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30 in 30: Quantic Dream

Pushing games to their limits

Quantic Dream takes its time on its games. Although the French developer has only released a trio so far, all three titles have been innovative, interesting and unique. The company operates on a slow cycle - releasing a game, on average, only once every four years and four months, and clearly favours quality over quantity. But what it makes is worth waiting for.

Founder David Cage in many ways is Quantic Dream - much like Kojima Productions is a showcase for Hideo Kojima's personal projects, David Cage creates games based on his own stories and vision of where he thinks gaming should be going.

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Quantic Dream's games are the antithesis of endless sequels and formulaic first-person shooters, instead bringing to the table characters, choices and cracking stories. With every game the company makes, it pushes a little further the possibilities of what a game can be.

OVERVIEW

Founded: 1997
Location: Paris, France
Killer Quote: "I hate when someone tells me something is impossible. I can't stand that. I never have. I thought, okay, let's do it and see if it is impossible." - David Cage

KEY PEOPLE

David Cage

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Quantic Dream's main man is David Cage (a pseudonym - his real name is David De Gruttola), who comes from a background in making music - his career for 15 years. He worked on writing music for singers, TV commercials and other people's video games, but after a decade and a half, Cage tired of the music industry and founded a video game developer so that he could make the kind of games that he had always wanted to play.

David's a man who wears many hats - he's not only the founder and co-CEO, he's also director, lead game designer and screenwriter. He would likely not be described by his co-workers as 'a hands-off kind of guy'.

He's outspoken and has plenty of negative things to say about the current state of the games industry, including, "There is much more we can do with interactivity than just killing people", and, "Many people I meet in studios today tell me they want more emotion and better storytelling in their software. They're bored of creating the same games again and again."

QUANTIC DREAM GAMES WE LOVE

The Nomad Soul/Omikron

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Adapted from a 200 page novel that David wrote, Nomad Soul was released in 1999 for the PC and 2000 for the Dreamcast. It was far ahead of its time, set in a sci-fi sandbox city called Omikron, two years before Grand Theft Auto III popularised the genre. You play as yourself, a gamer, answering a plea from a police officer called Kay'l 669, who needs your help in catching a demonic serial killer.

There are numerous other characters in the game whose bodies you can jump into and control, and five distinctly different areas of the city to explore. The game mixed together various genres and there were fighting, first-person shooter, puzzle and adventure elements.

Cage drew on his contacts in the music industry to secure a banging soundtrack, including songs from David Bowie's album 'hours...', and the game also features a concert in a dive bar by a virtual incarnation of Bowie himself.

Fahrenheit/The Indigo Prophecy

"I hate when someone tells me something is impossible. I can't stand that. I never have. I thought, okay, let's do it and see if it is impossible."David Cage

In 2005's action adventure Fahrenheit, a series of bizarre killings are occurring across New York City - ordinary people with no history of violence are committing gruesome murders, saying that they have been compelled by a strange force to do so. You alternate at playing three different main characters -- Lucas Kane, Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles. All three have their own opinions and perspective on things, meaning visiting the same place with each character is an entirely different experience.

Although it was heavily censored in the US, Fahrenheit had the balls (so to speak) to put sex scenes into a game and show the world that games weren't just for kids - like movies and other forms of entertainment, we could make games for adults, too.

Along with adult content, there were a number of interesting ideas in the game - including a mental health meter which represented the character's emotional state. Frustrating, horrific or sad things like seeing a mutilated corpse lowered the meter and pleasant experiences like taking a bath or listening to music raised it. If a character's mental health meter ever reached zero, it was game over.

Sadly, the second half of the game seemed to become something of a muddled mess, as if the plug had suddenly been pulled on a trilogy and the remaining two and a half games had to be squeezed into the short development time remaining.

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