It turns out we took the bait.
“[Detroit: Being Humanâ€™s] script is about 2,000 pages,” David Cage said in an interview with Geoff Keighley at E3 2017, which we reported on. “It’s big. Its a big process. Everything is locked down, and once it’s locked down, there’s little room for change.”
Thatâ€™s an awful lot of pages, right? 2,000 pages has to be a pretty big script for a game, and itâ€™s the sort of big, round number that looks and sounds good in a headline.
Who can sit down and write 2,000 pages worth of script for a game? David Cage can, and heâ€™s obviously very proud of that fact. Proud enough that it comes up in interviews about the game.
But thereâ€™s a slight detail we missed.
Polygon: “David Cage is trying to outdo past narrative efforts…’the script is about 2000 pages”
Where have we heard this before? pic.twitter.com/XsE7emSRgu
David Cage writes a lot of games that feature long scripts, it turns out.
â€œ[Cage] wrote the 2,000-page, non-linear script that prescribes not only the game’s characters, locations and scenarios, but also its gameplay mechanics, over a period of 15 months, preferring the help of Hollywood script-doctors to established game developers,â€ Eurogamer reported about Heavy Rain.
The script for Beyond: Two Souls was also reportedly over 2,000 pages, a detail that was widely publicized. Sony even sent out mock scripts to show just how big a document that would be if printed out.
For reference, Hollywood scripts break down to â€” and this is a very rough estimate â€” about a minute of screen time per page. This is a possibly questionable list of the longest game scripts broken down by number of lines and the English word count, and Heavy Rain is right in the middle. Itâ€™s not short, but itâ€™s not so long as to be that impressive.
Page number itself is a pretty meaningless way to measure the size of a game anyway, even past the obvious questions about font size and formatting. A longer adventure game isnâ€™t necessarily better, nor does it indicate a higher number of choices on its own. Verbosity by itself isnâ€™t an indicator of anything other than whether the writer enjoys listening to themselves speak.
The only value that number has is that itâ€™s nice and round and sounds impressive with context removed. Weâ€™re not the only outlet to have turned that number into a headline, which is likely why David Cage continues to use it. Itâ€™s awfully convenient that every game script he writes ends up over 2,000 pages, isnâ€™t it?
Youâ€™d think those Beyond scripts sent out by Sony to promote the length of the game would at least give us insight into what they mean by â€œpage,â€ but alas itâ€™s just a stack of paper. The pages themselves are blank.