Remedy’s next Alan Wake game may be a title that “takes our artificial intelligence, character & enemy behaviour to the next level”, but it probably won’t deliver the open world experience fans of certain early tech demos are hoping for.
“One of the things that we’ve found while working on Alan Wake is that every one of our games takes our skills forward – from Max 1 to Max 2 then Alan Wake and what we’re doing now, every game has taken us forward,” head of franchise development Oskari Häkkinen told OXM in an interview, discussing the just-released Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.
Alan Wake’s lost a bit of weight since last we met him. Nice shirt, too. “And we’ve learned different things, and our blocks as a storytelling studio have started to click into place, and we’ve realised that this is definitely going in the right direction.”
Like the original Alan Wake, American Nightmare is partly a parody of B-list television shows like Twin Peaks. Häkkinen feels the episodic format allows videogames to maintain player interest despite lengthy run-times.
“We want to say it’s ‘the next level’ every time, do stuff a little bit different from what’s out there already. But to answer your question, I think that this episodic structure that we’ve landed on is something that’s a very strong thing for very tight storytelling in videogames – or wherever and whenever the story lasts between 10 and 20 hours, where the movie-like structure doesn’t really work that much.
“[Writer] Sam Lake was looking for a better way to tell stories in video games, and one thing that he noticed after Max Payne was that the three-act movie structure got really stretched out and diluted over the course of a videogame,” he explained.
“It works great on a movie of maybe two hours, but for something that lasts 10 to 14 hours it just gets too stretched out. So landing on episodic, where each episode can have its own three acts but you have this over-arcing story through the whole season, was a perfect fit for video games.”
Like many developers, Häkkinen feels an open world would pose too many variables for a story-centric game. “How that would be possible in an open world, I’m not so certain about.” He conceded, however, that American Nightmare has “a more open world-ish atmosphere where you can discover these radio shows and TV shows around the world.”
What do you want from Alan Wake 2, assuming it ever sees release? We’ve posted the original E3 2005 teaser below to help you ponder. Don’t forget to read the interview in full.