games™ 15th anniversary interviews – David Cage of Quantic Dream
To mark 15 years since the launch of games™ we asked some of our favourite developers to reflect on the last decade and a half of their careers, the games industry as a whole and what challenges they expect to face in the future. To kick things off we pinched a few additional minutes of David Cage’s time after discussing his latest project, Detroit: Become Human, for our 15th anniversary issue.
What would you have been up to 15 years ago (around December 2002)?
In December 2002, I was working on a new concept of interactive storytelling with the intention of creating experiences where the player could impact the narrative through their choices and be confronted with emotional dilemmas.
That project would become Indigo Prophecy, a game exploring new directions that my studio have continued to explore since then. I was very excited by the project at the time, but I had no idea it would be such an important turn in my career that would keep me busy for 15 years…
What would you say has been your proudest personal achievement since 2002?
Having two kids who are happy in their lives and who make me smile every day.
Are there any team milestones that you’ve accomplished that you’re equally proud of?
Not really, I don’t think that any professional milestone can compete with my kids!
I have a hard time being proud of my work anyway, I always only see the imperfections. The most exciting milestone for me is always the next one.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Looking back with regrets rarely helps you to move forward. I could have done a sequel to Nomad Soul and created the first franchise with a full city in real time 3D, I could have made a sequel to Heavy Rain, but instead of letting business and marketing drive my career, I chose to do what I believed in.
That’s why I have no regrets.
What do you think has been the biggest change in the games industry since 2002?
The emergence of emotion and storytelling as a significant part of any experience, even action titles that did not really care for narrative before. I think that made games deeper and more interesting in general.
From a broader point of view, I think that fewer and fewer risks are taken. Everybody seems to be looking for the next billion-dollar franchise, forgetting that GTA started as two modest games before becoming what it is today. I wish more creative risks were taken, because tomorrow’s talents need to start somewhere in order to invent the billion-dollar franchises we will play in the coming years.
How has technology changed the way you work?
Technology has made everything significantly more complex. It evolves very fast, which leads quality to increase in a spectacular way, but also causes team sizes, management issues, and development schedules to explode.
At the same time, tech gives a larger palette to creators, allowing them to offer nuance we could only dream of before.
It has also deeply changed the way studios are organized: in the old days, you could make a game with five people, everybody doing a little bit of everything. Today, each role becomes so technical and specialized that you need specialists for each job.
Tech is amazing, but it is also easy to get lost and forget that it is only a tool to create experiences, not the experience itself.
What was the best game you played that was released in the last 15 years and why?
I don’t have a “best game of the last 15 years” per se. Many fantastic games have been released in 15 years, from Journey to Inside. I am generally interested in innovation and emotion, which leads me to be a huge fan of indie games in general.
Which doesn’t prevent me from playing Tekken, Hearthstone or some soccer games when I have time…
What do you consider to have been the biggest innovation for gaming since 2002?
Probably VR games. I think they have the potential to change the landscape deeply in the coming years. Creators still need to figure out how to use this new platform better, but it may have a significant long-term impact on gaming.
What do you think is the next big challenge the industry faces?
Creating meaningful content that could be appealing to a broader audience. For me, the quest for meaning in games is the next frontier.