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Jean-Max Moris: «In Remember Me we invite the player to join Nilin on her voyage of self-discovery»

05 Марта 2013

Remember Me is promising action\adventure from French studio DONTNOD Entertainment. It is one of the most interesting releases of the summer and, possibly, even of the year. Neo-Paris of near future, where every citizen has a chip, that keeps his memories. The main character — Nilin — is former memory-hunter, but now she can’t even remember who she is and how she became involved in all this mess. Entertaining fights with the ability to make your own combos. Well, Remember Me is very intriguing title. At the beginning of the winter we’ve sent a list of questions to developers, and recently we’ve finally got answers. So now you’ll know all about … Hey! Who stole my memory?

Hello! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Hi, I’m Jean-Max Moris, Creative Director at DONTNOD Entertainment

Jean-Max Moris

Tell us about your studio. How many people are working in Dontnod Entertainment, what were you doing before, where you located? Is Remember Me your first project? Why did you decide to release a new IP at dusk of the current generation consoles? Don’t you wanted to wait for the arrival of nextgen?

When the development of the game started? How did you come to the concept of this project? Why you decided to change the name of the game from Adrift to Remember Me? What meant the first name, what are trying to say now?

Wow, there’s a lot of questions here?, so let me try and cover them all off .
DONTNOD Entertainment was formed in June 2008 initially with five like-minded individuals — Herve Bonin, Aleksi Briclot, Alain Damasio, Oskar Guilbert and myself — brought together with a desire and passion to create innovative and compelling AAA games. Since then the studio has grown to a point where we have had around 100 people working on Remember Me. Today we are more around 75.

While Remember Me is DONTNOD Entertainment’s first title as a studio it is being created by a team with a wealth of experience working on such titles as ‘Alone in the Dark’; ‘Heavy Rain’; ‘Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2’ and ‘GTA3’. For me personally I previously worked at UbiSoft.

The early stages of development began in 2008 when the studio was formed, but we ramped up production in 2010. Initially the concept for the game was quite different and explored the theme of global warming and at this time the project was known as Adrift. But then we began to think about the recent explosion in the use of social networks and began to wonder what could happen if this ability to share experiences became even more prevalent and reached a point where you could digitize these memories and no longer simply share but actually trade and purchase them. This was when Remember Me became the game it is today. Very different from Adrift.

Why are we not developing the game for next generation hardware? Well, that’s simple, when we started and even as we moved into full production we didn’t have any visibility on future hardware, including WiiU so the only real options were PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Is there a risk releasing a new IP at the end of a hardware cycle? There’s a risk attached to launching a new IP at any time, but the bottom line is if you have a unique and compelling title that is going to excite gamers, as I believe we do with Remember Me, then you have a good chance of success. Plus, the console installed base has never been so big, so there have never been as many potential buyers for our game as there are today!

Remember Me

Please tell us more detail about the setting. Why Paris, why 2084? How mankind came to such a life? Why all the people in future have memory chips?

There’s no denying that we settled on 2084 as it is the next logical step after George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’. The book depicts a very vertical authoritarian society, the kind of society which is now pretty much non-existent in Western Europe and North America. But we believe a new insidious, horizontal form of control has emerged. Since the revolution of instant content sharing, people have been uploading more and more of their personal data onto social networks. What is being done with all that data, most people don’t care to know, because the «cool” benefits outweigh the perceived threat to individual freedom.

In Remember Me, the last barriers of intimacy have been brought down, and people are now uploading their raw memories directly onto the network. As people exchange memories and dilute their very selves, we ask fundamental questions about identity and in that way, we are also exploring the favorite themes of another great writer: Philip K. Dick.

Initially we began thinking about setting the game in North America or Asia, but then settled on Paris as it would not only provide us with a unique setting — there aren’t many games that have used our city as a backdrop — but also mix Paris‘ distinctive architecture and well known landmarks with our sci-fi vision. As to the reason why the Paris of 2013 became the Neo-Paris of 2084, I’m afraid you will have to play the game to discover this.

Remember Me

The main heroine of the game, Nilin — what kind of person is she? It’s clear, that you cannot talk about her past, because it's the main intrigue of the game, but still: how was image of this girl created? And what means her strange name?

Nilin is a really interesting character — she is physically strong, agile and in possession of a unique ability allowing her not just to steal memories, but remix them and change the course of events. Yet she is also emotionally very vulnerable when we first meet her as she is unsure of who she is, who she was and who she can trust. In Remember Me we invite the player to join Nilin on her voyage of self-discovery.
Building a relatable action-adventure character is quite a challenge. We have worked hard at finding the right balance between attractive looks and resonating character traits. We didn’t want to depict a hypersexualized female character, as is often the case in video games. Sure, she is not ugly, but she is more of the girl next door type. Sure the kind of girl it would take some guts to talk to?
She is a positive character who inspires the people around her, who champions her ideas and uses her powers to achieve good things in a world gone adrift.
As for her name, I guess we just had too much to drink and thought of too many palindromes. One for the name of our studio, and one for our main character!

What is the role of Yoshinori Ono, producer of Street Fighter, in Remember Me development? He helps you with fighting-component or his influence is more significant?

Ono-san has a supervisory role on the Remember Me project providing insight into the game creation process based on his 20 years of experience working for Capcom.
The combat system was entirely designed by DONTNOD, but exchanging with Ono-San is always beneficial, as he knows a lot about fighting, obviously!

Remember Me

Remember Me reminds such series as Uncharted, Batman: Arkham dilogy, Assassins Creed. What your game and those series have in common, and what is in Remember Me unique?

It is always nice to be viewed in such illustrious company as the games you reference and as they are all action adventure titles it is obvious that Remember Me will share some common traits with them, but I prefer to not talk about references or potential comparisons, as it is a dangerous game to play for a game developer :)
What makes Remember Me unique? Nilin, the setting, the themes we explore and the memory gameplay are all things we believe will make the game stand out.

In game trailers opponents don’t have any firearms: rifles, shotguns, etc. (yes, there is one helicopter with machine guns, but we talk about people, not vehicles). Why? Was this decision dictated by gameplay or story? Is future society more humane?

In Neo-Paris, weapons are forbidden. People don’t need guns when they are all happy thanks to the Sensen, and so it is easy to ban them. Control over people is exerted through the power that Memorize has over the memories that are exchanged over the network. They know who you are and who you like to hang out with. No need for prisons and no need to point guns at you to scare you anymore.
Maybe this is what Facebook has in store for us ?

Remember Me

Let's talk a bit about the Combo Lab system. It seems very original, don’t you afraid that players will not love it? After all, with the «modular» combo animation becomes ragged and less spectacular. And the most cunning players will surely find an opportunity to create ultimate «press X to win» combos…
During the game will Nilin acquire new skills and abilities, or will all of the basic skills be available from the beginning? Will we get upgrades on the key points of the plot, or will it be experience-based RPG system?

The Combo Lab is something we feel will appeal to both those who enjoy the intricacies of a deep combat system and the more traditional action adventure gamers. For the former they can dig into a system that allows for 1000s of different combo possibilities and fine tune the combat their way, but for the latter we have an intuitive interface that will allow them to adapt their combos at any time during the game to best tackle any given situation.

The basic premise to unlocking more Pressens, the building blocks used to create combo chains, is that the more Nilin fights the more she remembers. Success in combat will be rewarded with Procedural Mastering Power (PMP) which can then be used to unlock Pressens & later S-Pressens.
These S-Pressens are really the coolest moves and you will feel really powerful using them.

Is Remember Me completely linear game? Or is there some sandbox-element: additional tasks, big locations and some freedom of choice? Or do you want the player to closely follow the storyline without derogation to the side?

While we do encourage the player to deviate from the path to a certain extent to uncover pick-ups, it is true to say that Remember Me is a linear experience. This was a choice we made at the beginning of the project so we could tell the story of Nilin and ensure the player is immersed in the narrative, which does mean controlling the action, and therefore the emotion.

Remember Me

Theme of memory and memories is quite popular in the arts. What kind of media inspired the team during the development process?

No media inspired Remember Me directly, but Remember Me is made by a team of individuals who all have their personal influences.
When it comes to relating those to the game, they include: Ghost in the shell, Blade Runner, Memento, Philip K. Dick’s works in general, Strange Days, etc.

What is the planned duration of the single player campaign? Can we wait additional game modes: challenges, co-op or other kind of multiplayer?

Remember Me is in line with the length of single player campaign modes from other titles in the action/adventure genre. Co-op or multiplayer modes were never part of our thinking for Remember Me as they would detract from the story we are telling.

It is very popular now to male some DLC. Do you have plans for additional after release content? Or probably you already have plans for a sequel?

For us the focus is still making sure we have the best possible single player experience. We’ll turn our mind to these other things once the game is done.

There is half a year before the game release. By what percentage is it ready? What is done and what remains to be done?

We are at Beta stage and  are therefore pretty much content complete so from now until submission it is time to iron out any bugs and make the game as polished as it can be.

What do you personally think is the key feature of Remember Me? What is capable to attract the attention of the players and make it one of the best games in 2013?

It is really hard to pick just one, so I am going to have to pick a few things that make Remember Me unique, namely: our main character Nilin, the setting of Neo-Paris; the memory gameplay mechanic, including memory remixes and the Combo Lab.

Thanks for your answers! We are looking forward to the release.

Thank you for taking the time to send your (thorough) questions. I look forward to reading you.

Kirill Ulezko

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