Why is "Detroit: Become Human" so successful? Plot interactive game analysis.

User Rating: 9 | Detroit: Become Human (Digital Deluxe Edition) PS4

Plot interactive games provide limited interactive operations, most of which are just simple button choices, and the core purpose is to give you a certain degree of power to determine the direction of the plot, so this game must provide a variety of endings. let different players play different results, the more choices the game provides, the more endings, the more attractive they tend to be.

Detroit: Become Human is a classic work produced by the French company Quantic Dream, which is currently the top company in the world to do this kind of multi-ending interactive plot interactive film and television games.

They make similar games all the year round, from "Indigo Prophecy" to "Heavy Rain" to "Beyond: Two Souls". They have accumulated countless experience in this field, and their products are getting more and more refined. To the latest "Detroit: Become Human" generation, they have reached the peak of this category of games, with cumulative sales of nearly 4 million sets and total revenue of nearly 200 million US dollars.

I visited this company a few years ago and listened to them introduce their product development concept and development process. I was impressed.

It was reported not long ago that this company has won the investment in NetEase Game. It is estimated that NetEase is also optimistic about their accumulated experience in this special game field, right?

The success of the game is inseparable from the use of skilled film skills, interactive skills and game production techniques.

We see in the game the cooperation of actors' performance and motion capture technology, real-time recorded dialogue voice, the cooperation of music sound effects, the realistic construction of near-future city scenes, the realistic performances of various NPC in the game, and so on.

It has done its best to achieve one of the core goals of this category of games: to approach the effect of movies in all aspects.

If you have seen the production tidbits provided by this game, you will sigh, "they are really making a movie!"

The topic and settings of this game are appropriate, which is one of the factors for its success.

The background of the game is set 20 years later, when the bionic technology has become mature, and they can replace most of the jobs of human beings, from nannies and cleaners to sports stars, soldiers, police, and even artists. Bionics have penetrated into a variety of industries, and even have a tendency to surpass real people in an all-round way!

Their image, speech and behavior can no longer be distinguished from real people, and some of them begin to mutate and have a sense of autonomy, but human beings still regard bionic humans as machines, lower species. the game tells the conflict and struggle between bionic people and human beings from the perspective of the three main characters of the bionic game.

The setting of the character in the game is exquisite, and the first main line of the game is a beloved beauty bionic-nanny, who breaks through herself in order to protect the little girl of mankind, and protects the little girl all the way to escape. In the end, even if you find out that "this little girl is not actually human", it is hard not to have compassion for the little girl.

The setting of this role makes full use of "men who have compassion for womanhood" and "women's irresistible maternal feelings".

The other protagonist is a young man with a determined expression (we can't quite tell whether he is black or white). He is set to be a caregiver who takes care of the patient. he mistakenly kills his master's son, he is destroyed, and he is lucky to wake up and become the revolutionary leader of the bionic.

This is also a character setting that is easy to sympathize with straight men who like heroes and adored by the girls who like heroes, and the game also designs a love story for him with another beautiful woman, bionic. Even if it is a bit corny, the existence and core value of the stereotype is obviously achieved.

The third protagonist, the most popular character designed by the producer, a handsome bionic policeman, from his appearance setting, to his voice, to his characteristic behavior pattern, that is, when he is at the scene of the case, he licks it with his super tongue.

All of these thoroughly captured the heart of the young girl. When he licked the scene of the murder scene, many female players could not help licking the screen.

The game also designed him a personalized middle-aged police partner, the interaction between the two, so that boy-boy like CP yaoi fan can find a point of attraction.

Even the main interface of the game, has been carefully designed as a bionic beauty, will do a lot of communication and interaction with players, and she also appears in a specific situation game plot.

It can be said that the setting of the background world outlook and the setting of roles and plots of the whole game are professional.

However, all of the above can only be regarded as the basis for the success of this game, not the core factor.

After all, when we are developing a game, we are not really making a movie. The core success of Detroit: Become Human is its complex plot selection and design.

This kind of plot interactive game rarely spends energy on players controlling the free activities of the protagonists in the game. Unlike in "The Last of Us", it also provides a variety of weapons and equipment to provide a variety of melee, shooting and other combat systems in traditional games.

The core focus of these games is on the core point of "players influence the direction of the plot branch".

First of all, in this game, it not only gives players a complete fantasy of the future world of Detroit City, provides a complete novel, grand worldview, but also creates a large number of vivid virtual characters, just to name dozens of bionic characters.

This is difficult for an ordinary movie, because a movie has only two hours, but "Detroit: Become Human" takes full advantage of the longer duration of the game, making the environment and characterization fuller and almost classic, without deliberately slowing down the pace like TV series. Throughout the game, it always maintains a strong plot tension, attracting you like you do when you watch a movie -- Keep your eyes on the screen.

In the production of TV series, you have to allow the audience to move and chat freely, especially when the TV didn't have a pause function, you have to let the audience continue to watch even if they walk away and come back, so the TV series must slow down.

On the contrary, you force the audience to focus completely, you only have two hours, and you have to cherish every minute of editing, so even if the audience wants to go to the bathroom, they have to hold back their urine until after watching the movie.

So, in the creation of interactive film and television games, we should be more inclined to the direction of movies or TV dramas?

On the surface, because players can leave the game console or pause at any time, it seems that we should go in the direction of TV series, but in fact, it is not right, because the scene of playing the game is different from watching TV, and the player is holding a controller or mouse in his hand. is engrossed in projecting himself to the protagonist of the game, and the player enters a state that requires interaction at any time.

Especially in this kind of game, which focuses on plot interaction, players will not turn their attention to irrelevant elements such as fighting, upgrading, collecting, solving puzzles, etc., so you must not relax your grip on players. Once there is procrastination in your plot, it is tantamount to your movie putting the audience to sleep or leaving the cinema halfway!

On this basis, the most successful thing about "Detroit: Become Human" is that it provides players with a large number of interactive options, and most of them can really affect the progress of the game.

You know, the performance of this game is completely movie-level-each different process and different ending means that the actors have to shoot the corresponding plot!

Their team wants to seamlessly make all these plot clips into the game, think about what a terrible workload it is!

It is said that it took the production team two whole years to write the script, and the whole game for four years, in order to give players more choices and make each choice as meaningful as possible.

The number of endings and branches of this game is so large that I really have to admire it!

-- just the life and death of a few protagonists, there are all kinds of free combination endings, and the life and death of several supporting roles can be completely different. coupled with a variety of complicated branch plots, hundreds of them are arranged and combined. it can easily make you play it over and over again several times, and you even have to go through the tips to unlock the plot you can't imagine, and even most of the highly gaming stand-alone games can't achieve such an effect!

The core advantage of the plot has also contributed to the success of the game, which is that it has boosted the popularity of the game with the help of "online video and live streaming".

What interactive film and television games fear most is that "one player records the flow of the whole game and uploads it to the Internet, and other people don't have to buy the game, just watch it once." this phenomenon is called "could clearance game." so the interactive products of the operation class must make the operation fun.

"The Last of Us" is so good at the third-person combat experience that many people like to play the multiplayer PvP mode that comes with his game; and this kind of dramatic interactive products must have more choices and complex plot endings, so as to prevent players from watching the video once and enjoying it all.

Of course, no matter how many endings you do, it can't be endless. At the worst, players will make a big video of the whole process and ending, and they can also let others watch the video in order to "pass the game through cloud".

But the best thing about "Detroit: Become Human" is that its ending branch line is so complicated that there are always a lot of small details like stinger, which are not easy to get through video experience.

In addition, they put a lot of effort into the options provided to the players, and try their best to hope that each option makes sense, which makes you feel confused.

In this way, when players watch the video of the game clearance, they can no longer watch it, and feel that there is a gap between the game anchor's outlook on life and values, so it is better to buy one to experience it according to his own choice.

As a result, a large number of game videos recorded by various anchors on video websites have become the driving force of this game sales!

How do we control the balance between production cost and gameplay and revenue?

The two types of interactive film games mentioned above are classified from the way they interact. From an interactive point of view, the main problem to be solved in this kind of games is to balance the relationship between plot performance and player interaction.

If you try to classify it from the way of product production, there are two mainstream production methods of this kind of games: one is to use 3D virtual models to produce all the image content; the other is to shoot directly from real images, just like movies.

Let's first look at the first one: using 3D virtual models to produce all the image content.

This approach uses a large number of live actors to do motion capture, facial expression capture, dialogue dubbing and so on. The presentation of the whole game is completely similar to the traditional 3D game.

The advantage of this way is that it is easier to freely define the world outlook and role image content of the game, can give full play to the imagination of the creator, and will not be limited by the construction of realistic shooting scenes and the image of real-life actors.

In fact, this way of production is not new in the film field at all. A large number of high-quality animated films, as well as a variety of high-definition film special effects, have already liberated the imagination of film directors to an almost boundless degree.

In contrast, I have always felt that the interactive film game industry is still a pupil, and there are too many things to learn from the film industry, not only the lens language, screenwriting theory and other knowledge, we also have a lot of gaps in the means of production.

And in theory, the design of this kind of games can be more exaggerated and imaginative, just like the settings of some movies, but the games we have seen so far, even if their top works, its background worldview, plot, characters and other settings are still relatively common, and the quality of production is far from as good as the film.

What causes it?

One of the more important reasons for my analysis is the problem of "balance of costs and benefits".

The traditional sales channels of games are mainly game consoles and personal computers, and the perennial sales price is no more than $60 per copy, after deducting various channel costs, distribution costs, and various discounts and promotional activities. developers often get an average of only about $20, and the industry basically has a default rule --

"an full price $60 work should provide no less than 40 hours of high-quality play time", while interactive film and television games, such as heavy drama games, have relatively low repeatability of content, and the whole process of the game requires shooting work, and its production cost is much higher than that of ordinary combat games!

So most traditional game companies will choose lower input costs.

Let's take a look at the production costs and sales figures of several Quantic Dream masterpieces, and analyze the profits of the industry leaders:

"Heavy Rain", produced in 2010, the development cost is 16.7 million euros, plus marketing costs total 40 million euros, total sales of 5.3 million sets, according to the average price of 20 U.S. dollars to calculate, a total of less than 100 million euros, is more than double the profit in 10 years, but because the product is exclusively customized by Sony, issued by Sony, the development company should not get much profit.

"Beyond: Two Souls", produced in 2013, the development cost is 21.8 million euros, plus marketing costs total 52.2 million euros, seven years of total sales of 2.8 million sets, the income should be about 50 million, the studio mainly earns the development fees paid by Sony, Sony's own profit is also limited.

"Detroit: Become Human", produced in 2018, cost 35 million euros, plus marketing costs a total of 65 million euros, coupled with the recent PC version sales, total sales are estimated at 5 million sets, taking into account the PC version of the discount situation is more serious, it is estimated that the total money earned should be less than 100 million euros, is the fastest and most of a time, but compared with the profitability of other popular games, the gap is still quite large, the rate of return is not high.

After talking about the first one, use 3D virtual models to make all the image content.

Let's take a look at the second kind of work that is shot directly with real images, just like movies, with real people directly, costumes, props, sets, and even the whole shooting method is almost the same as the film and television shooting method. The more famous works we saw a few years ago are "Late Shift", "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" and so on. I think this kind of work can hardly be called a game and should be classified as "interactive film and television".

In fact, there have been similar attempts for a long time, but they have been lukewarm all the time, and the reasons are similar, so it should be said that it is difficult to classify them into these two categories.

This kind of movies or TV dramas that require interactive operation can not be played on large traditional devices, such as cinemas, television, etc., so they cannot be distributed through distribution channels.

If you take the distribution channel of the game, players need it to be able to play as a game.

This leads to a question: "although I am willing to spend $10 on watching a movie for 2 hours, now you are a game. Even if you buy it on the steam store for only $20, I hope you can play it for at least 20 hours." this is the mental account value of the player, but how much cost do you need to support the content of more than 20 hours of real shooting, and make sure that the plot is tense and good-looking?

Let people like playing games, have been reluctant to leave the screen.

The attempt of "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" is not successful because its process is short, the number of endings is not enough, many options are even meaningless, the players do not think highly, and it does not achieve what Netflix hopes to make waves in the film and television industry.

Is there any way to solve the imbalance between costs and benefits?

In recent years, some people have been exploring the production methods of relatively low-cost interactive film and television games, of which the more successful one should be Telltale.

They are the team from Lucas, who are familiar with movie routines, and have won the game adaptation rights of many well-known film and television products. gradually running-in a set of game development engine and development model with its own characteristics: using relatively cheap 3D modeling to build characters and scenes, and their own original dialogue and interaction system, without significantly changing the progress of the game plot. It can still make every choice of players meaningful.

Telltale shot to fame with the "The Walking Dead" series of games, winning the title of best game of 2012.

They also pioneered a chapter-by-chapter business model and put games across platforms on smartphones for the first time.

With the mobile platform accounting for about 30% of sales, the game has sold more than 30 million chapters on the whole platform!

They later produced a series of similar products, among which "The Wolf Among Us" is also a masterpiece of success.

It is a pity that Telltale closed down in the later period because of poor management, but it must be said that they have made countless creative contributions to the development of this category!

The excellent works such as "Life is Strange" produced by the newcomer DONTNOD Entertainment are all inspired by Telltale and even developed according to their templates.

In China, there is also a praiseworthy product, which is "The Invisible Guardian" launched in 2019 on Tencent's Wegame platform and steam platform.

It also opens a new window for us: if we want to make interactive film games with live-action performances, do we have to shoot them all with cameras, just like making movies?

Not necessarily!

Can return to the traditional visual novel route, the whole process of the use of elaborate live stills, with the help of simple plane dynamic effects, multi-frame animation, meticulous late sound dubbing and other methods, can also achieve a good effect close to interactive film.

This can greatly reduce the production cost, the key is to greatly save the cost and workload of professional actors who can speak lines on the spot, in fact, this is the core cost of movies and TV dramas!

Others, such as costumes, props, photography, and even shooting scenes, can be cheaper than the art modeling used in 3D games.

With such a breakthrough in production methods, this game, like Detroit: Become Human, also provides players with different finale and a large number of branch plots.

Although it is a relatively static form of expression, its experience goes far beyond the traditional visual novel, creating a refreshing, self-directed and self-acting advanced experience for players.

The development cost of the game is only $3 million, which is much cheaper than that of Telltale, and the combined benefits of multiple platforms are considerable.

The key point also opens up a new possibility for us: can those real films and TV dramas also use stills to cheaply produce some interactive film games during the interval of shooting, so as to provide the audience with an immersive feeling?

The Future Prospect of Interactive Film and Television Games.

Finally, let me predict the future of interactive film and television games.

Unreal5 is the most cutting-edge game engine in the world today.

The effect that the future game engine can achieve has reached the point where it is completely impossible to distinguish between the real world and the virtual world.

In fact, Unreal has gone beyond the scope of the game engine, it has been used in the actual filming.

Generally speaking, when shooting scenes that require post-processing special effects, actors always imagine the scenes behind them in front of the green screen. Now, relying on Unreal, the scene effects produced by the special effects can be projected on the screen in real time, so that the actors can be completely immersed in the scene.

In traditional games, in order to make the movements of virtual characters, real actors need to do a lot of motion capture and facial capture.

Now you just need to build a 3D model of the character, and AI will automatically generate some basic human facial expressions and body movements.

Everyone is complaining that the cost of creating movies and games is getting higher and higher, but I think if we take a longer-term view, maybe this situation may be reversed-- with the further upgrade of the game engine and the assistance of AI technology, whether it is movies or games in the future, the cost for creative people to create a virtual world is likely to become lower and lower, and even the creator may be like playing Minecraft.

Become an experience close to entertainment.

There will be more creators of PUGC, more non-game industry, and even amateur film directors, screenwriters, and players can more easily participate in the creation of interactive film and television games, we will have the opportunity to see more innovation, more excellent works, like Mini Game in Rolox to grow out.

In other words, we may not be far away from the emergence of the movie "Minecraft" at the level of "Ready Player One"!

Now more and more new game companies have begun to develop in this direction, not only because creative tools are becoming more and more convenient and cheap, but also because this category has a unique feature: a professional film director can more easily become a game producer, and the film and television industry has accumulated countless systematic expertise over the years, but vice versa. It is much more difficult for the traditional game industry to find a professional game producer, and the industry is still too new. so far, few colleges and universities have reliable courses and even less reliable teachers. therefore, experts in the film and television industry rely on this category to enter the game industry is a good path.

After the popularity of "The Invisible Guardian", there were people in the film and television industry who felt a little cool and asked me, "will all movies and TV series in the future, the audience will ask for a different ending that suits them, and will ask themselves to have the opportunity to truly experience the characters in them, making interactive film and television games standard, or even replacing the traditional film and television programs?"

My point is: "No.

Active interaction and passive appreciation are two different forms of experience. even if there are more and more intersections between the two fields, their design concepts and means of artistic expression are still different. The needs of target users in different scenarios are also different.

I predict that "these two forms of entertainment will still co-exist for a long time, but there may be more and more films and television works with interactive functions."

In the traditional game market, interactive film and television games only exist as a category with a special experience.

The two forms of entertainment are not competitors, but are important complements to each other.

For example, Lions Gate invested in Telltale, in the hope that their interactive game works could help his films and television productions stay popular during the intermission of the series, continue to generate revenue, and meet the audience's pursuit of different endings.

Recently, HBO is also preparing to put "The Last of Us" on the TV screen. It is estimated that with the more reasonable plot design of this live-action TV series, it can also help Sony win back the reputation of IP.