Now that Alan Wake is officially out of hiding, we decided it was time to hit up Remedy for some info. Thankfully, Remedy only slammed the door on us a few times before finally acquiescing to our request for an interview. Foot planted firmly in the doorway, we had a chance to ask Oskari Häkkinen, Head of Franchise Development, a few questions. Read on to learn about the game's shift from open-world to a more linear adventure, choosing a writer as the protagonist and just what you'll be doing when you aren't killing monsters with a flashlight. Also, because we just had to know, find out what Remedy thinks of the new Max Payne.
How unusual it is to have the protagonist be a writer and not, say, a space marine (or a cop seeking vengeance)?. Is he an everyman? Does he know how to shoot a gun?
We always set out to make an action game and we had a good picture of what kind of main character we wanted – not an action hero or a commando but rather someone smart and likable, an everyman in a bad situation. We set out to make a story-driven game, and we knew that narration as a story-telling feature was something we wanted to implement. A writer, a professional storyteller, all of a sudden just seemed like a logical choice. Alan Wake has been to the shooting range as part of research for his previous publications, so yes, he knows how to use a gun.
Alan Wake started as an open-world game, but is now more linear for the sake of story progression. Yet, you've said that you want players to feel like they are making their own choices. How will you accomplish this?
Alan Wake is built from the ground up on open world technology, however this is not a sandbox game. In order to deliver a strong story driven experience we opted quite early on in the design process for a more linear structure which supports the story driven experience. We've always wanted to give the player the best possible roller coaster ride through the game and the thriller story is our way of doing it. Having said that, the world is huge and episodes are played out in large areas of the world. The player should not feel like he's being pulled by a string. Players make decisions and have plenty of exploration opportunities should they wish to look and dig further into the game, meet the locals and find hidden extra to uncover more of the mystery.
Since daylight drives away the horrors of Bright Falls, what will players be doing in the daytime? Also, how are weather effects being integrated into gameplay?
During the day there is a possibility for further NPC interaction, uncovering the mystery and the town of Brightfalls, however, even in daylight there are places that are dark therefore the player should always be on his toes. We control the day and night cycle and the weather to create drama and suspense, these factors will dramatically affect gameplay.
Any notable voice actors in Alan Wake? Is Nolan North in it?
We are unfortunately not disclosing this information just yet.
How will you encourage players to collect manuscript pages without it becoming tedious?
Some pages are essential to uncover the basic plot and story, so the player understands for what and why he is progressing, other manuscripts are for those players that want to uncover the full story. The player can determine himself how much of the mystery he chooses to uncover and how deep into story he want to unveil.
How finalized are the character models? While the environments shown at E3 were impressive, the characters didn't seem as polished -- will this be addressed?
The E3 demo was built specifically for that purpose, it is not a playable production level and should not be looked at as final. However, it was a very condensed action packed showcase of the experience.
Switching gears, what do you think of the new Max Payne? Is Sam Lake [writer and face of Max Payne] worried that he'll look like the 'new' Max Payne when he gets older?
Ha ha, great question. Sam's looking just great and is by no means on his way to looking like the new Max. We are really happy to see it's coming out and we're very anxious to see the Rockstar interpretation. We always knew it would be done, now we are excited to see it.