Heavy Rain Q&A - Reader Questions

Writer and director David Cage answers your questions regarding the upcoming PlayStation 3-exclusive adventure.

Last week, we asked you--the reader--to participate in this Q&A by submitting your questions in our comments section. Thanks to a quick turnaround time by David Cage at Quantic Dream, here are the answers to your important questions. Be sure to also check out our updated impressions today to get some more info about this highly anticipated thriller. Thanks to everyone who participated; unfortunately, we could only ask a handful of questions so here are the ones that we chose.

How you handle this situation is entirely up to you.

GameSpot: How is the development of the game coming along? Can you comment on the delay and why it was pushed back to 2010?

David Cage: The development is (fortunately) coming to an end. We should have our master ready to be submitted for approval by the end of this year. It's been a very demanding project--quite exhausting for the team--but we are very pleased with the result. It is exactly in line with our initial intentions, which is never a given in a three-year-long project with a team of 200 people. The feedback we got from the first gamers who played the full game also seems very positive with a very strong emotional response, which was really our objective.

We have never announced the game as a 2009 launch, so this isn't a delay for us but, rather, a strategic decision to avoid the mess around the Christmas period with major titles--most of the time being sequels--being released in a very short period of time. It can be quite difficult for a title with an original IP based on a new concept like HR to get attention in the middle of established IP and well-known concepts. Unfortunately, many games had the same idea, and it seems we now have a second Christmas period in February and March. But anyway, it gave us more time to communicate about the game, evangelize, and also have more time to polish the game. All in all, I think it was a good decision. It is a new concept, and I think it really needs to be explained properly, which takes time.

GS: What was the inspiration for Heavy Rain? Where did the concept and ideas for the game originate or progress from? Has the game turned out the way you expected it to?

DC: I was thinking recently of the initial pitch we made to Sony. I think that the final product is exactly in line with what we described at the time. We wanted to create an emotional experience for an adult audience based on interactive storytelling and personal involvement. It is also a real pleasure to see people playing the game shouting, being surprised, sad, shocked, excited, impatient…just watching their faces as they play the game is the best reward I could dream of. It really seems people feel emotions as they play, which was the number one item in my design specs. So, yes, the game really turned [out] the way I imagined it. I don't know how people will perceive it, but whatever happens, HR is what I wanted it to be, for the best or the worst.

Concept ideas for the game came from the will to create a game for adults and not for kids based on a wide palette of emotions and not just stress or fear. I am also a firm believer in storytelling [and] in the fact that this is the most universal and effective way to make people feel emotions and that interactivity can reinforce immersion.

Regarding the story, inspiration came, of course, from my personal background…the movies, television series, books I enjoyed and I am sure that people will find many references in the game. But it is also the first game I wrote that is really based on my personal experience being a young father. Having kids really changes the way you see life. It is the first time someone loves you without expecting anything in return. Your kids just love you because you are their dad; they count on you, and there is nothing worse than disappointing them. I wanted to write about that and see if I could imagine a story that could talk about relationships, love, guilt, redemption. I know it sounds quite ambitious to talk about these subjects in a video game as some people may even think that it is even out of place. I believe that if games become mature one day, they should be able to talk about anything, not just about superheroes saving the world from hordes of zombies.

Ethan has a lot on his mind, and rightfully so.

GS: Why did you decide to have four main characters instead of one?

DC: I wanted to create an experience based on several points of view. I played with this idea since my first game, Omikron, where you could get reincarnated into another body when you died. I explored this idea under a different form in Indigo Prophecy, and I wanted to go further in Heavy Rain. I believe that a part of the pleasure you feel playing comes from the fact that you are someone else. In Heavy Rain, you see the story through the eyes of four very different characters, with different voices, different personalities, different ways of moving [and] behaving, with different backgrounds confronted to different situations. It also helps the pacing of the experience by never letting the player know whom he will control next and what will happen to him or her. People initially thought that it would be an issue for identification, but I discovered in my past games that the identification process could work with several characters at the same time with no problem, as demonstrated by literature, cinema, and TV series for a long time.

GS: Many North American gamers are concerned about censorship. Will there be different versions of the game across the regions?

As FBI agent Norman Jayden, you can scour the environment for evidence with your high-tech glasses.

DC: Censorship is also my major concern, and it is something extremely frustrating when you develop games with sincerity and a creative ambition. Censorship for games is probably the strictest in all the entertainment industry. When you watch movies or television, you dream of having the same liberty as a game designer. Rock and roll was perceived as satanic music, perverting youth in the old days, and so were comics (in France, there was a very strict rule about "youth protection" against comics in the 1950s). All this is seen as quite ridiculous today. I am sure that once society has a better understanding of what games really are, mentalities will quickly change. In the meantime, trying to create a mature experience for a mature audience is a massive challenge because every single country has a different understanding of what could be perceived as shocking.

But I know the title is still in evaluation in different regions, including in the US, so I am still not sure what the final version will look like.

GS: Will there be any supernatural elements in Heavy Rain, like in Indigo Prophecy? Can we expect a twist?

DC: No, Heavy Rain will be entirely based on real people in real situations. There is no supernatural event of any kind, but you can expect many twists in the story.

GS: There are multiple ways of completing your objectives in a chapter. Will there be multiple endings based on the player's choice? How many different variations can we expect to see?

DC: More than many endings, there will be many paths and variations leading to different endings. I cannot really count them because there are variations in almost every scene that can have local or long-term consequences. Some consequences have dramatic effects on the story, like the death of the main characters, for example. So it is impossible to say how many variations there are exactly, but from the user tests we have done so far, it seems different players get very different stories.

GS: How long is the game? Will there be any downloadable content or unlockable content?

DC: The game takes between eight and 10 hours on the short side, but depending on how you play it and the decisions you make, it could be much more. We haven't made any announcements on DLC or unlockables yet.

GS: Can you discuss trophies? Will they be included and how do you plan to integrate them without ruining the immersion?

DC: There will be trophies in HR. We understand that this is something important for many gamers. We tried to be clever about how to implement them [and] to make sure it is not something disruptive in the experience. They will only appear between scenes and will be based on a player's decisions rather than skills.

It's almost always raining in this game.

GS: Heavy Rain appears to be a project that has the potential to redefine the entire medium. Do you believe other developers will try to emulate the game's mechanics and narrative structure after it is released? Could we see "drama" as a legitimate genre in the medium?

DC: Everything depends on how successful Heavy Rain will be. If it is well reviewed and if it sells well, [there's] no doubt other developers will want to give it a try, and I would be very happy to be in this situation. I fight to make our medium evolve and move to a more mature form. It can only happen if many studios in the world believe in it. There are many developers more talented than we are who have exciting experiences to create, original stories to tell, who are bored making the same games for the same audience over and over again, [and] who are just waiting for a sign from the market saying it is now ready for something different. Of course, I hope Heavy Rain will be this sign, but if not, I hope that it will come from somewhere else very soon because I am tired of playing the same games again and again. Something new needs to happen now.

GS: Release date? Please!?

DC: First quarter next year. Development will be completed by the end of this year, but the final release date is in Sony's hands. I think we are all impatient to hear what players think of the game, so we probably won't wait too long to put it on the shelves.

GS: Thank you for your time!

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152 comments
PS3_03
PS3_03

To all PS3 gamers, if this game fails, Sony could lose millions and that they would never develop this type of genre again. Heavy Rain wasn't developed to be a negotiated product, the game was successful to its unique side but balancing the debatable side, that i have never experienced before. Good luck to you all for pre-ordering the game if not, get the copy as soon as you can because most of them, would be out of stock. I'm hoping to get my order by Feb 26th (If possible) and (If i can) find some time on playing my very first exclusive title. For those who want to experience this type of genre, i bet to you all that you'll love it as of course its completely new and practically isn't the same to other genres.

PS3_03
PS3_03

Blast, its ALWAYS people who f***ing criticize about this game. "Ohh i'm sorry, i just cant handle games like these because i'm missing the gun fire action and nicking vehicles and s***" " I have to report this game a total waste of time, because this game is a great f*** up as it is an exclusive title for the PS3" For god's sake, get a life. What Quantic Dream did, was remarkable and this is the very first title to have such thinking wise decision and due to the fact that the game is bonded to the real world. I played the demo, and nothing was out of place (like Technical Issues) but what i can't understand is giving this game rated 8.5. Is this what we expect any unique game to have a such low rate mark as 8.5? Quantic Dream spent 6 years of developing this game, and the reviews rate it 8.5? For goodness sake, i hate it when people always differ the mark under 9.0 and the unique masterpiece of this genre wasn't not yet meant to hit above 9.0? The expectations of giving an 8.5 may expect any other gamer not to experience this type of genre. But if it could be possible, if gamers review the game - this could be the only beneficial on rating the Gamespot review up to 9.0 or even better. It would ultimately change the way that most gamers would experience the genre more. Or another solution is that Quantic Dream send further updates allowing the functions from the bad side to the good side might just hit up to 9.0. I don't know.

kittensRjerks
kittensRjerks

i can't wait for this game to come out. Time to book some time off work!!

DKHardee
DKHardee

wow... this is the first I have seen of this game... looks amazing.

kevass007
kevass007

if its a ps3 exclusive, i hope all ps3 owners show full support for this game.

unbentonslaught
unbentonslaught

If this guy wants to see video games become "mature" as he says its a fairly good idea, but kids and teenagers between the ages of 8-16 are the people that play video games more than anybody else and they really just play them for a good time not for an interesting story. If video games all of a sudden focused more on story than head splattering violence, then video game sales would go down. Everyone knows that most kids play games over and over and over again to PLAY the game not experience the story again, don't get me wrong though the story is the only reason I really play games, but if you stop kids from blowing peoples heads off in Fallout 3 and change every game to more of a Final Fantasy like experience, you lose most of the people that buy games.

Brewski_420
Brewski_420

I think this game will be awesome i mean i love call of duty its pretty addicting but this game will be awesome especially with multiple story lines. Alan Wake doesn't seem interesting at all it sounds rather stupid.

adaml99
adaml99

Great news article. This has got me very excited about the 26th. In terms of the whole story being based around a handful of characters remind me of one of my most favourite films 'Crash'.

pip3dream
pip3dream

I really loved Indigo Prophecy, despite some of its flaws. The overall experience was amazing. I'm one of those gamers who really enjoys sitting back and absorbing a game world, and seeing fleshed out characters and story. Games like Dreamfall and Indigo Prophecy (or Fahrenheit as it's known internationally) really stayed with me. None of these games are terribly long, but to me they are all like books (or movies) that you can re-read or watch over and over and get something new each time. It's so awesome when you're replaying one of these games and you stumble upon a totally new narrative or sequence by doing a different set of actions. I know for me, personally, that this game being 10 hours, really means that I will at the very least get 40 hours out of this game, if not more. I think it will be like that for a lot of others too. You have to remember how heavy this game is on scripting and interactive story, and how EXPENSIVE these types of games with TONS of lines of dialogue - when you have branching stories, it creates a tremendous amount of work for the developers- it's different from games that rely on "grinding" over time that spent with the player doing "pure" gameplay by battling monsters or doing platforming. The whole experience in Heavy Rain (or IP, or Dreamfall) is scripted, with motion capture, actors acting, and voice acting. Do you know many movies that last 10 hours? For some it, might be better to think of this game as an interactive movie.

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

the bad part is how short it is, good part is how many different endings there are and the replay abilities because of this.

Jir11
Jir11

Awesome, can't wait!

gamer082009
gamer082009

8-10 hours is kinda on the short side. That may be the main negative in this game. How about giving us something in the 20-25 hour range? wtf

Vasot
Vasot

The game will be a scripted and short experience

-ICON-
-ICON-

Just got my pre-order in. Game is going to be awesome.

Dualmask
Dualmask

I respect what they're trying to do with this title. I will definitely at least rent it. But I don't think games need to "grow up" the way the developer thinks they do. The moment every developer starts crafting "mature" experiences like this in every game, gaming itself becomes more elitist. I like story and mature themes as much as the next adult, but I also like my Mario and my Bayonetta. Don't exclude...expand. That said, I certainly would not deny this game's right to exist. Whether or not it even qualifies as a game is anyone's guess, and no one will really know until we play it. But whether or not it's a game in the truest sense, I expect it will be quite the interactive experience, and well worth exploring at least.

Redraider8493
Redraider8493

this game looks sick i want to play a game with interactive script u know this one will definitely be a keeper

Indiscrimi
Indiscrimi

Finally, a truly cerebral experience for the world's fastest growing medium.

martini4u
martini4u

Aww! To bad, I liked the supernatural stuff in indigo prophecy. Still I pre-orded this game and cant wait for it.

oista
oista

@drdoris not to mention this thing we call replay value.

drdoris
drdoris

Oh and so what if it is only 8 to 10 hours long? A movie costs 15 pounds, and lasts 2 hours, so if it were 8 hours long that would be 60 pounds, which is about what a game costs. And I find a well written, immersive game to be a far more 'cinematic' experience than simply watching a motion picture.

drdoris
drdoris

Iam intrigued by this game, I have placed this on my list of PS3 games to buy. I used to own a PS3, but TBH after a while I decide that it gave me nothing that I didn't already have with my PC, 360, and Wii. But after nearly 2 years of being PS3less I had to get another one for Little big planet, killzone 2, uncharted 2,infamous, and resistance 2. It looks like I will have to keep it for a while so I can play this. Maybe there is enough first party stuff coming out to make ps3 ownership essential to anyone who likes games.

not_a_communist
not_a_communist

Cant wait......hopefully its not going to be compleatly scripted

MeisPoor
MeisPoor

damn me not having a ps3. I want this game sooooo much, the closest thing we have is going to be alan wake, which is completely different. God the expressions in those screenshots are just incredible, it's like watching a movie, and from everything I've read, this game is looking like it's going to be one of the best of all time.... now to just find someone with a ps3.....

Manapauze
Manapauze

The internet seems to be a place for flaming and showing off your huge intellectual status. Man these constant ongoing wars are so upsetting. Lets not waste time guys! Lets do something productive.

game-on-man
game-on-man

Vasot well here you are again talking down the game just because its a ps3 game. your just jealous. Dont you have anything better to do? We all know you want to see this game fail (pathetic) .As for the game it looks amazing. I cant wait to pick it up.

point-n-shoot31
point-n-shoot31

@-ICON- you should also put into consideration the replay value of the game because there are different outcomes for the decisions you make in the game. After you beat it once, depending on how much you enjoyed it, you may one to play through it again with different choices to see how it affects the game and the story.

-ICON-
-ICON-

Game looks awesome. But the 8 to 10 hour playtime is making me re-think buying this game. I'll probably rent it.

Ivory-Dynamite
Ivory-Dynamite

From the Demo it is said that is like an revamped point and click game with more interactions.Its about 1/2 story & 1/2 interaction like using your right stick e.g. hand movements.And an apparently it is slow moving game for the story is the main point of the thing there is action but this is not an action game so if you want an action game don't expect this to be one.anyway I have this on pre-order I think it will be great.Like all games it will come down to personal taste.And why does every body compare this to Alan Wake they are completely different games.

mollyrulz9999
mollyrulz9999

I honestly don't see any problem with the duration of the game. If Cage says the game will feature the story as it's core element, you'll be getting more than enough for your money. Just watching one scene on YouTube for example asks so many questions as to what could have happened before the scene and after it (eg. Who is this man? What led him to be in this scene? Why do I need to do this? etc) and it's this flow of information with scenes that I think will suit the duration nicely. Besides, if it were 2-4 hours with each character (obviously depending on your actions), then I would probably be expecting a similar amount of information about a character to a movie. That times 4, all squeezed into that amount of time. I don't see why you should complain, but rather wonder and ask yourself how it can be pulled off and if you'll get enough story to satisfy yourself for the whole game (which you most likely will)

nocturnalkisses
nocturnalkisses

This game has the potential to create a new Genre of games! I'm quite excited. But like DC said, other developers will copy this *cough, Microsoft, cough, like how they do everything else, cough, cough* but i supposed that its a good thing. but i ask one thing! PLEASE DON'T LET Activision get a hold of this new concept. Just like GH games we will see ENDLESS Heavy Rain-type games!!

Vasot
Vasot

The gameplay sounds boring, restricted and it is only a 8 hours experience from what the developers say. ........ Alan Wake looks more promising and more addicting

AnubisNohman
AnubisNohman

This game is gonna kill man. I Can't wait to play it.

iknasir
iknasir

ps3 exclusive ? Huh ! who cares !

dante-taunt
dante-taunt

i being a 360 owner could do nothing but to wish a good luck for ps3 owners.i liked the concept.it will be adapted by various companies later though.good luck ps3

KurseU880
KurseU880

I kinda disagree with his viewpoint on identification. Even in movies and television, you identify the most with one character. Granted, you do feel emotionally attached to several characters but the degree to which you identify with the main character surpasses all others. So, while I'm really looking forward to seeing different stories and different characters, I hope the transitions aren't too jarring. Also, I'm kinda apprehensive about the whole replay value thing. He says that you get a different experience based on your choices, but at the same time it's supposed to be like playing a movie. I'm guessing main plot points are going to be the same every time you play it. Just hope it's not too similar. Really looking forward to this game though. I think it really has a lot of potential to change the gaming industry for the better.

XxlamerzxX
XxlamerzxX

always loved games with great storylines, especially those with movie-integrated in them such as Uncharted and all.. Hope this is a good game! Thanks Sony!

mental_case_5
mental_case_5

Too many games I want in 2010. MGS 5, Heavy rain, I am alive and so on.....

Hakim8mm
Hakim8mm

There are too many good games coming out first quarter next year :( How can i play them all? @forhekset, I agree i hope the 8-10hrs is if your trying to beat it as fast as possible and skipping non essential story plots.

forhekset
forhekset

He did say 8-10 hours on the short side, so I hope that means if you plow through it without taking your time. The difference between taking your time and enjoying it and knowing what to do and going through as quickly as possible can make several hours difference.

JukedSolid
JukedSolid

That is really disappointing. I really think this game has a lot of potential regarding interactivity and story, but if it's only going to be 8-10 hours long then that just comes off as an underdeveloped story line. I mean seriously. That's only 2 hours per main character. Lame.

cornellcobain
cornellcobain

@kingsi7e Yeah ok his game might have better replay value than say "Killzone 2" or "Halo" but still this trend just pisses me off. I'm not saying as long as a Final Fantasy game but 15-20 hours would be nice.

kingsi7e
kingsi7e

@cornellcobain man, Indigo Prophecy was 8-10 hours as well, but considering how many different ways things can evolve the replay value was high enough to play twice or three times. You cannot expect anyone to make a game as free as Indigo Prophecy and as long as Final Fantasy.

moonlitniight
moonlitniight

hope this game is as good as indigo prophesy. that game was good till it got weird in the end.

cornellcobain
cornellcobain

8 to 10 hours? Is he serious? This is a trend in gaming that is really starting to piss me off. I used to be able to get 10-15 hours out of every game I played, now I'm lucky to get 10 hours. Sure like he says "it could take longer depending Yadda yadda yadda" but how much longer? 2-3 more hours? I thought this game would be 15-20 hours, Pretty disapointed.

8ba8
8ba8

This game may be the first that will make me buy the Collector Edition (if they even sold one!!).

dAvIdguY349
dAvIdguY349

This is my most wanted game for 2010