Warren Spector - he of Deus Ex and Epic Mickey fame - has suggested that although he admires Quantic Dream and thinks David Cage is one of the finest storytellers in the industry, that he'd never make a game like Heavy Rain, decrying the critically acclaimed PS3-exclusive's inflexibility and lack of emergent player surprises.
"Alright, here’s where Warren gets in trouble today," said Spector when asked if he thought Heavy Rain provided both controlled and player-directed storytelling.
"I finished two games last year. I play a lot of games, but I play like two hours of basically everything that comes out. If I finish a game, there’s something really compelling in it for me.
"One of the games I finished last year was Deus Ex: Human Revolution (surprise, surprise), and the other was Heavy Rain. I loved them both and I screamed at my television as I was playing both, but I hope I’m still making games like Deus Ex: HR. They made some choices I don’t understand and someday I’m going to get up on stage at GDC with those guys and we’re going to do a public post-mortem of HR (I’d kill to do that), but Heavy Rain - I would just never make a game like that."
Spector was quick to point out that he has a great deal of respect for David Cage and his team, but refutes the notion that Heavy Rain points towards the future of gaming, saying that the mechanisms behind it are exactly the same as those used to create Choose Your Own Adventure books and their gaming equivalents.
"I think David Cage is a genius," stated Spector. "If Tim [Schafer] isn’t the best writer in gaming, David is. I’ve never met the guy – I’d love to sit down and talk to him. But, basically Heavy Rain works because it’s five scripts all jammed together and meshing together and branching together. It’s like it’s the world’s biggest choose-your-own-adventure book, and I can admire the craftsmanship behind that, and the skill it takes. I mean, I’ve actually written choose-your-own-adventure books, and I know how hard writing those is. But I also know that in Heavy Rain, nothing surprising will ever happen. No player will ever see anything, do anything, discover anything that David (with his undeniable genius) didn’t create.
I think that’s a shame. I can’t look at that and say ‘that’s the future of gaming’ because the flow charts I did for One Thing After Another and Thing in the Darkness and other choose-your-own-adventure books that I did 1984 and 1987 are exactly the same structure as Heavy Rain. Exactly.
I loved that game as an experience – it was unbelievable. It made every day mundane things high drama. I mean, holy cow! I’m in awe of the talent of the guy who wrote it and his ability to tell a cinematic story. But would I ever make a game like that? Absolutely not." [MCV Pacific]