BLAST: So tell us about Heavy Rain.
GUILLAUME DE FONDAUMIERE: Heavy rain is an evolving psychological thriller that combines exploration, dialog and highly cinematic action sequences, all of which are interlaced in a story that is, I believe, pretty deep and meaningful.
BLAST: How did you get together with Sony on this project?
GF: When we stared to work on “The Casting” demo, (the name of a video shown at E3 2006) it was pretty much at the end of Indigo Prophecy, and we wanted to demonstrate that it was possible to create highly believable characters, virtual actors, capable of expressing emotions. And when we showed that to Sony they said that they wanted us to develop it for PS3, a real demo to be shown at E3. So we did it, and we were among the first studios to demonstrate what we can do on PlayStation 3. We pitched them the game, and they liked it, and started to work with them.
BLAST: How important is it to create a game like this that’s not just run around and shoot or not a complete RPG where you’re spending 100,000 hours developing your character? How important is it to have a game like this and on the PS3?
GF: I think that at Quantic Dream, we think that games can be more than toys. They can be troys, great toys, but they can be more than that. So we’re trying to create experiences that engage the player emotionally, and we think that games can today be a true form of cultural expression, just like books or movies or TV series. So this is really why we wanted to create — an experience that is story-driven, grounded in reality, featuring highly realistic sets and characters and again a story that’s meaningful. It’s mature, that’s a choice. But really meaningful.
What meaningful means in Heavy Rain is that the characters are real — they could be you and I — and are put into extraordinary circumstances. They’re neither balk or white. They’re not superheroes. They all have shadows of gray in their personality.
David Cage, who’s the writer and director, worked for almost 18 months on the story, on creating a back story to each of the characters to let them have a personality, and I think that makes Heavy Rain unique.
BLAST: Can you tell us more about the main character and what his struggle is in the game?
GF: As I said, Heavy Rain is a story-driven experience, so we don’t want to spoil the story. It’s very important. It’s like a movie. You don’t want to know what’s going to happen before you go and see it.
What I can tell you is that Heavy Rain will feature four different characters, which you will be able to play, in turn, just like in a movie. We want to show different perspectives in the story through those four different characters. Those characters each have certain abilities and certain weaknesses.
So today at E3 we’re showing two, first is Norman Jayden, an FBI profiler who has been asked by local police forces to investigate the case of The Origami Killer. The reason why police and journalists nicknamed him The Origami Killer is because he always leaves an origami in the hands of his victims. The second character is Madison Paige, a photographer. She is not directly involved in the Origami Killer case when the game starts. She suffers from insomnia for some strange reasons. The only place she can sleep is in motels, and at one point in the game she is going to go into a motel and she’s going to meet a character that is involved I the Origami Killer case, and a relationship is going to start between those two characters, and she’s gradually going to be involved in the investigation.
BLAST: One thing we would loved to have seen in Indigo Prophecy would be the ability to go back and watch your own movie that you made with all your unique choices. Are there any thoughts on doing that in this case — watching your experience like a movie when it’s over?
GF: This some thing we thought of to a cert degree but it’s not implemented yet. We really see Heavy Rain as an experience. We really want gamers to bear the consequences of their actions. Actually, in Heavy Rain, most actions have consequences on the story. When you die in Heavy Rain, you lose one of the characters, but it’s not a game over. So you can continue with the other characters. Of course, you’re going to lose the leads that you have with this character, and you’re not going to be able to see what’s coming next with this character.
You can even come to an end of the story having lost the four characters. Now, you probably won’t have solved the Origami Killer case, but it’s an end to the story.
We believe that each journey is going to be unique and we expect players to discuss their different journeys.
In many ways the actions of the characters can have dramatic consequences on the story and on the journey throughout the game.
de Fondaumiere told us that Quantic Dream reached alpha stage with Heavy Rain on April 15. A typical journey through the game will last 8-12 hours. The game is due out in 2010