Jean-Maxime Moris Interview: Remember Me, Next Gen & Capcom
Many publishers have said recently that launching new IP this late into the console cycle is a mistake, why take the risk with a new game?
I think that’s just one angle that you can take on this problem, if there is a problem. The current install base is at its peak, so we have the most amount of people that can buy our game.
So yes, user spend on software is declining as they wait for the next generation and, yes, it’s said to be better for publishers to start their franchises at the beginning of the cycle and then iterate on it and, yes, those are of course big reasons not to do it.
But, people, forced into an ever-more concentrated marketplace, want novelty. They want new stuff and now that we have the biggest install base, there’s no reason we can’t succeed.
And that’s only my opinion, but Capcom shares it. There are sensible businessmen behind that decision, too.
How did the relationship with Capcom come about?
Well, we basically had a partner before and then went back to being independent – well, we’ve always been independent, but we went back to being without a publisher – which in retrospect was a good thing.
It meant we were able to refocus on the identity and the nature of the game we wanted to make. And then we went to GamesCom last year.
At that time we didn’t have a publisher so I was handling all the marketing and basically the strategy was: go to GamesCom, just tease about the game with concept art and conceptual stuff about the social networks.
Remember Me’s visual style is very Bladerunner, but with a Euro twist.
The idea was to get some response from the journalists and hope that publishers would then come back.
That strategy paid off because, well, we got some really good coverage at GamesCom last year and the publishers came running back to the table.
At one point we had four offers, but Capcom’s was the most respectful to the game and they were the most enthusiastic about the project. It was all very easy in a way.
In fact, Capcom didn’t come running to the table, that’s not true. Actually, it was a piece of news we saw on the internet that Capcom was looking to advance to the West and acquire studios and I thought, ‘if they want to acquire studios, why not acquire new IP?’
I sent an email to their business developer, who we had met before, and in a few months it was done. But we did already have offers on the table.
Has Capcom brought anything to Remember Me’s development?
Well, it was quite far along when they came on board but we had some great exchanges with them. It’s great to have them onboard, especially as we head towards critical milestones.
But the project itself, in terms of design, 90% had already been done before they signed. Which is a good thing for them because the risk was small.
Combat is focused on hand-to-hand fights and is a little like Batman: Arkham City.
You’re launching a game late into the console cycle, wouldn’t it make sense to move over to next gen development?
We don’t have development kits for next gen in the office and I think you need to be someone to get them. That’s one thing but really it’s not even the most important. We started working on this game in 2008, 2007 if you count the very first brainstorm that we had between Dontnod’s founders.
We’ve been in development for four years and you have to remember, back in 2008 there was only five of us in the company, using one room. That was Dontnod. We had to recruit 95 people and that takes a lot of time.
So we’ve only been in real production for two years and back in 2008 we were only two years after the launch of the current generation so we were tied into making a game for this gen.
And there have been ups and downs during development, I won’t deny it, but so far into development we didn’t want to add more uncertainty by looking at the new technology and what we could do with it or start thinking about the competition we would face.
No, we need to get this one out and then we can iterate on it. It’s a new IP, but we’ve done so much in creating the world and we have so much to tell. I could already go into a second, third, fourth and fifth [laughs]. We’ll see, I’m just joking, but there’s definitely room in the universe for more instalments.
There seems to be a mix of stealth and action in Remember Me, what kind of game is it?
Basically, we have no stealth elements. The one thing we’ve shown where Nilin sneaks past some guards, that’s the one thing in that video that won’t be in the final game.
As it says, it is a game in development and we had to cut some features at some point. And it was always to focus on the main DNA of the game, which is third-person action adventure. It’s 50% action, 50% adventure.
It’s a well-known recipe and we’ve added on a few very cool and crazy features, Memory Remix being one of them. But stealth was not critical.
Moris describes Remember Me as an action adventure game with no stealth at all.
If you want to do a great stealth game then it has to be a stealth game. Games are so complex to make that the real stealth games focus on only that, in my opinion. At our core we are a third-person action adventure, that’s what we are.
The storyline and level design in Remember Me are linear to retain as much control of the level and emotions that the player will go through.
Although, there is some exploration, of course, we have lots of combat, it’s hand-to-hand as you can see from our videos and collectables.
We have boss fights and lots of platforming and on the adventure side we have a deep universe, characters, some level of exploration and we have the Memory Remixer and it’s really that blend of action adventure, set in the future, which people are not used to and we even have a lead female character.
It’s a well-know recipe with a couple of crazy innovations, but its focus is action adventure.