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E3 Interview: Heavy Rain

My creative writing professor at university once told me that “good readers make good writers”; it always stayed with me and it sprang to mind as I prepared to interview David Cage, the writer of Heavy Rain. It’s a game that, more so than most, will be judged on its storytelling. So, one writer to another, I asked him what he likes to read.

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David Cage, writer of Heavy Rain

“I had quite a classical upbringing,” he said, “and I read Shakespeare, a lot of French writers from the middle ages and the Greek classics, as well as quite a lot of sci-fi. I’m quite eclectic in my tastes. One of the things that makes Heavy Rain’s storytelling unique is that it’s the first thing I’ve written that relates to my personal life; I don’t know any serial killers, of course, but the real topic of the game is how far you’re prepared to go to save someone you love and that’s something I really wanted to talk about.”

“Each time you start a project you want it to be the best thing you’ve done, but as Heavy Rain is the beginning of a new genre – we’re calling it interactive drama – and we’re the only team doing anything like this, there’s a lot of expectation around the story, so we’ve given it more attention than we would have if we were developing a more traditional shooter.”

He then introduces me to the stage he’s allowing people to play here at E3, called Mad Jack, where a detective must examine a car wrecking yard for clues leading to a murder.

“Norman Jayden is an FBI agent who has arrived in the city to help the local police force,” he told me. “He has a special piece of equipment called ARI – Artificial Reality Interface – consisting of glasses and a glove allowing him to scan his surroundings for clues such as fingerprints and pheromone samples in the air, and transmit them for analysis later on. His weakness is his addiction to a drug called Triptocaine and the player will have to deal with this because if he goes too long without a dose he will get sick and his vision will blur, and if he takes too much he risks dying from an overdose.”

Someone back at SCEE HQ once told me, having seen an early demo of Heavy Rain last year, that they thought it would be the first game to make people cry. David laughed when I told him this and explained that he wants this game to be a more emotional experience than any other.

“I think it will be one of the first games to bring out a full palette of emotions; we want people to feel empathy, happiness, sadness, rather than just excite or scare them. I don’t know if people are going to cry but there are a few scenes that are very impressive on a psychological level.”

Another unique aspect of the title is that there is no such thing as game over, and David was keen to elaborate on this.

“We felt that ‘game over’ was a very frustrating thing from a narrative point of view because all it means is that you didn’t play the game how the developer wanted you to play it. We got rid of that so if your character dies then you lose them and the story continues accordingly.”

“This game isn’t about challenges or counting points; it’s really about the journey, so the idea is that you shape the story as it unfolds.”

It’s great to see such mature storytelling in a PS3 game and every time I see more of Heavy Rain, some aspect of it gets me thinking in ways I never have before in my 20+ years of gaming. I can’t wait to spend a weekend with it once it comes out, how about you?

30 Comments
5 Author replies
1

I’m keeping my fingers crossed this will be good and not just a very, very, very clever Dragons Lair! :)

It does look amazing, I just think I wont see exactly how good it looks untill I’ve got it home and on my PS3. I’m sure the story will be just fine.

Loved Fahrenheit, and really looking forward to this! I feel sorry for the guy who has to think up trophies for this game, just think how the ending can be different for everyone, depending on who died and who survived…

James Gallagher 05 June, 2009 @ 21:42
3.1

I actually asked David about Trophies. He said that they were currently thinking of ways they could implement them as this game is not really about goals and challenges. I’m sure whatever he comes up with will surprise us all.

I am also very interested in this game.

At first I thought it was just going to be another kind of survival horror game but I can see it’s not really like that at all and watching the trailer from the store has got me even more intrigued. The fact there are so many choices and outcomes will make it so unique, also from the trailer it looks like you won’t be in the thick of the action, fighting and killing people all the time, from what I can tell it will also focus on the characters family ect

I can’t wait for this game, as the old ThreeSpeecher’s will know. I really really hope it’s as good as I’m expecting it to be and that it really is as open and varied as early game play suggests – inFamous for example is a great game but the story decisions consist of simple yes/no do it/don’t do it choices. I hope Heavy Rain really does make these sort of decisions invisible and never feels like it’s forcing you down a linear path. If they can pull it off it will b a huge achievement.

The trailer is looking really good too, it looks like an advert for an upcoming movie or TV series, and the tagline sounds like it will be a great story and much deeper than a simple police investigation.

I bet they’re going to have a field day with the trophies too given all the branching stories – you’ll probably have to play the game 4 or more times to unlock them all (that wouldn’t be a bad thing IMO).

CalvertCrew 05 June, 2009 @ 15:11
6

This game keeps becoming more and more interesting. :D

RagingWhisky 05 June, 2009 @ 15:14
7

R-Tolr/Spnom

[JohnSketch]

When Fahrenheit first popped its way into my HD back in 06 – i was a very very happy bunny as I’m a sucker for adventure titles whether its point and click or platforming – if it has an emphasis on story im sold!

So although I was sad to hear a sequel wasnt in the works – this has me feeling preeeetttyyy good about my future gaming prospects…almost as much so as thinking of a nw sequel to Beyond Good And Evil ( which im surprised there hasnt been more news on over E3!!) or even The Longest Journey 3

James Gallagher 05 June, 2009 @ 21:46
7.1

I’m a sucker for a good story too and Heavy Rain’s is intriguing. I almost didn’t want to play the demo and risk spoiling the overall experience for myself.

Indeed, it`s the most original and exciting game in development right now. PS3 is clearly the defining gaming platform of the generation.

thenextbutton 05 June, 2009 @ 15:43
9

I really do hope this lives up to expectation.

I for one will be pre-ordering.

James did you ask about any pre-order bonuses by any chance? (I haven’t watched the vid yet but I highly doubt it).

Also, could you add an Australian currency when showing prices of items on the PS Store Update posts please? Thanks.

James Gallagher 05 June, 2009 @ 21:48
10.1

I didn’t, but I don’t think that David will be able to say anything about that until closer to release.

I don’t actually write the PlayStation Store posts but I’ve passed your feedback onto my colleague that does.

WarlordKratos 05 June, 2009 @ 15:47
11

This game wil bee a landmark in gaming. Storytelling, it wil be second to non. This wil be a game that is so different that it wil not in an instant drive more cassual gamers to buy it, but “real”gamers wil eat this game up.

In the future this game wil be in the same leauge as some other great games like MGS 4, Fahrenheit, Ico, Shadow of the Collosus and the Last Guardian. All landmarks in the gaminghistory. :-)

Scrap (part of) #10, it’s not an interview video, just a trailer…lol.

ReNeGADe1991 05 June, 2009 @ 16:02
13

I want this game!

14

This game could do or die, much like farenheit on the pc! I cant wait for this, but completely skeptical at the same time, its a difficult one to decide on!

Its gonna end being a marmite game, youll either love it or hate it!

15

I like the idea and would probably spend a good many hours playing it. Thanks for the updates James, is there going to be an interview with someone behind the PSP Go because I would like to know what they are going to do with the Bluetooth 2.0 and whether the services coming to PSP Go will also be coming to PSP 3000?

CartBlanche 05 June, 2009 @ 16:31
16

I hope this is being shown at GameOn! on London at the end of the month.

What i loved about uncharted, is that i could play through the whole game with my girlfriend sat there, because the storyline genuinely kept her interested. From the looks of Heavy Rain, this is going to be another title i can make her sit through, without arguement from her.

I’m quite looking forward to this title. Although, after watching the Makeup Vid, I was left a little worried about the LOD of the close up graphics. Perhaps it’s a one off as everything else I have seen has been immaculate.

I would also like to add, Great Work with this Blog. It seems to be really taking off, well supported with up to date features and content. My Thanks.

TheBussinessMan 05 June, 2009 @ 17:41
19

I cant wait for this game, I really enjoyed Fahrenheit and this looks like it will exceed it in every possible way.

Hopefully they can release a demo for it, like the one on show now at E3.

Good post, mr. Gallagher. I like the angle, and the focus on the story- telling. Looking forward to play this game as well. I miss a little bit about the story- telling devices used in the game, though. Since it’s not like a book, and not really like a game, it would be nice to read about how they imagine the transitions in the game, the interaction between the playable characters in the story, the switches between quick- time events and actually controlling the character – and over to how the story will be told. We’ve seen a little bit in the videos of the game playing, with how you’re hearing the thoughts of the main character, and so on. But how will new information be pushed in? Indirectly through hearing about objects you find or puzzling out things on your own from set pieces, or through actively looking at objects and hearing conversations? Is the plot advanced every time you discover something new, or does the outcome of the segment play out largely scripted, and the end dep...

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Good post, mr. Gallagher. I like the angle, and the focus on the story- telling. Looking forward to play this game as well. I miss a little bit about the story- telling devices used in the game, though. Since it’s not like a book, and not really like a game, it would be nice to read about how they imagine the transitions in the game, the interaction between the playable characters in the story, the switches between quick- time events and actually controlling the character – and over to how the story will be told. We’ve seen a little bit in the videos of the game playing, with how you’re hearing the thoughts of the main character, and so on. But how will new information be pushed in? Indirectly through hearing about objects you find or puzzling out things on your own from set pieces, or through actively looking at objects and hearing conversations? Is the plot advanced every time you discover something new, or does the outcome of the segment play out largely scripted, and the end depend on how you prepare? Or do you branch the story based on several different unexpected choices throughout the game, etc?

James Gallagher 05 June, 2009 @ 21:56
20.1

In the Mad Jack section, the story advances when you discover a particular clue using the ARI. There are plenty of other clues to find though.

Basically, key information is scripted (although which script you get depends on your prior choices) and additional information can be gleaned through exploration.

Takehaniyasubiko 05 June, 2009 @ 18:40
21

David Cage – I hate you. You’re spamming your lies since Omikron and what did really do for us, gamers? NOTHING. Your creations are just underdone adventure games that you try to sell as a revolution. Yu Suzuki is the real god of gaming. You are nothing compared to him.

FrankieZappa 05 June, 2009 @ 19:31
22

I’m waiting so much for this game…still there’s a question i would love to ask Cage…if ALL my characters die what happens?

James Gallagher 05 June, 2009 @ 21:57
22.1

Then the story will reflect that – it is possible to finish the game having killed all of your characters.

Sereal_Killer 05 June, 2009 @ 21:23
23

@FrankieZappa

he did answer this question once before in an interview.

if i remember corectly he said that it would be a verry short story in that case.

FrankieZappa 05 June, 2009 @ 21:32
24

Thanks man ;)

25

i am really hyped for this game!!!

it is gonna be really interesting experience!!!

I’m really looking forward to this game. I love a strong story in my games and Heavy Rain looks like it will deliver :D

Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

-Ad-

Thanks for that, James.

@22 [James], how the hell do you finish it?

28

I’m not sold on this game yet. The voice acting sounds mediocre and the script a bit bland. (It might be because these scenes are taken out of context, but still…)

Stonesthrow 08 June, 2009 @ 20:43
29

straight up digital art.. i can only respect developers like this who arent afraid to try something new

also ive always considered emotions a very important aspect of gaming, in which audio is an important factor..

I cannot wait to play this one… Just hope the branching of the story is really noticable, because I cannot count how many times I heard the “x different stories” comment from developers. BTW, I adore Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy and have bought it for the PC and the PS2 version to play on the PS3 with b/w compatibility…

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