The impact of technology and making Remember Me memorable; an interview with Creative Director Jean-Maxime Moris
We live in a constantly connected world where technology allows information to be readily available at any given moment, and our lives are broadcast 24/7 through social media. It’s a dangerous world that tiptoes a fine line between what is public and what is private. It’s this world that the developers at DONTNOD Entertainment hope to capture in their upcoming 3rd person action adventure game, Remember Me.
Set in a futuristic Neo-Paris towards the turn of the 21st century, technology has advanced to the point where memories can be digitized and then bought or sold. This new form of control gives immense power to a handful of people who use agents known as memory hunters to break into people’s minds and steal or alter their memories.
There are no secrets anymore.
“In Remember Me, the last barriers of intimacy have been brought down, and people are now uploading their raw memories directly onto the network,” Jean-Maxime Moris, Creative Director at DONTNOD Entertainment, told PS3 Attitude. While not directly based on George Orwell’s dystopian 1984, it’s the conceptual next step.
“1984 depicted a very vertical, authoritarian society, the kind of society that has now pretty much gone extinct in Western Europe and North America,” Moris said. “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.”
Identities can be become lost as people exchange memories and dilute their selves. That’s actually part of the reasoning behind the game’s title. “It is a friendly warning that we should all remember who we are before our memories are not ours anymore.” No one understands this better than Remember Me’s main protagonist, Nilin.
A former memory hunter, Nilin has had her memory wiped clean and been imprisoned by the authorities out of fear of what she is capable of. She manages to escape from prison and sets out to recover her past. Using her unique memory remix ability, Nilin can dive into a memory and change the details of it. By altering someone’s memory, she can ultimately alter their personality. The smallest changes in a memory could have massive impacts in the game world, allowing room for exploration.
“A memory remix is like a super dynamic puzzle where you take over the memory of someone in a very cinematic way,” Moris said. “You are the hand of god and get to explore the memory at will, rewinding and fast forwarding it as much as you want.”
As seen in the debut gameplay video, Nilin enter the brains of people and remix the memories of her target. Once inside someone’s memory, you watch a scenario play through and are given an objective. You can then influence specific objects that alter how the scenario plays out. “You first look for the memory glitches, i.e. all the elements that you can interact with. Then you get to try all the different combinations.”
With each alteration comes a slight change in the memory, ala the Butterfly Effect. “There is only one solution, but many of the combinations will tell you more about the storyline and reward you for exploration.”
Nilin’s memory remix ability is just one of her many character traits that makes her stand out. “We have looked carefully at what made other action-adventure characters successful, and the recipe is a combination of good looks and resonating character traits,” Moris said. While he’s not divulging details on what exactly those other traits are yet, the team is working hard to make sure they resonate through every animation, dialog, and gameplay feature in the game. They look past the fact that Nilin is a woman, stating “There is no such thing as a bad female character. There are only bad characters.” Whether she has what it takes to join the ranks of Lara Croft, Nathan Drake, and other action adventure icons has yet to be determined but so far she’s well on her way to being memorable.
Remember Me is looking to bring these themes of identity and memories to light, with social networks playing a huge role in shaping them. “I think social networks are the second biggest revolution in recent history after the very apparition of the internet, and I think that raises interesting, if not serious questions,” Moris said. “But I’m not here to tell players what to think of that. If just one of them stops to think about those themes, in between two fight sequences or cutscenes, then I’ll be happy, whatever answers he/she comes up with.”