With 'The Quiet Man,' Square Enix Updates Live-action Games for 2018

The Quiet Man is a new story-driven experience from Square Enix that aims to subvert the norms that have become ubiquitous in the gaming world. Players step into the shoes of Dane, who doesn't have access to the world of sound.

Newsweek spoke with Producer Kensei Fujinaga, Live Action Director Shuichiro Hamada and Man of Action Entertainment comic book, television and video game writer Joe Kelly about the project and what it's like to create such a unique experience.

Where did the Quiet Man concept first start?

Kensei Fujinaga ( KF): "The very concept or idea is from 10 years ago, we finally decided to write this game two and a half years ago."

Joe Kelly (JK): (Fujinaga) came to us with an idea, a theme of communication without words through a character that is deaf. He knew us through our comic book work. We do plenty of stuff for kids, but also plenty of mature work as well. We thought it was a great opportunity to work with someone with such a strong vision and passion for a project. Working with Square Enix was also awesome, we are gamers of varying degrees in our group. Then, to do a noir story with such an interesting protagonist, it became a no-brainer for us.

Live-action games have a bit of a rocky history. Why did you decide to go with such a unique format?

KF: In those older games, they didn't have the technology like facial and 3D scanning. With the nature of the game, we thought the drama required the real action of human beings to play those roles.

When writing the game, did using real actors create any limitations for you?

JK: We approached it like we would for any TV or film project. With every project we shoot for the moon and then are told 'we can't do this' or 'we don't have this, why don't we try that.' On the Man of Action side, none of the limitations were hobbling for us. We thought this was a cool framework we could build something with. Having played those live-action games, like Night Trap , when we started seeing the beautiful footage, we had complete faith."

Single-player games have had a great year, but multiplayer experiences are still the norm. What made you guys want to create a story-driven experience?

KF: Our game is supposed to be completed within three hours. Once you grow up and get a job, it's not a big deal to spend 50 bucks. But do you really have 50 hours? It's frustrating. So I wanted to create a game that people could complete in one sitting. It's linear but narrative-heavy, only $14.99. It's designed for grown-ups to pick up who have tons of things to do.

The Quiet Man preorders
The Quiet Man is coming... Square Enix

What's unique about writing a video game compared to other forms of popular media?

JK: It really depends on the game. We've worked on giant branching games that have 800-page scripts. The process, at its heart, is the collaboration and sense of vision. We clicked into the origins of the concept immediately. This idea of, 'what does lack of sound do to you in an interactive experience, where you don't get all the information you are used to getting?' Being conscious of the mechanics while writing the story, that's the biggest change. Dane has limited information since he's deaf, so our players are going to have limited information by the virtue of what they are given. It's also a noir crime story, which is perfect. How do we take those limitations and create the coolest game based on it? Most of the time, we get the budget and the demographic and then are told to create something. With this, we were given the idea and the mechanics that they are using. That's a really fun exercise."

The game itself is unique, what are you doing for first-time players so that they aren't pushed away by the concept?

KF: The first person I ever talked to when I decided to make this game was a sound director. Sound design is essential for games to work, so we decided to have him do the sound design of the silent world. We tried to translate that unusual world design into the game, that way we could make sure that this was working as a game.

What were some of your influences when creating The Quiet Man ?

JK: Drive has come up, both stylistically and [in terms of] how little Ryan Gosling's character speaks. On our side, crime dramas, whether they were books or films that fit the story. We have a dark side to our work, which we can't show in the cartoons, so we have to expunge those demons here.

Shuichiro Hamada ( SH): Tone-wise, Netflix's Marvel series like Luke Cage and Daredevil were a big influence for us.

In the gameplay trailer, you can see the combat has a flow and a sense of rhythm to it. How did you build that combat system to keep people enthralled?

KF: Our game is only three hours, and the combat is 45 minutes. Because of the nature of the game, we decided that the playable part needed to be there, but also be very small and easy to pick up. First-time gamers need to be able to understand. The combat was a place where we could let players feel strong, like Dane. We wanted our action parts to also be challenging, giving players who want risk a reason to play.

How do you expect players to experience the game?

JK: It's not a silent art film, it's a game. From day one, that's how we talked about it. Sitting there and experiencing this game through this narrative, it is really personal. As a player, you have a forced sense of awareness because you've lost out on certain things. Dane is hyper-focused; it's his great strength and flaw. You have no choice when playing but to lean forward and figure out the best way to handle this situation. The act of getting into that character is exciting for me. It's like if you're playing Spider-Man... if the swinging doesn't feel right, it's a sucky Spidey game. It's immersive on a gut level, which was a challenge and an exciting part of making the game. You're really thrown into a world where you, as a player, are likely to be uncomfortable.

Judging from the trailers, it seems as though Dane may have mental health issues. Did you talk to any psychologists or therapists when creating the character?

JK: We do a lot of research for any project. Having a deaf character, who's grown up with trauma, there's a lot of elements we've looked into. He lives in the criminal underworld and I wish I could say I took three months to learn that world. We are always pulling from distant sources. My wife is a counsellor. We have a lot of different resources we can pull from.

How did you make Dane someone characters could relate to, rather than a caricature, like a deaf Duke Nukem?

JK: From the beginning, we talked about what that really means for the character. In a noir, you're dealing with certain archetypes and story conceits that are already heightened. It's that mash-up of wanting to be respectful, making Dane unique, adding unique elements to give the story depth. Those things collide in—hopefully—the best service to the story."

KF: "It's been a few years, so I've had time to do my own research on deaf culture and history. For this specific project, we brought on this deaf language consultant called Danny Gong. His parents were deaf and he guided us, helping us understand deaf culture. He was the sign language consultant for the actors and has been a good friend of the project. He was there to make sure we were doing the right things. We didn't want the deaf culture to resent us, we didn't want him to have a stereotypical deaf accent. We tried to focus on who Dane is.

How did you feel about the internet's reaction to the E3 2018 trailer?

KF: The reaction we hoped to create was, 'what's this?' We don't really get that reaction anymore, because you already know what the new trailers and gameplay are for a game. You feel like you've already played the game, even though it's just a trailer. We wanted to create something that we have no idea what it is. We have shown off so little.

The Quiet Man will be out on the PlayStation 4 on Nov. 1.