Alan Wake has turned 10 years old and Remedy’s Sam Lake has the major difficulites developing this stunning game. Sam Lake has also revealed why Remedy decided to ditch its open-world/sandbox design in favour of a more linear approach.
After a year since the release of Max Payne 2, Remedy was trying to figure out what its next game would be. After numerous prototypes, Remedy landed with the idea of the open-world concept of Alan Wake. Remedy felt the need to move away from linear games after Max Payne and Max Payne 2. However, and despite presenting a tech demo, the team could not realize its vision.
After presenting its E3 2005 PC trailer, the team was trying to figure out ways to implement gameplay elements to it. However, Remedy felt to drift away from its original open-world concept. To put it simple; while the E3 2005 PC demo looked great, it could not translate to a full game. That was the main reason why Remedy decided to re-design Alan Wake, and not its publishing deal with Microsoft. Oh, and speaking of publishing deals, when Remedy presented the game’s E3 trailer, it had not signed any deal with any publisher. No one was funding this game at that time. Ouch.
For a long while after that E3, Remedy didn’t have anything at all. There wasn’t a game, just the tech demo with its huge map. Microsoft attempted to help Remedy by suggesting different things, however, Remedy was drifting even further than its original concept. Remedy was missing milestones and the pressure was becoming bigger and bigger. Remedy was also failing delivering what it had promised to Microsoft. It was a dark time for Remedy.
Thus, the team decided to form a group that would go through every aspect of the game and make difficult decisions. Thankfully, this group was able to figure out solutions to the game’s main problems. Unfortunately, though, the group also decided to ditch the open-world concept. Instead, Alan Wake would be a more linear experience. However, Remedy would create – and expand – the game’s levels from its original open-world map.
Sam Lake concluded that small studios should have a strong vision of what they are building. He also said that it’s not just enough to have a high level vision; you have to be able to realize it. And while some game elements (like the open-world idea) may look cool and work as individual aspects, they should be all working together in harmony.