When I first saw Remember Me's "memory remix" sequence play out during Capcom's press conference at Gamescom, my first thought was another Capcom game: Ghost Trick. Creative lead Jean-Maxime Moris agreed that Ghost Trick is a fair comparison, but he denied that that was where Dontnod drew inspiration from when crafting its memory remixing. In fact, Remember Me's memory remixing was "already in place" when Ghost Trick launched in early 2011.
"We tried it, and we played it, and I liked it very much," Moris says. "The main difference is that we are carrying realistic narrative states in the memory remix, and there will be key revelations about the storyline within the memory remix, or in the way things are gonna pan out before and after the remix ... that's very different, 'cause Ghost Trick was very gamey. And I don't mean that in a negative way at all, but it didn't try to achieve what we're trying to achieve in terms of scenario."
Rather than Ghost Trick, Dontnod took inspiration from another source entirely: 2007's YouTube short by Double Edge Films, "Spun (God is a DJ)."
"Have you seen the short movie on YouTube, 'Spun (God is a DJ)'?" Moris asked me. I hadn't, but, watching it this morning, it was easy to see the inspiration shine through. "In the beginning, it was a massive inspiration for us, and one of the first things I did when I started to design the game was to go back to that and say, 'Well, this is the feeling we want to achieve. And how do we do that in the game?'" Moris admitted that Dontnod failed "two or three times" before the studio figured out the current version. "I'm confident we found the right way," he added.
In case you haven't seen the short, it's a clever riff on a DJified deity remixing the world around him, slightly altering events to create alternative outcomes (take a look above). In Remember Me, the game's protagonist Nilin commands that same deity-like power over others, remixing memories to elicit outcomes of her choosing (seen in a video after the break).
Like in "Spun," Nilin must first identify the "glitches" in her target's memory that allow for tweaking before she can begin altering the future. "One thing you didn't see in the video yesterday is that she first needs to identify where she's gonna be able to interact. And then, she can try out various combinations of objects," Moris said.
"Spun" mirrors this concept, where the all powerful DJ must first see what his remixing effects have on the world before he can correctly re-engineer the scenario. The only difference in the case of "Spun" is that the DJ, unlike Nilin, isn't trying to get someone to kill themselves.
"She's really like the hand of God," Moris added. "You're always able to rewind ... and I really like that feeling of being the puppeteer in the remix." Also like "Spun," Nilin must identify a way "out" of the memory – a single, correct solution to the scenario. "You have to find one solution that gets you 'out' of the remix, but there's lots of exploration to do in the remix," he said.
We'll get a chance to explore the memories of others – and occasionally remix them – in May 2013 when Remember Me is scheduled to launch on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.