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David Cage interview: 'We have to live with the things that make us different'

Quantic Dream creative director discusses the creative inspirations for PS3 project Beyond: Two Souls

It doesn't go unnoticed that outside Quantic Dream's Paris studio is a sheltered entrance that a homeless person sleeps in. A Sony PR notes it as we walk outside at the end of our studio visit.

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David Cage founded Quantic Dream in 1997

It was a thought-provoking (and of course completely unprocessed) conclusion to CVG's tour of the studio. Just twenty minutes prior to us leaving, Quantic Dream's founder was explaining how it was a homeless person who provided the narrative spark that evolved into his next multi-million pound project, Beyond: Two Souls.

"If you see homeless people in the streets, and if they are not fit mentally, some of them will be speaking to an invisible friend - and they can sometimes be very angry and very upset with that invisible friend. One of the starting points of Beyond was me thinking about what it would be like if one of those imagined friends actually existed."

Cage says that the star of Beyond, a moody girl named Jodie (played by Ellen Page), is followed by a spiritual being that has become a curse. It is a special gift that has cost her a normal life - Jodie can't interact with common people unless she hides her secret.

"We have to live with the things that make us different," Cage says, explaining that this concept is the emotional hook to the game.

In the full interview below, Cage expands further on Beyond's design ambitions, as well as development challenges, and is asked for the 101st time about PlayStation 4.


Further reading: Beyond preview - Why Quantic Dream's new game is the studio's most ambitious yet
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Clearly you are attempting innovations in Beyond, such as performance capture with Hollywood actors. When you're doing something new, how do you know you're doing it right?
CAGE: Haha, you never know! That's a part of the excitement of it and the doubts that go with it. When you work on such things you never start with being completely sure that you're doing the right thing. You start with questions, doubts ideas and hope.

"When you start on new projects you're never sure you're doing the right thing. You start with questions, doubts ideas and hope"

Some of the ideas you put in Heavy Rain; did any of them create a different reaction to what you expected?
Actually no. The reactions we got to Heavy Rain were pretty much in line with what we expected.

The release of Heavy Rain did seem like a perfect storm; everything fell into place. Has that put pressure on you to replicate the success with Beyond?
Well, before Heavy Rain no one expected much from us. The game came as a surprise. With Beyond we feel like we have a community of fans out there who really want the next game. We meet these people during events, and it's just great hearing from them.

Does it put pressure on us? There's no bigger pressure than the one we put on ourselves. Working with Ellen and Willem [Dafoe] as well is a lot of pressure; they have trusted us and we don't want to let them down. You don't want to disappoint them, and you want them to be proud of what you did. You want people to say to them "I loved your work in Beyond" and not "what were you doing in that shitty game".

I find it very challenging to write when knowing that people I respect will read it. There's this constant self-editing process that takes up so much time. Do you take the same approach with Beyond, knowing that Hollywood is watching?
Oh that's my attitude in general. I always put a lot of pressure on myself, and on the team, because we want to be better at what we do.

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Looking at the game, clearly a considerable cost has gone into it. How big was the budget?
I don't know if the budget is public but it's been a very, very reasonable price. We do very complex games, but I don't think they're very expensive compared to others out there.

Well if you can't tell figures, how much did it cost in comparison to Heavy Rain?
It's a little bit more expensive.

"Trust me, if I showed you what we're doing with the PS4 you would be amazed. It's really surprising. It's another world"

Is that due to the fact that the engine is quite similar?
Oh no the engine is completely different. We have built it from scratch. The project is cheaper because we've got better at what we do. We're very tools-centric and we pay close attention to our costs. We don't do anything crazy with the finances, we pay correctly but we don't have sports cars, boats or the rest of it. We run the company very seriously.

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