Dontnod Entertainment has said that casting Remember Me's Nilin as the lead in its upcoming action-adventure "just felt right," but the creative director Jean-Maxime Moris told Shacknews that the game is more about putting men and women on the same social and professional footing than the developer first envisioned.
"We didn't think of gender equality being a major theme in the game, but thinking back on the world we designed, it is true that women have key positions in its governance," Moris said. "In 2013, we have a long way to go in terms of gender equality, so take this as a subconscious militant act."
Moris said the team had to be careful with Nilin at the same time, given that their core audience tends to be males in the 15-to-25 age range. "You have to avoid the pitfalls of making her just a damsel in distress or a sex bomb, because this is what you think would appeal most to the hordes of men that constitute your fan base," he said. "But if you respect your public, then you refuse to dumb your work down, and eventually it pays back because what you do is different. But I'm not saying we're the only ones. I'm quite happy to see that more and more games feature female protagonists."
Having a female lead was necessary to further push the story of intimacy and personal memories in Remember Me's cyberpunk world of Neo-Paris, Moris said. "This is very different from usual cyberpunk themes that focus more on physical augmentation. An immense amount of work went into making sure that Nilin was a balanced mix of attractive looks and resonating character traits. Character design, dialogue, animation, game rules ... everything plays a part in making sure that she comes across as a powerful character."
Moris said a lot of thought went into Dontnod's vision of what Paris would be in 2084. "Our narrative director (Alain Damasio) and lead writer (Stéphane Beauverger) are award winning sci-fi authors, and our art director (Aleksi Briclot) is a world renowned concept artist. They recruited a team of experts in their fields and did an amazing amount of research on every single detail of the Neo-Paris landscape, from architecture to what people eat for breakfast and everything in between."
Granted, sci-fi ideas come from what the developers read, watch or play, and Moris said that Memento, Blade Runner and even the works of Phillip K. Dick have had some influence on the game. But he said the movie Inception, which came out two years into the game's development cycle, made him feel like they were on the right track.
"Watching it, I felt like my design documents were flashing before my eyes," he said. "It made me feel a bit bad because what I was putting my whole heart into felt a bit less fresh for the first time. But ultimately the movie was a good thing as it made pitching the game to publishers much easier."