David Cage has been on the interview circuit to promote Heavy Rain, and during one interview posted today, it was revealed that there are four protagonists in it mainly because of his interest in schizophrenia - amongst other things.
Speaking with Fast Company, Cage revealed that he always wanted to make a game that was both emotional without being a movie - which he is not really interested in making.
"I never thought I wanted to make a movie. I really wanted to create an emotional journey, where the player would really feel immersed and would feel emotionally involved in the experience," he said. "It's about creating these characters, and sharing their lives, and making them behave in one way or another. A story [that] allows you to create very emotional moments and as you control the characters and you feel empathy for them. When they feel really uneasy, or uncomfortable, or really depressed, to a certain extent, you can feel that as a player and you can share that with them.
"I wanted to trigger more complex emotions than what is usually found in games. Usually you find fear, or stress, or power, or frustration, but here I wanted to explore very different types of emotions and this story was the perfect way to do this".
As far has having four different characters in the game, Cage said that was something he first explored in Omikron, and wanted to expand upon - thus the schizophrenia bit.
"I am very interested in schizophrenia in many ways, but I also believe games are a great way of seeing how it is to be someone else. In Omikron, your soul can be reincarnated into another body. In Fahrenheit, you end up controlling three characters, which was very interesting and very new. On Fahrenheit, someone told me, "People won't be interested in play a lot of characters; they want to play the hero--they won't feel empathy for them." And I thought that was so wrong!
"When you go to watch a movie you can feel empathy for any character on screen, whether it's the hero, or the girlfriend of the hero, or the best friend, or whoever. TV series have grown through the last few years and made big use of narratives with several characters at the same time, whether you think of LOST or Desperate Housewives. It demonstrates that the audience can feel empathy with many characters and not just with one.
"So with Heavy Rain, the idea was to continue to explore this direction. I wanted to have four full stories that would be interlaced, that could collide at some point, that paths can cross.
"In most games when you can control several characters, they all have pros and cons. If you take fighting games for example, one character is very fast, but very weak, or another character would be very powerful, but very slow. I approached it in that way, but on the story side - 'let's try to justify that these characters have some very cool elements about who they are, but at the same time, lets try to create some strange things in their personalities, some weaknesses'.
"Shelby, for example, suffers from asthma, or Madison is an insomniac, or Jayden is addicted to Triptocaine, and Ethan suffers from feelings of guilt. I think it helped to create very balanced characters, but also characters with some credibility because in real life no one is absolutely perfect and only has very strong points.
"We all have our weaknesses, and I think these weaknesses made them look and sound real".
All that should help trigger emotions easily enough, we reckon.
Heavy Rain is out today in the US, with the UK getting it Friday. Mainland Europe gets it tomorrow.