Alan Wake EP2:Finnish My Manuscript

By Shamus
on Apr 25, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

Geeze Alan. I hope you write better than you drive. Okay, so the manuscript pages are kind of stilted and awkward. Is this because:

  1. Developer Remedy wanted to show that Alan is a bit of a crap writer.
  2. The pages needed to fit in bite-sized portions on a TV screen, so there wasn’t enough room to make some vivid prose.
  3. The writers at Remedy are actually a bit crap themselves.
  4. The writers at Remedy are okay, but the prose was probably mangled in the translation from Finnish to English.
  5. Actually, I thought the pages were fine.
  6. James Portnow is holding a lemon, your argument is invalid.

Discuss.

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A Hundred!A Hundred!202019259. There are now n+1 comments, where n is a big-ish sort of number.

From the Archives:

  1. TJ says:

    The joys of the pull-starter minigame!

    Glad you’re doing this game – only the second in Spoiler Warning that I’ve actually played.

  2. tengokujin says:

    Clearly, 6.

    • Sumanai says:

      I don’t see how it could be anything else.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        I did think the pages were fine, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But even assuming the manuscripts and certain lines in the game did suck, that still wouldn’t implicate that Alan himself was a bad writer. That’s because it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. I tend to think of the specific lines used as the characters filling in the blanks from the manuscript with their own personalities. And of course, anything we don’t find on a manuscript in the game could just be things the characters make up on the spot.

    • ccesarano says:

      I still want to see a photoshop of that image with James Portnow decked out like Gandalf.

      • Sumanai says:

        I want a new photo with James Portnow dressed up as Gandalf holding a lemon.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        I do think the pages are fine, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But even assuming the manuscripts and certain lines in the game did suck, that still wouldn’t implicate that Alan himself was a bad writer. That’s because it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. I tend to think of the specific lines used as the characters filling in the blanks from the manuscript with their own personalities. And of course, anything we don’t find on a manuscript in the game could just be things the characters make up on the spot.

    • MatthewH says:

      Wait a second -has James Portnow always been a geek icon worthy of meme and genuflection, or is this a recent development? I can’t keep track of them as they go by.

  3. Joel D says:

    Alan’s horror manuscript is not good because he’s a crime author, not a horror author. This is explicit stated.

    Not that you’ve ever missed obvious things before, though *eyeroll*

    • Chris says:

      His most recent/successful series of books have been crime dramas, but it’s never stated he was completely unfamiliar with horror writing – in fact he does a fair bit of philosophizing on the nature of the horror genre throughout the game. Plus, I mean, he wrote several episodes of Night Springs which while maybe not scary certainly fit the suspense/thriller mold the game itself is putting forward.

      There’s certainly an argument to be made that he’s not a very good horror writer – and he was certainly writing under duress! But I don’t think the stilted sentence structure and melodrama were because he sucks at horror as a genre.

      • Chris says:

        Dear Chris: Find a thesaurus and look up the word “Certainly.” Alternately: Stop posting comment on Shamus’ blog while at work.

        • Sumanai says:

          You can add quick searches to most browsers. I have a set up where, for instance, if I want to search a word on a thesaurus I write in to the address bar “ts certainly” and press Enter.

          If you want I can guide you how to do it, assuming the browser is available on Windows 7 or Ubuntu.

          • X2Eliah says:

            Which does put you in a notable handicap when you actually need to look up something that is [ts certainly] and not lead into a thesaurus.

            • Sumanai says:

              Uh. How? It goes into the address bar as is, and if I want it to end up on Google, I put “g ts certainly”.

              It goes a bit stranger with me, since I use Vimperator (Win7) and Pentadactyl (Ubuntu). Basically when I want that search I press [Esc], [t], [g ts certainly], [Enter]. (Opens in a new tab. [Esc] not necessary most of the time. )

              The annoying bit is that I actually do that sort of stuff by accident, so when I intended for something to go to the dictionary (dt), I write the ‘g ‘ in front and then wonder what went wrong. Or start writing ‘dt’ and accidentally close the current tab, since I forgot to press either ‘t’ or ‘o’.

            • Vic 2.0 says:

              The “He’s a mystery writer, not horror” argument does work. But there are so many other facts blowing the whole “Alan’s a bad writer” claim out of the water. Now, I personally didn’t think the manuscript pages were certifiably bad, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But even assuming the manuscripts and certain lines in the game did suck, that still wouldn’t implicate that Alan himself was a bad writer. That’s because it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. I tend to think of the specific lines used as the characters filling in the blanks from the manuscript with their own personalities. And of course, anything we don’t find on a manuscript in the game could just be things the characters make up on the spot.

        • MatthewH says:

          I realize the irony of using the word “certainly” twice in two sentences under a webisode where the “never use the same word twice sequentially” rule is discussed. However, it is certainly acceptable to violate this particular stricture when doing so advances the point of the sentence. The repetition serves to highlight point -that it is certain both that there is an argument and that Alan Wake was writing under duress.

          Also, while the language of the manuscript wasn’t exactly melodious, I wouldn’t have called it thudding. I suppose my standards could be down as I’ve been grading. Or maybe I shouldn’t quit my day job and pursue that career as a writer.

          • MatthewH says:

            And since we’re on the topic of using and abusing words, it is dramatic irony I have in mind, though I suppose cosmic irony could also be invoked.

        • Aldowyn says:

          Definitely. Absolutely. DefinitIVEly. Umm. I’m out.

          No, I didn’t use a thesaurus.

          Ooh, another one! Unconditionally.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        The “He’s a mystery writer, not horror” argument does make sense. But there are so many other facts blowing the whole “Alan’s a bad writer” claim out of the water. Now, I personally didn’t think the manuscript pages were certifiably bad, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But even assuming the manuscripts and certain lines in the game did suck, that still wouldn’t implicate that Alan himself was a bad writer. That’s because it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. I tend to think of the specific lines used as the characters filling in the blanks from the manuscript with their own personalities. And of course, anything we don’t find on a manuscript in the game could just be things the characters make up on the spot.

    • ccesarano says:

      He may be a crime writer, but the inspiration for the game’s style is in Twin Peaks and Stephen King, both of which carry horror elements (with the exception of King’s best work being not-horror, interestingly enough). Perhaps it is because the inspiration for writing is Stephen King, though?

      I know personally I don’t find King to have excellent prose, but I do enjoy the Dark Tower series (well, the first three books at least) nonetheless. But if that’s your inspiration for telling a story, as well as a television show by David frikkin’ Lynch, then your standards probably aren’t going to be the same as everyone else’s.

      Either way, just because Alan Wake is a crime writer doesn’t mean the actual writer from Remedy is familiar with that genre.

      • Bret says:

        Well, King wrote what might be the best book on writing of all time. Gotta be worth some points.

        (It’s called “On Writing”. I never said it had the best title.
        [Best title goes to William Gibson for “Mona Lisa Overdrive”. Tested by science.])

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        Not buying the “Alan’s a horrible author” claim, at all.

        The “He’s a mystery writer, not horror” argument aside, there are so many other facts blowing this claim out of the water. Now, I personally didn’t think the manuscript pages were certifiably bad, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But even assuming the manuscripts and certain lines in the game did suck, that still wouldn’t implicate that Alan himself was a bad writer. That’s because it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. I tend to think of the specific lines used as the characters filling in the blanks from the manuscript with their own personalities. And of course, anything we don’t find on a manuscript in the game could just be things the characters make up on the spot.

    • Shamus says:

      Protip: Would you seriously roll your eyes at me in real life over something so trivial? If so, then you’re a jerk and you can leave. The body language you’re using here is telling me you have contempt for me. Your wording says that you think we CONSTANTLY get things wrong.

      Also: See Chris’ reply.

      • Classic says:

        Shamus, you’ve gotta know that to a nerd, someone getting wrong or omitting a detail of lore that you’ve really latched onto is about the most frustrating thing. It’s worse than people arguing for young earth creationism, looking for the cause of a really rare output bug, or having blue balls (based only, of course, on speculation).

        There have been a couple of times in your LPs that I’ve had to fight back the urge to shout a correction.

        Of course, all of these reactions are stupid and ultimately pointless, as evidenced by the fact that I can’t remember even one of the things I felt you needed correcting on only I was incensed that you had the audacity to be wrong on the internet.

        • Shamus says:

          “It’s worse than people arguing for young earth creationism”

          Do you think that among all the other readers, there isn’t a single person in favor of YEC? Would you like to argue with that person? I know I would not like to moderate the exchange.

          Back on point: I do think it’s funny that two people have resorted to “X, therefore your argument is invalid”, when I specifically made fun of that type of thing in the post.

          I’d love to do a comparison of how people respond to factual inaccuracies in conversation vs. on the internet. I used to know someone who acted like this:

          Storyteller: Oh man. It was the most amazing thing. I think it was Wednesday-

          Their “helper”: It was Thursday.

          Storyteller: Yeah, ok. I was hanging out with my brothers and-

          Helper: Eugene was there, too.

          Storyteller: Yeah, Eugene too. So I was driving us to-

          Helper: Actually, you weren’t driving yet.

          Storyteller: True. We were parked at KFC. Anyway, so I look up, and I see-

          Helper: Actually, we weren’t parked at KFC. Their parking lot was full so we parked at the drugstore.

          Storyteller: Yes. Whatever. The point is, I see this guy holding some kind of gym bag and the thing is hanging open and it’s full of these-

          Helper: Actually, it was a backpack. Not a gym bag.

          Storyteller: (Sigh.) I’m afraid I’m going to have to murder you now and throw your body in the river.

          Helper: That’s actually a stream, not a river. Rivers have-ACK!

          True story. And it was totally a river.

          • Thomas says:

            One day we’ll figure out a better method of communication than words and they’ll come imprinted with the feelings behind them because I’m tired and my mind has read this exchange in too many different emotions to actually make sense.

            • Vic 2.0 says:

              I don’t imagine people do critique each other’s “real world” conversations as much as they do on the internet. But then, you shouldn’t create and publish extensive criticism of something either online or on paper that you don’t want people to critique in the same nitpicky fashion. Turnabout is fair play! :)

          • Aldowyn says:

            XD His interruptions just kept becoming more and more pointless. Somewhere around the “you weren’t driving yet” or “we weren’t parked at KFC” was the point I would have stopped. I hope.

            Don’t murder me and throw my body into a stre.. RIVER! I MEANT RIVER! PLEASE!

          • Soylent Dave says:

            Side point: If you have never had this sort of conversation with a woman, only she was playing both parts, then you are a very lucky man indeed.

            (“ok, so I was in the shop last week… no, wait, it was Monday… and I was the supermarket – ASDA… or it was it Tesco? and I saw.. it was ASDA.. and I saw Jean and her son, what’s his name again? Fred? Michael? I think it’s Michael… so and she said… Steven! that’s his name… ”

            SKIP TO THE END!)

            • Sumanai says:

              I’ve done that. Way too often. Nowadays I either end up correcting myself constantly or peppering my stories with all sorts of stuff simply because I want to get over the story before people walk away.

              By “peppering” I mean “coming up with anything that keeps the story moving, ignoring the fact that it’s not true”.

            • Newbie says:

              I do that thing! I am not a woman. I object to your words! The problem when SOME women (and I assume some men) do this, is that they are talking about something that’s not funny anyway, it’s just some random gossip.

            • Dragomok says:

              I am the only person I know who does this and I am male – the worst part is, I tend to do this sometimes with important details.

            • Syal says:

              The people I talk to most often do that constantly.

              And over half the time, they’ll stop the story entirely to ask ME if they’re remembering a mundane detail right.

          • Sumanai says:

            Well I hope it was a river, since a stream usually isn’t enough to carry a corpse away. You have to chop it into all these small pieces and if you lose just one of them the police are so quick on your tale you wouldn’t believe.

          • Cuthalion says:

            I KNOW THIS GUY.

        • Deadpool says:

          I dunno… I’m a pretty big nerd, and somehow I managed to spend the entirety of the Fallout: New Vegas correcting lore mistakes without sounding like a jackass…

      • 13 CBS says:

        While Joel D was being very rude, I have to agree with Classic; in games where I know a thing or two (the lore, the quests, mechanics, etc), it can be strangely and disproportionally frustrating when you guys or any other LPer gets something factually wrong about the game you’re LPing. In my case, I suspect that it’s a mixture of “Someone Is Wrong On the Internet”, plus me being used to Something Awful’s Let’s Plays, where the LPers typically know almost every inch and corner of the game that they’re playing.

        Given that Spoiler Warning isn’t that sort of Something Awful style “showcase the game” LP, it’s understandable when you guys make a factual error or two–most of your flubs usually aren’t that important anyway. Nonetheless, it can be a jarring experience for me when complete, 100% knowledge of a game is what I’m used to from a LPer.

        • Raygereio says:

          The SW crew have made a lot of wrong statements over the last 7 seasons. There’s nothing wrong with that; even if they did happen to now every single bit of trivia, everyone gets stuff wrong occasionally when you’re just talking. People have corrected them in the comments before.

          Now, I’ll admit that watching the SW crew being completely clueless and then condemming the game for their own ignorance can be annoying to watch (Oh, hey Dead Money), but you can correct them in the comment thread without looking like a dick.
          It’s just a game afterall.

    • Lord Honk says:

      As Shamus pointed out with the “face […] face […]” blunder, it’s more about literary proficiency than the subject matter that is jarring about the manuscript.

      Then again, it might be more of a spur-of-the-moment rough sketch than a polished copy going out to be printed. Who knows? Wouldn’t be the first time somebody wrote what he thought to be a masterpiece only to have it rejected for a sub-par performance.

      • Littlefinger says:

        [quote]Then again, it might be more of a spur-of-the-moment rough sketch than a polished copy going out to be printed. [/quote]

        I’m not going to spoil anything, but keep this comment in mind for later. About half the game later.

      • Klay F. says:

        Here’s what got me. The manuscript was written in a week’s (in-game) time. On an old fashioned type-writer no-less. What is the likely-hood that these manuscript pages came within fifty miles of an editor? I bet you could compare the in-game pages to the first drafts of [name your favorite author here] and get the same level of crappy writing (i.e. stilted sentence structure etc.).

        • Viktor says:

          I know good fanfic writers who post their first drafts. Alan doesn’t hold a candle to them. Professional writers should be even better.

          • Syal says:

            …I wanted to argue with that, but now I just want a link to these first-draft fanfics.

            • Vic 2.0 says:

              No, no fanfic writer or professional author has had to do quite what Alan had to do. The circumstances of these writers cannot be compared to his circumstances in the cabin, period. And more importantly, for an artist to be judged by their art, it has to actually be 100% their art. The manuscript and the story that was realized from it are essentially the work of the dark presence.

          • Atarlost says:

            There is no such thing as a first draft anymore.

            Mr. Wake is using a manual typewriter. Not even an electric where you have a one line buffer. A manual. It’s a bloody miracle they are properly spelled and typo free without being covered in enough correction tape to embalm a corpse.

    • Pete says:

      Well, tutorial nightmare guy does state that Wake is a terrible writer that couldnt write his way out of a paper bag without his editor, and dreams have to form from only whatever the dreamer himself knows, so…

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        So this proves nothing. Alan (like every other artist in the world) has probably received some degree of harsh criticism, and it stayed in his subconscious. And some of the greatest artists in the world are insanely humble about it, so it wouldn’t mean a thing if Alan himself thought his writing sucked either.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      I would say that IF Alan’s manuscript pages were poorly written, it would have to be due in part to the constant revision by Barbara Jagger and also in part to the fact that’s he’s confused and distraught over losing his wife and the prospect of bringing her back by writing. And that’s not to mention the very setting in which he’s attempting to write. Dark, underwater cabin with a witch as your only company. And the predicament is not conducive to true creativity either. He’s being FORCED to be creative, and that just doesn’t work.

  4. Sumanai says:

    Damn you for using that joke from Men Behaving Badly!

    For those who don’t know, the original went something like this:
    “Finnish drink a lot.”
    “Yeah, that’s where the phrase ‘have you Finnished it’ comes from.”

  5. Rodyle says:

    Point 4 is rather unlikely. In my experience, Scandinavians in general are pretty fluent in English.

    I must say: I also really like the game in its non-combat bits. I’d love to play a game which is just that.

    • Ingvar says:

      There tend to be elements that bleed through from the native language. More so (at least to my Scandinavian, but these days mostly English-hearing, ears) if the native language happens to be Finnish. Less so in written English, though.

      • Rodyle says:

        None of the things wrong with the manuscript could, imho, be attributed to bleeding of the native language of the writers into English. I’ve read my fair share of that sort of stuff (it’s actually quite shocking what people will write at university-level), but I couldn’t detect it in the pages.

        • Ingvar says:

          I haven’t seen the pages. :)

          • Ingvar says:

            No, that’s not bearing any obvious hallmarks of having originally been Swedish, Norwegian or Danish. It also does not make the same errors I have seen in the (limited) Finnish-to-English translations I have seen, nor any of the hallmarks I associate with Finnish people having become more familiar with Swedish at an adult age.

      • False Prophet says:

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought Finns weren’t technically Scandinavian, nor is their language.

    • Jordan says:

      More so, is there any evidence towards the game not having been written in English?

      • Sumanai says:

        I think there’s a misunderstanding. When you write something in your non-native language and there are certain types of differences between those two languages, there’s a tendency of your native language seeping through in a way.

        I believe that this is what is being discussed and what Shamus was suggesting as a possibility.

        This is not, by the way, what is happening with my comments when I write strange, unnatural things with inhuman sentence structures. I do it in Finnish as well.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Mumbles,why do you keep saying that making a game about a writer is a bad idea if your writing sucks?Not all writers are good.If this was a game about stephenie meyer,would you be surprised that manuscripts arent that good?

    • tengokujin says:

      Presumably, it’s because it’s supposed to be a game about a *good* writer.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Good,or popular?Does the game ever say that he is good?

        • Chris says:

          This is a really valid point. While it’s established his books are quite popular, I’m not sure they’re ever established to be good. I’m getting a little ahead of where we are in the game, but prior to the vacation in Bright Falls he was sort of a rock star author who spends most of his time promoting his books on TV, partying with New York elite, or picking which sneering photograph of himself to turn into a standee at Barnes and Noble. Then he quite publicly gave up on Alex Casey and did a goodbye tour for the character/novel, and then two years passed without him writing anything.

          It would explain why he drinking during that time – he was a hack writer that got lucky with a character/story that got crazy popular and then struggled to come up with anything to follow it up – either because of creative roadblocks or simply because he wasn’t really all that great to begin with. And since the dream character was ostensibly a creation of his own mind, it could be that his own inability to write is a deep-seeded fear.

          All of that said, this isn’t a game that embraces subtlety in its symbolism or in its references. I doubt the manuscripts were clumsily written to give credence to the idea that Alan Wake is a tortured hack (even if the idea is cool to toy with when playing the game/poking at the narrative), and were instead constrained by a variety of other issues, from the real estate and language barriers, to the general style of the game’s authors (remember that Remedy made Max Payne and the thudding melodramatic self-narration starts to sound familiar), to the fact that bonus collectibles most people won’t find all of would be a low, low dev priority. I think it’s more likely a complex combination of these issues than a sly attempt to paint Wake as a Stephanie Meyer sort of figure.

          • Sekundaari says:

            That backstory also seems to be a (self-deprecating?) reference to the writer of this game (or the whole company) writing the Max Payne games and moving on.

            • Chris says:

              Yeah, I definitely got the vibe that having Alan Wake’s previous book series that he was leaving behind be about a gritty hard-boiled New York crime detective was an intentional reference to Remedy’s situation. They even do a late night talk show with Alan Wake shilling his book, talk about how it wa “time to move on,” then have Max Payne Face Guy do Max Payne Face! It’s all very meta.

              But again, we’re getting ahead of ourselves! :(

              So, how about that there manuscript page Josh found?

              • Sekundaari says:

                That’s especially interesting, considering Max Payne Face Guy is Sam Lake, the writer of Max Payne and this game. I imagine the character was rather personal.

                • tengokujin says:

                  If you misspell S. Lake, it’s A. Wake! CONSPIRACY!

                  • Gamer says:

                    It goes deeper than that. “S. Lake” is the name of the reporter from Alpha Protocol.

                    It’s a subtle way of saying that he helped write the story to Alpha Protocol.

                  • Vic 2.0 says:

                    The idea that Alan Wake is a bad writer is totally unfounded, possibly a subconscious attempt to take a swing at every aspect of a game you don’t like. Because you don’t like the game as a whole, you insist that everything about it sucks.

                    This “We’ve only established his fame, not his skill” bit doesn’t work. How many authors do you know of that have anywhere near that level of fame but are no good? None. Conversely, I’ve read The Alan Wake Files and his short stories and excerpts from one of the Alex Casey novels are in fact quite good. Sarah Breaker says at one point in the game, “You’re a good writer. A little heavy on the metaphors, maybe.” This is precisely what we have evidence to believe. Nothing more, nothing less.

                    As for the manuscripts and the lines that show up in the story, I personally didn’t think they were certifiably bad, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But assuming for a moment that they are bad, there are some very obvious explanations of that. The “He’s a mystery writer, not horror” argument aside, it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. At no point in the game does it say that every little thing that happens was written and nothing can be added to what was written.

                    That’s not to mention the circumstances in which Alan had (keyword!) to write. Not a single detail of these circumstances are conducive to creative writing.

                • Sumanai says:

                  He was only the face because the team at Remedy decided he was the most photographic. Also there was a decent back log of photos with him on them which were doctored for the game.

              • Jarenth says:

                I would just like to point out that I’ve never heard the word ‘thudding’ used so often, both in spoken and written dialogue.

                That is all, really.

              • Thomas says:

                And remember Max Payne 2 had loads and loads of writing lampshading MP1’s writing so it’s something they’ve done before.

                I think the melodrama could be deliberate whereas the repetition of face and things like that was probably time or not a lot of attention being paid to it

                • Sumanai says:

                  I think that was intentional. From what I’ve gathered the writer at Remedy seems the sort that knows that if a fictional story within a fictional story is too good it can shade the main story.

                  He could’ve easily decided to make Alan into a sort of B quality author simply to make his own job easier. Also I have difficulty believing that a person so ready to mock his own writing skills would be so egotistical, or so oblivious, that he would create a fictional writer who would be genuinely good and then have that story contain writing from that character.

                  I think it was partially on purpose, but partially because the writer at Remedy not being that good. Latter leading to the former, I’d say.

                • Vic 2.0 says:

                  The idea that Alan Wake is a bad writer is totally unfounded, possibly a subconscious attempt to take a swing at every aspect of a game you don’t like. Because you don’t like the game as a whole, you insist that everything about it sucks.

                  Also, the “We’ve only established his fame, not his skill” bit doesn’t work. How many authors do you know of that have anywhere near that level of fame but are no good? None. Conversely, I’ve read The Alan Wake Files and his short stories and excerpts from one of the Alex Casey novels are in fact quite good. Sarah Breaker says at one point in the game, “You’re a good writer. A little heavy on the metaphors, maybe.” This is precisely what we have evidence to believe. Nothing more, nothing less.

                  As for the manuscripts and the lines that show up in the story, I personally didn’t think they were certifiably bad, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But assuming for a moment that they are bad, there are some very obvious explanations of that. The “He’s a mystery writer, not horror” argument aside, it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. At no point in the game does it say that every little thing that happens was written and nothing can be added to what was written.

                  That’s not to mention the circumstances in which Alan had (keyword!) to write. Not a single detail of these circumstances are conducive to creative writing.

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            On the other hand I sort of assumed that the whole reason why Alan, rather than just any random passer by with a pair of hands (or any other part of the body or tool they could use) is forced into writing the whole darkness releasing novel is because it requires at least some basic amount of skill or artistry. I mean, we are told that the lake makes creative stuff come true, but we don’t see just any kid’s scribble of “Jimmy is a stupid donkey” magically coming to life.

            (Spoiler tags because I am getting ahead of the show)

            • psivamp says:

              It could also be his larger audience that is required rather than any talent he supposedly possesses — see all of the above arguments about how he could be complete garbage. The darkness or whatever might just want to get a toe-hold into as many people’s fears as possible.

              This could be completely wrong, I can’t actually remember how this story goes. I beat it on Nightmare, but that was around release time.

          • Soylent Dave says:

            I think the game very much makes it clear that he’s not a very good writer – he wants to be Stephen King, he wants to be Rod Serling… but he’s not.

            It’s also notable that he’s trying to be a pulp writer – or he’s been successful as one kind of pulp writer and now he’s trying to move away from that… and become a different kind of pulp fiction author.

            The fact that his agent is so crap really underlines for me that he’s just a shit (or at best mediocre) writer who hit upon something popular – which isn’t exactly uncommon – and he’s in many ways aware of these limits.

            The novelists and screenwriters he’s emulating aren’t exactly highbrow, after all.

            • Vic 2.0 says:

              Barry seems like a damn good agent, in my book.

              The idea that Alan Wake is a bad writer is totally unfounded, possibly a subconscious attempt to take a swing at every aspect of a game you don’t like. Because you don’t like the game as a whole, you insist that everything about it sucks.

              This “We’ve only established his fame, not his skill” bit doesn’t work. How many authors do you know of that have anywhere near that level of fame but are no good? None. Conversely, I’ve read The Alan Wake Files and his short stories and excerpts from one of the Alex Casey novels are in fact quite good. Sarah Breaker says at one point in the game, “You’re a good writer. A little heavy on the metaphors, maybe.” This is precisely what we have evidence to believe. Nothing more, nothing less.

              As for the manuscripts and the lines that show up in the story, I personally didn’t think they were certifiably bad, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But assuming for a moment that they are bad, there are some very obvious explanations of that. The “He’s a mystery writer, not horror” argument aside, it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. At no point in the game does it say that every little thing that happens was written and nothing can be added to what was written.

              That’s not to mention the circumstances in which Alan had (keyword!) to write. Not a single detail of these circumstances are conducive to creative writing.

              BTW, all that “he wants to be Stephen King, he wants to be Rod Serling… It’s also notable that he’s trying to be a pulp writer” jazz? Entirely made up on your part.

          • krellen says:

            So Shamus, now that Chris has taken your role as the deep thinker on Spoiler Warning, what part will you play in the future?

          • Hitch says:

            The most popular book I have ever read (based on an inordinate amount of time spent on bestsellers lists and having a wildly successful movie made from it) was perhaps the worst written book I have ever read.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          The idea that Alan Wake is a bad writer is totally unfounded, possibly a subconscious attempt to take a swing at every aspect of a game you don’t like. Because you don’t like the game as a whole, you insist that everything about it sucks.

          This “We’ve only established his fame, not his skill” bit doesn’t work. How many authors do you know of that have anywhere near that level of fame but are no good? None. Conversely, I’ve read The Alan Wake Files and his short stories and excerpts from one of the Alex Casey novels are in fact quite good. Sarah Breaker says at one point in the game, “You’re a good writer. A little heavy on the metaphors, maybe.” This is precisely what we have evidence to believe. Nothing more, nothing less.

          As for the manuscripts and the lines that show up in the story, I personally didn’t think they were certifiably bad, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But assuming for a moment that they are bad, there are some very obvious explanations of that. The “He’s a mystery writer, not horror” argument aside, it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. At no point in the game does it say that every little thing that happens was written and nothing can be added to what was written.

          That’s not to mention the circumstances in which Alan had (keyword!) to write. Not a single detail of these circumstances are conducive to creative writing.

      • Amnestic says:

        That was my thought. I always interpreted the game to be indicating that Alan Wake (despite writing some schlock) was generally meant to be a proficient writer. At the very least, more proficient than the manuscript pages make him out to be.

        • Soylent Dave says:

          I suspect he’s always been more ‘prolific’ than ‘proficient’.

          Which is probably good enough to move the plot along – I get the idea that being able to write consistently is more important than being able to write well (that applies in real life as well, sometimes, but I meant for purposes of ‘why he has to be a writer’ in the story)

          • Amnestic says:

            Probable Alan Wake spoilers yonder.

            I was under the impression – perhaps incorrectly – that the Dark Presence needed a proficient artist/writer in order to manifest itself into the real world. After all, if Alan Wake isn’t required by the plot to be a good writer, why bother with him at all? Why not get any of the thousands of internet fanfic writers there instead? They’d probably offer a whole lot less resistance. Alan Wake is described as being ‘brave’, has a solid reason for fighting back (love for his wife), and is notably quite able with firearms. Wouldn’t it be easier to just get (stereotyping here) some pimplyfaced teenager who gets all gooey over their Cloud x Sephiroth slashfics?

            This might be explained, it’s been a fair amount of time since I played the game and I never really comprehended the ending to begin with (like I said), but I was always under the impression that proficiency at his craft was why the Dark Presence wanted him in the first place.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              I havent played it,so I have no clue,but what does the dark presence operate on?Usually,gods(and by extension demons and such)operate on belief.So the more people they get to believe,the better.If thats the case,having a popular writer would be key.

              • Amnestic says:

                More possible/probable spoilers. Better safe than sorry!

                I’ve had a glance around the Alan Wake wikia and that doesn’t seem to be the case. My reading is that it merely needs some sort of artist (which extends to musicians, so ‘artist’ as a blanket term rather than someone who makes what we understand to be ‘art’) to create works that allow it to manifest.

                My supposition was that it needed quality art for it to work properly, which was why it wanted our protagonist specifically and why the game was implying that he was meant to be a proficient writer. I’ll freely admit I may be missing something, but from what I’ve read and what I’ve played, either a) Alan Wake is a bad writer and the Dark Presence could’ve got any two-bit fanfiction author to free themselves, making its goal significantly more difficult to attain by using Alan, or b) Alan Wake is a good writer, and that’s why the Dark Presence wants him.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  But how does the work allow it to manifest?Does it have to be close to reality(therefore by a good artist),does it have to be made with passion(can go either way),does it have to be made by someone people believe in(popularity is key)?If its never stated,it could go either way.The question then remains was it made moot by purpose(the game writers are good),or by accident(the game writers are bad).

                  • Sleeping Dragon says:

                    Spoilers ahoy!

                    Well we are meant to believe that for the magic to work properly the work of art needs certain “balancing”. I mean just as Zane couldn’t simply write “but then Barbara walked in through the door saying ‘I got better’ and they lived happily ever after” without consequence so the dark presence can’t simply have Alan write “the dark was free and all powerful and nobody could ever stop it in the history of the universe” and be done with it, apparently it needs to gradually work its way in starting from the point of “reality as is” to get to “reality as I want it to be” in steps leaving in certain loopholes and close calls (I think Alan says something to this effect at some point later in the game). Again I would assume this requires a creator of at least some minimal skill, though I suppose it could be argued the plot being “balanced” does not mean the writing itself being good.

                  • Sumanai says:

                    Yeah, it could really go any way.

                • Even says:

                  Or C) The Dark Presence just saw him as someone who it could easily manipulate to do its bidding.

                  • Vic 2.0 says:

                    But, as Amnestic pointed out, Alan’s not someone who’s easily manipulated (compared to most people).

                    I’ve never really thought about the possibility that the dark presence needs Alan for either his popularity or skill, really. But I do know there is more evidence to suggest Alan’s a good writer than to suggest otherwise. There is absolutely no objective evidence to suggest a lack of skill (See my other posts in this conversation.)

    • Moewicus says:

      I think if you want to make a game about a bad writer, you should at least lampshade it somehow. Either make it funny, as one might expect from a game about a Stephenie Meyer-like writer (which is the only way I would play a game featuring writing of the caliber Meyer puts out), or make it clear that the famous writer protagonist is going through a nadir in the quality of his/her output. Wake’s problem, however, is set up as an inability to write at all, rather than well; and since we find the manuscript pages inside nightmares, it is reasonable to expect them to be vividly written as manifestations of Wake’s troubled psyche. I’m just going by what I’ve seen on Spoiler Warning and a couple other videos so far, but “his” writing is as soporific as his voice. Obviously not all writers are good, but when writing is bad we just call it bad writing, not verisimilitude.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        There are no manuscripts in Alan Wake’s nightmares. But you’re right to put the word “his” in quotations when you talk about “his writing”. The manuscripts are not truly his writing because he’s given very little creative freedom in writing it while trapped in the cabin. It’s all orchestrated by the dark presence, as the game points out later. It talks of how it’s being “heavily revised” by “Barbara Jagger”, and there’s a line that goes “Some part of me must’ve been aware enough to…” that tells you in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t even all there when writing it.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Interesting anagrams for bird leg:
    Bled Rig
    Bird Gel
    Glib Red
    Interesting anagrams for bird leg cabin:
    Barbel Icing
    Rabble Icing
    Barbing Lice
    Barb Ceiling
    Carbine Glib
    Lace Bribing
    Lacing Bribe
    Lab Brig Nice
    Acne Bib Girl

    Make of that what you will.

  8. X2Eliah says:

    I’d go with point #2. Small UI size is a limiting factor for a lot of game mechanics (e.g. the inventory in Oblivion), and in this case.. well, there’s no other way around it.

    I don’t get why it had to be voiced-over as well, though. The last thing you want with *lengthy* text is to have an external voice reading it loud, because it will definitely be out of sync with your own speed of reading. Very annoying.

    • Naota says:

      Tell this to Visual Novels with spoken dialogue. People lose their minds over whether or not the things are voice-acted (in Japanese half the time), and will go to incredible lengths like importing the game twice in a row just to enable it… all to have a voice in a foreign language they don’t understand speaking over the English text at a much slower rate than they will probably be reading it.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      I didn’t see any problem with the writing, personally.

      “I don’t get why it had to be voiced-over as well, though. The last thing you want with *lengthy* text is to have an external voice reading it loud, because it will definitely be out of sync with your own speed of reading. Very annoying.”

      Again, refer to the fact that they seem to be going for a television series kind of feel. This is made most evident by the way they end each episode, but also by their use of cinematics and camera angle mechanics that allow you to see what’s behind Wake while he’s running forward, etc. And yes, all the narration, including while you’re reading manuscripts. All very TV-like.

      I don’t see how one could find it annoying, just different. But then, maybe these two are synonyms for some people *shrugs*

      • Vi says:

        >>I don’t see how one could find it annoying, just different. But then, maybe these two are synonyms for some people *shrugs*

        Depends on how your senses work. If I try to read and listen simultaneously, even if it’s the same words, the outer voice clashes with my inner reading monologue and all that reaches my brain is incoherent chatter. Then I have to start over again with either the voice OR the text in order to get the meaning. I don’t have much difficulty adapting once I understand the need to queue my senses, but others might have more difficulty working around similar issues.

        The visual novel example–as with subtitled videos–is actually far gentler on my neural circuits, precisely because I can’t parse the other languages. The voices therefore never occupy the same sensory channel as reading–more like background music, where it’s the inflection and cadence that carry meaning through the language barrier. Still, I’d imagine there are some people who don’t have the circuitry to juggle those inputs either. That may be why dubs and mute-the-voiceover options are often available.

        –N

  9. silver Harloe says:

    Bird Leg Cabin – a reference to Baba Yaga’s hut?

    • Xakura says:

      Yeah, it is. The Anderson brothers even throw out her name later, talking about the darkness.

      (Also, all I know of Baba Yaga is from Hellboy)

      • tengokujin says:

        Most I know about Baba Yaga is from “Enchantment”. The idea of her chicken-legged house being an airplane is fun. :p

        • Newbie says:

          Please tell me that airplane is not a real word in the US… I can cope with the spellings and the word sidewalk (plus other words). But there is no reason in hell to say airplane instead of aeroplane. I’m actually upset, I’m trying so hard not to be I swear.

          • Destrustor says:

            I think the main reason is that “air” is slightly easier and faster to pronounce than “aero”.
            Plus, I know a lot of people who would consistently say it “areo”, (in french, aero and areo(which is not a word anyway) are easily mixed when you speak even a little too fast). “areoplane” would get on my nerves big time, so I’m pretty content with the good old “airplane”

            • Supahewok says:

              American English has always had a focus on efficiency and simplicity. When new words are invented here they’re as simple as possible. This is bad for the artistry of language, but good for the business use of language, if you understand what I’m saying. Americans like using fewer words for more effect. Call it laziness or efficiency, just like a lot of other things that are American.

    • Aaron says:

      All I know about Baba Yaga is from Dungeons and Dragons.

  10. 7. A mixture of all the above.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Well, the idea that Alan Wake is a bad writer is totally unfounded, possibly a subconscious attempt to take a swing at every aspect of a game you don’t like. Because you don’t like the game as a whole, you insist that everything about it sucks.

      This “We’ve only established his fame, not his skill” bit doesn’t work. How many authors do you know of that have anywhere near that level of fame but are no good? None. Conversely, I’ve read The Alan Wake Files and his short stories and excerpts from one of the Alex Casey novels are in fact quite good. Sarah Breaker says at one point in the game, “You’re a good writer. A little heavy on the metaphors, maybe.” This is precisely what we have evidence to believe. Nothing more, nothing less.

      As for the manuscripts and the lines that show up in the story, I personally didn’t think they were certifiably bad, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But assuming for a moment that they are bad, there are some very obvious explanations of that. The “He’s a mystery writer, not horror” argument aside, it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. At no point in the game does it say that every little thing that happens was written and nothing can be added to what was written.

      That’s not to mention the circumstances in which Alan had (keyword!) to write. Not a single detail of these circumstances are conducive to creative writing.

  11. Gamer says:

    It might be a first draft of the novel Alan was writing.
    After all, “[He] can’t write a good sentence without [his] editor!”

    Either that or number two.

    • Tizzy says:

      Of course, it’s funny because, in real life, big-shot writers never get edited properly. The books are going to get sold based on name recognition anyway, so who wants to tangle with a writer’s big ego and correct their mistakes?

  12. Eärlindor says:

    But Shamus, I have two or three old wind chimes! :D

    • Indy says:

      Best thing about that windchime is that Alan’s clearly interacting with it with a foot between his head the closest chime. This might be the only place where Collision Detection comes up in the game in regards to his head, but that is way off.

  13. SougoXIII says:

    On the subject of the awkward writing, I think that it’s more likely that the writer wanted to show Alan Wake as a bad writer because the in-game monologues/dialogues are nowhere near that bad.

    The pages needed to fit in bite-sized portions on a TV screen, so there wasn’t enough room to make some vivid prose.

    Wouldn’t this problem be simply solve by giving the players the ability to scroll down or turn to a new page?

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      The space limitation is actually the reason I’d go with myself. Yes, scrolling would solve the problem but, seeing as the pages are showing up all over the place my money would be on a decision not to “break the flow” of gameplay with too lengthy parts of dry text. I mean, I like reading but I have to admit if those were longer (like, say, a couple times longer) I would probably be taking the moment I got the pages as a cue to pause the game and go do stuff like grab the sandwich or feed the cat or something.

      Another two reasons why they might have not wanted to make those longer:
      -voiceacting is expensive (though I think having those read out loud was a somewhat questionable decision in the first place)
      -the shortness lets those be snippety enough to talk about events without giving entirely enough context to spoil everything (though I think this fails probably nearly as often as it works, I’m just guessing it’s the effect the writers wanted to achieve with most pages relating to events that haven’t yet happened in the game).

      • SougoXIII says:

        I certainly see your points but regarding not wanting to break the flow of the game: since the manuscripts are optional collectables, I don’t think that they will interfere with the gameplay too much since the player can read it at any time they want. Also, the entire premise of the game resolves around a writer who’s writing is coming true to haunt him (I think? I haven’t actually play Alan Wake yet but isn’t this how all this kind of stories turned out?) – you would expect reading to be a major part of the game at some point.

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          I’m actually curious how many people didn’t stop to read those as soon as they grabbed them, I imagine a minority. Also, I actually somewhat dislike the status of the pages as optional collectables, it kinda irked me when Alan never, ever connected the dots in the writing with what was happening, I mean it can be somewhat explained in the early part of the game when he is confused, scared and generally has no idea what’s going but I would like to see him at least try at some point later on, even if it resulted in failure or a case of self fulfilling prophecy.

          As for the writing coming back to haunt him I’ll leave this part for now since we’re not really anywhere near the part of the show where we get any explanation.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        On the manuscripts:

        “voiceacting is expensive (though I think having those read out loud was a somewhat questionable decision in the first place)”

        Again, refer to the fact that they seem to be going for a television series kind of feel. This is made most evident by the way they end each episode, but also by their use of cinematics and camera angle mechanics that allow you to see what’s behind Wake while he’s running forward, etc. And yes, all the narration, including while you’re reading manuscripts. All very TV-like. I thought the whole presentation taken together was pretty impressive, myself.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “On the subject of the awkward writing, I think that it’s more likely that the writer wanted to show Alan Wake as a bad writer because the in-game monologues/dialogues are nowhere near that bad.”

      Assuming this opinion (“The manuscript sucks, but the rest of the game’s writing isn’t all that bad”) is popular here, that would be all the more reason to subscribe to a theory I’ll admit I’ve beaten like the dead horse it is: The manuscripts were physically penned by Alan Wake but mostly created by the dark presence through him. The quote “Some part of me must have been aware enough to write my escape into the story” tells us in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t himself while writing the vast majority of the manuscript.

      What should end this debate (if not the fact that he’s insanely popular and successful as a writer) is the contents of the Limited Edition box set. Specifically, there’s a short story and an excerpt from one of his Alex Casey novels that prove he is in fact quite a decent writer… when he’s actually in control of the writing process.

  14. Josh, is the voicechat recording separated into 5 recordings/data dumps? (one for each person talking)
    If so could you put two people on the left audio channel and two people on the right audio channel.
    5 people talking at once (for a brief second or two) would sound less harsh that way.

    Ideally the layout would be:
    person 1: 100% left
    person 2: 50% left
    person 3: center
    person 4: 50% right
    person 5: 100% right

    This will make it easier to hear you guys (and gal) talking as the directionality will help the brain separate/filter multiple voices apart from each other as nobody would be speaking from the same direction.
    Currently there are 5 people talking from the center, plus a lot of the game audio (voices mostly) are also full center.

    I think Josh in the center (as Josh is playing and is fully in sync with what he hears/see in the game would be best place in the center.
    As two whom should be on left 100%/left 50%/right 50%/right 100% angles I have no idea.
    Maybe Shamus and Chris on opposite sides at left 50% and right 50%, and Rutskarn and Mumbles on opposite 100% left and 100% right.
    That should be a balanced soundscape sonically speaking.

    • Looking in ventrilo it seems that a session recording has all the voices separate.
      And in the Recording/playback window you can mute/unmute individual speakers or all etc.
      This would mean that you would have to mute all but speaker 1 and then export,
      and rinse and repeat until you mute all but speaker 5 and export.

      One benefit of 1 audio file per speaker is that you can balance the audio of each speaker in case of too low/loud volume.

      (something tells me Josh will end up a video editing master by the end of the year)

      • tengokujin says:

        And audio engineer.

      • Just tried it (drop in on some open ventrilo server)
        It worked exactly as a I thought it would.

        Mute all, then unmute one of the people speaking, export.
        Mute all again, then unmute the next one to export.
        All tracks lined up nicely in the audio editing program.
        Did a quick test where all people was unmuted and it matched the individual tracks exactly.

        One thing I noticed though is that 50-100% might be a tad extreeme, but then again if most of the games audio is focused towards the front half of the soundscape then placing you guys to the more direct left/right might keep things more clear.

        Simple panning, and simple volume gain was all that was needed.

        (I used the 3.0.8 x86 Windows version BTW!)

    • McNutcase says:

      Josh, please DON’T do what this post suggests. It’s an absolutely terrible idea for anyone who doesn’t have perfect hearing. Did I mention that approximately NOBODY who’ll be watching this will have perfect hearing these days, given how noisy the modern world is? Playing silly games with panning would make the show completely unwatchable for me, thanks to my being partially deaf on one side. I very much doubt I’m the only viewer who deals with this problem.

      • BeardedDork says:

        After too many times firing automatic weapons without adequate hearing protection, I too am mostly deaf in my left ear. However, so long as he doesn’t do 100% either side it should work out fine. I don’t imagine most people watching this with noise canceling headphones on so the entirety of the sound recording will be most likely in frontish of the viewer so both ears will pick up all audio to one degree or another.

      • Jeremy says:

        Panning audio left/right has only has a smallish effect on the relative volume in each ear, so listening to it mono or with one ear will sound fine. Your brain uses the relative phases of the audio coming in each ear to do most of the placement (with the fine detail coming from the filtering effect of the shape of your ears – look up “Head-related transfer function” for the gory details).

        If you try panning audio by simply making one side louder than the other, it feels like your ear is blocked; I find it very uncomfortable.

        IOW, I think there’s a good chance that stereo placement would help separate the speakers for listeners who can make use of it, and not disadvantage those who can’t.

    • Tobias says:

      I tried something like this once for my LPs.
      100% of testers agreed that this gives one a headache after 5 minutes if you are listening using headphones.

      • As i mentioned fully left/right might be too extreme and a tighter placement might be better.

        Also keep in mind that if Josh already do export each person separately a quick pan is all he needs to do to test how this works/sounds.
        And if not, then at the very least he’ll have an excuse to do separate exporting to allow individual volume gain tweaks (geeks always fiddle with their settings and forget to set them back for the next session).

        Also it’s not for me to tell Josh to do this nor for you to tell him not to test this.

        Maybe wait with the complaining until you actually have heard it tested? It’s possible the others you heard do this sucks and Josh’s skills is way beyond them.

        And if you have issues hearing on one ear then I’d suggest settings the Windows audio settings to Mono, or use a Stereo>Mono headphone adapter as games and movies and music is very heavily left/right sound field oriented and quite many even have surround.

        I’m hoping Josh tests this, and if he thinks it’s workable I’m sure he’ll use the rest of the gang as test subjects to get their opinion and then the masses (i.e. we will either get a test or a full episode with that audio layout and depending on general feedback it will be continued or discontinued)

        Edit: The mono comment was for McNutcase and the jab about audio engineering skills was directed at Tobias, BTW!
        Edit2: Hey McNutcase, windows audio settings do allow you to adjust two sliders (Vista/Win7 at least not sure about XP) for Left/Right loudness/balance, if the reduced hearing is not frequency limited then adjusting balance should make headphone listening enjoyable again. If the loss is frequency bound then special headphones or special software might be worth looking into.

        • While I did mention just simple panning (placing one speaker in the middle and the other 4 to the sides slightly apart perhaps?), there are more advanced methods. Depending on the audio editor used it might e possible to do true surround mixing, adding reflections to help place the sounds better in a virtual room.

          But even careful simple panning/placement should allow the illusion that you/we are standing behind the couch that the Spoiler Warning gang is sitting on (looking at the game), rather than “out in the hallway” as some here probably imagined.

        • McNutcase says:

          Yes, I could look into assistive software at frankly obscene cost, or custom hardware at similarly obscene cost. Or I could just politely request that the creators of a thing I enjoy not do something that will make it far harder for me and many other people to enjoy, merely for the sake of making their creative process take much longer, with extra opportunities for things to go wrong along the way.

          • lasslisa says:

            I have to imagine there’s been a miscommunication here – setting the audio sliders on your computer doesn’t seem like special anything at obscene cost. And it would be helpful for other things, too, if you didn’t already know it was possible.

            • McNutcase says:

              “special headphones or special software might be worth looking into.”

              That would be a direct quote from the post I was responding to. My hearing loss is more profound in some frequencies than others.

              I don’t expect the world to arrange itself for the convenience of people with hearing loss. For one thing, that would screw over all the people who aren’t struggling – and you guys outnumber us. That said, it would be very much a non-Wheaton’s-Rule-compliant move to make a change which would definitely make things worse for anyone with hearing loss. Especially if that change wouldn’t improve things for people not dealing with hearing loss.

          • I find it hard to enjoy a burst of voices coming from the same location. This is the first time (I believe) that 5 people has been hosts. Originally there where 3 hosts. Later when a 4th was added it was starting to push the limit.

            With 5 people talking at once at times it is starting to become difficult to separate the voices due to increasing frequency overlaps.

            But instead of complaining or having a knee jerk reaction and demanding something drastic like reducing the number of people, I came up with and idea/suggestion that will help keep 5 hosts talking at the same time overlapping, while still having what they say remain intelligible.

            Ideally Spoiler Warning would be subtitled, as sometimes a loud sound (locally) will drown out the stream and I’ll have to skip back a bit to hear what the gang said. But subtitles would be very time consuming.

            What I was suggesting would have minimal overhead, and if Josh is already exporting each persons audio from ventrilo separately, then setting the the pan of each track to something would be virtually nil.

            It’s possible that as little as 10% 5% 0% 5% 10% is needed to get the positional location needed to identify speakers by direction, but while allowing those with reduced hearing on one side to still hear the voices “centered” thus mono’ish.

          • BeardedDork says:

            It’s better to try to customize the information the world feeds you than customize the way you consume it? What an absolutely self centered view.

            Like I said I’m mostly deaf in my left ear, I’m not about to suggest that a theater only use the speakers on the right side of the room so I can hear better.

            It is literally 7 mouse clicks (from this conversation) to change the speakers from stereo to mono in windows 7, I just checked, it didn’t cost me anything, I didn’t have to phone fox and ask them to record House in mono sound for my benefit.

            • McNutcase says:

              I didn’t say that. I said it would be a dumb idea to vastly increase Josh’s workload in making Spoiler Warning, in order to achieve an effect which would make Spoiler Warning far less enjoyable for a significant proportion of the viewers.

              When I’m consuming media, I have ways of coping with the issues arising from my hearing loss. Currently, Spoiler warning doesn’t require any additional measures. I don’t see the sense in making it less convenient for people to watch. Isn’t that why they moved to YouTube?

            • You where able to change to mono? I looked but couldn’t find it!

    • Exetera says:

      This also doesn’t work for people with, say, one fried speaker channel, or half-off headphones…

      • Bryan says:

        This. I listen with half-off headphones *all the time*, because I need to pay attention to other stuff in the room as well. (The pager telling me that something is busted at work, mainly.)

        • For that reason I now prefer half open headphones (they let outside sound in, but hardly any headphone sound out, they also let fresh air in so your ears don’t shrivel up into a sponge :)

          But what I don’t get is why some people get angry or upset, as if I just did a change to spoiler warning that ruined it.

          No.1 I did not change anything about spoiler warning
          No.2 I merely made a suggestion and did some factual seeking tests to confirm my statements in my suggestion.
          No.3 I am not able to change anything about Spoiler Warning as I have nothing to do with it’s production.

          I always enjoyed Twenty Sided since unlike “other” forums/sites things are pretty “smart” around here. Sure heated discussions about various opinions pop up now and again, but I’ve never seen anyone get upset at anyone for a suggestion or an idea before.

          So I’m not entirely sure what is going on around here now.
          If people wish to be upset about things then that is fine, just leave me out of the equation please!

      • What an odd thing to say. I at least can not recall people complaining about that to game developers like BioWare.

        Complaints about things not being mono pretty much vanished with the mono radio. Now that stereo is everywhere and multichannel surround even exist in cars (with matching broadcasts)

        And people that have a blown speaker/headphone can not seriously complain, if so then all the “stereo” (and lest not forget the multichannel surround folks) has equal rights to complain about mono.

        Unfortunate Windows Vista/7 does not seem to allow the selection of mono output, just 2 or more channels.
        However some soundcard drivers do expose the possibility of mono downmixing.

        How well games and other software that make sound work with that I have no idea as any basic surround will be canceled out, and in fact half the stereo will be canceled out as well in a worst case scenario. Not to mention music, hopefully the vocalist is singing in the center of the soundscape only then.

        I never though I had to speak for humans having been born with two ears. *laughs*

    • X2Eliah says:

      Sorry, but to me that sounds like a bad idea. Simply because listening to that would be a massive annoyance. I’ve heard a podcast or two where some people were mono-channel to a side and some were perferctly blended and some were 1:4. It’s Horrible. It just doesn’t sound right, and whatever yo gain in clarity you lose much more in tasking the brain to fill out invalid spacing information.

      Especially as many people, I bet, use headphones which accenuate all separation effects a lot.

    • ooli says:

      And everyone should have the deep warm voice of Chris! Since Chris is here everyone sound so silly.

      (WHAT! Shamus: worst title-pun ever)

  15. MatthewH says:

    Having already confessed that my ear apparently sucks, the first question to answer should be: is the voiced dialogue as bad as the manuscript pages? If both the voiced dialogue and the manuscript pages are bad, then it becomes likely the problem is with Remedy’s skill -either that they are bad writers, or that they are bad translaters.

    If, however, the dialogue and the manuscripts are of different qualities, then it opens the possibility that this is a stylistic decision driven either by technical considerations (the desire to make it legible on the TV Screen, for which my poor, poor, ME3 bleeding eyes thank you, Remedy!) or artistic reasons (showing that Alan either was a hack, or that he’d lost his mojo).

    Though we would also have to nail down whether the VAs had the ability to ad lib their dialogue but were forced to read the manuscript pages verbatim since -well, the player would notice if the VA deviated from the script.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Umm, what do you mean, “bad”?

      If you’re referring to the quality of the writing itself, I think Remedy did a fine job. There’s nothing I would consider certifiably “bad”.

  16. James Pony says:

    Remedy being Finnish is not really any good reason and/or excuse for bad writing. Although apparently Swedes are overall more fluent in English than Finns, the percentage of fluent English speakers is pretty significant.
    Especially for someone working for a game developer, where just being a “gamer” really forces exposure to lots of English material, AND being a writer, there’s just no excuse for losing things in translation. The game is in English so *I* would write (and this includes THINKING) in English.

    So if the writing is bad, it’s bad because it’s bad in any language, not because it’s good in Finnish but Googelm Transcrab just failed to import tax fathom intention.

    Also, if Remedy intended Alan to be a crap writer, then it’s bad (or just not good) writing if it doesn’t come across without out-of-game explanations.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Well, the idea that Alan Wake is a bad writer is totally unfounded, possibly a subconscious attempt to take a swing at every aspect of a game you don’t like. Because you don’t like the game as a whole, you insist that everything about it sucks.

      This “We’ve only established his fame, not his skill” bit doesn’t work. How many authors do you know of that have anywhere near that level of fame but are no good? None. Conversely, I’ve read The Alan Wake Files and his short stories and excerpts from one of the Alex Casey novels are in fact quite good. Sarah Breaker says at one point in the game, “You’re a good writer. A little heavy on the metaphors, maybe.” This is precisely what we have evidence to believe. Nothing more, nothing less.

      As for the manuscripts and the lines that show up in the story, I personally didn’t think they were certifiably bad, not “bad” enough to be nitpicked at any rate. But assuming for a moment that they are bad, there are some very obvious explanations of that. The “He’s a mystery writer, not horror” argument aside, it was essentially the dark presence who wrote the manuscript (or at least governed how “good” it could be, using her own otherworldly standards) and it’s equally possible that neither Alan nor the dark presence wrote those specific lines into the story. At no point in the game does it say that every little thing that happens was written and nothing can be added to what was written.

      That’s not to mention the circumstances in which Alan had (keyword!) to write. Not a single detail of these circumstances are conducive to creative writing.

  17. SyrusRayne says:

    Okay, having looked at that house area, here’s a way to make that nonsensical beginning tutorial area fit with the game, within the storyline.

    The flashlight? You get introduced to that in the dark house! You see some kinda spooky shadow or something, get a little text pop-up to shine your light at it and telling you how to focus it and stuff, and then the shadow-thing disappears. Also maybe it turns out to be some kind of doll or something casting the shadow from some other angle? Something that doesn’t say “YOU’RE GONNA FIGHT THESE SHADOW THINGS LATER.”

    Dodging might be a bit trickier, but honestly you could just as well put that in your first encounter in the story. Or have it so you have to maybe dodge around an overly aggressive dog, or some such thing. Again, something that doesn’t scream “WHOOPS YOU GONNA FIGHT THIS SHIT LATER ON FOR REALS”

    Hell, you could work this into a lengthier opening for the storyline. Wife is scared of the dark, she sees a scary thing, you go scare it off. Bonding! Wake looks like less of a dick, too!

    • PurePareidolia says:

      Yeah, basically this. I’m not sure about the text popup when you have narration – an exchange like “what’s that scary looking shadow?” “Let me check *shines flashlight on it* There, see? Nothing to be afraid of unless the batteries run out”. It’d get the point across, though I can see the whole “flashlight kills monsters” interaction being hard to demonstrate. Perhaps keep the dream sequence but have the way be blocked by shadowy vines that you have to illuminate to burn away? That would build the association of flashlight kills shadows pretty clearly.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “Okay, having looked at that house area, here’s a way to make that nonsensical beginning tutorial area fit with the game, within the storyline.”

        It fit just fine the way it was? After reading ahead here, I noticed you couldn’t elaborate on just how it didn’t fit…

        “The flashlight? You get introduced to that in the dark house! You see some kinda spooky shadow or something, get a little text pop-up to shine your light at it and telling you how to focus it and stuff, and then the shadow-thing disappears.”

        It still wouldn’t justify Alan wasting time later on trying this on an ax murderer (who may or may not have something in common with said entity) without explicit and credible assurance that it would work, when he could be using that time trying to get the hell away from it, or shooting it. See, you’re making the gameplay truly not fit the story at this point.

        “Dodging might be a bit trickier, but honestly you could just as well put that in your first encounter in the story. Or have it so you have to maybe dodge around an overly aggressive dog, or some such thing. Again, something that doesn’t scream ‘WHOOPS YOU GONNA FIGHT THIS SHIT LATER ON FOR REALS'”

        Nothing in-game tells you you’re going to be fighting them later “for reals” until you actually are face to face with one in the real world. You don’t even know it’s a nightmare until you wake up, so… yeah.

        “Hell, you could work this into a lengthier opening for the storyline. Wife is scared of the dark, she sees a scary thing, you go scare it off. Bonding! Wake looks like less of a dick, too!”

        Maybe they wanted Alan to be a dick? Maybe they were tired of seeing damn near perfect video game protagonists (I know I was). And I liked the tutorial being in the dream sequence! Because they make Zane so unbelievable as a real entity (once you wake up from the nightmare) that you actually think you’re 100% alone in that lumber yard with Stucky. Any explanation of the light mechanism in the real world would’ve prevented that alone and desperate feeling, wrecking one of the best scenes in the game.

        “Perhaps keep the dream sequence but have the way be blocked by shadowy vines that you have to illuminate to burn away? That would build the association of flashlight kills shadows pretty clearly.”

        Not a horrible idea. But even from here, I don’t see why Alan (the character) would risk his life trying to shine a flashlight on an ax murderer who’s trying to kill him in the off-chance that the ax murderer and the vines have that in common, when he could put all his effort into either shooting or running from said psycho. That’s especially if you cut out the scene with Clay Steward, yet another epic moment that it seems “improving” the game in such ways would lose.

    • Gamer says:

      This may be just me, but does anyone else here really hate dodge mechanics in games? I don’t know, but it just seems that whenever they have a designated “Dodge” function, there is always a significantly easier and more effective way of dodging because of timing or somthing. (Take the episode of AC2 where it took forever to discern the difference between “Dodge” and “Strafe.”)

      • Klay F. says:

        Some games do it better than others. Bayonetta for example. The majority of enemy attacks are too large to avoid by simply just trying to move out of the way. In comes the dodge function, where as long as you hit the button at the right time, you will avoid damage no matter where you are in relation to the enemy.

  18. Museli says:

    Between FlatOut, Trials HD, Trine and Legend of Grimrock, Finland has produced an awful lot of my favourite games, given its relatively small population.

  19. Thomas says:

    So when you’re walking along the bridge you get to a point and a raven flies off and I thought, that was a nice artsy touch. Then it happened and I thought, yep nice touch. 3rd time, still walking across the bridge. Okay they did that too often. Just finished thinking that and they did it with a 4th raven. Wow just as I’d been saying they’d done it too often a 4th raven did it too!

    5th raven flew off.

    Guys that trolling with the wife was both funny and the most awful thing you’ve ever done.

    I really dislike the art style of this game. I don’t know what it is, but I’m sensitive to style but can’t really describe it but this game needed lots and it has none whatsoever. I think it’s all too clean and well rounded but I can’t think of the last game I saw that bothered me as much as the look of this one. Whatever the quality of the game I don’t think I could have played it because of this.

    And I’m not even talking about the way the camera zooms to everything, taking you away instead of letting you experience it

    EDIT: LA Noire was bad like this too. And it doesn’t have anything to do with the things actually in the scene so much because I agree a lot of it is beautiful

    • Naota says:

      I know exactly what you’re talking about, and as you said it’s something quite hard to pin down (well… the parts that don’t involve the hideous facial construction/animations). The visual style of both LA Noire and Alan Wake (at least during the day) is very sterile and bland despite the very dramatized subject matter either game embraces, so as a result you get this technically impressive scenery which stretches out for miles and is packed with details, yet is completely devoid of artistic flair. It looks more like a scientific photograph than an eerie northern town or a night-time city of towering monoliths to sin and corruption.

      Compare the excellent LA Noire title screen to the actual gameplay for a great example. The title screen is classic film noir: dramatic and idealized, full of long shadows, sharp lights, smoke and fog, and extreme camera angles. The game, on the other hand, has none of this. There’s no creative use of contrast, colour, scale, shape, atmosphere, or camerawork. LA Noire is not visually noir, but a straight historical piece with no artistic style whatsoever.

      Noir and horror are both very stylized genres – they’re not simply a time and a place. Stark, uncompromising realism and accuracy over dramatic visuals and artistic exaggeration suits neither.

      Ah hell… I should be writing a full SevHouse post on this stuff.

      • Simon Buchan says:

        L.A. Noire is much more fun (to look at, at least) in Black and White. It’s more than just dropping saturation to 0%, too – they adjust light response to match that “silver screen” look. The game isn’t any more fun to play once you get bored of the expressions, though.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “So when you’re walking along the bridge you get to a point and a raven flies off and I thought, that was a nice artsy touch. Then it happened and I thought, yep nice touch. 3rd time, still walking across the bridge. Okay they did that too often. Just finished thinking that and they did it with a 4th raven. Wow just as I’d been saying they’d done it too often a 4th raven did it too! 5th raven flew off.”

      Lol, they “did it too much” for a “nice artsy touch”, agreed… But what about a foreshadowing of the fact that it’s about to pour a hundred of them on you at that exact location in a few minutes, hmmmmmmm?

      This game requires you to second-guess everything, including your own second-guessing of it ;)

      “I really dislike the art style of this game. I don’t know what it is, but I’m sensitive to style but can’t really describe it but this game needed lots and it has none whatsoever. I think it’s all too clean and well rounded but I can’t think of the last game I saw that bothered me as much as the look of this one. Whatever the quality of the game I don’t think I could have played it because of this.”

      This isn’t the “art” part of the game. It’s beautiful, to be sure, but that’s because Remedy took a trip to the Pacific Northwest before drawing it all up, specifically to make it look realistic, or “well-rounded”.

      “And I’m not even talking about the way the camera zooms to everything, taking you away instead of letting you experience it”

      It takes you away from what you would normally be looking at and wanting a closer shot of anyway? News to me… Anyway, it seems they were going for a television series type feel. I think it was done very well myself, but to each his own.

      “The visual style of both LA Noire and Alan Wake (at least during the day) is very sterile and bland despite the very dramatized subject matter either game embraces, so as a result you get this technically impressive scenery which stretches out for miles and is packed with details, yet is completely devoid of artistic flair.”

      Explained above. I’ll only add that this “blandness” makes the action scenes at night all the more peculiar and stimulating, or “psychologically thrilling” ;) Most horror and thriller movies and games do this sort of thing.

  20. Sydney says:

    Okay, I’m ready to say that this is too many hosts. Josh interrupts everyone apparently just to be annoying, Shamus Ruts and Chris confusedly try to organize each other all at once, and Mumbles just cuts in to deafen us all whenever someone disagrees with her.

    Any…say, any four of those makes a good experience. Somehow, all five together crosses a threshold where nobody’s able to commentate properly because everyone’s spending half their brainpower administrating the cross-talk.

    What I’m saying is, I doubt this is anywhere near the last time we’ll be getting: “My point is long, so you should go first…if you think you can get it out of the way quickly…” “You spent so long saying that that now Josh has changed the subject.” [episode ends]

    I guess I have two suggestions:

    i) Come up with a rigid rule-set for who talks when, and stick to it religiously. Something as simple as “If someone’s already speaking, don’t touch the push-to-talk button.” would make things go so much more smoothly.

    ii) Turn Mumbles’s audio down to like…30% of whatever it is now. Or forbid her from using Improved Harpy Screech to try and make points.

    • Heh! Poor Mumbles, as the female in the gang the frequency of her voice is naturally higher/sharper so it stands out more yes. I also suspect she’s a screamer. (eyes Rutskarn quizically)

      And yeah, 5 is very crowded. I made one suggestion that could be tried out but some people seem to hate it without having heard it so *shrug*…

      Some kind of ruleset might work, and I guess they have an unspoken one in a way. The issue though is that besides Josh which is playing the game, the rest are behind (relative to the video) by several seconds.
      And depending on the whims of the net how many seconds may vary between the 4 non-Josh’es (I can’t i believe I just said that).

      I’m gonna make a suggestion again (puts on flamesuit).
      Josh has priority as he’s the one that is actually in sync with what is seen and with what is said/heard in the game as well. Josh is basically the tourguide here.

      Second priority would be Shamus due to seniority and the fact that this is his site and that he usually has a more technical insight and views into the game.

      Third is Rutskarn, due to seniority and to the fact he’s the group clown, if Josh and Shamus starts to get too dry, Rutskarn is there to save the day. (or alternatively troll the other two into lining up bad pun spots)

      Fourth is Mumbles, due to seniority as well as being the only chick, somebody has to keep all that testosterone (and Rutskarn) in check after all.

      Chris is last, due to seniority ranking. But out of courtesy he gets “new guy” chances so the “vets” shut up when they hear him speak if they feel like it ;)

      In fact this system is pretty close to how they do things currently, be it conscious or not.

      Shamus did something cool this time for example, he and Chris both started to speak, but Shamus heard/”guestimated”? what Chris was starting to talk about and said that Chris should go ahead as he (Shamus) would be shifting the topic afterwards with what he (Shamus) was planning to say.

      5 people is a totally different dynamic. (power of two rule, ask Shamus what it is if you don’t know what it is, I’ve talked enough here now)
      So it’ll take a while before the fab five get into the groove, but by the next season things should be solid indeed. Which is good since the ME3 ending might cause steam coming out some of their ears, and Rutskarn’s brain to temporarily implode upon itself at a certain point. ;p

      • Destrustor says:

        But by the next season they’ll have added another new host!
        :]
        I vote for either Jibar, Jarenth or the return of Randy.

      • Simon Buchan says:

        I’m not quite ready to give up on 5 hosts yet, either – 4 hosts was a mess early on too, remember? Lets see if it’s still a mess in a week or two, and I expect the team have a better idea about what’s wrong that we do.

        • Thomas says:

          I’m with this to be honest. If we remember even last season at the beginning there were big problems with balance between Chris and the other and they all got ironed out and became awesome by the end.

          I think this season should remain unchanged unless it becomes so serious that SW is actually impossible to enjoy, which I don’t think will happen because even though these ones were a little choppy they were still fun and had a lot of insight.

          Then at the end of the season we can look back, chime in with how we think things have gone and the guys can look back and make the call for themselves (after listening to us loyal complainers naturally :D )

          This is just a bit too early to make the call either way

        • RTBones says:

          Concur. This is the first time SW has used five hosts. I have the utmost confidence that all will be worked out in the end.

    • Deadyawn says:

      I think a more straightforward solution would be to have a rotation system, i.e. everyone (excepting Josh because he’s playing) would take a week off alternating.
      There could be problems with not being up to date with whats going on but maybe they could just have the person whos turn it is off to just sit and listen while they’re recording. Or, hell watch it with the rest of us.

  21. Annikai says:

    Rutskarn, you just made me so happy with the random Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne reference.

  22. PurePareidolia says:

    Ever since seeing the Retsupraes of Arise I’ve become completely desensitized to pop up scary images. I just immediately think of an unconvincing .jpeg off Google image search and then I laugh.

  23. Even says:

    Am I alone in not being bothered by the “thudding” or even paying attention to it? I mean, the manuscripts did feel a little weird and restless, especially considering it was supposed to be a book, but it didn’t really bother me. The “face” repeating could definitely fall into category 4. I didn’t even know it’s considered bad form to repeat a word like that, even if the meaning is different.

    Still, all things considered, especially the fact that these same people wrote Max Payne 1 and 2, I’d believe the tone at the very least is intentional. If you think about Alan’s narration as internal monologuing, then it could be excused as his internal rambling. He’s living the story as much as he is writing it and thus the manuscripts by extension could be considered akin to thoughts on paper rather than a real script. It would go along what Chris said about his writing conditions. At the end of the day, there’s very few things that could be considered “real” and not something Alan imagined and wrote on paper. If the story about the lake and its powers actually are real, it begs to question that where do the limits of all this reality bending power lie. Did the characters in the book really live through the implied history or is it just because Alan wrote it? Or did he just magically gain the knowledge to write all that history about them?

    It’s like they demand the audience to get all metaphysical about the game.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “Am I alone in not being bothered by the ‘thudding’ or even paying attention to it?”

      Nope. Didn’t bother me either.

      “The ‘face’ repeating could definitely fall into category 4. I didn’t even know it’s considered bad form to repeat a word like that, even if the meaning is different.”

      It’s not, as used in the game. Here is the text you’re referring to, yes?

      “The man turned to face me. His face was covered in shadows.”

      Everything I’ve read confirms only that word repetition is bad when A) used more than once in a relatively short paragraph where the meaning of the word is the same in both/all cases, and B) twice or more in the same sentence regardless of the meanings.

      I suppose it could be argued that this is distracting, but not inherently. Like you, I wasn’t the least bit distracted by it.

      “Still, all things considered, especially the fact that these same people wrote Max Payne 1 and 2, I’d believe the tone at the very least is intentional. If you think about Alan’s narration as internal monologuing, then it could be excused as his internal rambling. He’s living the story as much as he is writing it and thus the manuscripts by extension could be considered akin to thoughts on paper rather than a real script.”

      That’s a good point, not to mention the fact that they intended for this game to have a television series sort of feel. That’s made evident by the way they end each episode, the cinematics, the camera angle being independent of where Alan is facing so you can see what’s behind him while he’s running forward, etc. And now, yes, the fact that whatever he reads that’s relevant to the plot must be shown on screen and narrated by the voice of who wrote it, which would be whom? :)

      “Did the characters in the book really live through the implied history or is it just because Alan wrote it? Or did he just magically gain the knowledge to write all that history about them? It’s like they demand the audience to get all metaphysical about the game.”

      Well that’s the good thing about Alan Wake. You can play it by taking a very simple interpretation for granted (“It’s all a dream. Doesn’t have to make sense or fit or anything.”) or you can delve deeper into the story and realize it can go as deep as you want it to! At the moment, my take on it is that the dark presence (who was said to be “heavily revising” the manuscript as Alan was writing it) was giving him “ideas” that were actual facts about the characters, from their names to their histories. Indeed, as he’s writing it, any part of him that was conscious might’ve dismissed some of the ideas as cutesy fiction being attached to real characters (Examples, “Rusty has a thing for Rose”, “The Anderson brothers used to be rock stars”, etc.)

  24. Halceon says:

    The manuscript pages are stilted and awkward, because Shamus thinks they’re actually alright. GOOD GOING, SHAMUS!!

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Or because they’re essentially written by an otherworldly almost demonic presence who could give less than a shit about what we think of its “quality” ;)

  25. ACman says:

    As lackluster as the pages are the do not kill this game for me in the same way that his narration does.

    Every instance of narration drains the scene of tension. Everytime I feel myself becoming immersed in Alan’s creepy little adventure the narration drags me right out of it all the while telling me things that are immediately apparent from the events occurring.

    Show don’t tell for god’s sake. Especially if you’ve just shown what you’re telling seconds before. Who was the hack that didn’t think that the audience would understand without Alan’s constant bleeting of the bleeding obvious?

    They could have limited this to chapter changes or cut scenes and it would have been fine.

    • Thomas says:

      To be fair to them, there are games that did this that were awesome (Max Payne 1,2 Bastion?) it can be more about the flavour than what they actually say.

      But despite all that, yeah with the tutorial, the car, the gas station, the camera, I think it’s fair to say the devs have a trust problem

      • PurePareidolia says:

        Film Noir is a genre famous for its hard boiled narration. Bastion is a game in which narration is an integral part of the context and story. In both cases the narration adds to the game, in the case of Alan Wake it’s a genre about tension and immersion, with a hint of isolation, which the narration destroys.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “As lackluster as the pages are the do not kill this game for me in the same way that his narration does. Every instance of narration drains the scene of tension. Everytime I feel myself becoming immersed in Alan’s creepy little adventure the narration drags me right out of it all the while telling me things that are immediately apparent from the events occurring. Show don’t tell for god’s sake. Especially if you’ve just shown what you’re telling seconds before. Who was the hack that didn’t think that the audience would understand without Alan’s constant bleeting of the bleeding obvious?”

        Often I find the critics who point at one thing they don’t like, end up on the opposite extreme. In this case, not being obvious enough! In all of that ranting, you didn’t give a single example of what narrations you were referring to. Therefore, all I can say is that when I played it, I found that the narration kept the pace for the story aspect of the game. That is, when Alan wasn’t describing how he felt or what he was thinking in a particular segment, the narration was simply confirming the “obvious” to get you to move along. As much as people complain about his voice boring them or whatever, this being an only part-action game, I think the game would’ve been dull on all fronts without the narration.

        “yeah with the tutorial, the car, the gas station, the camera, I think it’s fair to say the devs have a trust problem”

        Speaking of being way too vague…

        “…in the case of Alan Wake it’s a genre about tension and immersion, with a hint of isolation, which the narration destroys.”

        How so? Do you somehow get the feeling that Alan’s not alone in the woods because you hear his voice narrating the scene? I didn’t. I think the game allows for plenty of time to build up tension and immersion when it’s actually relevant to the tone of the area you’re in. It’s not like you’re fighting Taken while he’s narrating! I truly believe every example of narration has a point to it, even if it’s not immediately obvious to the conscious mind.

  26. Eric says:

    If you seriously think the cheap, hackneyed, parody-esque writing produced by Alan Wake is intended to be anything but awful… man, I don’t know what you’re smoking. The game is in some senses a genre commentary; just like Max Payne was more parody-noir than true film noir, Alan Wake is parody-horror.

    No offense to anyone involved (especially considering the discussion above) but considering the Spoiler Warning crew already is usually far more concerned with narrative than game mechanics (at least as far as discussion of games generally goes on the show), I’d expect this sort of thing to be… you know, really obvious. This happened in a few places during the Deus Ex series, but with Alan Wake already it seems like nobody quite understands the game. Maybe that’s just because it’s inscrutable for some, but I certainly didn’t have any trouble picking up on it.

    I think the question for discussion shouldn’t be “is Alan Wake a good horror game?” because it’s not really a horror game; rather, it should be “given the game serves as a commentary on modern horror fiction as a genre as well as a commentary on the relationship between author (or artist) and work, how successful is Alan Wake in exploring these themes?” Not only is it more interesting, it’s actually relevant to the game to begin with.

    (And for the record, I’d say a lot of the questions raised (contradictory tone in writing, mishmash of game mechanics, weird references and in-jokes everywhere) actually undermine its success, so no, I’m not here to say Alan Wake is an amazing game or anything.)

    • Shamus says:

      I don’t think it’s NEARLY that clear-cut. You’re saying good writers made bad writing on purpose to support the premise.

      1) If this writing was good, it’s not like it would undercut the story. Is anyone really going to sit there and say, “Man, I refuse to believe this golden prose was written under duress!” I mean, dialog is improved in a fictional setting. People don’t say “um” and “uh” and, like, you know, talk like… you know how real people talk. Like, when they’re not reading from a script. I don’t think it shatters anyone’s immersion when characters fail to make accidental alliteration, lose their train of thought, stop for a breath, etc. The same applies here. People in movies and games talk more smoothly than people IRL, and Alan could have written something a cut above what we were given.

      2) If they DID make the writing bad on purpose, was that really a good design decision? These pages are important. The game focuses on them. Heck, they’re even voice-acted. Is feeding players a steady stream of deliberate dreck a good idea?

      3) If I was making bad writing on purpose, I’d be sure to lampshade it or throw some good writing in there for contrast. It’s not like the rest of this intro is a showcase of subtlety. It does a good job of flogging us with the obvious. And now we’re going to credit the writers with this?

      4) Why give up a chance to introduce another vector of entertainment? It would have been more rewarding if the writing was good.

      I don’t think you need to be “smoking” anything to come to the conclusion that the awful pages weren’t deliberate.

      Disclaimer for people who are about to accuse me of “nitpicking” this game or “hating” it: All of this is a pretty minor point. I don’t think the bad manuscript pages RUIN the game or anything. But they’re a curiosity.

      • Sumanai says:

        I have some notes that I find interesting, so I hope others will too:

        1) Someone, I think on TVtropes, mentioned that the only reason he bought the prose the V character in V for Vendetta spoke was because everyone else was speaking with “uh”s and “ah”s. I don’t think that quite applies here, and I found V for Vendetta to be a rather hard read because of that.

        2) They could, theoretically, contrast the writing everywhere else so that the game itself would look better by comparison. I only know that if the writing would be better it would hurt, so it’s possible that they wanted to avoid that. Not saying that must be what happened, just that it’s a decent hypothesis.

        3) Yes. I would make certain it was hinted in several places during the beginning that the person writing is either a bad writer or is currently doing a bad job. Leaving the players/viewers/readers to guess what is going on is not a good thing. And it’s not good enough to hint or say that “he is having trouble writing”, it has to explicitly hint at bad writing.

        4) Yeah. If nothing else a “so bad it’s good” approach like in the Max Payne TV shows would work well for this. Could ruin the atmosphere, but it could enhance it by contrast as well.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          “Leaving the players/viewers/readers to guess what is going on is not a good thing.”

          Lol, now the truth comes out! You just plain don’t want any part of you but your fingers and thumbs to have to interact with this game!

          “If you seriously think the cheap, hackneyed, parody-esque writing produced by Alan Wake is intended to be anything but awful… man, I don’t know what you’re smoking. The game is in some senses a genre commentary; just like Max Payne was more parody-noir than true film noir, Alan Wake is parody-horror.”

          I see nothing to insinuate that parody was the objective (and though I haven’t played it, I wouldn’t be surprised if you also had no evidence that Max Payne was parody either). But I’d be interested to know how you conclude that Alan’s writing is any of those things. Lemme guess… The manuscript. Or certain lines in the game that may or may not have been part of it (No one knows, but you feel obliged to comment). Well, unfortunately for you, Alan had some very heavy-handed “help” in writing the manuscript. It says at one point that it was being “heavily revised” by the dark presence, and also gives reason to believe that he was at least partly possessed with the line “Some part of me must’ve been aware enough to…” These are details you should’ve caught before insisting that Alan’s creations (which would have to require just a tad of creative freedom, yes?) are “awful”. Have you read The Alan Wake Files? Likely not. And not that you should be obligated to do so to comment on the video game itself. But to criticize an author you’ve never even read? Well, that’s just silly.

          The character Sarah Breaker made the call, “You’re a good writer. A little heavy on the metaphors, maybe” (paraphrasing) and that’s exactly what we have evidence to believe. Nothing more, nothing less.

          “but with Alan Wake already it seems like nobody quite understands the game. Maybe that’s just because it’s inscrutable for some, but I certainly didn’t have any trouble picking up on it.”

          Oh, I think you did…

          “1) If this writing was good, it’s not like it would undercut the story… I don’t think it shatters anyone’s immersion when characters fail to make accidental alliteration, lose their train of thought, stop for a breath, etc. The same applies here. People in movies and games talk more smoothly than people IRL, and Alan could have written something a cut above what we were given.”

          You wouldn’t be saying that if you were remembering the conditions in which he was writing (Hint: It goes far beyond “He was under duress”). Everything from his circumstances to his lack of creative freedom to the question “Was he even really conscious while writing it?” provide more than enough explanation for why the manuscript (and the story that was realized from it) is supposedly poor writing.

          “2) If they DID make the writing bad on purpose, was that really a good design decision? These pages are important. The game focuses on them. Heck, they’re even voice-acted. Is feeding players a steady stream of deliberate dreck a good idea?”

          Not every game has to spell everything out for you. I will say, though, that if you’re clever enough to rip on the quality of the manuscript, you should also be quick enough to put two and two together once you see the cut scene that explains what happened at the cabin right after Alice disappeared… if not before. Surely, I wasn’t the only one who was saying, “Did Alan write this?” in the very first episode…

          “3) If I was making bad writing on purpose, I’d be sure to lampshade it or throw some good writing in there for contrast.”

          I thought most of the game was written far better than the manuscript. Someone else here made the exact same observation. Was it friggin top-notch author material? No. But it’s overboard to expect video game developers to compete with established novelists at any rate.

      • Eric says:

        Regarding your #2 point – that’s exactly what I was getting at. The question we should be asking is whether or not the overall silliness of some parts of the game is at odds with its goals… the only answer I have is “maybe” because, unfortunately, those goals are actually kind of indeterminate in the first place. Then again, maybe Alan Wake is meant to be a game that you only get what you put into it? You see what you want to see? That might be a lazy interpretation, but it really does go in line with the Max Payne games and their surreal qualities as well.

        As for the subtlety thing… I don’t know. I think Alan Wake is meant to be enjoyed on many levels. There is a lot of stuff that is brutally obvious, but I think that’s necessary for the people who just want to go in and shoot stuff. There are a lot of far more subtle questions that show up as you play, references that might completely change your perception of Remedy’s games – for instance, is Max Payne literally just Alan Wake’s fiction? stories within stories within stories, especially when you get to Dick Justice in Max Payne 2. That stuff is most certainly not put there by accident – it’s just not necessarily the “main event” because market forces demand otherwise.

        Again, sorry if I offended – my point certainly wasn’t to say “wah, Spoiler Warning missed something, they’re all morons!” I just feel the “is the bad writing intentionally bad?” thing isn’t really relevant as a question, at least in itself. And don’t worry, I’m basically the ultimate nitpicker, so I can hardly criticize you for it – I’m the one picking nits in your nitpicking after all.

    • ccesarano says:

      The problem is there are no real hints of proper satire or parody of the horror genre in this game. Perhaps that just makes it a bad satire or parody, but I don’t think that was really the direction they were going for.

      Of course, Horror is a tough genre to properly parody anyway, which is perhaps one of the reasons the Dark Comedy works better. Take the recently released Cabin in the Woods as an example. On one hand it’s making fun of horror tropes, but on the other it celebrates them. Despite the fact that certain things are broadcast as about to happen, such as certain character deaths, the director is competent enough to still make them suspenseful. Whereas a piece of crap film like Scary Movie may try and make a character death sequence into a gag (and fail miserably), Cabin in the Woods instead treats a good number of them seriously (while the rest are…brutal, but funny for different reasons. It’s REALLY hard to explain there).

      Alan Wake doesn’t even make for a good parody. At best it is also a commentary on horror. It’s been too long since I’ve played to be able to analyze it properly myself, however. Maybe I’ll snag some deeper meaning watching it on Spoiler Warning, but as I said, if it were parody or satire, then they did a really, REALLY bad job of it.

  27. Jingleman says:

    This being the episode in which we see the demise of the Wakes’ minivan, I’d like to point out that it was a real, product-placed Lincoln model. There are quite a few instances of product placement in the game, and I hope that the folks at Spoiler Warning will address the issue. In fact, I’ll put it to you all directly: Is in-game product placement or advertising a good thing, and if it can be, how should it be done?

    For my own part, I find the presence of real-life products in games much less immersion-breaking than fictitious knock-offs, provided that they are not addressed in an unnatural way by the characters (or camera). Also, there should be enough variety in sponsorship that repeated billboards for the same products don’t become distracting.

    In any case, Alan Wake has a lot more product placement than most non-sports franchises do, so: is Remedy doing it right?

    • Teemu Helasharju says:

      This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the product placement in the game brought up and I gotta say I have no memory of it from when I played the game. I’m not saying it isn’t there, just that I glazed over it like I do tv commercials etc. So not a big deal, personally, although it raises the question whether the people paying for the product placement got their moneys worth.

      • Sumanai says:

        A big part of marketing, especially product placement, is subconscious. Not the “brainwashing” type but rather brand recognition and so on. You see a lot of Coke or Pepsi bottles/cans? You recognise them the next time you’re in a store and are more likely to buy them than the “no-name” brands.

        The effect isn’t huge, but it doesn’t need to be. Just enough to suggest that out of these two options? Pick this one. It can be negated by making it so overt that it repulses people (my personal belief, IIRC not supported by my marketing course teacher/textbook).

    • scowdich says:

      I got the feeling that the writers may have been forced to do a little product placement. “Oh, we have to put the new Lincoln SUV in the game? Okay, its contribution to the story will be FALLING OFF A CLIFF in act one.”
      One gets this feeling less with the Verizon and Energizer brands, though. On the other hand, those Energizer batteries don’t last for shit. My Duracells can toast a dozen shadow demons before I have to swap ’em.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “This being the episode in which we see the demise of the Wakes’ minivan, I’d like to point out that it was a real, product-placed Lincoln model. There are quite a few instances of product placement in the game, and I hope that the folks at Spoiler Warning will address the issue.”

        It’s not an issue, but rest assured, that didn’t stop them from addressing it! :P

    • Even says:

      It doesn’t really stand out that much and most of it is logical. Most of the time when you have fake brand names making mockery of the real thing, it’s a sure-fire way to establish that this is a fake world we’re in. I kinda liked the contrast it gave to the game, as if this all is really happening in our world.

  28. Hochom says:

    Since Alan wrote the manuscript during his blackout, it’s almost certainly a first draft and hasn’t been edited by anyone. Maybe he was drunk or super sleepy when he wrote it. I think the iffy prose fits quite well.

    • Sumanai says:

      I think it fits the “Wake was making a quick draft of his ideas ignoring the actual quality” image I got, but it could be bad a myriad of reasons. Well, six at least. That’s close to 10 000, right?

  29. I hated the narration in Alan Wake. I kept wishing he would shut up so that I could enjoy the game.

  30. lurkey says:

    Is it just me or does that inner voice monologue really ruins the suspense and scariness? Or rather would spoil if those were present; as it is now, it’s just grating.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Didn’t ruin anything for me. It’s all about keeping in touch with what your protagonist is feeling/thinking, even if it’s somewhat obvious what he must be thinking.

      I suspect that when you and other critics hear “It’s about the story”, you just don’t have a full grasp of what that means.

  31. Aanok says:

    Am I the only one who, when the lights went out in the cabin, instead of valiantly rescuing the damsel, went to the shed to take a look at the generator?

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Haha, not on my first playthrough, I didn’t. But that’s good thinking! On my second or third playthrough, I decided to wait around outside just to see how many times and different ways she calls out for help…

      Yeah, I’m a bad person.

  32. When I tried the game it felt like a chore at times, and pretty/scenic corridors, but still corridors.

    I agree with the critique about the intro, it should have started with the ferry part. I.e. intro credits etc. and some strange muffled voice saying something and cut to Alan being woken up in the car on the ferry, and then extend the town and cabin part, a little more interaction with NPCs (and the wife), more things to explore in the cabin to learn more controls. Banter between Alan and the wife in thew cabin could allow more backstory exposition for Alan.

    There are many missed opportunities too. The cafe right after the arrival, why there was something blocking your way on one side in there was just odd. Talking to some characters seem to be optional. It would be nice that when talking to them (or not) would influence (even if just a tiny bit) the story later.

    After all, a game about a writer, and about a story within the story (the manuscript and more) really should put some more effort into the storytelling (with emphasis on “telling”).

    Alan Wake had the potential to be a new Silent Hill 2 or something along those lines.

    Flashlight revealing hidden clues was very clever though.

  33. ccesarano says:

    It’s a shame, by time I get around to seeing these there’s already 100+ comments, and by time I get to commenting my brain’s all jarbled with stuff. There was something Chris mentioned in Ep. 1 I believe that I wanted to discuss, but for the life of me I cannot remember anymore.

    On the Writing Quality: Oddly enough, I didn’t find it to be horrible. Maybe I just don’t notice those things so much. However, it’s also a different style to what I normally read. Most of the books I read are sci-fi and fantasy, and often enough the two read rather differently from each other. On occasion I’ll read a more “contemporary” work of fiction, and things will seem different than what I’m used to. So I figured the writing here was inspired by a sort of book or story I do not commonly read. This could be a similar case for the Spoiler Warning crew.

    And as for the narration… Well, I don’t really know what to comment on here either. It seems to me that the voice actor wanted something that wasn’t quite soothing, spoken in a tense and worried whisper, but it really doesn’t come out that way. This might also be why the writing didn’t bother me, oddly enough. Hearing someone else read it caused me to focus on the words differently. There was no issue with delivery. He spoke the lines as written, and therefore I grasped the idea they were trying to get across.

    You’re right, though. It does do something to the suspense. I feel in certain ways they executed it well, then others they managed it horribly. I don’t mind having narration to let me know what the character is thinking, but it fits better when following a cut-scene or some other scripted event. It doesn’t quite work when you just smoked a bunch of shadow guys with a flare gun, fist pump, and then hear Alan drone about how worried he is and how sweaty his palms are. Or when you’re feeling stressed about how low on ammunition you have and he starts commentating on the physics of the wind chimes.

    …wait, I may be confused.

    On Gameplay Somehow, I had actually forgotten how odd that tutorial felt. I wonder if it was focus-tested into the game? It really feels as if the game should just begin on the boat, and then when things go nightmarish it slowly introduces you to the different concepts. Hell, it kind of feels like that anyway. Not to mention that, as Mumbles said, players aren’t stupid (all the time). When you focus the light on a shadow monster the effect is VERY obvious. A player will notice 1) the new flare circle thing, and 2) the sound effect accompanying it. This will lead to noticing the circle decreasing.

    But again, it could be they focus-tested things and found a lot of gamers were, in fact, stupid. I don’t know, I’m not on the development team, and the art of releasing “Making Of” DVDs has died as quickly as it began.

    Though in truth, I’m surprised you guys didn’t just play the game on Easy. If I were to replay Alan Wake I think I might, just so the long and monotonous shooting segments can be reduced. There’s a couple of great set-pieces, but most of the time it’s just wandering through the woods trying not to get stabbed by shadow monsters.

    Which is actually a bit suspenseful when you’re wandering the never-ending-respawn mists looking for worthless coffee cans because dammit why am I still hunting for worthless achievements?! That quickly just became annoying, though. Otherwise, the number of moments this game actually put me on edge are very few.

    • Yeah, I love “Making Of…” for movies and games and animation and TV series. I wish more game devs did that. (Developer diaries are good too though)

    • scowdich says:

      When I played, I didn’t notice the lens-flare-circle-decreasing-in-size thing until Chapter 4. Then, I was like “was that always there? That’s useful.”

      • Neil D says:

        Same here. In fact I think I read about it somewhere before I noticed it.

        As for the tone of the narration, I think part of the problem is that it is written in past tense (as these stories usually are). As such, there is a kind of dispassion of the narrator for events that happened in the past, and that naturally carries over into the reading of it (such as for audiobooks). I mean, you don’t often read a mystery novel that goes “And then! Are you ready for this? The guy starts shooting at me! I mean, bullets are flying right past my head. I almost shit myself, I tell you what!” This would normally be considered a good thing for the writing, but is way too much in conflict with the feelings of suspense and terror the game is (ostensibly) trying to evoke in the player.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “I don’t mind having narration to let me know what the character is thinking, but it fits better when following a cut-scene or some other scripted event. It doesn’t quite work when you just smoked a bunch of shadow guys with a flare gun, fist pump, and then hear Alan drone about how worried he is and how sweaty his palms are.”

      Was any of this at the beginning of the game when he first kills a Taken with the revolver? If so, that is one of best times to use narration! He’s a writer who’s never fired a gun before, who’s just killed someone. A little feedback on his emotional state is just what the doctor ordered.

  34. Ramsus says:

    Hmm, there’s responses from Chris, Mumbles, and Shamus but, not Ruts and Josh. This must be fixed.

    Ruts & Josh, your attention please. I am your new god! Comment.

  35. BenD says:

    I have an idea for how to make the five-host format better.

    Post a video today before I leave work.

    That is all.

  36. Vic 2.0 says:

    The manuscript pages… are stilted and awkward, you say…

    …The manuscript pages that were heavily revised by the dark presence after being written by a possessed Alan Wake in a dark cabin underwater while he mourns and contemplates the horror of the apparently true claim he’s murdered his wife?

    Those manuscript pages? ;)

    We have to assume Alan is a fantastic writer. Why? Because he has nationwide fame as one in the game. But I’ve recently gotten my hands on the Limited Edition box set and there is a book included in which can be a found a short story written by Alan when he was 18 years old.

    Much better than the manuscripts!

  37. Vic 2.0 says:

    Approx 3:10 – “Why is (Barbara Jagger) just standing there in the hall after giving Alan the keys?”

    This could be for any number of reasons. But I’d say, if you actually think about it, it makes far more sense that she would want to stay. Possibly the best explanation would be that she wanted to personally make sure Carl didn’t come out of the restroom until Alan left or otherwise prevent Alan from speaking with Carl directly. Obviously, this would’ve wrecked her plan.

    Another explanation may be that she realized just giving him the keys and leaving (regardless of how or in which direction) would arouse suspicion. Conversely, standing there in the hall at very least suggests she’s not actually hiding anything.

    Fun fact: If you halfway exit the hall and turn back once Cynthia starts talking to you again, you will find that Barbara has indeed vanished, leaving her shadow behind. Alan narrates the phenomenon but doesn’t question it. A common theme in this game is that the developers seem to prefer that you do all the questioning yourself, without the aid of the protagonist’s narration.

    The real question is, why didn’t Alan question the conflicting stories: Rose saying “(Carl) must’ve gone to visit the restroom. He’ll be back in a moment”, Cynthia saying she warned him about going into the dark hall, and then Barbara saying “Carl couldn’t make it. Unfortunately, he was taken ill”.

    Alas, the best we can do here is chalk it up to Alan’s hurried and intolerant-of-all-humankind personality. A few times in the game, you’re clued in on the fact that Alan is originally a skeptic of all things supernatural. So he assumes Barbara is human because she couldn’t possibly be anything else. So from this, he reasons, “Why would a person give me keys to a cabin on the lake if that wasn’t their business?” He probably figured she was Carl’s wife or something, and he had no time or patience to question it further! Sounds good enough for me.

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