Remedy on Alan Wake and development philosophy

GDC Europe 2009: Matias Myllyrinne details his firm's attitudes on creating great games and managing original intellectual property.


COLOGNE, Germany--According to managing director Matias Myllyrinne, "Having the name of the character as the name of the game is important for every Remedy game." That said, this has its problems. For the sequel, half the studio wanted to go with "Max Payne 2," but Myllyrinne preferred "The Fall of Max Payne." In the end, they combined both and went with "Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne"--a compromise he rues to this day. "We should have gone with one or the other," he moans at the beginning of his GDC Europe keynote speech. Thankfully, things are back to normal with Alan Wake, the next original IP from Remedy due in 2010.

"With Max Payne, we had a vision of a film noir narrative and mixing it with a Hong Kong action flick. With Alan Wake, we wanted to do a thriller in a small town. Alan Wake will define the action thriller category in games then cross over to other forms of entertainment. It will become a household entertainment brand." These are boastful claims for a brand new title, but Remedy has seven key pillars of new IP creation that it believes will lead it to success.

Myllyrinne explains the challenges of developing with new IP.
Myllyrinne explains the challenges of developing with new IP.

"A strong lead character is key," he said, highlighting the first point with pictures of both Max Payne and Alan Wake. Combine this with a third-person viewpoint, and Remedy's aim is to focus completely on the lead character. The next aim is to attract as big an audience as possible. "Our goal is to entertain the most people in the best possible way," said Myllyrinne. The basic concept has to be approachable and something people can easily relate to, with Myllyrinne listing "World War II, dragons, hardcore sci-fi, or women with tight leather outfits" as things Remedy will never do in its games.

Cinematics are also an important part of the mix, with a preference for "movie realism." One example of this is that the guns in Alan Wake are 50 percent bigger than they are in real life, after receiving user feedback that they looked too weedy in standard configuration. That said, real-world believability is still important--the Pacific Northwest setting is familiar to most audiences, and it also has the benefit of being close to Microsoft's head office for research purposes. Story depth and atmosphere are also a key facet of a Remedy game according to Myllyrinne, as is action, which will be obvious to anyone who has played Remedy's previous games.

For more on Alan Wake, including our E3 09 impressions, head over to the game space now. The full game is out on the Xbox 360 next year, with a PC version possibly in the works too.

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