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David Cage speaks openly on the state of videogames...
Currently putting the finishing touches to the long awaited Fahrenheit for Atari and with a number of new titles in the pipeline, Derek dela Fuente took the opportunity in speaking with David Cage CEO Quantic Dream and Writer/Director of Omikron and Fahrenheit about the company at large, his forthright opinions on the state of the videogame industry and Omikron 2.
TVG: When was Quantic Dream formed and what is your mission statement?
Quantic Dream was established back in 1997. We believe videogames can become an extraordinary platform to tell original stories and become a real main stream entertainment media. After a long period where games were more toys for kids, there will be a strong need for creativity and creators having a vision. This is exactly where we want to be.
TVG: What is your core expertise and how many people work at Quantic?
Quantic Dream has developed over the years a unique expertise in interactive storytelling and Action/Adventure games. We create games with a very strong creative vision, based on innovation and originality.
Depending on the development cycles, 40 to 75 people work at Quantic.
TVG: Do you create your own in-house tools and what kind of R/D department do you have and what would you say is the most important tool youâ??ve created?
All the tools we use (except 3D modelling and texturing) are done in house. We have developed our own cross-platform 3D engine for the PS2/PC/XBOX (ICE); a very powerful scripting tool called â??IAMâ?; and a set of tools to optimize the production pipeline, including an asset-management tool similar to "Alienbrain" called "DataSafe".
R&D has always been a very important department in the company, with up to 20 people working on the technology.
We are especially proud of our global approach to technology. Rather than just thinking about one aspect, like rendering for example, we worked on the production chain has a whole.
IAM (our scripting tool) is maybe one of the tools we are the most proud of. It includes a module called "M3" (for Movie Maker Module) that is a sort of "Premiere" in real time 3D. It allows to create cinema like sequences in real-time very easily.
TVG: Where does the PC sit in your future plans and what are your thoughts on PS3 and XBOX2 and do you believe that innovation comes through better technology?54
We see technology as a tool to achieve higher creative goals. A better technology can open new creative possibilities, but at the end, it is only a vehicle for ideas. If you have no idea, technology won't help you (well in fact, sometimes it doesâ?¦).
PC is an interesting platform for the future, and technical innovations may come from there. Quantic will continue to develop for PC, as PC players know our company and expect to see our titles. But we also want to be extremely aggressive on the Next-Gen consoles front as we believe that the console market will continue to expand, and thus offer interesting opportunities for the company able to develop high profile titles.
On a creative point of view, I like the idea that all gamers will see exactly the experience as I have designed it, with the same controllers and video cards, which is never the case on PC. Consoles also make games very accessible, without any drivers to download or configurations to worry aboutâ?¦
TVG: You own your own optical Motion-Capture studio; quite an extravagant expense in developer circles. Firstly how does this help with the creation of a game and is this a resource that other developers can use?
Our MoCap studio was of incredible value for Fahrenheit. In fact, the game could not have been done without an in-house facility. We experimented as much as we could, made extensive use of the set, we pushed the envelope as far as we could. Most of all, we fully integrated MoCap in our pipeline both on a production and technical point of view.
We are also sharing our expertise with other production whether for special effects in movies, commercials, 3D series or other video games.
TVG: What are your current thoughts on the gaming scene and what do you feel Quantic does best?
I am convinced that we cannot continue to make the same video games than over the last ten years, just adding more polys. Games have to evolve, get more depth to seduce older people and not only kids. It has the potential to leave its ghetto and become respectable and accessible to all. This industry needs to understand that it is possible to make games that are not only based on primitive violence. It needs to understand originality and innovation, take creative risks rather than try to stick to "me-too" products or movie licences. To dare, innovate, be original and true, may be a wiser strategy in the future.
TVG: Quantic Dream games have a big focus on people so would you consider using more actors and do you feel the games industry is still moving closer to the film industry as we were once told it was?
We are getting closer to the film industry, but sometimes in the wrong way. Most of the time, we copy the worst part of cinema. We take their B-series movies (sometimes C-seriesâ?¦), we sometimes believe we have the talent of movie creators, but most of the time, we are quite far away. Look at the best videogame story you can find, and compare it to the worst movie scenario. There may not be a big differenceâ?¦
In games, some people still believe that what is important is to kill and destroy. In movies, the talented creators have understood for very long that the only thing that matters is the story. Characters, emotions, relationships, identification, these are the real values, not finding the right crate for ammoâ?¦
Quantic Dream and Fahrenheit try to explore this totally unknown territory of having a solid story in a game, and rethink interactivity to allow to play with a story. I don't know if Fahrenheit will sell 5% of what GTA sold, but to me, this is clearly a very new and exciting direction.
TVG: The publisher/developer synergy appears to be going through a tumultuous period, with several publishers aggressively acquiring development studios to work in-house and even publishers looking at rival publishers to strengthen their own control of the market. Is this a sign of the resource and sheer investment needed for the Next-Gen and does it mean the death-knoll for smaller, perhaps more creative projects and teams?
Publishers start to understand that you can make games in very different ways : you can use a factory, or use a small creative studio. With the factories they have built over the year, they get tasteless, colourless, very clean products. They are very polished and well done, but they lack vision and creativity, just because no one can be really creative in a factory.
This is why big publishers will understand at some point that creativity lies in small studios, that creators want to work with a small team of people they like and that they can create games that no big studio would even think of. Publishers will continue to make their sports games and other franchises in their factories, but they will want more and more to explore new possibilities based on creativity.
TVG: If you had one wish for the progression of the gaming industry, or could change one thing what would it be?
Dare to innovate; start to think about what will work tomorrow and not what worked yesterday; give more consideration to game creators (hum sorry, these are three thingsâ?¦).
TVG: What can gamers look towards in 2005 from Quantic Dream and can you tell us briefly about the current state of Omikron 2?
Omikron 2 is at a very early prototyping stage. We have a lot of ambitions for this title. We want to make it a killer-app for Next-Gen consoles. We also want to remind players that Quantic Dream was the first company to create a city in real-time 3D, long before GTA. We want to create the most beautiful city ever seen in a video game, and use it within a very strong story.
We are also currently working on two other original titles that are in their early stage too.
TVG would like to thank David Cage for taking the time to answer our questions and providing an insight into the need for developers and publishers to take the risk and expand upon the concepts offered to gamers.