Heavy Rain is an upcoming PlayStation 3 video game being developed by French studio, Quantic Dream. The game is being directed by Quantic Dream's founder and CEO David Cage, who also wrote and directed the studio's two previous games, Omikron: The Nomad Soul and Fahrenheit. The game is scheduled to be released on February 18, 2010. David Cage has confirmed a demo, but the Quantic Dream team is still choosing what "Scene" of the game shall be used for the demo.
Details about the plot of Heavy Rain remain scarce. Director David Cage has stated that Heavy Rain would be "a very dark film noir thriller with mature themes", without any supernatural elements, and that "the real message [of the game] is about how far you're willing to go to save someone you love."
The game focuses on drama and emotional response, not violence and repetition. Heavy Rain’s well paced and chilling story is about making difficult decisions in the heat of the moment and dealing with their consequences. For example: If one of your characters dies during the game due to your actions, it isn’t “Game Over”. Instead, the plot continues using the other characters, and that character’s death becomes part of the story — influencing the attitudes of other characters, and affecting what leads and paths can be taken.
In an interview with Dutch magazine Chief in 2008, David Cage gave a brief overview of Heavy Rain's narrative and ambitions. A translation was then made on Kotaku's site, which read as follows: "Heavy Rain is about normal people who have landed in extraordinary situations. I wanted a much more personal story. The first thing that came to my mind, as a father of two little boys, was that the main theme should simply be a father's love for his son. This is not a game about saving the princess or the world. Its [sic] purely about a father's love. The main story will revolve around four different characters, and we're putting the spotlight on their perceptions. The question 'what is good and what is evil' is the key here, that will be just a matter of viewpoint...I believe heavily in moral choices, I'm going to use them A LOT. They're not about being good or bad, but about finding the right balance." In the same interview, Cage commented on the setting by saying, "I don't want to do a big free-roaming city like GTA, because the flow of the story will then be hard to control. Nevertheless, I do want to incorporate big sets, with a crowd, heavy populated areas like a mall and a subway are going to be in there. Of course, the gameplay has got to make use of that aspect too."
There are four playable characters mentioned — an FBI profiler named Norman Jayden, a retired private detective named Scott Shelby, an architect named Ethan Mars, and a journalist named Madison Paige. All playable characters are said to be looking for a serial killer known as "The Origami Killer".
According to a demonstration given to Edge magazine, the game will use a unique control scheme. A trigger button on the PlayStation 3 controller will move the character forward. It will take advantage of the button's analogue function, allowing the user to control the speed of the character's movement by pressing harder or softer on the button. The left analogue stick will control the movement of the character's head and the direction the character moves in relation to where the character is looking. David Cage explains that this frees the movement of the character from the perspective of the camera. The rest of the game is played using a series of context sensitive actions such as picking up a bottle in a grocery store and hitting a robber on the head with it, and quick time events, normally for chase and combat sequences. Players are able to bring up a selection of their character's current thoughts by holding the L1 button and pressing corresponding buttons to say or do what they're thinking. These thoughts will sometimes blur, and selecting them at the wrong time will affect the character's reaction, causing them to say or do something in the wrong way.
Action sequences, such as when the player is being attacked, play out as quick time events. Players will be presented with various symbols, requiring them to either press buttons, move the right analogue stick in a certain way, or shake or tilt the controller. Failure to execute these commands take the story along a different path, and certain mistakes will lead to a character's death. For example, in one scene, Norman Jayden is interrogating a suspect named Mad Jack when he starts to suffer from withdrawal symptoms and button prompts will show up. If he fails to take his drugs, he will be taken to a scenario in which he will have to escape from a car before it is thrown into a crusher, killing him. In scenes like these, a 'timer' scene is shown at the bottom of the screen, indicating how long the player has to escape from his predicament.
If a character dies, the game does not end, and play control switches to another character, with the events of the previous character's death affecting the story. In the event that all four characters die, there is a proper conclusion to the story and the game ends.
Some game physics will be made available by the use of PhysX by nVidia. It is used for console physics in general in the game. Originally for the PC, there were going to be two separate versions of the game to handle cases of a computer being equipped with the appropriate physics processing unit, and to handle cases when it is not present on the system. However, now that the game has been announced as a PlayStation 3 exclusive, it is assumed that that won't be necessary. In the demo, the physics of the hair made use of the AGEIA technology.
In an interview given to GameDaily.com, Quantic Dream co-CEO and executive producer Guillaume de Fondaumière insisted that characters would be true virtual actors capable of showing highly realistic emotions.
In September 2009, Quantic Dream released a gameplay clip from the game revealing a topless scene where the game's protagonist, Madison controlled by the player is able to perform a striptease on a character in the game, with full topless nudity.
The Casting technology demoEdit
The Casting, shown at E3 2006, is non-playable, real-time 3D prototype technology demo. It was running on a non-final PlayStation 3 console development kit in 720p display resolution. The demo showcased a complex virtual actor (hence the other name "Virtual Actor Demo"), highlighting numerous expressions and motion captured animations. It also showed various technical features of the game engine, all embedded in a brief emotional story. However, the plot of the tech demo has nothing to do with the story of Heavy Rain itself. The story was written and directed by David Cage.
Quantic Dream highlighted that the technology demo is just a sample of things achievable in a limited amount of time, and that during the making of the prototype, they still were in the middle of research and development efforts for the game itself.
A brand new demo featuring the character Madison Paige was showcased at the SCEE Press Conference at the games convention in Leipzig. The demo was titled "The Origami Killer", which showcased the in-game engine and QTE gameplay elements, as found in Quantic Dream's previous title Fahrenheit. The demo also confirmed a 2009 release date. The whole video presentation is now available online.
From a technological standpoint, notable features of The Casting include full body and facial motion capture, real-time tears and wrinkles on the face, advanced skin shaders, and some advanced rendering features, such as depth of field, spherical harmonics, auto exposure and high dynamic range rendering. The technology enables animations of pupil dilation, tongue, eyes, fingers, and dynamic hair with physics. The game engine also supports real-time post-processing, with which E3 attendees could interact at the event. Hair physics is achieved by the use of PhysX by nVidia. Facial motion capture was recorded using Vicon MX40 cameras and system, and was enhanced with a muscle system.