Quantic Dream studio head David Cage has never shied away from shocking narratives, something that was very heavily seen in titles such as Detroit: Become Human, Heavy Rain, and Beyond Two Souls. His interactive brand of storytelling is unique, guttural, and oftentimes misunderstood. During SDCC 2019, we had a chance to speak with him to pick his brain a bit about his process.
Prima: Unique takes on suspense and horror tales, these are themes that your games seem to have in common. What's the drive behind that? What inspired that unique take on the gaming experience?
David Cage: When I started, when I was a young writer, I was very inspired by the movies, games, and books that I loved. But as I get older, I started writing about my personal experience and life and the emotions that I experienced. I think for me, Heavy Rain was really the moment where I started to talk about personal things in games. And I was very interested to see if you could tell personal stories in a video game. That's how Heavy Rain started.
Since then, this is what I try to explore, so I used what we call genres, to suspense readers. But I don't think my stories are really about this. I think this is just the tone in the background. I love stories that are about characters, ordinary people that experience extraordinary events. That's the kind of story that I like.
I don't know if there are different themes in what I write. I don't necessarily think about it. I just write and it comes naturally. But I think I'm obsessed with love, with redemption, with identity, with death.
Prima: All three games can get uncomfortably in your head. How do you manage to achieve that? How do you get into the player's head?
David Cage: I don't think there is a magic recipe for that, unfortunately. I wish there was, but no. I try to create, to tell stories, that move me in hopes that it's going to move others. It's all about emotion. You know, there's this very famous quote saying, "They won't remember what you said, but they will remember how you felt." And I think focusing on the emotions and the players' emotions is the best way to leave a trace in their mind and hopefully to make them remember the game for a long time.
Prima: Your style sells more than a game. You sell an experience! Has the mixed feedback about interactive gaming impacted your creative process at all?
David Cage: I don't feel so. Honestly, when you meet the fans, it's insane the feedback that you get. It's incredibly warm and friendly and people are so excited when they walk about their experiences playing these games. They really love this experience. It may not work for everyone and every type of gamer, but that's fine. The same way that there are certain games and certain genres of games that I don't like, it's the same with interactive games. It may not be a genre that everyone will appreciate, but it's been such a fantastic journey since I started this job back with Indigo Prophecy back in 2005, a time where nobody literally believed in interactive storytelling. We started exploring this possibility of telling stories through interactions and since then, it's been an amazing journey!
Prima: How was the process of porting these games to PC? Were there any specific challenges that made this particularly difficult?
David Cage: I wouldn't say it was difficult. The thing is, we didn't want to do a straight port and just have a PlayStation game on PC. We really wanted to re-design the controls, see how the game could work with a keyboard and a mouse, and we spent literally a year just working on re-designing the interface. We also wanted to improve the engine and make sure that it would run smoothly on all PCs, not just high-end PCs. And that people will see a real improvement, that it is a real PC game and not just a port straight from PlayStation, so we put a lot of effort and time and energy into doing this.
The studio head also confirmed also that now that Quantic Dream is a cross-platform publisher that every title going forward from the creative team will be also coming to PC, which is a huge jump from its previous PlayStation 4 exclusivity.
Are you excited about the games they've crafted thus far? Anything, in particular, you'd like to see from the team next? Hit us up over on Twitter @PrimaGames to tell us your thoughts!