The announcement of the Retro Video Game System, a cartridge-based console, is the latest case study in the debate of whether gaming should continue evolving beyond its roots.
Games are Growing Up
Earlier this month Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream showed off a very special tech demo at GDC called ‘Kara’. Attendees were shown a seven minute video of a robot, Kara (played by Valorie Curry), being pieced together then pulled apart by her creator.
Why? Because she could think for herself. Her pleas for mercy saved her. This short film shows off more emotive storytelling than just about anything else out there on any platform. If anyone still needs to be convinced that games are art, and that they can be more than Call of Duty-esque set pieces, here is all the evidence you need.
Emotion is what Quantic Dream does, and given the sales of Heavy Rain, there’s clearly a market there. Two million people bought new copies of Heavy Rain, another million bought it pre-owned.
Kara is sadly not Quantic Dream’s next title, at least according to company, even if some have doubted them on that score. In fact there has been speculation that Kara will evolve into a Milo and Kate style game which confronts you with a robot that appears to be sentient. The game would then force you to have a conversation with Kara via the PlayStation Eye Camera and Move, a great idea in theory but it would take a lot of work to perfect in practice.
Ideally this could be done in the same way Kinect was integrated into Mass Effect 3 with options appearing onscreen which the player then selects to read out.
Regardless of your thoughts on motion control and how silly this might look if someone were to walk in while you were talking to the TV what’s really quite amazing is that the French company barely pushed the now six year old PlayStation 3 with either Heavy Rain or Kara. In an interview with IGN Quantic Dream’s founder David Cage said:
“We had thought we had done a pretty decent job on Heavy Rain, and we just realized we didn’t do anything with the hardware. We could do much more than that, and this is what we intend to do in the near future.”
Cage goes on to say he certain there is a future for the console, even as the buzz surrounding it’s successor builds. The PlayStation 4 even has an unofficial website.
Heavy Rain, I think it’s safe to say, sold far better than anyone at Sony expected it to, by which I mean the game reached double platinum and in that same interview Cage confirmed his company’s exclusivity to the Japanese giant.
In light of past success I think it’s a given that Quantic Dream will have resources available that were never there during Heavy Rain’s production. If the Paris based developer can use the experience, finances, and apparently untouched power of the PlayStation 3 then their game will be one of the industry’s most exciting prospects.
Regardless of whether or not Quantic Dream announces their next game at Sony’s pre-E3 press conference or not, and I really hope they do, it’s bound to be one of the most interesting titles of whatever year it’s released.
Other Sony games, like Uncharted and Journey, have transcended traditional notions of what gaming is and with Quantic Dream’s new project and the prospect of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us on the horizon it’s a very good time to be a gamer. The industry is growing up.
Now if only Peter Molyneux, when he was still working at Lionhead, had been willing to believe that.