Best-selling author Alan Wake is suffering from a two-year writer’s block and a failing marriage. To get the creative juices flowing and to rekindle the spark, his wife Alice takes Wake on a holiday to the idyllic small town of Twin Pea… (Ahem) Bright Falls. When Alice suddenly disappears, Wake finds himself trapped in a nightmarish thriller that could be straight from his own pen.

The most anticipated game for 2010, Alan Wake, is geared up for release mid-May. With gaming enthusiasts counting down the days and the industry set to see the outcome of it, the developers at Remedy are confident the game is a true masterpiece.

REMEDY, one of Finland’s oldest software developers, is famous for two reasons: firstly for originally developing the popular 3D benchmark programme Futuremark (now 3DMark); secondly for releasing the bona-fide classics Max Payne 1 and 2, arguably the biggest games ever to emerge from Finland, in the early 2000s. Remedy’s latest project, the highly anticipated thriller Alan Wake, is out mid-May for the Xbox 360.

Following multiple delays and endless guesswork surrounding the final product, Alan Wake has been pegged as one of the biggest hits of 2010. SixDegrees spoke with Oskari Häkkinen, Head of Franchise Development, and lead writer Sami Järvi, a.k.a. Sam Lake, to discuss this labour of love that has been five-years-in-the-making.

6D: After five years in development Alan Wake is ready for release. What’s the mood like at Remedy now that the game is finally coming out?

Sami Järvi: Obviously, we are very excited and a little bit nervous at the same time. It’s fantastic to be able to share our creation with everyone after all this time, and now we can only wait and see how it’s received. We are very happy with the way the game turned out. I’m proud of Alan Wake.

Oskari Häkkinen: It’s a huge relief to have it done. There are a lot of people who have put a lot of love and soul into the game. It’s our masterpiece you could say. There’s a lot of anticipation, and this is also the most nerve-wracking part of the development process.

6D: How would you describe Alan Wake?

OH: People are calling it an action thriller. We’ve tried to make Alan Wake a more cerebral experience. Different elements, like the weather, music and the environment, work together to create a very intense atmosphere.

6D: It sounds scary.

OH: (Laughs) Well, we’ve avoided certain typical horror game staples like excessive gore and introduced certain gameplay mechanics like the use of light and darkness. We’ve also incorporated a lot of popular culture references from movies and books such as Stephen King’s The Shining, even Lost, which we think will resonate well with gamers. We also tried for and received a 16 rating, so there’s minimal blood effects for example. Alan also doesn’t smoke.

6D: Alan Wake is an Xbox 360 exclusive. Wasn’t there supposed to be a PC version as well?

SJ: It’s a complex issue. Naturally, our publisher also has something to say about the platforms the game will be released on. In the end, it’s been great to focus on just one platform, to be able to get everything out of it, and to get the game out as soon as possible with all the polish it deserves.

6D: Concerning future content, how can we look forward to the story developing over the years to come?

SJ: We are working on extra DLC (downloadable) content for the game right now. We certainly have lots of plans for the story, and right now we see the DLC content as a special feature; a bridge between the seasons of a TV series in a way, or in this case between the original game and the potential sequel.

OH: We’ve planned the game to tell a tale. There’s even a book coming out based on the game’s storyline. Naturally there will be downloadable content but it’s important to stress that the game you can buy in the shops is a complete experience. We’re not going to leave gamers on a cliffhanger waiting for a possible Alan Wake 2 to come out before they can conclude the journey. The DLC we’ve planned now will be separate Alan Wake adventures that contribute to the cinematic, story-driven single-player experience.

Nick Barlow