Remedy talks about the upcoming add-ons and the possibilities of a sequel.
June 22, 2010
Alan Wake has not finished writing his story. Though you may have completed the long-awaited game, several downloadable add-ons are on the way and the odds of a sequel materializing are looking quite good. I recently sat down with Head of Franchise Development at Remedy, Oskari Hakkinen, to pick his brain about what we should expect.
First up is the upcoming free downloadable add-on, The Signal. Anybody who purchased the game new has a code to get this one or two hour episode at no cost. It picks up directly from the end of Alan Wake's main story. "We continue from there," said Hakkinen. "That's where we lead of…he's alone, he's lost and he's going a little bit crazy. We're kind of messing with his dark and twisted subconscious mind."
The Signal, and its follow-up episode called The Writer, will play a bit differently from the game proper. The standards laid out in Alan Wake – things like manuscript pages and light-based attacks -- will of course return, but Hakkinen told me to expect the unexpected. "The game is kind of season one, it's the complete story but it continues into two DLCs that will bridge to the potential season two. These allow us to go a little bit crazy with the game mechanics and with the fiction as well."
"As you probably remember from the Max Payne games as well, we did these dream-like sequences -- these kind of nightmarish things. We're playing a lot with that even more."
Questions of Wake's sanity are brought up once more, and his good friend and agent Barry will personify that. "Barry is there, you've got to have a bit of Barry, right? But he's not really there. He's Wake's imaginary friend…and Barry's even more sarcastic and more comical than before because it's coming through Wake's subconscious mind. So it gets even funnier. I think these two pieces, it's the funniest stuff Barry has done…it's just hilarious."
Will there be more downloadable content beyond The Signal and The Writer? "There's been some discussions on it," says Hakkinen. "Nothing's been confirmed. More discussions on the Microsoft side -- they've been interested in more downloadable content and doing further episodes. Originally we agreed that we'd only do two, which is The Signal and The Writer and it's been confirmed…the second one is marked on Xbox Live as 800 points, but it's 560."
He continued, "Microsoft are interested are throwing the idea around of more episodes, but you know the size of our studio. We're a small team. We wouldn't really be able -- if we were to confirm a sequel at some point, which we'd like to do relatively soon."
"But yeah, Microsoft are interested in more episodes. Where we're sitting right now is we'll see how these go. We'll see how the attach rate is to the episodes. The first one is free so hopefully that will have a decent attach rate at least. But the second, does that leave people wanting more? Do they want more of the fiction? Are they ready to download it and pay for it? If that attach rate is then reasonable, I think we can look at maybe do some more specials. At some point we've got to go into full production of the sequel if we get that confirmed."
Ah yes, a sequel. Hakkinen seems optimistic that Alan Wake will be picked up for another season and that it would only take about a third of the development time it took for the first Alan Wake game to be completed. "Max Payne 1 took us also five years to make. Max Payne 2 took us 18 months. I think we'd be looking at something of a similar cycle."
Currently, such a sequel has not been officially confirmed. "We're in a limbo at the moment where neither of us are talking about it. We're still in launch phase of Alan Wake 1…but Microsoft have an option for it. That was in the deal a long time ago…and I don't see why they wouldn't. We're happy with the partnership and they're happy with the game. I think it fits in their portfolio quite nicely. I don't see any reason why we wouldn't continue with Microsoft and why we wouldn't renew the IP…we definitely want a sequel of course."