GDC: Quantic Dream stuns with Kara prototype

Video shows results of developer's move towards full performance capture

A new prototype from Quantic Dream called Kara is sure to be the talk of GDC, making its debut as David Cage discussed the importance of virtual actors and meaningful content.

Kara is a five minute video (which can be viewed on Eurogamer) featuring Twilight actress Valorie Curry, which shows an android struggling to come to terms with her role in the world. The video was created using Quantic Dream's new engine, running real time on PlayStation 3.

After it was shown Cage explained that the video was actually a year old, and the studio had progressed since its creation.

"Since then the engine is now in version 3, so what you have in Kara is 50 per cent of the features we currently have in our engine running on PlayStation 3."

It builds on the progress the studio made with Heavy Rain, but is a move away from the split performance method which is used by most games, where facial animation and audio are shot separately from body motion capture.

Kara, and Quantic Dream's next project, use full performance capture, essentially cloning the actors. The results are genuinely impressive, and the video was greeted with a round of enthusiastic applause.

GamesIndustry International will feature a full interview with Quantic Dream's David Cage tomorrow.

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Latest comments (12)

David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers7 years ago
The demonstration was absolutely stunning. It looks like a full generation shift compared to Heavy Rain, and that game was damn impressive!
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Rachel Weber Senior Editor, GamesIndustry.biz7 years ago
And the amazing thing it wasn't running on some crazy future tech, but an actual PS3. This is what *is* possible now, not some next-gen projection.
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James Brightman Editor, North America, GamesIndustry.biz7 years ago
Yeah I was personally blown away by the video when Cage showed it to me. The emotion conveyed specifically through Kara's eyes is very well done. I'm not sure it's perfectly beyond the uncanny valley, but it's getting damn close.
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Show all comments (12)
Joe Winkler trained retail salesman, Expert7 years ago
Quantic always takes the symbiosis of games and movies to the next level. Maybe in a few years Actors will be fighting to get the "new roll" in a video game. Cage and his crew will push this forward. David Bowie saw it's potential in "The Nomad Soul" and ohters will follow. It's funny to see Scott Shelby as an english teacher in Hackers or a crime syndicate boss in Columbiana.
Great trailer, even if her slightly accent speaking german was a bit "unrobotic" (on purpose?). I hope to see more footage of a new Quantic Dream creation.
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Private Industry 7 years ago
Nice evolution compared to the last engine. Heavy rain is still the best looking console game in certain areas and one of my favourite games. Looking forward to the next game that QD is doing.

I like their aproach of motion capture to capture all in one go and not body and face seperate. A bit like naughty dog where the animators do the faces based on the motion capture session videos.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 8th March 2012 8:42am

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gi biz ;, 7 years ago
Nice work guys, a nice piece of technology. I guess I'll have to buy a PS3 just to try your next game!
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Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College7 years ago
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Heinz Schuller Art Director / Artist 7 years ago
Total respect for the tech and presentation. But what's with the complete objectification of women? I think the demo could have been just as compelling (perhaps more so) without the reference to sex on demand, or the continual focus on her breasts and behind. Yeah, I get it, ya gotta sell games to boys. But to some degree I think this approach subverts the goal of showcasing emotion.
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Atilla Hulsebos Senior Editor / Tech, PS3life7 years ago
@8: You've kinda focused on the wrong thing I believe. She's realizing just after 'being born' that she is merchandise, sold to be used for whatever the customer wants. And yes, including as sexual partner. Which isn't that weird considering the amount of sex toys and blow-up dolls being sold today. When technology advances to this point it's very likely something like this will be made. It's a very believable futuristic setting.
Her realizing she's going into that kind of future is part of what makes this short clip so powerful, even before the 'wanting to stay alive' part. Clearly it's amazing that in just a few minutes you didn't see an android, but a person. I can totally see this android that slipped through the QA tests escape, and going on a completely different adventure than what it/she was built and sold for.

Also, Quantic Dream is all about adult story-telling, playing with emotions. The sexual parts of it are not about "selling games to boys". This may just be a tech demo, but if it were a game it would not be intended for kids.
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Tin Katavic Studying MSc-Games Technology, University of Abertay Dundee7 years ago
To be honest I was so focused on the emotional part of the demo that I didnt notice that focus on breasts and behind.
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Sergio Rosa7 years ago
On the technical side, I see Kara far behind what the technology used in pre-rendered images is capable of right now. Kara seemed very Polar Express. The actress did a fantastic job but the CG face was unable to keep up.
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Tim Browne Game Studio Design Director, King.com7 years ago
As far as an animated short rendered on a PS3 goes this looks great. The drama is excellent, the cinematography is well paced but I do take Heinz's point on some of the camera angles.

Looking at this as a gamer though I'm not sure what to make of it, in exactly the same way when we all saw a very impressive tech demo fro Heavy Rain all those years ago. Again it was an emotional piece using a female though granted it was a monologue. However how did that convert to a game? I enjoyed parts of Heavy Rain but it never lived up to the expectation that the tech demo released before it created. I honestly hope Kara delivers.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Browne on 13th March 2012 9:51pm

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