The Average Gamer

Remedy’s Häkkinen on Alan Wake, Piracy and American Nightmare

Alan Wake was released on Steam for the PC earlier this week. You can buy 2 versions: the standard, which includes the game and all the DLC that’s been released for the Xbox 360 so far; and the Collector’s Edition which includes digital versions of the developer diaries, the developer commentary, a pdf e-book of The Alan Wake Files and the cinematic score. Get in before the 23rd Feb and you’ll get the Collector’s Edition of Alan Wake for the Standard Edition price of £22.99.

Both version are also coming to retail as boxed products that include the above, as well as Alan Wake stickers, a double-sided poster, a Bright Falls postcard and more. These will be on sale from 2nd March.

I talked to Head of Franchise Development Oskari Häkkinen about publishing for the PC, piracy, franchise management and got some details on the enemies in forthcoming downloadable sequel, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.

Oskari Häkkinen: It’s really about doing justice to a PC version. It’s part of our heritage from Death Rally, Max Payne1, Max Payne 2, we’ve always wanted to do a PC version for Alan Wake so we want to do it justice. we’re working with Nordic games and with them it’s just saying that the versions we put out for retail, they have to feel really valuable. We have to put in content there that people feel we’ve put a lot of effort into.

Tell me about the challenges of building a franchise around Alan Wake. You have your protagonist Alan Wake and then you’ve got “dark”.

OH: There’s a lot of elements that are the key to Alan Wake as a franchise. First of all we hope we’ve established a new genre of video games. Horror had been done before and Alan Wake’s not a horror game. Alan Wake’s a thriller and we wanted to create the first thriller in video games. We call it a psychological action thriller.

I think we achieved that – horror is about buckets and buckets of blood and gore, and thriller is a lot to do with your subjective and your objective thoughts on what’s happening around you. It’s a good starting point to do something unique and Remedy Games is about pushing the envelope.

It’s about storytelling in videogames and we want to always do something new and more so you’ve got everything that’s in that story from the NPCs the other characters like Barry Wheeler, you’ve got setting – Bright Falls is set in the pacific North West. These are very unique elements that you want to bring to the forefront and telling people about.

And then there’s the unique action – light AND darkness. And that’s written in the story and also in Wake’s history and his wife, Alice’s history as well. She’s afraid of the dark. Yeah, there’s lots of very very cool elements that make it easy for someone like myself in charge of the franchise and how we take those forwards. Just as with Max Payne.

For the PC, have you made a lot of changes to the controls?

OH: We have spent a lot of time getting the controls right. We do feel that interactive entertainment should feel and play just as well as it looks so we’ve done a lot of work on getting the mouse and keyboard configurations to work very very well with the third person camera. In addition to that we’ve done a lot of work on getting the PC to work right. There’s a lot of graphical configurations there – it looks absolutely beautiful on the PC.

We’ve also increased the resolutions and added hi-fidelity all over. We’ve increased the textures so yes, there’s hi-res textures in there as well. We’ve put in features like stereoscopic 3D and multi-screen support. It works relly well. With multi-screen you want to make sure nothing’s being stretched and that you’re getting a bigger field of view

We want to see more

OH: Yeah. So we’ve got functions in the game that gamers can adjust, like field of view, remove hud – this was a feature that a lot of the Xbox players said they wanted. Alan Wake is quite an immersive game so we’ve put that in for the PC version. We wanted to do justice to the PC version and we worked reslly hard on it.

So you’re not worrying much about DRM and piracy?

Not really. At the end of the day, people who are going to get it from Steam and buy the retail copy are, and those that aren’t… aren’t. Hopefully the people that don’t go and buy it will at least find Alan Wake and enjoy it and maybe grab some other Alan Wake somewhere else. At the end of the day for us as creatives, as video game developers, it’s about entertaining the biggest audience possible. If they like it and enjoy it… like it and enjoy it.

I think because there are some really good channels out there that are giving very good service to PC gamers – Steam and Origin and so forth – I think there are a lot of people out there that don’t want to risk torrents. It might contain malware or just doesn’t work. It’s all kinds of fuss and they just can’t be bothered to download three hundred and twenty-five versions of crap before they get the right one. Those people will go to Steam or Origin and put their hard-earned money down because they can’t be bothered with the frustration and risk of grabbing torrents.

Pirates will pirate. Let it be. Enjoy our game. [smiles]

Pages: 1 2