Back at E3 2006, Quantic Dream
head honcho David Cage
presented a video simply called The Casting
. It was designed as a showcase for their latest performance capture technology and also as a way to show off the next gen tech of the then unreleased PlayStation 3
. But it was also more than a mere tech demo, using a real performance (from actress Aurelie Brancilhon
), an emotional story and expert direction to open a new chapter in the way storytelling works in games.
followed up on this tech demo with 2010’s Heavy Rain
, a game that harnessed the same revolutionary technology to capture actors (including Brancilhon) and insert them into a consequence heavy, interactive movie. The experiment was a nominal success – putting story first but concealing its gameplay under a morass of QTE’s. Stuffy performances and a overly realistic, if not downright boring, tone made for a hit and miss gaming experience but the concept was an impressive leap forward for consoles.
previous games, Omikron: The Nomad Soul
both favoured fantastical worlds and over the top gameplay to tell their stories – something which Quantic Dream
sadly avoided in Heavy Rain
. But there’s hope their next title will reverse that trend.
On the 7th of March, Eurogamer
premiered a new tech demo from Cage
and Quantic Dream
. Entitled simply ‘Kara’
, it shows a full service robot being assembled and tested by an unseen character. She performs flawlessly, speaking in multiple languages and making it clear that she’s available for all manner of… personal needs. But when she finds out she’s being sent off to be sold, things take a turn for the emotional.
was played by Valorie Curry
, a young actress who is set to appear in Breaking Dawn Part 2
later in the year. As in The Casting
has his star run the gamut of emotions, from suitably robotic to confused, frightened and finally elated. It’s a beautiful performance, only heightened by the new technology which Quantic Dream
has invested in – which includes more than doubly their number of performance capture cameras and creating a new rendering pipelines which allows scenes to be shown in hours rather than days.
Rendered live on a PS3
, the graphics are undoubtedly detailed, although it’s hard to tell if they are really a massive step up from Heavy Rain
. The subtleties of gesture and expression are impressive but the stand out feature, for me, is the eyes. We’ve long been used to the dead orbs of regular performance capture – seen in everything from The Polar Express
to A Christmas Carol
– but here there’s a moistness and vitality to them, all the way up to that heart rending tear.
And for fans of Quantic Dream’s
more fanciful ventures, Kara
may be a sign of exciting things to come. While The Casting
wasn’t taken directly from Heavy Rain
, there was a confluence of tone and theme, a more grounded experience than the company had produced before. With Kara
, we’re looking at a future world where human-like cyborgs are freely available and where the possibility of AI driven consciousness is far from an abnormality.
We are very excited indeed. Check out Eurogamer’s massive coverage
of the video for more – where they chat at length to Quantic Dream’s
own David Cage