Monday, April 20, 2015

Alan Wake 2...coming after all? It's more likely than you might think

Fellow Alan Wake fans rejoice!!!

Not only is Remedy seriously considering giving us Alan Wake 2 after their newest game Quantum Break releases, but we even have some details and a prototype trailer to show for it!!!

A massive amount of text, some concept art, and a video are below the cut.

Alan Wake developer Remedy has shed new light on the hypothetical sequel to its highly regarded Xbox 360 and PC action horror game.

The studio's creative director Sam Lake just recently spoke with Polygon about Alan Wake 2, revealing why the project was ultimately shelved, despite creating a prototype immediately following the original's release in 2010.

"For Alan Wake, from the get-go, we assumed there was going to be a sequel and we mapped things further out when it came to character, story, details and focus changes," Lake said. "We knew we would have to iterate and refine, but there was always a rough road map there.

"Near the end of Alan Wake," Lake continued, "we were sitting down and talking about the sequel and where we should be taking it, on a detailed level. More or less straight from getting Alan Wake shipped, we were working on a sequel and planning on a sequel."

However, the studio's vision for the sequel didn't fit within the confines of its situation following Alan Wake's release. Instead, the studio decided to pursue a new project while keeping the door open for a follow-up at a more opportune and appropriate time. Interestingly enough, however, much of Remedy's work during the sequel's prototype stage ended up making its way into American Nightmare.

"The setting, even some of the enemies, ended up in American Nightmare, which was a fun, small project with very limited resources," Lake said. "You can glimpse certain aspects of American Nightmare in the prototype."

With Alan Wake franchise sales reaching 4.5 million, it seems somewhat strange that developer Remedy has not yet released Alan Wake 2. But it hasn't been for lack of trying. In 2014, the studio said it "worked hard" to make Alan Wake 2 happen, but acknowledged that it could not find the right partners or funding to make it a reality. Creative director Sam Lake added at the time that the developer could have released a "less ambitious" Alan Wake 2, but this would not have done the series justice.

Remedy has time and again stressed that it wants to return to Alan Wake "when the time is right," which would probably be sometime after the developer's current game--Quantum Break--ships in 2016. And now the developer has yet again broached the subject of Alan Wake 2, telling Polygon in a wide-ranging feature that it is already looking beyond Quantum Break to think about what's next--and it could be Alan Wake 2.

"Among other things, we are discussing the possibility of an Alan Wake sequel with multiple partners, but nothing has been decided," Lake said. The original Alan Wake and its follow-up American Nightmare were both published by Microsoft.

Another possibility, Lake said, is a new game in the Quantum Break franchise. The universes for both Alan Wake and Quantum Break were designed from the beginning to allow for multiple follow-ups, he explained
Polygon has also obtained Remedy's pitch video for Alan Wake 2, which Lake describes as "more like a mood piece" that offers up "high-level thematic elements" of what the game would contain. Notably, this video is from 2010 and represents what the game would have been all those years ago.

As detailed in the video, Alan Wake 2 would again star the fictional writer Alan Wake as he battles new enemies in new settings. The game also would offer some kind of game mechanic that would let players "rewrite reality," Lake explained. Check out the video below.

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer is also featured in Polygon's story, saying that the original Alan Wake was "one of the most engrossing and cinematic games of the Xbox 360 generation." He added that it "would be interesting" to see what Remedy could do with a full-blown sequel. Spencer didn't say if Microsoft was one of the partners that Remedy is currently speaking with about Alan Wake 2, but given the two companies' history, it seems likely that the two have been talking.

Though Alan Wake 2 might not be on the immediate horizon, a recent Microsoft survey suggested that the company was exploring a remastered Xbox One version of the original as a pre-order incentive for Quantum Break. Of course, this doesn't confirm that an Xbox One edition of Alan Wake is in the works, but it does show that Microsoft may be at least considering it.

Alan Wake 2 proto
 Concept art of a Taken

For those completely unawares about Alan Wake I'll give a brief description below before we get into some more details on the story.

In Alan Wake, players take on the role of the titular anti-hero, a bestselling thriller novelist who is trying to figure out what happened to his wife during a vacation in Bright Falls, Washington. As Wake digs deeper into the story, it becomes clear that things aren't exactly normal in Bright Falls and that elements of a novel he doesn't remember writing are coming to life.

Take Stephen King, mix in some Twin Peaks, classic Twilight Zone, and X-Files and you have an idea of a basis for Alan Wake.  In fact all of these things are either outright mentioned by Wake or another of the plethora of characters you meet in the town of Bright Falls, or they are very heavily homaged.

The game plays out in episodes that break the story into TV-show-sized chunks. Each episode kicks off with a summary of what happened in the last and ends with a cliffhanger and an appropriate piece of music.
It's a smartly paced game that takes its storytelling seriously, but ends on a note that feels incomplete.
That's because it is. Remedy designed Alan Wake's story from the beginning to be told through a number of games.

 Concept of a Birdman Taken

 "I, for one, happily killed almost every character in Max Payne," said Sam Lake, Remedy's creative director and head writer, in a recent Polygon interview. "That proved to be a challenge when making the sequel. That taught us that with Alan Wake and everything we do, the idea of a sequel and sequels has to be there from the beginning.

"For Alan Wake, from the get-go, we assumed there was going to be a sequel and we mapped things further out when it came to character, story, details and focus changes. We knew we would have to iterate and refine, but there was always a rough road map there."

As Alan Wake neared shipping in 2010, the team started focusing on making those rough plans more concrete.

 "Near the end of Alan Wake, we were sitting down and talking about the sequel and where we should be taking it, on a detailed level," Lake said. "More or less straight from getting Alan Wake shipped, we were working on a sequel and planning on a sequel."

And it's not just Alan Wake 2 that Remedy was planning on.

 Bear Boss Taken

"Definitely what we have mapped out is a longer thing than the first game and a sequel; there is more to it," Lake said. "In many ways, we see the universe as a bigger thing. Alan Wake is a very central character, but we have other characters around him like [friend and agent Barry Wheeler] and his wife Alice and Sheriff Sarah Breaker and other characters there.

"We feel this is a big universe to develop and explore in many ways."

While nothing is really concrete one way or the other on Alan Wake returning, it's certain that Remedy releasing the prototype video does NOT mean the project is dead, a strange turn of events considering any other time this happens it most definitely means the title in question has long since been put to pasture.  Regardless as a big Alan Wake fan I'm super excited for this and I hope that some other company helps Remedy release Alan Wake 2 after Quantum Break finally hits stores in 2016.

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