Although some gamers might not have heard of the PS3 exclusive Heavy Rain, the game undoubtedly made a huge splash in the industry in terms of innovation and visual style. Heavy Rain was praised for its powerful motion capture techniques, along with pushing the envelope as to how cinematic a game can be while still giving players control of the action. Quantic Dream, the studio behind the development of Heavy Rain, released a short tech demo in early March that showcases what they’ve recently been working on in terms of motion capture technology. The new engine, nicknamed Kara, uses a whopping 65 cameras that record the actor’s movements and expressions, more than double the 28 cameras that were used in the development of Heavy Rain.
The new engine produces phenomenal cinematics that carefully render the most intricate of expressions. The demo depicts a robotic female android being assembled inside of a factory. As she is “born” it quickly becomes evident that something is going on that is quite out of the ordinary. She begins to exhibit true human emotion and tells the machine operator that she thought she was alive. As the machines start to disassemble her because of her seemingly malfunctioning parts, Kara pleads for her life, insisting that she’s only just been born. Kara is by far one of the most powerful and moving pieces that I have had the pleasure of watching. It not only sheds light on what the future of video games might look like, but it also gives a glimpse into what could very well be our own future and the rise of intelligent machines. Check out the video below and I would highly suggest watching it in HD if your computer is capable.
The demo above is said to be running on version 1.0 of the new engine. As of this writing the Kara engine is supposedly past version 3 and is at least 50% more powerful than it was when the demo was created. Director and writer David Cage of Quantic Dream has said that they “believe there is a space for adult games. Meaningful experiences for a mature audience. We don’t need to deliver messages or whatever, we just need to create a moment in time that leaves an imprint on your mind.” Kara succeeded in leaving quite the imprint on my mind and it assured me that the future of video games, as well as technology, looks very bright.
If you’re as intrigued as I am with the demo or the idea of self-aware machines then I implore you to check out these behind the scenes videos. Cage mentions one of his influences as Ray Kurzweil, along with his book “The Singularity is Near”, of which I am a huge fan. As always, click on the images in the article above to see them in full resolution.