From the big screen to console games
Gaming companies are not only using big-name actors for their voices, their faces are appearing on screen too
Ellen Page in Beyond: Two Souls
Man and dog in Call of Duty: Ghosts
Games have been big business for some time now, with blockbuster titles such as Call of Duty, Battlefield and Fifa shifting millions of units and notching up revenues for their publishers.
While not exactly a recession-proof business, big-name games can always be counted on to pull in the fans.
So it’s no surprise then that an increasing amount of time, effort and investment is going into today’s titles, as developers and publishers strive for greater performance and realism, pushing the limits of what the current crop of consoles can do.
One such title is the upcoming PlayStation 3 game Beyond: Two Souls.
Developed by French games company Quantic Dream, the game follows the story of Jodie Holmes over 15 years, and features a mysterious presence, known only as Aiden, that helps Jodie out from time to time.
Taking the lead role is actress Ellen Page, with Willem Dafoe also playing a major part in the game. But not only are the pair lending their voices and acting skills to the game, their faces are appearing too.
It’s been a long road to get to this point for Quantic. Several years ago, the company had a meeting with Leonardo di Caprio with a view to him starring in one of their upcoming games.
“He told us what we had to do to be able to work with named actors,” says Quantic’s co-chief Guillaume de Fondaumiere.
“It was being able to replicate them in 3D realistically because, for them, their image is extremely important. The other thing, and most importantly, is being able to capture the entire performance.”
Di Caprio told Quantic he wasn’t interested in lending only his image to a game. If he was going to be involved with such a project, developers would need to find a way to get him into the game.
“It took us nine years to get to the technological level necessary to able to create the actors, and to be able to capture the performance and give it back into the game faithfully.”
It’s a strategy that has paid off. Early reaction to Beyond: Two Souls, which goes on sale in October, has been positive. De Fondaumiere said the experience of working with big-name actors was a positive one.
“They brought the same level of preparation they brought to a play or a movie, and that was very important to us. We wanted them to really perform,” he says.
“On set, as David [Cage, writer and director] says, it’s a bit like driving a Ferrari when you work with these actors. They can change their performance extremely precisely. They can adapt to it. For him it was fantastic to see how they would react to his directions.”
This isn’t Quantic’s first attempt to create a game such as this; previous effort Heavy Rain came in for much praise for its interactive storyline and highly realistic graphics.
The film-noir influenced game used MotionScan technology, developed by Depth Analysis, that recorded the actors with 32 cameras to capture each facial expression. With interrogation an integral part of the game-play, every expression counted.