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Quantic Dream’s Kara tech demo impressions

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Quantic Dream, company responsible for the likes of “Fahrenheit” and most notably “Heavy Rain” recently published a new tech demo “KARA” during the GDC 2012.

For those of you who are familiar with it, it might beg the question of what QD was trying to achieve. It is marvellous piece of graphics, as everything is run on PS3 hardware and the visuals are mostly impressive. The lip synchronisation for example is real step forward from what’s out there on the market and it really does take the “visual communication” as well as the emotional boundary closer to the viewer.

However what troubles me most, is where are they were going with it?

Don’t get me wrong, it looks impressive in its showcasing of great graphics and interesting plot (disregarding the feeling of  thematic déjà vu from films like “A.I.” and “I, Robot”) but what troubles me most is the fundamental question of : “Why bother in first place?”

There is no doubt in my mind that the PS3 is very sophisticated hardware, having been proven many times capable of generating impressive visuals and so on, but launching a tech demo doesn’t really do any justice to it. An early example of that is Square-Enix’s demo of FF7 on PS3; as pretty as it looks from a consumer point of view it means almost nothing.

Part of me somehow feels that the level of graphics achieved on that were possible only because it was just a demo. If you try to develop a game that looks anything like that, then you have to ask yourself the question: “How do I render such high caliber graphics, while allocating system memory to A.I, physics, etc.”

Yes, it’s very pretty to look at. I would like to believe it showcases what the current generation of consoles is capable of, except I can’t. And that is because there is nothing else out there that looks alike. I would like to think of it as some kind of statement: “video games can also convey emotions and impressive visual image”, but is there a need for that? We already know that thanks to the likes of Heavy Rain, Mass Effect and others.

All in all, I am a bit sceptical toward it. I understand why QD would like to show off during GDC and why they did it, but ultimately for a normal person, a consumer it changes nothing. To me it’s like building a giant triangle in say… the middle of a desert that doesn’t do anything except stoke the ego of the creator. It makes a stand, but I think, in this case, it’s too late and too irrelevant.

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2 Comments

  1. I think you may have missed the point, Simon. It's a tech demo, not a game demo. Whatever Kara is, it is not the next project from the studio, it is only showing what their new engine and mo-cap techniques are capable of, as well as possibly showing their choosing of an alternate direction for their next game from what they did with Heavy Rain. You're right in saying that it is a statement, but wrong in surmising that there is no need for it. Mass Effect, for all of the emotion that is expressed within it, is still a "game". It's still all about the action, not the EMOTION, which is what truly separates it from the likes of Heavy Rain and Journey. That is what Quantic Dream is all about. They're trying to present a different view on what constitutes a game, and if anything, I'd liken this Kara demo to Dear Esther. An entirely different experience. It's not irrelevant. It shows a path to the future of what games will become when we finally come to terms with the fact that video games can be so, so much more than what they are today.

    It's the future, simple as that.

  2. I think you may have missed the point, Simon. It’s a tech demo, not a game demo. Whatever Kara is, it is not the next project from the studio, it is only showing what their new engine and mo-cap techniques are capable of, as well as possibly showing their choosing of an alternate direction for their next game from what they did with Heavy Rain. You’re right in saying that it is a statement, but wrong in surmising that there is no need for it. Mass Effect, for all of the emotion that is expressed within it, is still a “game”. It’s still all about the action, not the EMOTION, which is what truly separates it from the likes of Heavy Rain and Journey. That is what Quantic Dream is all about. They’re trying to present a different view on what constitutes a game, and if anything, I’d liken this Kara demo to Dear Esther. An entirely different experience. It’s not irrelevant. It shows a path to the future of what games will become when we finally come to terms with the fact that video games can be so, so much more than what they are today.

    It’s the future, simple as that.

Comments are closed.

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