sells directly to their customers via their own site, as well. "We're going to be relaunching that soon, because we've learned a ton and we're really going to start making that a big part of our mission again, to get a community there and get people excited and offering them things they can't get in other places. It's a way you can test experiences, try new things, message however you want, position product however you want, provide information on products, and let people participate."
Along with Steam, indie bundles have been a massive boon to smaller adventure game developers. The first three titles in the Blackwell series and Gemini Rue were both featured in indie bundles, last year. Those games were the work of Dave Gilbert and Josh Nuernberger, respectively. Dave told me, "It was like launching the games all over again. I think more people have played Blackwell in the [week since it featured on the bundle] than they have in the last five years. My inbox and forums have exploded since the Indie Royale launch, and the association also gave Blackwell the final push it needed for Steam to accept it. We’ve been trying to get the series on Steam for two years but they always said no. So we’re very grateful for that."
One of the largest problems for adventure game developers in the years since the golden age of the genre was publishers' lack of faith in the products. When they were willing to invest in such a game, it was lazily marketed and rarely got the support it needed. With promotion and direct access to players, developers have been able to show that there's a healthy audience out there, which will hopefully lead to more publishers investing in these types of titles.
Better tools have also made it easier for small developers to make a finished product. Adventure game studio (AGS) is a free development kit inspired by Sierra's interface for its adventure titles and it's been used to create a vast number of games, including many commercial ones. Most of Wadjet Eye's catalog used AGS. "The creation of third-party tools like AGS enable idiots like me to make these games, so more of them are being made every day." Although AGS games frequently favor a retro aesthetic, that's a design choice rather than limitations imposed by the software. Dave explained, "It’s a big misconception that AGS can only handle low-res games. It can actually go as high as you want, just most people prefer not to. So the decision to use AGS has nothing to do with aesthetic choice, but it has everything to do with money and time. Right out of the box, it has everything you need to make a point-and-click adventure game. Not having the experience or knowledge to make an engine of my own, it was the most logical choice."
Dave's own games have a distinctly retro look and thematically they are similar to the much-beloved Gabriel Knight series. Playing the Blackwell series instantly transported me back in time to the days when Sierra were still blowing my mind with new adventures. It's a wonderful feeling. "Blackwell is very much me trying to do Gabriel Knight. The story of Joe Gould and Joseph Mitchell was my Jensenian attempt at merging real-life historical people with supernatural events."
As Al Lowe reminded me, these smaller teams using AGS are a lot like the teams that developed adventure games in the '80s and early '90s. "I think that's great because it brings back the small team concept of one or two people working closely together on a project and actually putting their own personalities into it. I think that so much of what we see that's wrong with games today, that there is no key personality that comes through."
While cost is obviously a concern, I do think that there's a tendency for adventure game fans and developers to be incredibly nostalgic and thus gravitate more towards retro design. I'm guilty of this, myself. My love of the genre classics means that I'm immediately more interested in titles which are inspired by those particular art styles or certain mechanics. In Telltale's case, Dan defends nostalgia, believing that older franchises still have much to offer. "Well I think that for us, with having Sam & Max as our flagship, we looked at the content as being so rich and relevant in the modern day... [It] needed to be brought up now. Having Sam & Max in 2004, and 2010 and all the times we've been able to use them as characters ... I mean they're just great characters and it's a great franchise. So for us introducing that content to a new audience was a huge thing."
Expanding into new markets such as consoles and handhelds has also increased the userbase. Adventure games used to be pretty much a PC only affair, with the occasional shoddy console port. While PC is still the focal platform, titles like Phoenix Wright, Ghost Trick, and 999 made the DS a must for lovers of strange adventures and interactive stories. PSN and XBLA have also seen their share of adventure ports, most of Telltale's games can be found there, for instance. Fans of the genre can even get their adventure on with their phone or tablet. Machinarium on iOS is fantastic and might be even better than it was on PC, thanks to it becoming a more tactile experience.
Dan seemed to be willing to embrace new platforms and technology. "It can bring more imagination to how you interact with the characters in the world and how you experience the story." He acknowledges the risk of doing that when it comes to traditionalist fans, though. "It moves away from traditional stuff and is a bit risky. So you have to be pure adventure game or you're in this vanguard story game type of place."
When I recall playing most of my favorite adventure games, I remember pouring countless hours into them. Getting stuck on a puzzle meant that I was going to be doing a lot of trial-and-error experimentation, exploring loads of areas, doing a lot of pixel hunting and then finally leaving the computer to go and contemplate it elsewhere -- maybe in a dojo or on top of a mountain. Failing that, I'd pester my friends.
Now there's a strong temptation to just go online and find a walkthrough, even if you've only just been stuck for a couple of minutes. It can ruin the pacing of the game and rob the player of their satisfaction at being able to think of a solution. In an effort to keep gamers immersed, or at the very least to stop them alt-tabing every time they get stumped, many modern adventures contain an in game hint system or simply less taxing puzzles. This can certainly frustrate old fashioned players, like myself, but one cannot deny it has lowered the bar for entry and possibly increased the genre's fanbase.
Dave doesn't think this is really anything new, however. "You often hear that gamers are less patient these days. I’m not sure if that's true. Back in the '80s, I would spend several months playing the latest Infocom game and never think of ordering the hint book unless I was desperate. But then I got the game Enchanter, which mysteriously shipped with the hint book. I finished that game in less than a week. If I got stuck for maybe ten minutes I'd reach for the hint book, because it was so accessible. The only thing that has changed since those days is that we all have instant access to that hint book via Google. There's no reason to force hard puzzles on people, because everyone can solve them. So the trend has moved away from difficult puzzles and more towards making the experience of playing an adventure game more enjoyable. It's a very hard balance to strike."
The importance of story in adventure games cannot be overstated. It's what drives the exploration forward and it's the motivation for completing the puzzles. One of the positive aspects on these titles not relying merely on head-scratchers is that there's even more effort put into the narrative. Josh Nuernberger's Gemini Rue contains one of my favorite stories in the genre of late. It's a tale of loss and identity set in a bleak neo-noir future. Even though it's an understated adventure built using AGS, it's gained a lot of attention and you'd be crazy for not checking it out.
Josh advocates the importance of telling the story through gameplay. "What I'd really like to see is games that make these complex stories your experience in the game -- e.g. you are hunted by a mysterious oppressor, or you must face your alternate personality in physical form. Many games today are unfortunately sequences of simplified gameplay strung together by cut-scenes that provide context for your actions (see many first or third-person-shooters). Great games tell stories through their gameplay -- you understand the world and the story by the way you interact with them as a player."
Gemini Rue also has several action sequences: cover-based gun fights. "Although in adventure games you can't always go the route of totally removing all cut-scenes, you can at least integrate other aspects of gameplay so they don't just turn into quick time events. I knew when incorporating combat I wanted it to be meaningful and to work on its own as a mechanic. The ultimate goal is to give players a unique experience and a quick time event doesn't really capture a gunfight in the same way that a developed combat system does." I personally think that the integration of interesting mechanics is something the adventure genre desperately needed to continue expanding its audience and I think we're starting to see a lot more of that.
A great example of a game that does this is Double Fine's Stacking. It was built around the delightful premise of controlling a matryoshka doll and jumping inside larger ones to gain their abilities and overcome puzzles and obstacles. It was incredibly inventive and its unique gameplay mechanic really made it stand out. Double Fine seems to have had more success with the downloadable market than it did with Psychonauts or Brutal Legend. Their use of Kickstarter to fund their latest project seems to have paid off, as well, with fans almost throwing money at the company. It will be interesting to see the long-term impact of Kickstarter on independent developers as more start to use it to secure funding.
Along with shorter downloadable titles like Stacking, episodic adventures have become increasingly common in recent years. It has always struck me as a perfect fit for the genre. Most classic adventure games can be completed rather quickly if you know the solutions to the puzzles. The games' lengths were augmented by the challenge of solving the puzzles yourself. It also meant that each episode could fund the next one, making it financially more viable. It's far from an automatic route to success, however, according to Dave Gilbert. The Blackwell series has been going since 2006 and contains four games, but not all episodic series are so fortunate. "The most obvious thing that can go wrong is that the game flops. What then? Do you forge on ahead and finish the series, knowing that the first one didn’t do well? If you do, then you run a much greater risk of the sequel doing just as badly. If you don’t, then you lose a lot of faith and goodwill and that is hard to get back."
Episodic games require a big investment from players as well as developers. Dave continues: "The main problem with episodic games is that isn’t a lot of faith in the format yet. Only Telltale has managed to pull it off successfully and gained the trust of the consumers. While opinions on their games vary, nobody doubts they will finish what they start. By this point, the gaming public probably has a bit more faith in my ability to deliver than most, but I still get a lot of emails from people saying they don't want to get invested in Blackwell not knowing if it will ever be finished. I can totally understand that."
It's not just independent developers and publishers working to bring adventure games to a new audience, though. Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain, an interactive thriller that reminded me a lot of FMV titles from the '90s, made some big waves a couple of years ago. While it enjoyed both commercial and critical success, it also got criticized for being more movie than videogame. Our own Jim Sterling is far from a fan. However, its success may lead more publishers to take risks on games with such a strong focus on story.
The now-defunct Team Bondi made quite the impression last year with their investigative adventure (and driving simulator,) L.A. Noire. It made an even bigger impression with its implosion, some might say. The game itself, if not the treatment of the people that worked on it, still deserves praise, however. Before the genre started to have problems, it was ahead of the curve when it came to animation, so it's good to see so much effort being put into making believable game worlds and characters again. If you'd asked me, back in 2005, if I ever thought big studios would be designing AAA adventure games again, I would have laughed. Now it doesn't seem nearly as absurd.
I'm not going to be dramatic and suggest that we're seeing an adventure game renaissance. I wish I could, but it's simply not true. We're definitely seeing it making something of a comeback, though. There's a lot more faith in them, both from publishers and players and that's gone a long way to start bringing them back into the mainstream. The fact that the market is growing at all is a massive step forward and looking back just five or six years, we can see how far the genre has come. There are a lot of talented developers out there bringing us more and more experiences to enjoy. It might not be a renaissance yet, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.
Check out the first part of the feature, here!
The last few years have been an interesting time for the adventure game genre. After a decade of disappointment, fans finally started to see more and more titles appear and most ...
It's been happening since April of this year, but hasn't received much coverage. Some users have been buying the Move Edition of Heavy Rain, which promises four pieces of additional content (the "Taxidermist" chapter, soundtr...
Two years following the release of Heavy Rain, a "Directors Cut" version of the game is set to hit stores on November 8th. Continuing the trend of "complete edition" releases, this package includes previously unreleased conte...
[Every week (until I get bored), Art Juice takes a recent videogame story and provides an unremittingly artistic slant, telling us a little something about ourselves in the process ... whether we want to know the truth or not...
David Cage, the self-styled "auteur of videogames", has stated that the United States has a "problem" with his work because American marketing departments don't understand him. He believes that his unique direction causes con...
David Cage has stated that he doesn't intend to make Heavy Rain 2, even though he could potentially score a huge amount of money from a sequel. This is because of something called, "David Cage the brand." He wishes to sell hi...
Quantic Dream CEO Guillaume de Fondaumiere has joined the ranks of the idiotic in whining about used games. Wait, aren't we supposed to only play Heavy Rain once, right? Surely he of all people should understand why it g...
Heavy Rain is getting a new, re-edited version for the French market called Heavy Rain – Version Modifiée. This is now the third version of the title, after the release of last year's version with Move support. T...
Sony Computer Entertainment has filed a trademark for Infraworld, which has some speculating it could be the next project for Heavy Rain developer, Quantic Dream. A game by the name of Infraworld was previously in developmen...
In March of next year, the Smithsonian American Art Museum will open its "The Art of Video Games" exhibition. It will showcase 80 games in an exploration of 40 years of videogames. Between February and April, the Smithsonian ...
Oh hello, I didn't see you there! It's been a while since we had one of these stupid little videos, isn't it? Here's one for you. It has Escapist written on it for some reason. Don't worry about that.
The Jimquisition ...
Heavy Rain director and Tommy Wiseau clone David Cage has been making more ludicrous assertions, this time demanding that the game industry move on from old methods ... by comparing them to older entertainment mediums.
Mar 17 //
Jonathan Holmes Here's the full quote from Mr. Cage:
"We created the genre. We own the genre, and we want to show that Heavy Rain was not a coincidence or a lucky shot - that it was really something that makes sense and that we can build on."But at the same time I didn’t want to make a sequel. I made that very clear before knowing whether the game would be a success or a failure, because I want to show that it’s really a genre. Which means that you can use a similar drama to tell any type of story in any genre and in any style."So, we are going to explore different directions. Still very dark, still for adults, but completely different from Heavy Rain. We want to satisfy our fans, but we want to surprise them too. That’s our challenge."
I have no doubt that whatever David Cage comes up with next, it will do very well, because he has developed a cultish following that worships everything he does. I've met many of these people in my time at Dtoid. A lot of them work in the print and TV sectors of the gaming press. They are generally the types of people that prefer film to gaming, but ended up being "stuck" writing about games. I get the sense that they're just dying for the day when games are as respected as movies in the eyes of the mainstream public, and that they view Heavy Rain, and games like it, as the path to get there.
Basically, they don't care about games. They care about their agenda, which is seeing games (and therefore, their careers in the gaming press) get to the level that movies are at in terms of cultural acceptance.
I think it goes without saying that I think the less of these people there are making games, writing about games, and playing games, the better for gaming as a medium. We're never going to get anywhere if we're constantly playing catch up to movies. Games have to transcend movies, on the their own merits, before non-gamers start taking the medium seriously.
That's assuming we even care what non-gamers think.
I still haven't played through all of Heavy Rain, because the parts I played were so corny, hamfisted and hackneyed that I couldn't go on. A red balloon slowly floating into the sky to symbolize the death of a child? Seriousl...
Mar 03 //
David Cage, in a clumsy attempt to appear intellectual and deep, has only succeeded in making himself look remarkably ignorant. He's not the only man to do it, either. This notion that tried-and-tested videogame tropes are "outdated" is not a new one. The idea that we should "forget" the language of videogames has been brought up before, and it disgusts me every time.
As I asked when I first heard Cage's statement -- why do we have to "forget" anything? Why must new ideas exist at the expense of old ones? There seems to be a common tendency among game developers to throw the baby out with the bathwater, to mock "old" ways of doing things, regardless of how well they worked. Just look at the way some publishers have embraced motion control, or 3D technology as the undeniable "future" of gaming. Whenever something fresh appears, people want to disparage what came before.
There is a reason why we're using "very old words" in modern times -- because they work. We still have bosses, missions and game over screens because millions of gamers still enjoy them. If they didn't work, they wouldn't have become such prominent and lasting parts of the medium. To disregard the accomplishments of past videogames in such an offhand, casual way is utterly jawdropping to me, and smacks of a man with no respect for the medium of videogames.
It takes no great amount of sleuthing to see that David Cage wishes he was a film director rather than a videogame maker. The tutorial for Indigo Prophecy featured Cage on a movie set, and the in-game menus even pretentiously called it a "movie." Heavy Rain's marketing constantly compared it to Hollywood productions and Cage regularly tried to distance it from games. Imagine, though, if a film director dismissed the entire structure of some of the world's most popular movies. "We should forget about the rules of movies -- a plot, protagonists and antagonists, an ending. These are very old words from a very old language."
It's a shockingly blinkered attitude that commands us to ignore the very foundations upon which videogames have been built. Cage would have you believe he is a renaissance man, but these are the words of a troglodyte.
"Everything you can do with (old game) words has already been said. We need to create a new language to create new things."
Really? You are SO confident that old gaming structures have said all that needs to be said? You really don't think we can tell new stories and craft new experiences with games that include bosses, missions and game over screens? What an utterly myopic thing to say.
The Victorians, in their arrogance, believed that everything a human could invent had been invented in their era, blissfully unaware of the amazing technological leaps that would happen in the 21st Century. It takes a similar amount of staggering arrogance for someone to claim that "everything" has been said by established videogame structures.
I completely disagree, of course. Some of the most unique experiences this generation -- Metal Gear Solid 4, Deadly Premonition, BioShock -- are games that, love them or hate them, crafted original stories and did interesting things with established gaming conventions. Cage has wholesale dismissed the accomplishments of these titles because of the traditional nature of their framework.
Now, I am all for innovation. I have certainly criticized the exclusive focus on "new" ideas before, but I am not against developers striving for something different. What thoroughly frustrates me, however, is when a developer like Cage comes along, who believes that innovation is accomplished through the destruction of the old. Rather than evolve this industry, he believes a complete revolution is needed. Simply burying established methods of interactive entertainment is to piss on the medium's history.
If you don't have a healthy respect for the past, you have no right trying to shape the future.
I do not believe we need to "forget" the old to forge the new. In fact, I believe you can't forge the new without acknowledging, and appreciating, the old -- to know what has been done and working out what is yet to be done, to understand where we came from so that we know how to move ahead.
Beyond that though, I think Cage forgets that some of us still just want to have fun with our videogames. I appreciate a good story, and I adore the potential of interactive entertainment to provide a superior basis for narrative. Sometimes, however, I just want to shoot a big freakin' gun! Several developers and the members of the gaming press lament the state of this industry and its focus on fun. They want games that explore "the human condition" and seem to believe that titles like Gears of War or Mortal Kombat are detrimental to their cause, that their mere existence somehow "sets the industry back" and stops us from getting the mythical "Citizen Kane of gaming" that gets moaned about with tedious predictability.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but here's the scoop -- WE CAN HAVE IT ALL!
We can have big, dumb shooters. We can have introspective art games. We can have old game mechanics. We can have completely new ways of development. The key, friends, is in appreciating them ALL under one umbrella -- videogames. I don't understand why some people want to restrict what a videogame can be, while disingenuously trying to look like the voice of progress and open-mindedness.
The world of gaming is a varied, ever-changing, rapidly ambitious one, and there is always room for everything. We should not forget the old ways -- we should embrace them as part of the culture of gaming. We should applaud them for the years of fun they've provided, and the years of fun they will continue to provide. Bosses, missions, game over screens ... they aren't going away. They should not go away. People love games like that. That doesn't mean we can't have more games like Heavy Rain. It's heartening to see a uniquely presented title like Heavy Rain become a success, and I hope other fresh experiences become just as popular. I just don't understand why such games should become successful at the expense of traditional games.
If you believe established game mechanics are things that should be forgotten, then maybe you just don't like videogames ... and if that's the case, why the fuck am I entrusting the future of my favorite artistic medium to the likes of you?
Play Mario, and learn some damn respect.
David Cage has said some rather pompous things in his time. This is, after all, the man that gave Heavy Rain sole credit for making the videogame industry a more meaningful medium. This past week at GDC, however, I belie...
Deadwood creator David Milch is adapting Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain into a film, according to Variety. He'll be joining Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne in a collaboration between Unique Features and Warner Bros.
Good evening, Thunderkittens. I'm back again with a rad episode of The Destructoid Show. This one is full of important big-name stories that will cause endless fussing and cussing from our viewers.
Right off the bat, I go ov...
David Cage's arrogance is unparalleled, even in an industry that sports Denis Dyack. Seemingly drunk on the fawning of his own fans, the Quantic Dream director has claimed that Heavy Rain opened doors for more maturity i...
According to Jurassic Park developer Telltale Games, the upcoming dinosaur adventure title will share some things in common with Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain, with interactions, puzzles and even quick-time-events inspired by th...
This isn't exactly news, but I still thought you'd want to hear about it. Nationally broadcast radio show On The Media just put out an episode about videogames, and it's pretty amazing. A recap of the Atari/Nintendo/Sega-side...
Could Quantic Dream be the supreme masters of motion capture? Who else has done escaping from intruders in panties as well as they have? Have you ever seen a more life-like frantic run through a shopping mall?
Time once again for another of Amazon's Gold Box sales events to hit the videogame department. In recent months, they have offered these day long deals for Xbox 360 and Wii, so the PlayStation 3 was due to get its turn and to...
PlayStation Move is officially on store shelves next Sunday, September 19, although if you're lucky you can buy one right now. Heavy Rain is on store shelves as I write this, but if you want to play it with Move, you'll have ...
Specifically, Indigo Prophecy (a.k.a. Fahrenheit) and Heavy Rain. Sorry, no Omikron: The Nomad Soul this time around.
If that first sentence wasn't confusing, then I'm not trying hard enough.
Quantic Dream is a French ...
Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain wasn't expected to be as successful as it was, according to creator David Cage. The wannabe film director has said that Heavy Rain was given a lowball sales estimate, but that the PS3 exclusive...
Sony has released the first images of Heavy Rain Move Edition today and -- surprise! -- it looks a lot like Heavy Rain. The differences are obvious: instead of standard DualShock action prompts, the game displays indicators s...
Jul 26 //
Heavy Rain with Move can be played with with two configurations -- a Move "wand" in one hand and a navigation controller in the other, or holding the DualShock 3 (a bit awkwardly) in one hand and the Move controller in the other. I chose the former, although I was given the option to do either, to get the "true" Move experience. I had the opportunity to play two of the game's earliest scenes, both being the first time we meet two of the game's main characters, detective Scott Shelby and reporter Madison Paige. The Shelby scene should be familiar to anyone who's played the game. The private eye is investigating the Origami Killer case, which leads him to a shady motel where he questions one of the victim's parents, a call girl named Lauren Winter. This particular scene, like most in Heavy Rain, can be broken down into a list of interactive actions. In this case, a few examples would be using an inhaler, knocking on a door, reaching out to keep a door from being slammed in your face, and a slew of offensive and defensive moves in a brawl. Playing Heavy Rain with Move is not entirely unlike playing it with a standard control, with context sensitive action prompts appearing on the screen. In the case of using Move, you press down the Move button with your thumb, and then perform an approximation of the action you see on the screen. What I saw wasn't really that different than those that appeared in non-Move game -- move your arm left, move your arm up and left, etc. A few were multiple move actions, with the first prompt asking you to raise the remote and then, once it was registered, swing back down, left, right, etc. There were plenty of "shaking" actions, as well -- to use Shelby's inhaler, for instance, you'd lift the Move control and then "shake" as if you were using the medicine in real life.
So is this any more effective or engaging than using a standard controller? I didn't think it would be, but I must admit that my answer, based on the 10 or 15 minutes of game I played, is "yes." The actions aren't one-to-one -- the game still waits for the input before reacting -- but the actions certainly make you feel more involved than simply pressing buttons on a control pad. This was particularly noticeable in some of the high intensity scenes, like when Shelby fights the biker or Madison fights off attackers in a dream sequence. The on-screen actions are already getting your heart racing, and it's likely that (depending on how "into it" you get) the Move actions will help get it moving a bit faster. The takeaway? I wish I had played Heavy Rain with Move the first time around. Because while the experience was more absorbing, I'm not sure it's enough to get me to play through the game's story (or stories, as the case may be) again. From what I'm told, Quantic Dream isn't adding any additional content beyond Move support. But if you haven't played Heavy Rain yet, I urge you to hold off a bit -- the game will receive the update for Move support when the controller ships this fall.
Quantic Dream's David Cage recently revealed that plans for previously announced downloadable content for Heavy Rain had been put on hold. The reason? It seems Sony was more interested in the developer working to create a pat...
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