Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream debuted its latest tech at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco tonight.
In 2005, the developer revealed “The Casting,” a cinematic, emotional, moody, and expressive tech demo that would turn out to be the foundation for 2010’s Heavy Rain. Today – seven years later – it unveiled “Kara,” the foundation for the studio’s future of game development.
Built for PlayStation 3, the 7-minute tech display features Kara, a robot woman voiced by Valorie Curry, who, like the woman from The Casting, showcases an emotional shift in performance. The demo is built upon the studio’s new engine, and is meant to showcase what the studio can accomplish before it embarks on its next game project.
“There were many things that we couldn’t do on the old engine, so we decided to build a new one from scratch,” Quantic Dream boss David Cage told Eurogamer. “Kara’s the very first thing we’ve done with this brand new engine, so it’s not optimized – it’s got 50% of the features that we have right now, as Kara was done a year ago.
“Kara’s not just the product of new tech and a better understanding of the PlayStation 3’s architecture – she’s also the result of a new approach to motion capture at Quantic Dream, and an investment in the more sophisticated techniques that have become the norm in Hollywood’s CG industry as the studio moves across to using full-performance capture.”
The tech allows Quantic to shoot several characters’ body, face, and voice all at once, as opposed to the “split performance” used by most game studios in today’s industry. Heavy Rain was built using the this technique, but Cage believes full-performance capture is the future of the work. James Cameron’s Avatar and Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin were shot in this fashion. Of course, the tech is only useful when coupled with a talented actor, according to Cage.
“In Kara, you can’t imagine the same scene having the same impact as [it would with] someone who’s not a talented actor,” said Cage. “Technology becomes more precise and detailed and gives you more subtleties, so you need talent now. I’m not talking about getting a name in your game – I’m talking about getting talent in your game to improve the experience and get emotion in your game.”
As far as Quantic’s yet-to-be-announced game goes, it’s possible Kara could be its foundation. When you look at Heavy Rain as compared to The Casting, it’s not hard to see why. According to Cage, it’ll be something “human.”
“I’m interested in exploring anything that’s human,” comes Cage’s enigmatic reply, “Whether that’s in the past, the present or the future, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about human beings and emotions and relationships, how we feel how we love and how we hate. That’s what I want to explore – everything else is just a background.”