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gdc 2012

Heavy Rain Dev Shows Off New Game Engine

by Dan Ryckert on Mar 07, 2012 at 11:24 AM

At his "Technologies To Support Emotion" talk at GDC, Quantic Dream's David Cage showed off a year-old demo of the company's new "Kara" motion capture engine. What we saw during the presentation was running in-game on Kara v1, but he says it's 50% more powerful in its current v3 state.

Cage mentioned that the capture technology seen in films like Avatar and TinTin is ideal, but prohibitively expensive for game production. Quantic Dream wanted something that was "high quality, very fast, and very cheap." Their solution was Kara, a motion-capture system that pipelines actors' performances directly into the game engine with little editing needed. With it, they're able to shoot footage on the motion capture stage and almost immediately see how it appears in-game.

Whereas the company had 28 cameras in the Heavy Rain capture sessions, Kara uses 65. Ninety markers are placed on the actors' face, and ninety more are placed on the body.

Cage clarified that the Kara demo is not indicative of the company's next title, as it's strictly a demo for the engine. The video shows a robotic female being assembled and describing her functions. She states that she doesn't need to be fed, her battery lasts for 173 years, can take care of kids, clean a house, and is available as a sexual partner. After prompting by the unseen "Operator," she speaks fluently in French and German before singing in Japanese.

Once the Operator has heard enough, he states that she's ready to be sold. Initially confused about this statement, she quickly realizes she's a piece of merchandise. The Operator is discouraged by this self-awareness, and orders robotic arms to start disassembling the "defective" model.

"I thought I was alive," Kara says. "I've only just been born. You can't kill me yet. Stop this, please stop! I'm scared!". As she says this, the robotic arms pause, retract, and the Operator tells her to "go and join the others." She's placed in a box with several identical models and whisked away.

With help from this engine, Cage wants to bring a potentially new demographic into gaming. He says that three markets exist right now - casual (with Angry Birds as an example), family (Wii games), and hardcore (Call of Duty). "We believe there is a space for adult games. Meaningful experiences for a mature audience," Cage said. "We don't need to deliver messages or whatever, we just need to create a moment in time that leaves an imprint on your mind."

Watch the demo below.