In 2005, the Finnish game studio Remedy Entertainment was stuck. Its members had been riding high on two mega-smash Max Payne games in a row, but they’d decided to drastically change course with their next series, Alan Wake.
The resulting pitch was ambitious: an open-world, free-roaming adventure with a complicated day/night cycle. But after putting together a flashy demo and landing a publisher in Microsoft, the folks at Remedy had to be honest with themselves: their next game wasn’t looking good. Lead writer Sam Lake puts it frankly: “For a long while, we didn’t have anything.”
A metaphor “for the whole team’s struggle”
In our latest War Stories video feature, embedded above, Lake describes how Alan Wake was born from the studio’s desire to distance itself from the rigid structure of its Max Payne games while still making room for the studio’s “cinematic” flair. The team eventually pulled it off—we said as much in 2010—but while some of the big ideas from the original pitch survived, many did not.