Crispy Gamer

Uncovering Alan Wake: Four Questions For Remedy

Alan Wake has been a mystery since it was first revealed back in 2006. Since announcing the game for the Xbox 360 and PC, Remedy Entertainment has gone completely underground, and Alan Wake has more or less fallen off the map. Many thought the game had become vaporware -- until recently, when the company announced that it would debut the first new trailer for Alan Wake during the theatrical release of "Max Payne" in Finland.

Sami Jarvi

What took so long? Has the game changed at all? Crispy Gamer has an exclusive interview with Sam Lake, Lead Writer at Remedy. Lake, who wrote the story and screenplay for both Max Payne titles, is one of the main figures behind this eerie title.

Crispy Gamer: What took so long to come out with new information about the game? Was this a Microsoft decision, or was the game just not ready to show? Was it a technology situation with the Xbox 360 hardware? Alan Wake has fallen off the map for two years, and many people believe the game won't even come to the Xbox 360, but rather the next Xbox. Why debut a new trailer in Finland instead of making a huge splash at something like E3 or Leipzig?

Sam Lake: Remedy is a relatively small company compared to many other developers working on projects of Alan Wake's magnitude. Our quality bar is high. The Xbox 360 is working just fine for us. We have been silent because we have been concentrating on making the best possible game -- PR work takes a lot of time, and all that is time not spent on the game. That said, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." We make cinematic games, and with the Max Payne movie we were presented with an opportunity to see the Alan Wake trailer on the big screen.

Alan Wake trailer pic

Crispy Gamer: Has the original premise of the game changed since you debuted it back in 2006? When originally shown, it was mentioned that Alan Wake would be played out in episodes, much like a television show. This psychological thriller would take place in the Pacific Northwest, in a small town called Bright Falls, Washington -- it instantly made us think of "Twin Peaks." How did that show influence Alan Wake, and did you have any other major influences?

Lake: The premise of Alan Wake remains true to the original vision of the game. If anything, along the way we have been looking hard for ways to make the game more Alan Wake, if that makes any sense. "Twin Peaks" is certainly one major source of inspiration for us. An idyllic, quirky small town with something terrible lurking under the surface is the core of our setting. Another major theme in our psychological thriller is the mind of an artist, and the way his fears are transferred to the world around him through his art -- a theme that writers like Stephen King, Paul Auster and Bret Easton Ellis have explored, to name just a few.

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Crispy Gamer: Light seems to be a recurring theme throughout Alan Wake, and in the original trailer, Alan Wake is rushing towards a lighthouse before night falls -- as if his life is dependent upon it. How is light used, gameplay-wise and thematically, throughout Alan Wake?

Lake: Light and dark play an important role in the game. Light is important for the player and for Wake. You cannot survive without light. Thematically, it's all about primordial fears; darkness is a threat, or at least hides a threat (as in: "It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue."), and light reveals the truth.

Crispy Gamer: While Max Payne and Alan Wake lead different lives -- one's an ex-DEA cop, and the other is a writer -- they have a lot in common: The loves of their lives are gone, and they're both wrapped up in a dark and gritty world. What characteristics do you think Max and Alan share, as well as differ in -- not just as characters, but also in their respective games?

Lake: It's true that there are similarities in the situations they find themselves in. But how they deal with it, or what it means to them, is very different. Action is ? second nature to Max; it's part of his profession. For Wake, it's nothing like that. Of course, being a psychological thriller, [in Alan Wake] we are left to wonder if this in fact is really happening to Wake at all. Is he the writer, or a character in a story the writer has written? One thing is certain: Earlier on in his career, Wake wrote a couple of best-selling crime thrillers set in New York City where the main character was a hardboiled fugitive cop.