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Cage'd photo
Cage'd

The most unrealistic thing that has ever happened in a video game


Cage'd
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
"I liked Indigo Prophecy, but Heavy Rain and Beyond sucked." Oh, is that right? Heavy Rain is a little bit bad, and I haven't played Beyond, but let's never get rose-tinted when talking about Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy. Beca...
Europe photo
Europe

Eurocage: Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls coming to PS4


In Europe
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
Here's some news that snuck by last E3 week. Quantic Dream's beloved Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls are coming top PlayStation 4, "only for Europe and the PAL region," according to the PlayStation Blog. The European one. A ...
Fahrenheit photo
Fahrenheit

Indigo Prophecy gets an HD trailer, downed Amazon page


Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered
Jan 28
// Steven Hansen
Hey, Indigo Prophecy is looking pretty good. I wish this remaster would've picked a name and stuck to it, though. Calling it Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy is just kind of messy and goes against na...

Beyond: Two Souls photo
Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls could be heading to PS4 with a Director's Cut you should buy this time


More things for Aiden to touch
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
Two German retail sites, Alcom and World of Games, appear to have put up listings for an expanded version of Beyond: Two Souls, known tentatively as Beyond: Two Souls Director's Cut. The listings have since been pulled, but i...
Cage gets awarded photo
Cage gets awarded

David Cage awarded France's Legion of Honor


The nation's highest decoration
Feb 18
// Steven Hansen
Quantic Dream's David Cage (Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls) is being awarded France's highest decoration, the Legion of Honor, for his contributions to the country's videogame industry, Le Figaro reports. Cage is the first vid...
Beyond sales photo
Beyond sales

Beyond two sales: Beyond sold over a million copies


'Beyond sales' kind of sounds like Beyonce
Jan 10
// Steven Hansen
Beyond: Two Souls developer Quantic Dream put up this a sort of "thank you" (Ellen) webpage to commemorate selling over one million units before Christmas of last year. Which was also Christmas of like two weeks ago, but also...
Beyond DLC photo
Beyond DLC

Beyond: Two Souls DLC looks like an obstacle course


'Advanced Experiments' now available
Nov 21
// Conrad Zimmerman
Here we have a trailer for the latest DLC release for Beyond: Two Souls, "Advanced Experiments." The video sets up a boring, white-walled obstacle course with a thirty-minute time limit which Jodie and Aiden will work togeth...
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Oh look, it's time for more Indigo Prophecy! This time around, we get racist in a bookstore (again), we play basketball by watching basketball and pressing buttons, we push a wheelchair, and we play Simon Says while cutscenes have all the fun.  Indigo Prophecy thrills us all. 

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This is racist, right?
On today's thrilling adventure into David Cage's mental brainspace, we kick the crap out good friends, we get claustrophobic while trying to do our job, and we get very quiet and guilty when lots and lots of racism happens.  Also, crap stealth and some other things. 

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My theory of a Deadman CD collection
In this thrilling installment of Indigo Prophecy, we drink water, play the guitar, punch a bag, play the guitar, and listen to more Theory of a Deadman. The fun literally never ends. It will never end. The fun is literally going on forever.  It's gonna move!

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Living my pawn's life
I fiddle with the temperature knob and get murderous as I play Quantic Dream's true classic, Indigo Prophecy. Laugh along as we murder people in bathrooms, interrogate distraught women, and listen to music about women doin' ya wrong. Oh Theory of a Deadman. You scallywags!

Why you shouldn't play Beyond: Two Souls more than once

Oct 09 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]263299:50845:0[/embed] I only replayed one section of Beyond: Two Souls, and it wasn’t voluntary. I don’t know if it’s actually possible to “fail” in the game (I never did, despite being pretty terrible at some of lengthier fight scenes), but for whatever reason my copy decided to freeze at the end of the chapter called “Homeless” (seen above). During that section’s big action setpiece at the end, my fingers had slipped off the analog sticks during a vital moment and I lost control, causing unfortunate consequences for Jodie. In the ensuing cutscene, everyone was being sad and as the camera started to lift up and survey the scene, it just froze. I wasn’t really sure what was going on -- the dialogue continued, making it seem like this was supposed to happen, but maybe I had hit a game over, “Snake, SNAKE, SNAAAAAKE” style (a connection I make because I was constantly reminded of the Metal Gear Solid series, especially in the latter half of the game).  But I chalked it up to my accidentally putting some paper in front of my PS3’s vents, because the system was crazy hot. I let it cool overnight, and in the morning I was ready to play it again. So I did, and something interesting happened: I didn’t mess up. It turns out there was another few minutes of gameplay and an entirely different end to the scene, but then it froze again. Curious if my copy was defective, I had actually written up an email to the lovely Jim Sterling asking if he had been having that issue (not that he would have answered me, but whatever), when I thought, “What if I just need to clean the disc?” And turns out, despite there being exactly zero visible marks on the disc, that rubbing it along my shirt made it work the third time. And in that third time, I forced myself into the same position I had been the first time around, because that was the narrative I had set for myself the first time around. It turned out that the game was supposed to continue, with the same end result being caused by a radically different event. I thought that was cool, and it showed me that small things can have big changes on a moment-to-moment basis, even though I doubt many of them are meaningful in a broader context. But I also never wanted to experience it again. Earlier in the game, I had done things, chose responses, that I felt were proper (for example, I “shrugged” every single time I was given the option), and I was planning on going through some of these chapters again to see what I was missing. But seeing the way “Homeless” changed, I realized that doing so would break what I remember Beyond to be. What I think Beyond is. The game has a 2,000-page script, and I saw at most two-thirds of it and probably quite a bit less, but aside from the likelihood that the rest of the script isn’t particularly well written, it’s that I wanted to keep my story the way I had seen it unfold. And it’s not just Beyond. In Mass Effect 2, I never went to the Citadel. I skipped a massive chunk of content. I have no idea what happens in that section of the game, and I think that’s amazing. Hundreds of hours of work went into content that I gleefully skipped. The fact that the vast majority of players did go to the Citadel (I told a friend that I had done that and he didn’t even believe it was possible) means they had a very different experience with that game than I did. In my Mass Effect 2 universe, nobody actually knows that Commander Shepard is still alive, and that’s the way I wanted it. I’ll never get the achievements for going both Renegade and Paragon (Renegade all the way, baby), but I have my consistent character that I kept across both games (never played ME3, for various reasons). It’s my little version of the games that nobody else saw in quite the same way.  The rise of emergent systems in games like the numbered Far Cry sequels means that people are having truly unique experiences. They tell stories of games that play out only as they saw them. That kind of unique storytelling is what traditional narrative games can’t really reach, but these choice-driven games give people the ability to have these one-of-a-kind experiences. Over the course of Beyond’s ten hours, I made tons of choices, some of them blatant and others hidden. Sometimes it wasn’t even a choice but a mistake. Because I never quite got the hang of the weird controls, there were more than a couple of instances where I very clearly screwed up, and I knew that if I had just moved the stick properly, things would have turned out differently, though how differently I couldn't say. On a second, third, fourth playthrough I could see many of those slight changes and get a different experience. Heck, there are at least five different endings, but I went with the only one that made sense to me. It’s entirely possible that if I had played through the game differently, those other options would have been more attractive to me.  But the “What if’s are all-but-certainly more tantalizing than the reality, and the reality is that my story was just that: my story. Sure, I was forced to follow the rules predetermined by David Cage and his crew, but just because he knew every possible dialogue choice doesn’t mean he knows how any one experience will affect the player. To claim that the game really draws “emotions” in the way Cage does would be disingenuous, but there’s something about owning a narrative that is attractive. It’s almost like developer-sanctioned fanfiction, except without the sex (maybe other choices could have led to sex, I don’t know). [embed]263299:50846:0[/embed] What I really like is the conversation that can come from these different experiences. If I go back through the game and see it another way, I would lessen my own experience with the game, but not if I talk to someone else about what they saw. In Skyrim, the person who saw a dragon fight a troll and a giant saw something unique (or at least something I never saw). In Beyond: Two Souls, I decided not to get serious revenge on the teens who locked me in the closet, but I did mess with their heads just a little bit. One is the result of interesting game systems and the other a series of player choices, but both represent one person’s experience. Some may have sent Aiden in full force against them, and others may have just walked away. It’s entirely possible some people were never locked in the closet in the first place. I don’t actually know, but if I want to find out, I want to find out from others.  Just talking can keep the illusion generally intact. If someone says to me, “I did that thing!” that I didn’t do, I’m fascinated. There’s no grander context for the moment, unless they decide to give me a verbal “Let’s Play,” so it stays exciting. Were I to see it myself, replaying that choice-driven game would expose the seams in its narrative. Three lines of dialogue will be the same, and then there will be several more that are unique. But what happens when the dialogue becomes familiar again? Games like that can never be completely open, so eventually the branches will converge, followed by the realization that maybe the choices really didn’t matter. And then the magic is lost.
Don't replay Beyond photo
Or any game like it
Before Heavy Rain’s release, Quantic Dream founder David Cage said that he didn’t want players to go through the story more than once. “It’s going to be unique to you. It’s really the story you d...

Review: Beyond: Two Souls

Oct 08 // Jim Sterling
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)Developer: Quantic DreamPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: October 8, 2013MSRP: $59.99 Beyond: Two Souls, is about a girl called Jodie, played by Ellen Page, which is important to note as Jodie is also every character Ellen Page is typecast into playing. She screams, and is sarcastic, and does that half-smile thing, and that's more or less all there is to her personality. She also has more personality than almost every character combined, including the criminally misused Willem Dafoe, crammed as he is into the role of Jodie's dreary paranormal doctor/caretaker, Nathan Dawkins.  Dawkins has charge of Jodie because she possesses dangerous powers -- or rather, the invisible creature inextricably linked to her does. Jodie is bound to an otherworldly being called Aiden, over which she has limited control. He is unwieldy, fiercely protective of her, and is the reason Jodie spends most of her life in a laboratory, under constant surveillance.  While Beyond has a cast of archetypal and terminally uninteresting characters, it has to be said the writing is noticeably better than it was in Heavy Rain. Dialog is slightly more believable, scenes are less awkward, and there are fewer glaring plot holes or embarrassing pseudoscience. However, the story is presented awfully, in a nonlinear fashion contrived to evoke the movies of Godard, Altman, or Tarantino. [embed]263180:50813:0[/embed] There's nothing wrong with the use of disrupted narrative, but it's a technique that requires more care than Beyond even comes to close to providing. One moment, Jodie's a child in a secret lab, the next she's a homeless adult, then a teenager, then a child again, then a member of the CIA. The narrative breaks seem arbitrary and deliver nothing of value to the actual story. Disjointed and only vaguely connected sequences occur without adequate lead-in, and regularly deliver moments that would have had far greater impact had they been presented in a linear story, where the appropriate amount of pacing and build could be achieved. Instead, we're supposed to deeply care about characters who have been barely introduced, while following at least three stories, and a handful of non sequiturs, that have very little to do with each other.  Even worse, the application of the nonlinear narrative comes off as a lazy excuse to put Jodie in situations without having to adequately explain them, which gives the entire game a fractured, pointless atmosphere. Indeed, there seems no real point at all in having broken up the story, other than to mimic those films Quantic Dream perpetually crawls in the shadow of. As such, an attempt to look clever has come across as little more than clumsy pretentiousness.  This is to say nothing of Beyond's total lack of character development. Its frequent time hopping does little to help the fact that there's nobody to root for, and even less to remember. One character, for example, is introduced in an early scene as a cold, unlikable hardass, right before we skip to Jodie falling in love with him years later. She tells us -- through Aiden -- that he's so funny, and great to be around, but we never see any evidence of this. The best he becomes is a generic love interest with no distinguishing features. If we have to be told what a character's personality is, without the character ever exhibiting a single trait pertaining to its verbal description, the writing has failed completely.  Admittedly, there are some decent scenes, but those are mostly thanks to tried and tested narrative tropes seen dozens of times before. The scene in which Jodie is bullied at a party before Aiden wreaks violent revenge is stylishly done, but it's nothing Carrie didn't do better. Likewise, Jodie's barely meaningful adventure in the Navajo Desert is Beyond's best sequence of events, but it leans heavily on well-worn and practically gauche Native American stereotypes to make it work.  I've managed to go a long while before mentioning any gameplay, and one gets the feeling Quantic Dream would like it that way. Essentially following in Heavy Rain's footsteps, Beyond is another spiritual successor to Dragon's Lair, with even less agency and some awkward controls thrown in for good measure. As Jodie, interactions are restricted mostly to walking around, opening doors, engaging in restrictive conversations, and indulging in the occasional quick-time-event sequence. For much of this, the player's input is almost entirely optional. QTE action sequences can be completed without needing to even pick up the controller, as Jodie will survive all encounters if you fail every single button prompt. She'll get hurt a bit, and the story might have a slight temporary diversion, but that's about it. Even dialog, if you don't choose a response, will eventually play itself out.  As with Heavy Rain, the potential for thrilling chase sequences and action scenes is mercilessly dashed against the rocks in favor of an experience so arrogant, it cannot bear to throw up a barrier between you and its allegedly brilliant story. Once you cotton on to the fact that your personal input is almost meaningless, and the impact of your inaction is frivolous, your only real incentive for "playing" is to humor the game, and it does indeed feel like you're patronizing it when you decide to play along with the fantasy of player agency. Nowhere is this more typified than one sequence in which I could choose to speak up in order to stop something bad happening to another character ... and I didn't say a word. It didn't really matter if the bad thing happened (there was only a cosmetic change) and I simply didn't care about the bland, superficial plot vehicle whose lifeless idea of life was in my hands.  There's no tension, no sense of investment, no pleasure to be derived from getting personally involved. Just a plodding, methodical march towards the game's warbling conclusion.  At almost any time, you can switch to Aiden with a press of the Triangle button, but like with everything in this game, any sense of choice and freedom is a mere illusion. As Aiden, you may move through walls, knock objects around, and possess or choke characters, but his skills all amount to one big waste of potential. You only need to be Aiden when the game specifically tells you (or forces you) to be him, and you only interact with the tiny handful of objects available -- all helpfully labeled with bright blue dots. If, for example, Jodie is under siege by a SWAT Team, you can only possess one or two of the arbitrarily predetermined targets, as each scene has a specific way in which it wants to be played. This, of course, opens up a few plot holes, when you start wondering why Aiden only seems to possess certain characters, and why Aiden can only knock over a few objects, and seems to forget these useful powers when the plot decides to invent a sense of threat out of whole cloth.  It's also not very enjoyable to play as Aiden, despite what promise he has. The floating controls are awkward, sluggish, and disorienting, while the way in which you interact with the world -- holding down buttons and moving the analog sticks about -- is ungainly and alienating. It shouldn't feel boring or bumbling to be a wrathful poltergeist, but Aiden manages to be both. In fact, he may not even be the wrathful vandal he's portrayed as. After five minutes in the steering wheel, one could reasonably assume he's just drunk.  There's really not much else to say about the way the game plays. Whatever it tries to throw at you -- whether you're avoiding beastly entities from the cringingly named Infraworld, taking cover to shoot at terrorists because of reasons, or delivering a baby in an abandoned building, you're really just performing the same somber actions, pulling analog sticks and pressing buttons when commanded like some Pavlovian experiment gone wrong. This is not a game to be played, it's an instructional video to be followed, in order to further unlock a story that isn't very good, a story spat at the viewer in shattered, tattered pieces.  Visually, Two Souls is okay to look at. Yes, the uncanny valley faces are impressive on a technical level, but the frequent texture pop-in and robotic bodily animations swiftly defecate on the magic. The game is prone to brief freezing, and loading times are fairly dreadful. Environments are bland, and overall the visual quality fails to stand out in this day and age. Still, if you're curious to know what Ellen Page would look like with every hairstyle ever, you'll find yourself adequately sated.  At least the soundtrack is beautiful, and it does a good job of making certain scenes more compelling than they'd otherwise be, while the acting is a huge step up from Heavy Rain. Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe do fantastically, given the mediocrity they have to work with, while the supporting cast is fairly solid too. It's a shame much of the dialog still makes me want to cover my eyes and scrunch my eyes up tight, but at least the delivery is convincing enough.  For all the complaints that can be leveled at Beyond -- and they can be leveled in feckless abundance -- the overwhelming problem with it is that it's just plain boring. Like a sociopath, Beyond: Two Souls knows how to act like it has a heart, while providing nothing of the emotional depth required to connect with an audience. Its characters can smile, and cry, and tell us they're feeling all of these feelings, but their paper-thin presentation and the frequent narrative dead ends prevent any of their pantomime from becoming too convincing. And that's all Beyond: Two Souls is -- a pantomime. A childish play at being a meaningful journey, a vapid illusion of passion and poignancy. Nothing but a pantomime.  A perishingly dull pantomime. 
Beyond reviewed photo
Show a little soul
It's hard to divorce David Cage, the public figure, from the games Quantic Dream makes. He is, after all, a man who put himself in Indigo Prophecy's tutorial, immortalized as the movie director he's always dreamed of being. T...

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...
Beyond photo
Beyond

Beyond: Two Souls is getting a demo in early October


Hey kids!
Sep 05
// Jordan Devore
Up to this point, I've been unintentionally avoiding Beyond: Two Souls. Perhaps that'll work out for the best. Despite the fact that none of Quantic Dream's prior titles have done much of anything for me, Beyond has piqued my...
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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Quantic Dream's 'Dark Sorcerer' E3 PS4 demo


Creepy Old Man Head gets a body!
Jun 11
// Jim Sterling
Quantic Dream continued to make me wonder how much it's angling for a job in movies last night with its Dark Sorcerer tech demo. This looked genuinely incredible at the beginning, before devolving into something I felt was a...

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 ...

Beyond: Two Souls Tribeca trailer + 35 minutes of footage

Apr 28 // Allistair Pinsof
[embed]252645:48402:0[/embed] If you do watch, you'll see just how far Cage has come as a director, presenting scenes from interesting angles and getting great performances out of his cast. You also may see some questionable writing choices. Keep your eyes pealed for the cleanest birth ever and a man reacting to Jodie landing from a three story jump by saying "I don't know how you did that, but it was incredible!" It certainly is emotional.  
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Let's talk about emotions and stuff
Say what you want about David Cage, but I dare you to watch the above trailer and not be impressed. I feel you are going to prove me wrong, but join me, however briefly, with enthusiasm for Beyond: Two Soul's immense trailer...

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...
 photo

Here's a 'bootleg' trailer for Beyond: Two Souls


"Bootleg"
Apr 24
// Dale North
As you may have heard, Beyond: Two Souls is an official selection for the Tribeca Film Festival. Sony has sent along a fake bootleg to go along with that massive fake script.  After watching a bit of some fake (but well...
 photo

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]
 photo

Quantic Dream is hiring a multiplayer programmer


For Beyond: Two Souls?
Apr 11
// Dale North
I had the pleasure of visiting Quantic Dream's studio last month (see above picture), and it was there that I saw something interesting while being shown upcoming game Beyond: Two Souls. Unfortunately, that's about all I...
 photo

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 ...
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls to appear at Tribeca Film Festival


Games not films? Ha!
Mar 21
// Dale North
Think David Cage's films are just movies with button prompts? I don't, but upcoming PS3 game Beyond: Two Souls is at least film-y enough to appear at the Tribeca Film Festival. The game will be an Official Selection -- a firs...
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...

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