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The future of games is 'more meaning,' says David Cage

Video game developers shouldn't be hesitant to borrow cinematography techniques from film in an attempt to create more meaningful experiences in their games, Quantic Dream's David Cage said during a panel at GDC Europe 2013 today.

Using motion capture to film real actors' motions and facial expressions, can take video games to the next level and create a more powerful emotional experience. Cage said the merging of cinematography and interactivity — the marriage of filmmaking techniques with game development — heightens the experience, and game makers can learn a lot from films.

"I think that video games [have already been] learning from films for 30 years," Cage said. "When you think of all the horror games that you played, basically they borrowed all their visual codes [from] films. Think of the best action games you played — they borrowed all their codes from films. We should learn from films, and we have a lot to learn."

Cage noted that "no new art form has been created from scratch," with photography being inspired by theater, game makers inspired by film, and so on. Cage believes all art mediums borrow from each other in some way, and games especially can emulate films' cinematography.

"We both want to create emotions using moving images," he added. "Film has been doing it for 100 years. We should be inspired."

Cage said the future of games won't be better graphics or more powerful machines, but rather a greater effort to build more meaningful experiences.

"The future of games is emotion of course, but it's also meaning."

"You'll hear a lot of people telling you the future of games is technology, is more polygons," Cage said "I've been clamoring for years that the future of games is emotion. Six, seven years ago people were laughing at me, saying, 'No ,the future of games is shooting.' But now first-person shooters are saying, if we can have emotions and good characters, it's a better game. And they're right.

"The future of games is emotion of course, but it's also meaning," he added. "Can we create games that have something to say? Games that will leave an imprint on you, that will change you even a tiny bit?"

Quantic Dream's technical demo The Dark Sorcerer, first shown at E3 earlier this summer, runs in real time on PlayStation 4. Cage said the demo uses the engine for Beyond: Two Souls, with a few tweaks to port it to PS4. The director noted that the development team wanted to play with humor when creating the demo, and casting the characters was incredibly important. In the past creating game characters was a "puzzle," with voice actors, designers, artists and programmers all contributing to the character's inception.

Now, with motion capture and the PS4, "instead of 10 people creating one character, we only need to find one actor," Cage said. Actors have their entire bodies 3D scanned, their voices recorded and their motions captured — all contributing to the creation of one character that is played in all ways by a single actor.

"It's all about the freedom of the actors."

According to Cage, the big challenge in performance capture is for the actors themselves: acting for capture is much different than acting for film. There are no static cameras, special lights, makeup or costumes — everything is shot on an empty stage and filmed from all sides to capture every angle of the action.

"[The actors] all suddenly realized [during making Beyond] that they were free," Cage said, noting that actors being motion captured are free to move without these constraints.

"It's all about the freedom of the actors," he added. "We have a system that's un-intrusive."