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GDC Europe: Remedy's Myllyrinne Makes Plans For  Alan Wake
GDC Europe: Remedy's Myllyrinne Makes Plans For Alan Wake
August 17, 2009 | By Simon Carless

August 17, 2009 | By Simon Carless
More: Console/PC

Remedy's goal is "entertaining the largest possible audience with the best games", and in a GDC Europe keynote, director Matias Myllyrinne eloquently described the studio's development values, with pointed criticisms of "me-too multiplayer" and generic naming for today's games.

Outlining the 45-person studio's background, Myllyrinne admitted that the developer takes a long time on many of its games. The first Max Payne took four years, though its sequel only took 18 months. In addition, Xbox 360 title Alan Wake was signed with Microsoft in 2005, and the game will debut in Spring 2010.

But the Espoo, Finland-based developer said that retaining a culture of quality over quantity is one of the reasons for its long development cycles. This is also important for differentiating from generic "me-too" AAA games, which the Remedy executive condemned.

He particularly referenced "me-too multiplayer" as a major problem with today's games, noting that multiplayer modes of games that are simply a "rehash of Counter-Strike" aren't really worth making. Myllyrinne said of many of these titles: "People are not really going to be playing multiplayer on that game".

Additionally, Myllyrinne said that there's a lot of marketers who seem to believe that "the central idea of marketing is to blend in", particularly with regard to game titling. He cites generic titles such as War, Race, and Star as having "no impact" on the average gamer.

With a title like Race Of War 2: The Wrath Of Cthulhu, how is your game going to stand out on shelves? He also complained about the "tickbox list" method of marketing, listing numbers of vehicles and levels, rather than how the game makes you feel.

So Remedy's credo is, simply, to be "doing a few things, but doing those few things really really well." One way that they do this is with careful staff management. Myllyrinne referenced the necessity of playing to your employees' strengths, often focusing on cross-disciplinary teams working on a common problem. It can be "a bit of a collision... but the sparks spark innovation."

As for IP, Remedy believes in making a strong lead character -- the game's protagonist -- the focus of the entire franchise. It's also important, according to Myllyrinne, to have an active, key lead character that is not a cipher for the player, and avoids niche markets.

One of the litmus tests for Myllyrinne is whether the game can be pitched in 20 seconds to any non-game player without excessive explanation. The developer also eschews games featuring World War II, dragon-based, hardcore sci-fi, and misogynistic games featuring "women in tight leather outfits", believing that they simply aren't broad or inclusive enough to be truly mainstream.

Overall, much of any game's power is "about perception", says the Remedy exec. He referenced times in Max Payne where weapons that felt underpowered simply had their sound effects and model upgraded, without their damage setting changing. But testers were convinced that the game balance had changed, nonetheless.

Remedy believes that having a "deeper story and stronger atmosphere" is key, before introducing a never before seen trailer of the Microsoft Game Studios-published Alan Wake, due out early next year.

The trailer features Remedy writer Sam Lake introducing an extended trailer which explained that protagonist Alan Wake -- a writer himself -- is looking for his lost wife, while discovering missing pages from his manuscript that may or may not be coming true.

With a psychological thriller/horror feel that evokes elements of Silent Hill and shows like The X-Files and Twin Peaks, and some unique light and dark-related effects and gameplay elements, Alan Wake should exemplify Remedy's well-thought out attitude regarding IP creation when it ships next year.

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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

steve roger
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"One of the litmus tests for Myllyrinne is whether the game can be pitched in 20 seconds to any non-game player without excessive explanation."

Alan Wake is not that kind of game.

Christopher Braithwaite
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"Alan Wake is a psychological thriller that evokes elements of shows like The X-Files and Twin Peaks." I bet you can say that sentence in 20 seconds. The key words in that litmus test are "non-game player".

Lo Pan
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I just heard this game is done (code complete). Six months to polish is an amazing luxury that very few developers enjoy. Matias this game better change my life! :-)

steve roger
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Chrsitopher you wrote nothing about game play. Do you shoot things? Is it point and click? It is a complicated game, I really made my comment to say that the game is not as simple as one might think. The name itself refeals nothing. Just because a person is a non-game player doesn't mean they are empty idiots.

Samuel Fiunte Matarredona
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mmmmmm...not that it's a good property, but did someone heard of a 90's movie called "In the motuh of madness"? that will make a hell of a survival/investigation game, also, "alan wake" remembers me of this movie in several details. Just for you to take in count, another Carpenter movie had one of the more understimated survivals of the decade "THE THING", at least for me, but obviously, I was a fan of Carpenter before I played the game...

This is one of my awaited games for next year....I just hope that the script will be great. And just to opposite similar games, I´m looking much more forward for this one than for the PS3 great white hope "Heavy Rain", I don't know, but the story seems interesting, while what I looked so far of heavy rain didn´t really catch me up (but hopefully it will be a good storyteller game)

Samuel Fiunte Matarredona
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*"In the Mouth of madness"

I really need an edit option!!!!

Tomer Chasid
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Its classic marketing faux pas to list features rather than benefits. In this case levels vs. emotions for example. Only a relative small portion of the audience is going to look at the features and feel connected to the game. Gamers are not automatons, we respond well to intelligent emotional messaging.

Glenn Currie
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A couple of big things I'm looking for in this game, are exploration and atmosphere.

I hope these shine through, in the final product....

Oh, and also: responsive controls, variety in location/enemy design, unexpected and brilliantly executed mini-events, some sort of new take on bosses and bossfights, non-ludicrous story points, good voice acting, hidden areas and items/weapons that impact gameplay if the player is patient or skilled enough to find them....

Hell, what I really want is a great gaming experience with some replay value.

Oliver Snyders
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You can tell Remedy has been influenced by working together with Scott Miller/George Broussard on Max Payne, as Matias lists off what he thinks will set Alan Wake apart and 'ensure' success (focus on the character, avoiding generic names and 'me-too' features, etc.). Either that, or the two companies (Remedy and 3D Realms) have very similar design ideologies.

While these ideas aren't rare, it does take the occasional reminder or two to reset developers' mindsets.