The Goals & Ambitions of Beyond: Two Souls—An Interview With Guillaume de Fondaumière

Gameranx spoke with Quantic Dream’s Guillaume de Fondaumière to talk about Beyond: Two Souls and Quantic Dream’s goals and ambitions.

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The latest from Quantic Dream came out last week, and is once again a game that is intended to more than just that. It’s meant to embody the latest and greatest example of what video games strives to be… instead of manipulating a pixelated or polygonal puppet, and simply jumping and shooting, the player takes ahold of real people, engaged in real drama, which is the milestone that many are hopeful for games to one day to achieve. If not for the sake of longevity, but for pure validity.

Naturally, it’s a sentiment that is not shared by everyone. The reaction to the aforementioned game, Beyond: Two Souls, is just as divisive as their previous release, Heavy Rain. Some are calling Beyond a technological marvel, a true step forward for the medium. Whiles others… not so much.

When one thinks of Quantic Dream, they think of the name David Cage. Which makes sense; he’s the studio’s founder and driving visionary. He’s also the guy that says stuff that irks many who aren’t not necessarily fond of the kinds of games he likes to make, nor shares his opinions of the landscape. But Quantic Dream is in many ways a two man operation; Cage runs the shop with the help of Guillaume de Fondaumière, who is both the CCO and co-CEO. Fondaumière was in NYC not long ago, promoting Beyond at a Sony press event. There I asked him about statements made by his partner, among other things…

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Now, David Cage is well known for his position on technology, and how it's the key factor when it comes to storytelling, one that is quite derisive among many individuals. Can you elaborate on that notion… do you yourself believe it as well?

Of course I agree! [laughs] Otherwise I wouldn't be doing this for twenty years. And that's making story driven games.

For us, technology is a tool. It's a tool to create highly believable characters. To create emotion. Because at the end of the day, this what we, more than anything else, want to do with it. We want to create an emotional experience for the player.

What we have chosen is storytelling, and a very cinematic experience. We could have expressed emotion in another way. Other people, like Media Molecule [makers of LittleBigPlanet and the upcoming Tearaway] with their games, they're creating very emotional experiences too. It's different, but they have the same drive.

As you may know already, some of ill will towards your partner stems from smaller, indie game studios, who are doing the game thing… and that's creating stories… but which do not have the resources that Quantic Dream. So you believe that they are still capable of creating equally valid, emotional experiences?

Totally! But of course! Beyond: Two Souls is simply the embodiment of what we know how to do.

More than anything else, we wanted to give players the possibility to control characters, to control their fate, in a story that is cinematic. And, through player actions, to truly change the way the story unfolds. That's what fascinates us.

With Beyond: Two Souls, a milestone has been reached in terms of graphic fidelity, so what's the next goal? Hard hard will it be do outdo yourselves?

When we started The Dark Sorcerer six months ago, we had an idea of where we were going and where we'd arrive, from a graphical standpoint. For us, the challenge was to go slightly better than Beyond. Because that's what we thought all we could do.

But after six months of work on the demo, we saw a huge gap that we were able to close. And that's only after a year and a half of working on the basic engine features, on just a prototype.  We are going to go far beyond that on PlayStation 4.

Do you remember Kara? It was our first attempt with a new engine, to create a virtual clone of an actress, Valorie Curry. When you look at Beyond, which is only two years later, at what we've done with Ellen Page, it's massive step further. So you expect even greater advancement than what Dark Sorcerer contained.