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Old 03-13-2012, 09:59 PM   #1
Maniac

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Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Since American Nightmare was getting close to release, traffic for a video I made a year ago which detailed and explained the plot and backstory of Alan Wake increased in traffic quite a bit, and since American Nightmare released I've been getting a lot of comments, other than the ones saying I look like Alan Wake himself asking about the story of American Nightmare, and in paticular, Mr. Scratch.

So, I submit to all of you Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So What Happened?

I talk about the game's plot and backstory and intercut it as seamlessly as I can with footage from the game. Hopefully if you have any questions about the game this helps you out. Enjoy!

http://gamexcess.net/2012/03/13/alan...what-happened/
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Old 03-13-2012, 11:55 PM   #2
MikkiRMD

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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Hey Maniac,

I'm absolutely loving this stuff. You're really meticulous about this, and I think you have a really good grasp of certain basic concepts that we deal with -- which I mention because it's not as common as you might think!

As you know, I don't really want to confirm theories, so I won't comment on any of the conjecture -- but I want to say that I love how you think about this stuff and try to make things fit the big picture. I think you deserve credit for something that a lot of people kind of stumble on -- you have a good understanding of what kind of things should be taken literally, and which have a more of a symbolic quality. For example, I've seen a lot of people on various online conversations get stuck on the "he's my dark half" bit about Mr. Scratch and immediately drawing the conclusion that Wake has been split in two, even though there's plenty of material in the game that suggests that Mr. Scratch is something else -- stuff that you had obviously had no trouble taking in context. By the same token, I really like that you make it clear which parts are something that the game confirms and which parts are your own theories.

I really enjoyed this, and I recommend that everybody who's interested in what's going on in Alan Wake's American Nightmare check this out (as well as your previous installment, which was also great!). I'm not saying that you interpret everything exactly right (obviously, there's a lot of things we leave open on purpose), but it's a really good synopsis and insightful analysis of what happens in the game.

Great job, man. I am not exaggerating at all when I say that people like you are very much in our minds when we work on this stuff -- you know, we throw in a tiny detail and think, "nobody's gonna get that" and then we go, "no, there's always somebody who's gonna pay attention and start thinking about it." You're that guy, and we love you for it. =)

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Old 03-14-2012, 12:32 AM   #3
ZubZub
Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

The video is lengthy but you explained things very professionally.

I would also recommend anyone to watch if they're still confused or just want to check if they missed out on some details.
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:59 AM   #4
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Wow, that's quite an endorsement from Mikki. =)

"Following a typical nightmare pattern, I was late, desperately trying to reach my destination – a lighthouse – for some urgent reason I couldn’t remember."
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Old 03-14-2012, 04:08 AM   #5
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Maniac, there's sub's?

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Old 03-14-2012, 05:22 AM   #6
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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Originally Posted by Nelsh View Post
Wow, that's quite an endorsement from Mikki. =)
I guess! Well-deserved, though. It's great that he makes the effort, and this isn't the first time, either. =)

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Old 03-14-2012, 01:56 PM   #7
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Wow. I am just overwhelmed by the response. Thank you.
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Old 03-14-2012, 02:06 PM   #8
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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Maniac, there's sub's?
Of course. You can subscribe to my videos in two ways. One, directly off my YouTube Channel

Or, you can go to my website and either subscribe to my site if you have a Wordpress account or put your email address in the subscribe section in the site's sidebar (lower right). I do more than produce videos, I also post up articles, editorials and news, so you'll be notified about more than just my videos if you do that.
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Old 03-14-2012, 02:49 PM   #9
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

I think he might have meant subtitles. =)

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Old 03-14-2012, 03:21 PM   #10
Maniac

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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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I think he might have meant subtitles. =)
Wow I got that wrong.
Last edited by Maniac; 03-14-2012 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:38 PM   #11
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Just need to look for that subtext.

I like to bring a little irony to a firefight-Resistance member from Half-Life 2
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:22 PM   #12
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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Wow I got that wrong.
Yeah, i was saying subtitles... I'm not a pro yet on english, and i can understand a lot of what you say, but sometimes i kinda of loss myself. But thank you, i will subscribe on your videos and site! IT's a nice one, indeed!

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Old 03-15-2012, 12:25 AM   #13
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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Originally Posted by Maniac View Post
Since American Nightmare was getting close to release, traffic for a video I made a year ago which detailed and explained the plot and backstory of Alan Wake increased in traffic quite a bit, and since American Nightmare released I've been getting a lot of comments, other than the ones saying I look like Alan Wake himself asking about the story of American Nightmare, and in paticular, Mr. Scratch.

So, I submit to all of you Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So What Happened?

I talk about the game's plot and backstory and intercut it as seamlessly as I can with footage from the game. Hopefully if you have any questions about the game this helps you out. Enjoy!

http://gamexcess.net/2012/03/13/alan...what-happened/
Would you by any chance have analised the synopsis of AW1 as well? I can't seem to find it, couuld u link it for us? I loved the american nightmare explenation a lot. Thanks!
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:35 AM   #14
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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Would you by any chance have analised the synopsis of AW1 as well? I can't seem to find it, couuld u link it for us? I loved the american nightmare explenation a lot. Thanks!
Enjoy my friend.

http://gamexcess.net/2011/01/18/alan...what-happened/
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:25 AM   #15
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Good job Maniac.
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:14 AM   #16
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Any chance I could get linked on the twitter feed?
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Old 08-21-2012, 02:14 PM   #17
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Hello everyone,

I made a quick visit to this forum back when I played Alan Wake two years ago, and I decided to check it out again now that I've just finished American Nightmare. I wanted to reply to this post because I enjoyed your videos, Maniac, and I think you paved the way for the kind of discussion I'd like to have.

First of all, to avoid any confusion, I like Alan Wake. I beat the first game entirely, found everything, got both DLCs and now I just purchased American Nightmare for its full XBLA price. I wouldn't be doing any of these things if I didn't enjoy the damn thing. The twist is that I got into Alan Wake lured by the promise of its storyline and I ended up liking it more just because of its atmosphere, which is as good as any other reason to like something. I had many issues with the first game's plot and some gameplay choices seemingly made to accommodate it, all of which just got worse with American Nightmare. Again, these things are not enough to ruin the games for me, but I'm here to voice them without any intention of causing trouble.

Maniac, you made two really long videos going over the story of both Alan Wake and American Nightmare, yet they both sounded to me like literal descriptions of what's happening on screen without really delving into most of the gaps, incoherences or unjustified choices one can find in the story as it is right now. Mind you, I'm not saying some stuff in Alan Wake is unjustified or incoherent, I'm saying that that's what it looks like as it is right now. I could even go ahead and say that, personally, I believe that leaving a story open-ended doesn't equal to leaving nearly every single subplot and character arc in it unwrapped, which is what happens in Alan Wake. But those were Remedy's choices, they may think different than me, and I respect them anyway, as I hope people will respect here what I think.

Getting back to American Nightmare, almost everything in the adventure seemed gratuitous or weird for weirdness' sake. One can say that Alan turns on a radio so a satellite can crash against an oil tower, which gives him time to save a girl who may or may not be fictional, to then go help another girl fix her telescope, which then will produce a print with a series of facts that need to be reproduced inside a projection booth to play a movie that somehow destroys an evil magical entity. That is, nitpicking aside, more or less what happens in American Nightmare. But the question is why does all that happen? What's the logic behind such bizarre and seemingly disconnected series of events beyond the fact that we need something to do to have fun?

And yes, I know that Alan is in the Dark Place, where everything is really strange. But here we are, apparently playing through an episode of Night Springs that he wrote as a way to escape, but nothing stems from a solid, general idea that gives the audience a starting point. Why does it have to be a Night Springs episode, if what he was writing was originally established as the sequel to a novel unrelated to that TV show? What's the plot of the episode, anyway? What's the point of the satellite, the observatory, the drive-in and everyone around? Remember, I'm not here to prove anyone wrong, these are just rhetorical questions to underline my point.

Still, if not going over the game literally as it is shown on screen, the other option would be to do like most fans here and come up with your own theories to fill in the story gaps. I understand that's what some people like to do and what Remedy seems to be going for, but I honestly think there are ways and ways to approach that way of writing. In my opinion, Alan Wake just reached a stage where it resembles fiction like Lost and Prometheus, and we know how those turned out for people who like stories with logical, fully satisfying resolutions. Most of it seems random, improvised and lacking a clear motive. And what's the point of coming up with complex theories that try to wrap up every loose end if, in the end, everything was just arbitrary? Again, I'm not saying that it is, I'm just saying that it totally looks like it. If in the end I turn out to be right, I won't mind, I'll keep enjoying the game for the reasons I enjoy it now. But If I'm wrong and everything wraps up nicely, even better.

So what I'd like to do as a closing note is ask people what they expect from this series. Those of you who like it because of the story, do you think there's a master plan behind all this and one way or another, one day, things will make sense? Do you think that such day may never come, that it's Remedy's intention to create a totally ambiguous story and have fans come up with their own plot every time? Don't you fear this may come out as cheating? Or instead, see it as a perfectly fine approach to storytelling?
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:36 PM   #18
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Well I personally try to see the metaphors, and symbolism that's underneath the surface. At least I'm trying to, it's a new thing for me. I have a book, that has info on religious, geometrical, numbers, and just items. Basically it's book that has a lot of symbolic meanings for a lot of things in a relatively wide spread. It doesn't go too deep on anything, it's more like scratching the surface.

I guess you could also look it on the internet, but I don't trust the internet. I still prefer the paper for some reason.

It's an interesting thing, you start to see why some organisations use some of the imagery they use. The U.S.A dollar is strange piece of paper, they didn't but that spider in the corner cos it looks kinda cute. That dollar is a piece of art wrapped in "secret" language.

I think I'm gonna look up the spider on the internet and on that cursed book, and stop writing off-topic.

It is what it is.....

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Old 08-23-2012, 02:00 PM   #19
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Liberance:

I basically agree with you about AWAN. I enjoyed it a lot, but the actual plotline does seem very arbitrary. I love time loops so that part was great, but all the stuff Alan and Mr. Scratch actually do is sort of irrelevant. It could be something else totally different from a satellite and still basically be the same story. So I guess to me the point of AWAN is Alan dealing with the last of his self-doubt — in AW and especially the DLC he battles his internal demons about his insecurity about his writing and his relationships. This time, he's fighting his fear that he'll lose control of himself again (to alcohol and anger issues).

Since it's a TV episode of an anthology show, it kind of makes sense for all the stuff in the episode to be sort of self-contained, so I understand why the stuff that happens and characters that are introduced are pretty shallow. And supposedly it's all based on an episode Alan wrote a long time ago, so maybe it had to match up to that in certain ways — we don't know the original story, so it's hard to say.

However, I very much disagree with you about your comparison to Lost (I haven't seen Prometheus). I would say some of the stuff on Lost was very much improvised, but that doesn't mean it lacks a clear motive. I personally think the best-written TV show ever was Babylon 5 because it was all planned out from the very beginning (including contingencies); however, there are other shows I think are nearly equally as excellent which were more or less made up along the way (Buffy, Alias). I don't think making up a story as you go necessarily makes it random — you can have a very clear idea of the themes you want to explore, the message you want to send, etc. I think what gets dangerous (the danger being a bad story, heh) is when someone gets a good idea for the premise of a story but has no idea where to take it or why they're telling the story. That happens a LOT. I worry a little bit about that with Alan Wake, but I guess because I've been so pleased with the story so far I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt going forward.

With the end of AW, I felt it was ambiguous because it was a cliffhanger, not a true ending. It was not meant to be the end of the story, so there was no reason to wrap it up nicely. If the whole series ended that way, yeah, I would be really disappointed. I appreciate ambiguity to a degree but at the same time, I think the person telling the story must have something they're trying to say and I want to know what their intention was with the story all along. I'd say I like apparent ambiguity, which seems unanswered at first, but when you go back and analyze clues from the rest of the work you can figure out what makes the most sense. Or at the very least, there should be maybe two possibilities that make sense. If it's so ambiguous any explanation would work, then yeah, that's bad storytelling. But I don't think that's really the case with AW.
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Old 08-23-2012, 07:54 PM   #20
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Thanks for your comments. I'm going to try to answer everything, so this will be a long post. Please bear with me, I'm trying to spark an interesting discussion.

I think the time loops are just as arbitrary as everything else. I'm a huge fan of Groundhog Day and all that, but at the end of the day, they feel like a device to stretch out the game without having to create further locations on Xbox Live Arcade. Which is fine. What's not fine is that it felt too obvious, as if there was nothing in the story to embellish it. Or even try.

The fact that events seem shallow is not my issue with American Nightmare's storyline, what bothers me is that shallow or not, they look completely random. They're different things. One can watch any of the campiest episodes from Tales from the Crypt or whatever and there's still a reasonable cause-effect logic behind every action. That's, like, basic when it comes to telling a story. Otherwise you end up writing Axe Cop, minus the laughs.

Also, is it supposed to be the episode Alan wrote years ago or a new one he's writing in The Dark Place? Because if we have to believe the game's credits, as Maniac already pointed out, this Night Springs episode is in fact the "Return" story Alan was writing as a sequel to "Departure" at the end of Alan Wake. However, why he's writing "Return" in the form of a Night Springs episode, why that Night Springs episode is airing in real life Arizona at Barry's motel room miles away from Bright Falls, and why we're given this information only through the credits instead of the actual story is beyond me.

As for Lost, you may like it or not, personally I'm a big fan of the first season and I gradually disliked the rest, but I don't really want to divert the topic. It was an example like any other, and I think it's clear what I meant. What I didn't mean is that you can't improvise while writing a story. There's always certain amount of improvisation in every story, let alone a series, but as you come up with new ideas, sometimes you need to backtrack and fix stuff so the bigger picture makes sense.

Confusion about the relationship between theme and plot, or why you're telling this story, is a common problem, I agree. But I think Remedy's problem with Alan Wake, if any, has more to do with the relationship between game mechanics and story than anything else. They do seem to be very sure about the story they want to tell us, but not the game they want us to play. And that's causing a conflict between the needs of the game and the needs of the story. To this day, I still don't quite understand why they think a linear shooter is the best vehicle to deliver a psychological thriller or even a character story. Now enter American Nightmare, which emphasizes the shooting aspects of the series and diminishes even more its interactive storytelling elements, leaving me even more confused about their priorities.

Finally, about Alan Wake's original ending, the metaphors and puzzle-solving nature of all this that Pickman was also talking about, yes, I understand what you guys mean. It does worry me, however, this stance so common among game developers where they say 'yeah, the story is much bigger, wait and see'. Frankly, it sounds like 'we're not even gonna spend too much time thinking how to finish this, because it's always better to leave the door open to countless sequels, spin-offs, books, web-series, DLC and so on'. And then we're supposed to consume all that to follow the story? I rather have self-contained stories that can be continued, but still make total sense as a unit and leave you satisfied each time.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:52 PM   #21
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Yeah, the time loops are a bit arbitrary — what I was trying to say was that I might be giving the rest of the story more leeway because I'm such a fan of time loops/time travel type of stuff.

My understanding of the relationship between the original Night Springs ep and the new "Return" is that Alan wanted to base his new story on something that already existed in reality, to ground it. He'd already written a story about a Champion of Light vs. a Herald of Darkness, so he inserted himself and Mr. Scratch into those roles and shaped the rest of the plot into something that could work within the canon he'd created with Departure. In Arizona, there's another "thin place" similar to the one in Cauldron Lake, a place where imagination can seep through to reality. It's unclear whether Alan knew ahead of time that Barry would be there, and that's why he chose it, or if it was merely a coincidence. But that's why the episode shows up on Barry's TV, because Alan's story is seeping through in Arizona. I'm hoping the stuff with Barry ties in to the next story, like somehow Alan is able to communicate with him, etc. If nothing else, it does somewhat serve to establish a link between reality and the episode Alan is in (by showing that's actually happening before we enter Alan's story, then later within the episode Alan hearing a radio interview with Barry).

What sort of game do you think would have been better for telling the story of AW? (I'm not challenging you, just curious.)

I don't really disagree with your last paragraph, but I guess I basically accepted the end of AW a couple years ago so it's not a big annoyance of mine. Yeah, if they keep making sequels and none of them answer anything, then I would probably quickly lose faith in them. But so far I've enjoyed everything they've come out with, and Remedy seems to be pretty good about making games they really feel are quality as opposed to just cranking stuff out.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:59 PM   #22
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

I'm curious, since I haven't picked up every manuscript in American Nightmare yet, is there anything that confirms the link between the old episode and the new one or this is just more speculation?

On the other hand, if what you described is the way the story was envisioned, I think it's messy and far-fetched at best. Again, I'm not trying to be inconsiderate, I'm just using the words that best represent what I'm thinking. Basically, as an audience, we'd have to accept that this character, trapped in this magical place that turns creative ideas into reality, decided that his best chance to escape is to write himself into the remake of a screenplay of an episode from a TV show totally unrelated to a story he was already working on, which was serving as a backdrop for the twisted reality within this magical place and was supposed to be expanded into a sequel, while assuming that the magically recreated video version of the screenplay will be aired on a random television screen located miles away from the only place he knows can be affected by all this magic, plus at the exact moment this friend of his, whom he hasn't heard of for two years, would be sleeping near it.

I mean, everything is so utterly bananas that I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps Alan wanted to communicate with Barry through the television, but then why doesn't he even try? How would he know that Barry would be watching that show? How would he know even that the episode would air anywhere but in Bright Falls, or at all, let alone near wherever Barry or someone he knows might be? If the point was to create something that might turn up on a TV screen, why even bother calling it "Return" and connect it to "Departure"? Besides, it's not really connected, because nothing happening in this "Return" episode seems to click with any of the events from Alan Wake or even events happening within itself. I could go on, but I'll stop now. Even if it made sense after hours of thinking and dissecting, the flow of events is so spectacularly overcomplicated that it should never be considered a good writing choice. In my opinion, at least.

Now, as for your question, I didn't want to bring back the whole open world controversy, but to me, it always sounded like a much more logical choice if what they wanted was to tell this mystery drama through a videogame. Alan Wake, as it is, is a bunch of shooting moments disconnected from a bunch of film sequences that tell us a story almost independently. It's not always like that, but strictly told through a cutscene or not, the player's actions have no impact in the story at all. It's passive entertainment, like watching a movie, instead of active, like playing a videogame. Not only does the Alan Wake fictional universe suggest that the player should be able to shape the story the same way Alan does, the medium that Remedy is using to deliver their story suggests that too: in videogames, we need to feel part of what's happening, not just mere spectators.

Besides, games are about gameplay. If you have a good idea for gameplay, that should always be a priority over any good idea for story. We've been told several times that certain liberties the player had before the game was turned into a linear shooter conflicted with the pacing of a thriller. In other words, some cool gameplay ideas conflicted with cool story ideas and they seemingly chose story over gameplay. We can't know all the details involved in that choice, and I'm sure it was a hard one, but after a lot of reading, including very kind and meticulous responses from Mikko himself in this same forum, I'm still very much inclined to think that it wasn't the right choice. If we look at it from the perspective of what they wanted to make, maybe it was. But if we look at it from the perspective of what could've been both a better game and a more natural game genre for their story, I'm not sure.

What we eventually got is kind of Max Payne with a flashlight. It's fun, it looks gorgeous and it has a very cool vibe. But as you play it, you constantly hit moments where you wonder why the game is the way it is. Why can't you explore freely, if what your character is doing is essentially looking for a missing person? Why can't you talk to the other characters and pick your own questions for the same reason? Isn't adding a real time day/night cycle a logical gameplay choice so the player has to calculate his decisions when it comes to exploring or visiting anyone, knowing the night will bring unknown threats? All this are not impossible ideas, they were even part of the game at some point, and it's extremely hard to think of any valid reason to drop them out other than story concerns that should've never been an obstacle for promising gameplay ideas. If the story details don't fit, you change the story details, not the gameplay. And if it turns out that the game you need to make resembles more a traditional adventure game with RPG touches than a shooter, then so be it.
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Old 08-24-2012, 12:11 AM   #23
Celeste

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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

There are a couple manuscript pages that address his choice to use his Night Springs episode here (13 & 14).

And the one here (#8) explains that Alan is able to see glimpses of the real world (also, page 10 right after that says more about why the story doesn't need to take place in Bright Falls). So it's not out of the question that he would know Barry would be in Arizona. But, yeah, I mean, how would he know Barry was going to have that TV on? I dunno. Maybe he didn't. It's very unclear, I agree. I think the weakest parts of AWAN are the difficulty trying to figure out what's "real" (did Alice really make a film? Are Mr. Scratch and Alan actually interacting with real people?) and the whole Mr. Scratch thing (even though he's a great villain) because it seems to conflict with what we previously knew about Mr. Scratch from Zane (or, not just that it conflicts, but that it does so with no further explanation).

I am very much in the camp against open-world gameplay for a story like this — the story is already written/being written by Alan, so for us as players to be able to choose what happens wouldn't make much sense. And, to me, the tension would be lost if we could just take our time moseying around Bright Falls at our leisure. Pretty much all the questions you ask in your last paragraph — you can't do those things because Alan didn't write that he did them. He intentionally wrote his action to be difficult for him (and, thus, for us). I don't think it being a shooter really has a lot of bearing on that — it could be any kind of game and it would still need to be limited by Alan's writing. To me, that's not a weakness but one of the major themes of the game. All the characters in the story, including Alan, are bound by what's written. Why shouldn't we be, as well? I understand what you're saying, and if it were a regular mystery where we needed to search for clues, etc. I would probably agree with you, but because of the nature of it being a story within a story I just don't see how that would be possible.

However, I can see them moving more toward a balance — if you look at a game like BioShock, the story pushes you forward from one area to the next, and to at least some degree you can't always return to an area once you've left it. However, you always choose when to leave the area, so you can wander around and explore within each section of the story before moving on. If they did something like that, it could possibly work. I would love to see more stuff to check out (à la an adventure game). There are a few things, like the recordings in Hartman's office, but it would be cool to have more stuff to look at, listen to, or pick up.
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Old 08-24-2012, 02:22 AM   #24
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Why wouldn't it make sense for us to choose what to do if the story is being written by Alan, that is, us?

I heard that argument before from Alan Wake fans, but it's a claim that shouldn't really pose a problem for the game's story as we know it, actually. If the events of Alan Wake were being written by someone else, turning Alan into a puppet in that person's hands, then I could understand that point of view. But being Alan the one who's writing his own adventure, the lack of choice is less justified. And still, this is yet another way of choosing story over gameplay, the no-no I was talking about in my book.

I think Remedy's problem with the open world approach had more to do with pacing and mood, anyway. If what we're doing is indeed a written story, it wouldn't be natural to have the character wandering around and perhaps doing uninteresting things from time to time instead of going right to the next relevant scene. I imagine that might have been one of their issues, but again, it's a bit of a stretch, since the protagonist is improvising to escape from an evil force and there's the uncertainty about how this whole story metalenguage works. I've always been confused about whether each story Alan is living had a pre-established conclusion that he needs to change, whether things are just unveiling as he writes, whether he is actually shaping it as he goes but still has to have that feel of fixed destiny or what. I don't think the rules of this paranormal aspect of things are clear enough, which may give Remedy's writers room to breathe, but also adds even more confusion to an already muddy story.

Anyway, my opinion is that original open world approach could've probably been used without really giving up the core story, and the result could've been a much more interesting game. I don't know exactly what type of game, but I think the concept of relative freedom of choice would've been key. Maybe adventure, maybe role playing, possibly still partly shooter. Most likely, it would've been a combination of several things, but certainly not only a shooter. This would've also boosted the use of the most innovative side of the gameplay: the fight with light mechanic, which, by the way, I don't think is used to its full potential at all. It may be a shooter after all, but I believe what Alan Wake needs to at least be a different shooter are more ideas to use light sources against enemies and not more automatic assault rifles. But that's a whole different topic we can delve into only if people like.
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Old 08-24-2012, 03:18 AM   #25
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Well, because Alan's not writing it as we play him. We're playing the protagonist version of him, not the writer. The story isn't being written because of the actions he's choosing to do, it's the other way around. For the majority of the action in AW, the story was written during the week before the action takes place. He then "escapes" from the cabin and acts out the story he's already written (I use quotes because I personally believe he didn't escape all, but merely inserted himself into the story at that point as the protagonist). That's my understanding of it, anyway. So just as he's not free to shape what happens to him (in real time at least) neither are we.
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:21 AM   #26
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

'I knew I had to save Alice, but for some reason I'd written myself running around Bright Falls aimlessly. I was badly in need of an editor.'

Yeah, you're right, Lib. That's totally more logical.
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:54 AM   #27
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Another way of looking at the mysteries and questions, is that games take long, long time to make and there isn't much to do regarding Alan Wake. Except for the forum discussions and debates. That's a good tool for a small game developer company. I mean Alan Wake was released, maybe two years ago? I still come here and read how people interpret the game.

About the open world.
The story would branch out into a big story tree, with side quests, or different paths to the goal. Maybe there is multiple endings, or one ending. What happens if Alan doesn't do some specific action, that he was supposed to, in order to make amend? What if he doesn't deal with he's father/mommy issues, or bottled up emotions? OK those are big issues and would probably be dealt in the main story, but some smaller things.

Ok Alan enters the bookshop of Brightfalls. Lady Glass is standing behind the counter, reading some big old dusty book.
"Hello."
"Oh hey, what can I do for you"
"Have you seen this woman?"
"No...sorry, I spend most of my time with my books." The lady's voice trembles a little, And so fort. Alan follows that path and ends up at the mines after chasing shadows and being chased by he's own. Maybe he founds something or learns some lesson. What does he do then, follow the clue? Yes. That clue leads us to the cabin, but oh wait there's some crazy Tom Green guy playing with cheese and sausages in the corner and needs help. OK that was little over the top, but wouldn't you want to follow that one path instead of derailing into some other issues and then return to the one you started?
Or if Brightfalls works as a hub, wouldn't it feel silly to return to the same place and start everything all over again?

I think open world games work if better if there isn't an specific goal, like search for the old lady (Alice). Now if there wasn't Alice and Alan was alone, having some down time and strange shit start to happen. That could work. You'd have to figure out what's the deal with this crazy town and the lake.

I guess you could make it work, but in my mind the Alan Wake concept doesn't work properly like that, and I believe Remedy figured that out and changed the game in order to make it work better story wise. It's just a matter of what type of game you want to make and Remedy chose to make it like it is.

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Old 08-24-2012, 11:25 AM   #28
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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Originally Posted by Celeste View Post
The story isn't being written because of the actions he's choosing to do, it's the other way around. For the majority of the action in AW, the story was written during the week before the action takes place. He then "escapes" from the cabin and acts out the story he's already written.
Maybe, yes, it's definitely a possibility to consider. But I don't know why the game doesn't make that more clear, and even if it did, I still find it unnecessarily confusing. Especially before Alan jumped into the lake. Sometimes, he goes to places he's never been to and talks to people he's never met before. This is all supposed to be a consequence of what's written in "Departure", which on top of everything he doesn't remember writing, but if he was indeed the writer how could he know beforehand about places and people he had yet to discover? Perhaps because The Dark Presence has more control over him than he thought, maybe because he did know those places but now he doesn't remember, there's also the chance that I'm just forgetting something because it's been two years and the game is way too filled with ambiguity... but, see what I mean? You can choose to be mysterious without being vague about absolutely every single thing in the story. That way not only you avoid making it all look random, it also focuses the viewer's attention on what's important for the mystery.

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I guess you could make it work, but in my mind the Alan Wake concept doesn't work properly like that, and I believe Remedy figured that out and changed the game in order to make it work better story wise. It's just a matter of what type of game you want to make and Remedy chose to make it like it is.
Which is exactly my point. Remedy chose to make that game and we got a linear shooter that's just like lots of other linear shooters in many aspects, with a severely underutilized light vs. dark mechanic. If the reason for abandoning other much needed, really promising gameplay ideas was the will to maintain a story that's not even that great, then I believe they made the wrong choice.

Having said that, I think there are two basic paths to improve the game:

1) Focus on story and start shaping the gameplay to serve that story, which I think requires getting rid of the linear shooter genre and probably won't happen.

2) Focus on the gameplay as it is right now, which requires understanding what makes it different from other shooters. That means playing more with light sources to defeat the darkness, not adding frickin machine-guns, automatic rifles, tanks and bazookas. I'd rather play an Alan Wake game where all Alan has to fight with is a flashlight with two batteries, a flare gun and other light sources of the environment around him, than a game where Alan has a ridiculous arsenal of guns and a flashlight with nearly unlimited power, which renders it totally pointless and turns the game into a mundane shooter.
Last edited by Liberance; 08-24-2012 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 08-24-2012, 01:37 PM   #29
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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Maybe, yes, it's definitely a possibility to consider. But I don't know why the game doesn't make that more clear, and even if it did, I still find it unnecessarily confusing.
It seemed pretty clear to me. At first, Alan wakes up in the car not knowing what happened, having missed a week. He does a bunch of stuff trying to find Alice as he starts to find manuscript pages that detail what's happening to him, sometimes in advance of when the stuff happens. He sees himself on TVs in the cabin, going crazy trying to write. Then, he drinks the moonshine and has a flashback which fills in what happened — the DP tricked him into writing, which he did, then "escaped". In his moonshine flashback, Barbara says "She [Alice] wanted you to write. I will tell you what to do." Then later in the flashback, Alan's voiceover says, "Jagger had been my editor, whispering in my ear, making sure that the unfolding story would make her more and more powerful." So we can reasonably assume that she's the one who gave Alan information about the people and places in the town so he could write them. The mystery of all this unfolds gradually, but I wouldn't call it vague or confusing. It's just not laid out easily at the beginning.
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Old 08-24-2012, 02:28 PM   #30
Jill
Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

It’s called an “Anomaly!” But that’s just me………….(Sneaky Me!)
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Old 08-24-2012, 02:29 PM   #31
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

There you go. It's this struggle between the Dark Presence and Alan, yet in the confusing way it's laid out, it's hard to tell what's under Alan's control and what's part of the story the Dark Presence forced him to write. Without knowing that, it's also harder to root for Alan as he fights his way out of the madness. What's genuine Alan initiative and what part of the drama?

There's also the paradoxical nature of a story that needs to be written and finished in order to turn into reality, but then changed as that reality unfolds for the hero to be able to triumph. If it's written, the hero can't succeed. But he has to succeed, or at least be able to, or there's no conflict. Yet if he succeeds, then it contradicts the whole set up that establishes his future needs to be written in order for the adventure to happen at all.
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Old 08-24-2012, 02:48 PM   #32
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

In our world and in our own human understanding, there is always this struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Most stories of human understanding revolve around these 2 forces. These 2 forces always conflict or oppose each other in every way. One force strives to succeed and the other one opposes it so that it too would also succeed. Most stories made or designed for human understanding are patterned this way. Good and Evil always in conflict with each other. Anything beyond that is called an “Anomaly!” But that’s just me…………( Sneaky, Sneaky Me!)
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Old 08-24-2012, 03:31 PM   #33
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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There you go. It's this struggle between the Dark Presence and Alan, yet in the confusing way it's laid out, it's hard to tell what's under Alan's control and what's part of the story the Dark Presence forced him to write. Without knowing that, it's also harder to root for Alan as he fights his way out of the madness. What's genuine Alan initiative and what part of the drama?

There's also the paradoxical nature of a story that needs to be written and finished in order to turn into reality, but then changed as that reality unfolds for the hero to be able to triumph. If it's written, the hero can't succeed. But he has to succeed, or at least be able to, or there's no conflict. Yet if he succeeds, then it contradicts the whole set up that establishes his future needs to be written in order for the adventure to happen at all.
I don't see why that makes it harder to root for Alan. Whether a particular part of the story is influenced by the DP or Alan himself, the struggles still come about because of Alan's writing, and he still has to fight against them. He's fighting on two fronts — his protagonist self and his writer self. Even when he's (writer) setting up obstacles for himself (protagonist), it's with the ultimate goal of beating the DP and getting Alice back. I don't think the story is changed as reality unfolds. He's changing it as he writes it. The conflict isn't observed so much by what Alan does but what he writes. Or, his success is measured by how well he writes, not how well he acts.
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Old 08-24-2012, 03:49 PM   #34
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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I don't think the story is changed as reality unfolds. He's changing it as he writes it.
In that case you're gonna have to pick one, because that's the opposite of what you were saying before. Are we discussing this from the point of view of a story written beforehand or a story that's being written as Alan experiences it?
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:07 PM   #35
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

I just remembered a conversation between Alan and Dr. Meadows.

Changing reality with your writing is ridiculous.
You're essentially saying you're controlling my actions. Leaving aside the rational arguments against this, what gives you the right?

Well...It's more like having a destiny, a path you're on. You're not aware of it, but there it is. If somebody changes it, what difference does it make? It's what every writer does. If you write something that affects one of the characters, they don't really know about that.

I'm not a "character". Are you saying that it's all right to take advantage of someone if they aren't aware of it?

Look all I meant was that if you're genuinely making all your own decisions, and those decisions lead to whatever destiny you have, what practical difference does it make?

I suppose that depends on whatever our destinies are determined by things like physics and probabilities, or natural reality, which is presumably neutral and impartial, or by some kind of an intelligence. If it's the latter, that intelligence makes choices based on some criteria. If we suffer as a result of those choices, there's a moral and ethical element involved, regardless of whether we're aware of its manipulations. Wouldn't you agree?

I... You're taking this very well. I thought you'd be angry.

I suppose I would be, if I thought you could actually do this.


Regardless if this conversation helps the dilemma you have. It's a interesting read.

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Old 08-25-2012, 01:25 AM   #36
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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In that case you're gonna have to pick one, because that's the opposite of what you were saying before. Are we discussing this from the point of view of a story written beforehand or a story that's being written as Alan experiences it?
No, it's the same as what I said before. Alan writes the story within the timespan covered in the game, but not concurrently with when we're playing as him. So from Protagonist!Alan's POV, it's prewritten, but Alan is experiencing writing the story when he's in the cabin. It's all his experience because he's both the writer and a character.
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Old 08-25-2012, 03:10 AM   #37
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Okay, what you guys are saying is not making any sense to me, so either you're confused about what I'm saying or I'm misunderstanding what you mean.

I'm going to present this in a simple way so we're all on the same page:

- Under the influence of the Dark Presence, when you write a work of fiction, this fiction becomes reality...

A) After you enter the last full stop, write down 'the end' and the story is finished.
B) As you write any given sentence of your story. So if you put down on the page 'the dog barked', you'll hear a dog barking through the window right away.

- Alan experiences his adventure...

A) While writing it in the cabin, because he's both writer and character, so even if nothing is technically happening to the physical body of the writer, as the writer enters words things are happening to the fictional body of the character and the writer experiences it the same.
B) After having written it in the cabin, because even though he's both writer and character, the writer needs to leave the cabin to start experiencing the adventure he just wrote and therefore become his own character.

- The Dark Presence's paranormal activity...

A) Happens only in a fictional version of Bright Falls (or whichever other locations are affected by it).
B) Happens in the real world.

- In the Alan Wake games, we as users control...

A) Alan, the writer.
B) Alan, the character.
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Old 08-25-2012, 03:42 AM   #38
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

Not sure about the first one. I'm inclined to think it could be somewhere in the middle, like maybe once you commit to a particular part of the story it can manifest, but doesn't necessarily do so immediately. We know Alan hasn't finished his story yet when he re-enters the Dark Place so I don't think it has to be 100% done, but at the same time we see him crumpling up rejected pages and I doubt all those things came true.

Also, I want to clarify, it's not the Dark Presence that makes creations come to life but the lake (or power in the lake). The DP just tries to exploit creators for its own gains.

Second one: both. He experiences writing it and he experiences acting it out, but.. it's sort of like different versions of him. The writer experiences writing it, and knows what will happen to the character but doesn't experience it, and the character only experiences acting it and not writing it (until he drinks the moonshine — but then he only remembers up to the point when he "escaped" the cabin, which is why I think he didn't really escape — otherwise he'd know the rest of the story).

Third: Real world for Bright Falls, though I'm not sure about Night Springs since it was sort of superimposed on some actual town not originally named Night Springs.

Fourth: The character mostly, although we sometimes control the writer (at the beginning of the game, probably the end, and in the DLC).

That's how I see it, anyway.
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:33 AM   #39
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

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Under the influence of the Dark Presence, when you write a work of fiction, this fiction becomes reality..
Yeah, It's a tricky one. I also think it's somewhere in the middle. The writing has to be able to paint a picture for the reader to be able to see it. So think it has to be to some extent, already written. I honestly don't know...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liberance
Alan experiences his adventure
A: Me thinks. It's like when you get sucked into a good story. You your self experience what the protagonist is experiencing, and the bastard lake turns that experience into reality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liberance
The Dark Presence's paranormal activity
B: In the places where the fabric of reality is thin, which are numerous. Don't know if these holes can expand. Or if Alan chooses to write about Chicago, would that tear a hole into Chicago....


Quote:
Originally Posted by Liberance
In the Alan Wake games, we as users control
Same as Celeste

I guess it would be silly to think that it's all happening because of magic, but fictional writing isn't bound by the laws of reality. If it has no rules, except the rules of drama, anything is possible, even the impossible. You just have to learn how to ride the waves and go with the flow.

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Old 08-25-2012, 01:41 PM   #40
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Re: Alan Wake's American Nightmare: So, What Happened

That is the impression I was getting. The first question is actually of capital importance. Without knowing that, answering the others becomes yet another exercise of assumption, and grasping the logic, if there's any, behind the entire concept of Alan Wake becomes kind of impossible. That's why we started losing synch in our conversation here too.

You guys are telling me that the effects of this lake's magic are set in motion 'somewhere in between' working on a creative text and finishing that text. Unfortunately, this is a very simple A or B logical question. There's no inbetween. Stuff becomes real either when you're finished or while you're still working on it. If you negate one, you're automatically accepting the other. It doesn't matter if you hear the dog bark one minute, thirty seconds or half an hour after you wrote 'the dog barked', you're confusing yourselves by overanalyzing details that don't really change the main rule. The dog example is just a simplified analogy to make everything more understandable. Yes, maybe you need a full paragraph of context for the magic to happen, but what does that matter? You're either finished with the story or not.

I think Remedy not being clear about this further aggravates the headache that's following Alan Wake's story from nearly every imaginable perspective. And I'm gonna go ahead at this point and say it, I'm afraid that there's a good chance not even them fully understand what they're working on. They do seem to know what type of story they want, but I'm not entirely convinced they developed a solid ground for it. You play the game, you collect the facts, then you come up with your own interpretations. I get that's what everyone signed up for here. The problem is that the way the story facts have been laid out, pretty much every coherent theory one can think of hits a contradiction within itself sooner or later. This could be because there's a deliberate lack of key puzzle pieces being handed over to us, which can come out as messy storytelling at best and deceitful writing at worst. However, I think neither is the case, because some of the current incoherences in Alan Wake are so self-contained that I'm starting to fear there isn't any additional piece of information that could turn them into consistent ideas.

Once again, I do like the game, I enjoy the story vibe, it's definitely my cup of tea. But I'm not a big fan of the way they approached it. I feel cheated in an unnecessary way and I constantly get an uncomfortable feeling that the writers want to get away with murder. I think Alan Wake joins an increasing number of modern stories that, deliberately or not, get the concepts of ambiguity and obscurity completely mixed up. When this happens, even though the goal is to suggest different interpretations for your story, you're actually not allowing any interpretation because the story is simply unintelligible. It's like as if at the end of Blade Runner, the point wasn't to wonder whether Deckard was a replicant or not, because you wouldn't even know what a replicant is exactly or if that's even the question you should be asking yourself among hundreds of other questions without definitive answer. With Alan Wake, it's hard to tell what the story is really about or if any of the events have an actual meaning, because we just don't know anything for sure and that only produces self-defeating confusion.
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