The making of 'Beyond Two Souls'

Getting behind the scenes on Quantic Dream's latest

Getting behind the scenes on Quantic Dream's latest

Daniel Anderson, ClickOnline.com

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

Caroline Marchand has worked with Quantic Dream for over 10 years, starting there with action/adventure Fahrenheit and going on to work closely with director David Cage on 2010's Heavy Rain and now Beyond: Two Souls.

During our visit to the Quantic Dream studios in Paris, we got the chance to catch up with Caroline for a conversation about how her role fits into bringing something like Beyond to gamers around the world. Read on to get an idea of what a game manager is responsible for, what David Cage is like to work with and her favourite scene from Heavy Rain.

This interview was conducted in March in Paris.

Caroline on the motion capture stage

CLICK: Firstly, what does your job entail on a day-to-day basis?

CM: I started working on the game from day one with David [Cage] on the writing. So because gameplay and story are really intertwined it's not one or the other. We worked for about a year on the game design, then we start prototyping gameplay mechanics and core mechanics for instance the entity controls or Jodie's controls. And we shoot the game and then we start to assemble it. And then I make sure the game experience works well - the pacing is fine, the player understands what he has to do and what he can do. Where he has to go. So that's sort of the work.

CLICK: It sounds like a lot of things. What does your typical day involve right now?

CM: At the moment, I'm reviewing different scenes and saying what has to be fixed and changed. I'm working with all the teams - graphics, animation, camera and my own team also because we need to tweak everything. We're starting to pace the game at this stage. Before that you just assemble and it's very ugly and it doesn't work so we're pacing it now.

CLICK: So you're almost on quality control at this point, making sure it works properly?

CM: Yea. But I'm not the QA department. We have a department as well. I'm more on the gameplay side, making sure the experience is interesting. I'm not chasing bugs!

CLICK: But you work very closely with David and you have for a few years now. What's he like to work with!?

CM: Ha! [laughs] It's something I can tell you! 10 years I've been working with him so it's interesting, challenging and you have to be patient because what's very nice with David is that he has this vision and he's able to explain it and make people work in the same direction.

CLICK: He does have a clear idea of what he wants but can it be difficult to deliver on that idea?

CM: Yea of course it's difficult because we always have to iterate. At the beginning we think something might work, and it doesn't. So we iterate and it takes a while. But the global vision doesn't change.

CLICK: Has your process changed much from the times of Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain, with the new technology involved?

CM: It's a bit different - you can do more things with the PS3 than the PS2. Of course. But in the end it's always the same struggle to try to not crash and to add more data hoping it will work!

CLICK: Did you learn much from making Heavy Rain that you brought to this game? Because they're similar in certain ways.

CM: Yes. They're similar and also very different. I think the experience is very different from Heavy Rain. What we tried to improve was navigation, moving the character around. Because in Heavy Rain it was quite stiff and complicated for no reason. We already changed that for the Move version so we kept that and more direct control.

CLICK: Was that feedback from Heavy Rain players who wanted things smoother?

CM: Yes the navigation was the main improvement we had to do. Because people didn't complain about the quick time events. People who played the game didn't complain, they felt it was fun and engaging. But the navigation yes. Camera cuts, people got lost and complicated controls.

CLICK: You've worked at Quantic Dream for 10 years now, what do you enjoy about working here? What makes it different from other companies?

CM: I don't know how different it is because I've had most of my career here. But what I enjoy here is that it's never twice the same thing, just like in the game. There are always new challenges, new ideas. We could have made Heavy Rain 2. We didn't. It's a very different game. So you always have the feeling you are learning something, trying new things. You're never bored.

CLICK: What was the biggest new thing moving from Heavy Rain to Beyond: Two Souls?

CM: The newest thing is the entity. We started from scratch there so it was quite a challenge. The controls are quite OK - we tried a few things and we are now I think fine. What was really difficult was going through matter. That's very challenging regarding the engine but also the player shouldn't be lost when crossing a wall. And when you go through matter by definition you don't see really what's happening behind. So the moment you cross the wall you might get lost. And we tried something with the graphics department, I think that worked quite well.

CLICK: The x-ray effect?

CM: Yes. That will allow the player to not lose his bearings. But it was a lot of work and iteration to that.

CLICK: Also some kind of two player mode where you can play at the same time?

CM: I can't tell you about that! I know you saw the menu! [since revealed as a non-contiguous player mode where you control one of the characters - read more about it here]

CLICK: But then you also had motion capture separate to performance capture last time and together this time. Were you involved in those sessions?

CM: I attended the motion capture shooting but as a gameplay adviser so I don't director actors. I just say what's possible, please pose here or there. But it's easier for us also because you have everything at the same time so when you get the data it's already there. For Heavy Rain we had to get the body animation and the face and they were separate.

CLICK: With Willem Defoe and Ellen Page here, did it feel like you were making a movie?

CM: It was like Hollywood here for a few weeks, it was cool!

CLICK: Do you think it's necessary for this game to have a star?

CM: I don't think it wanted to look like a movie. The real intention was to bring talent and have really good performances. And these two actors are really good at what they do and it's really stunning, it brings the experience to a higher level of emotion and immersion.

CLICK: You were playing the live demo here today, is it tough to show off a game that isn't finished? With bugs and glitches?

CM: You get used to it! You always want to show something perfect, but even when the game is released you see bugs that other people might not see. Or glitches.

CLICK: There were some funny ones in Heavy Rain, I'm sure you saw them?

CM: Yea yea probably, don't tell me please [laughs]! You always want to do better. But here we're saying we're not even Beta stage but we're hoping to do a lot better for the master. The story is not written yet, we can do better!

CLICK: Do you think it's important to keep a lot of the story secret?

CM: Oh yes.

CLICK: You're not going to be releasing many long trailers?

CM: No. Probably at E3 we'll show different scenes but we won't reveal much on the story. There are many interesting stories in the game so it would be a shame to reveal too much before you play.

CLICK: Are you looking forward to letting players see it? Did you enjoy the feedback after Heavy Rain?

CM: Yeah, it's very instructive because you learn things. Even though you do test the game, it's very different to having two million people playing the game. So you discover things that are very, very interesting and you use it for the next game.

CLICK: Finally what's your favourite feature or scene that you can talk about?

CM: No I wouldn't be allowed! It's a bit early to say that but I would probably have a favourite scene, just like I did in Heavy Rain.

CLICK: What was your favourite in Heavy Rain?

CM: Father and son - Ethan taking care of his son.

CLICK: At the start, after Jason.

CM: Yes.

CLICK: And for Beyond is it something similar?

CM: Eh, I don't know. I'm split at the moment. Every scene is not polished and you really feel the experience at the very end of the development process with these types of games. You add music, sound, facial - everything becomes complete.

Beyond: Two Souls is exclusively on PS3 from the Oct. 8 in North America and Oct. 11 in Ireland and the U.K.


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