10-14-2006, 03:50 PM
There is some new info in the Cover Story Computer Gaming World did for their November issue. It is told from the perspective from Alan. Before we begin some small notes:
Alan wake takes place in a 6 by 6 mile section of small-town charm and Pacific Northwest wilderness. Thats 36 square miles total. For comparison, the entire island of Manhattan contains about 20 square miles of land.
1. Bright Falls
Located in the state of Washington and founded around a coal mine, Bright Falls is an idyllic seaside town with one gas station, a diner, a church, a sheriff's station, and a town hall. Bright Falls is the home of the annual Deerfest.
2. CAULDRON LAKE LODGE
Built on the rim of the Cauldron Lake crater, this lodge offers breathtaking views of Cauldron Lake, a body of water formed inside a collapsed volcano. Owned by Dr. Sydney Hartman, a psychiatrist who specializes in sleep disorders, Cauldron Lake Lodge doubles as a place for famous artist to practice their craft and participate in Hartman's unusual art therapy.
3. BRIGHT FALLS COAL MINE
An accident in the 1970's led to a cave-in and the deaths of a large number of miners in the Brightfalls mine. The disaster was a blow to the town and the already ailing mine, which was closed after the accident.
Here we go I hope you enjoy!
MY NAME IS ALAN WAKE. I'm a writer. Not the Pulitzer Prize, suffering-artist type. I write to entertain people, thrillers and chillers-the kind of books I used to read with a flashlight under the covers as a kid. I've never been much of a sleeper. In fact, I haven't slept in days. Either that, or my dreams are as intense as being awake...... A. Wake. That's the kind of name that sells books. Lots of books. You might recognize it from my best seller, Departure. After years of struggling just to get by, I finally made it. Lucky me.>>
Chapter 1: Welcome to Brightfalls
I've checked into a sleep clinic somewhere in the boonies of Washington state with a two-pronged plan of attack: 1) Get some nice, wholesome, dreaming-about-angles-and-puppy-dogs sleep. 2.) Coast for a while on my publisher's generous advance. So far only number two is working out. The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place to lose your mind. Cold diamond rivers carve their way through valleys embossed with evergreens and jagged moutain peaks. In the morning, the sun rises over the Pacific Ocean, a consolation prize for another sleepless night. There's a little picture-postcard town near the coast called Bright Falls. Maybe it's just my inner city slicker ( or the chronic hallucinations of ans insominiac), but the locals seem to act a bit strange around me. I spend my days enjoying the fresh air and wilderness. My nights are something else. I know this sounds like the farfetched premise of a new A. Wake best seller, but at night, when the sun sets over the Cascade mountain range, I find myself in situations ripped from the pages of my own writting.
Chapter 2. The Hitchhiker
Its a leisrely drive around the corkscrew interstate that leads to my place, the quaint hillside cabin I temporarily call home. I'm here to learn how to sleep, so I've got nothing better to do than enjoy the peace and quiet of my drive. I should be clearing my mind and taking in the scenery. Instead, I pick up a hitchhiker. Driving along a lonely stretch of highway, treesf licker past like the frames of an old movie. He appears around the bend, a bad edit on scratchy film. I know I shouldn't stop, but I can't resist. "First taker I've had all night," he says, unzipping his raincoat to settle into the passenger seat, knapsack between his knees. Now, I'm not a self-promoter, and I don't talk shop-defintely no with some random stranger picked up on the side of the high-way but here and now, with this guy, I feel compelled to do so. "Funny thing... I'm a writer, and I'm working on a story about-of all things-a writer." I give the guy a friendly once-over, really just searching for some signal that I haven't picked up a psychopath. "After a tragic loss, the writer goes to live in a secluded cabin someplace out in the Pacific Northwest. he writes a horror story there, a story about shadowy specters that disguise themselves as men. Unimaginable things." Now the guy thinks I'm the psychopath. "when he leaves the cabin, he discovers that his world has turned into the nightmare he's just written." My passenger keeps quiet, staring out into the distance. "The story began with the writer picking up a hitchhiker on the way to his cabin..."
"Let me guess." A wry smile cracks across the stranger's face. " The hitchhiker's the killer." "Actually , the hitchhiker's the one who gets killed." From around the bend, I see it: An explosion of glass and steel, the dead chassis of an overturned car, fresh blood on the road. There's been an accident. Somebody's hurt. I leave the car-and the hitchhiker-on the highway and rush over to the debris. A smashed jeep, almost identical to mine, lies silent on its doors, its bloodied driver ejected onto the pavement. I don't have a problem with the gory details of my own imagination, but the real thing is over whelming. I'm woozy as I approach the man, the body. I enter his orbit in slow motion, afraid, somehow, for my own life. Hovering over his torn face, I look into his glassy, mirror eyes. The dead man on the street is me. Here comes the twist. I know- I wrote it: The massive rumble of a semi approaches at rocket speed, horn howling. I turn my attention back across the street to see what I know is about to happen: The semi slams into my jeep with the force of a junkyard compactor, crushing everything in it, hitchhiker included.
Chapter 3: OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD
Had I finally slept? How long was I out? In my half-crazed condition, I'm used to hallucinatory happenings. This, however, is too much. Where's the dead man? Where's the highwy? Where are the moutains and the rivers, the town of BrightFalls? As a storyteller, I worship at the altar of believability, but I'm afarid, dear reader, that I' m about to murder your suspension of disbelief. Like Dorothy, magically transported to the land of Oz, I've been snatched from the rural Northwest and dropped into Finland- and not a twister in sight.
I walk down the cobblestone streets of helsinki, taking in the city's vast supply of pretty blondes in sensible shoes. Through old cafes and ultramodern furniture galleries I wander with a mysterious purpose, pulled like a moth toward an unfamiliar flame. Across lakes and over bridges, down streets alternation between the bland cube tenements of the city's past and the high-tech, abstract office parks of its present, I arrive, finally at my destination. THe sighn on the front of the building says Remedy Entertainment, but to me it's the Emerald City, and I've comoe to see the Wizard. I press the buzzer. A man who introduces himself as "Sam Lake, head writer" greets me, flanked by small army of quiet followers. This place and these people are strangely familiar. "Welcome, Alan." Sam escorts me into the complex and raises his arms theatrically. "This is where we created you,created your game: Alan Wake." Sure why not? Considering the circumstances, the idea that my life exists entirely on the shiny surace of a DVD seems as believable as anything. My insomnia -induced hallucinations are usually out to kill me. this I can handle. Besides, how often do you get the chane to sit down and have a chat with God?>>
Chapter 4: Enter Alice
Fun Fact: God owns a confrence table and several comfortable charirs. I take my place facing an dnormous wall-size video scree. Some people spend a liftime traveling, making friends, and reading books, all in search of personal essence and a sense of self. Me, I just watch a multimedia presentation on the subject. The screen coms to life. Projecting a bird's-eye-view of the moutain range outside Bright Falls. I'm there, on a moutaintop looking out over the land as teh camera circles. Like in a car commercial. Sam, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a man pictred in the poster above his head-someone named Make Payne-stands up to narrate my life. "After Alan met his girlfriend, Alice, he began to have strange dreams," Sam speaks as though my life were the plot of a daytime drama. "With those dreams as material, his first book-a psychological thriller-practically wrote itself, almost as if Wake was not in control of the process. The book was a best seller. Then Alice vanished without a trace. The events surrounding her disappearance were chillingly mirrored by Wake's book. Wake was devestated. He could no longer write and began suffering from a severe case of insominia." It's nice to have the painful details of your life reduced to bullets in a PowerPoint presentation. This isn't how I wanted to introduce you to Alice, but there she is, lurking just under the surface of everything. I just can't seem to dig her up.
"Wake travels to a private sleep clinic to gt help," he continues. "There, he begins to see glimpses of Alice. The line between dreams and reality blurs as Wake spirals deeper and deeper into this nightmare. dark secrets lurk under the surface of the idyliic small town of Bright Falls."
Chapter 5: THE MANIACS BEHID THE CURTAIN
If you had a chance to sit down and talk to the aurthors of your life, what would you ask them? I'm in that situation. Seated around a mundane confrence table, the 30 or so individuals that consitute Remedy Entertainment look like typical, quiet Finns. On closer inspection, however, they all seem a little off. I start with the basics. "What exactly , am I?" I pose the question to no one in particular. "Alan Wake is a psychological action thriller," Sam speaks, joined by a cult of call and response agreement from teh team: "Psychological thriller! A thriller, yes a psychological action thriller...." one of those chanting, a bearded 3D artist on my right, appears to be frantically drawing pentagrams on his Wacom tablet. "So, I'm in a horror story-a game like one of my books?" The Remedy hive mind emits a collective hiss. A few especially zealous team member spit on the floor.
"To many peopl, horror means a fore and endless scares for their own sake," Sam's musical Finnish vowels sing over the gasps of his team ( "No horror! Thriller! Psychological Thriller!"). "We are definitely not doing that. "But its supposed to be scary right?" I mean, it scares the s*** out of me all the...." A wiry programmer comes uncorked. He leaps onto the table, scurrying on his hands and knees toward me with astounding speed, swiping at my face with a can of Batter energy drink (a Remedy favorite, apparently). Sam removes a whistle from his pocket and furiously blows. The programmer slinks back to his seat. "Yes, we are building a very strong atmosphere. We're going to be scaring the player-alot, but the idea is to have a good story behind it all-a mystery to be solved." A man who, up until this point, has been seated quietly next to me scribbling in his notebook slides a business card across the table (Remedy Entertainment: Petri Jarvilehto, creative director). I flip the card over to read his note:
An assassin among the hive stands, shotgun in the crux of his shoulder. "I preffered army-jacket Alan Wake, not this pretentious, bohemian Bono look-alike!" I slide down my chair and under the conference table, narrowly avoiding the blast.>>
"We want to use the player's imagination to our advantage by not necessarily showing everything closely." says Sam, directing my attention back to the hive. "A scary moster, once you've seen it 10 times, isn't scary anymore. That's the idea-to keep some of it hidden and keep up the mystery."
"How do you manage to create fear when I can go anywhere and do anything I want? Bright Falls isn't a haunted house. I can easily wander off the tracks..." Petri Jarvilehto, the business card guy, turns in his chair. "Yes it's a free-roaming game and, with the exception of time-sensitive missions, the player is free to go anywhere he wants," says Petri. "But we're still in control."
Chapter 6: LAND OF THE FREE, HOME OF THE AFRAID
The lights in the confrence room fade once again and the enormous screen opens its eye on my Pacific Northwest world. my doppelganger is at a gas station, staring directly into the camera, completely dynamic, but wee keep control." He leans into my view, puffs out his cheekcs out like a blowfish, and kicks his heels togehter and spins around to the screen." As you head to the top of the a mountain, the sky becomes overcast. Clouds rollin. When you finally reach the peak, you're in a full-blown storm. We can use the world to create suspense and drama." Onscreen, doppleganer Aland is in trouble. The weather turns from bad to worse as a tornado appears, sucking up anything not nailed to the ground. Alan runs toward the camera. Behind him, the twister picksu up a rusted-out- truck and flings it into the air. It crahses and explosdes on the asphalt. Flaming ires bounce back to the earth. The stom vanishes as quickly as it came. "You say the game is an open-world," I break the silence. "But it doesn't seem like you want me, or the player, to feel free." With precise comic timing, the confrence table begins to rumble. something grabs my leg. I pull away and glimpse the Creature crawling out. "Games journalist! Games journalist!" The Remedy hive mind shrieks and flails about. Some team members attempt to run but make it only as far as the pwer cords on their laptops will allow. The Creature stands at the head of the table. He's morbidly obese in al illfitting Pac-Man T-shirt and a red military beret, a small piece of paper hanging from the headband that reads "PRESS". Having finished chwing the frayed remains of a pencil. he speaks "It seems you are using the open world to creat a different effect than your contemporaries." A smell fills the room: Rico's nacho cheese, mixed with the aroma of some old, dusty couch. "It seems that, instead of using open-world to convey a sense of freedom-as in Grand Theft Auto- AlanWake uses it to create a feeling of safety and familiarity. you will use this familiarity aginst, the player, pulling the rug out from undereath them by turning the places they've come to know as sage into sureal nightmares." Petri, the only hive member in the room willing to look the creature in the eye, answers "Yes. The player thinks, 'I've spent three hous playing the game in the location, but now it's dark, its raining, and my vision is limited. I've been here, but now it's a completely different scenario."
Chapter 7: Q&A
As the Creature moves across the conference room, hive members part like the Red Sea. He takes a newly vacated seat, slumping into the chair as if completely exhausted, belly hanging over the elastic of his sweat pants. "So Petri and Sam.... do you guys have time for a little Q&A?"
Petri: Well I'm quite busy now. Can we do this later, on the phone , perhaps?
TheCreature: I'll make it quick: With Alan Wake, are you going for going for a movie feel or a book feel?
Sam: The story of the game is modeled after one season of TV-series format with multiple episodes, cliffhanger endings, and an ensemble cast of characters around Wake himself. Each episode is divided into missions for the player to complete.
The Creature: What is it about the Tv-series formatt that attracts you?
Sam: We were thinking of models that might better fit a game. A season of a TVseries feels very much like a perfect match. Its shorter, episodic nature keeps the player hooked.
The Creature: Who are the other playable characters?
Petri: We're not going to talk abou the supporting Cast.
Th Creature: But you can play as other characters, and the game is called Alan Wake. Are you trying to trick me?
Petri: One of the things with using the TV-series format is that it indirectly means the ensemble cast is something we rely heavily on. You have Buffy in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and then you have this large supporting cast, but its still all about the lead character. It's a similar setup with Wake.
Sam: Our goal is to make as much of the story playable as possible. You won't be watching long cut-scences.
The Creature: Will daytime be a reprieve from the scary stuff at night?
Sam Fear and suspense in a game work much better if they are properly paced. If we are trying to keep the player afraid all of the time, they become numb. We have these daytime periods where everyting feels quite nice and safe, and then there are these nighttime periods that are really hectic and scary.
The Creature: So what's so scary? Where's the action? Didn't you guys make Max Payne?
Chapter 8:ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The pavement feels cold on my face. I'm surrounded by debris from the crash, glass everywhere. Somehow, I'm completely unhurt. It's dark. In the right pocket of my jacket is a flashlight, in ther left a revolver. I switch on th elight and palm the gun. On top of a hill, just a few hundred yards road I can see my cabin, a lantern swingin on the porch. I huff it up the path, my breath steaming as I race. It feels like a matter of life or death. As I reach a streelight-a small comfort-it explodes., as does the next, just as I reach them. The trees at the top of the path open onto a field. As the cabin and the lantern, warmth and safety, get larger and larger in my view, relief creeps in. Of course, that light goes out, too. I hear him behind me, out in the field. I can make out, in the light of the moon, the outline of his form The hitchhiker stands before me, his body in a state of perpetual undulation, flesh and fabric melded into one indistinguishable ether. He is a walking shadow, now only yards away.
I aim the revolver and pull the trigger. The sound is big and brutal, but the shadowy hitchhiker presses on. I squeeze again-a body shot I'm certain, but the result is the same. I still can't quite see. I swing the beam of my flashlight toward him. Trapped in its light, the shadow freezes. I have him pinned. Letting loose a quick succession of bullets, I dissipate the black cloud. Was it even here? Was I even here? In Finland, or Washington State, driving down an infinte, twisting highway? At the end of the road there is a bed, a bed covered in white sheets and pillow, and in that bed is Alice-warm Alice. That's where I lie down to sleep./
I hope I have given everyone a little something to get excited about. There are a few pics in this issue I will see how the look when I try to scan them. One shows a map of Bright Falls.
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