Interviews// Inside Heavy Rain

Posted 8 Jul 2009 18:10 by
SPOnG: The difference between a film and a game, of course, is that in a movie you?re sat passively watching, while in a game you?re in control. When I sit down to play Heavy Rain, will I need to turn off the part of my brain that tells me I?m about to play a game? Will I have to shift my expectations about what?s about to happen, compared to another game?

Guillaume de Fondaumière: I don?t think so, I think that our objective was clearly to make a videogame, an interactive experience that is? Heavy Rain is certainly a new form of game, and we?ve created new gameplay mechanics to make sure that the player is always in control. You?re in real time 3D all the time, you?re all the time in control of your character?s actions.

I think people are going to be quite surprised by the diversity of characters, by the diversity of the sets, and by the diversity of the interaction. By how interactive this game actually is.

So, I don?t think you should set your expectations differently than other games in that respect. I guess you?d probably expect a little bit more from an emotional perspective and from a narrative perspective.

SPOnG: Harold Ramis, the writer of the Ghostbusters films and game, has recently spoken about the difficulty of writing games compared to film, because in a film you?ve got one narrative line with maybe two hours of content, where in a game you have to write for multiple paths sometimes. In Heavy Rain you?re obviously looking at multiple routes that are very heavy on narrative. How easy or difficult was it to develop or write for?

Guillaume de Fondaumière: It is very difficult, because as you said, you need to write all the different threads, and you need to make sure each thread is of equal quality, so it demands a certain ability to make sure, first of all, there are strong contexts within the story. To give players real choices, and to define what possibilities there are within this context of developing other story branches that are meaningful, always, to the story. You don?t want to lead players into either dead ends, or into narrative paths that are not of the same quality in terms of story.

You also have to be careful, because it is an interactive experience, so you have to make sure that whatever the player does, he?s always in control. He shouldn?t feel that the game is just a linear sequence of non-interactive cinematics, for instance. This is really not what we?re trying to do.

Taking the example here of the QTEs (Quick Time Events). A lot of people ? and this is one of the difficulties we have in presenting the game, when you watch it, or you watch a video of a play through, people don?t understand how interactive it actually is. When we give the controller to either journalists or users for user tests, the first feedback (is) ?whoa, I didn?t realise how interactive it is, and I didn?t realise that I was really in control?. Now, of course, each interaction is contextual. You can?t do anything (you want). But it?s a bit like in real life, you know? It would be senseless for me now, for example, to stand up and slap you. It simply has no sense! However, there are a number of things that I can say, that I can do, decisions that I can make that have impact on the story.

So, our job as developers is to make sure that we give enough choices and to make sure that, whatever the choice, the story is meaningful.

SPOnG: Do you have a rough number on how many endings there are?

Guillaume de Fondaumière: 20 plus. But, I guess, what?s more important for us are the different journeys and I really don?t have a clue how many journeys there are to come to those endings. But it?s also in a particular scene. A particular scene may end the same way, however, the information ? the experience ? can be very different, depending on your choices.

SPOnG: Thanks for your time!
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Dan 9 Jul 2009 05:54
Great interview, I have never been this excited for a game before, hopefully there aren't any problems and it come out on time if not sooner.

and Having 20+ ending is awesome
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