Alan Wake EP4:End of Episode 1

By Shamus Posted Friday Apr 27, 2012

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 173 comments

Link (YouTube)

End of Episode 1.

I really have to hand it to Remedy. Their TV-shows-in-video-games are always a lot of fun. I remember stopping to listen to each episode of Lords & Ladies in the original Max Payne. While Dick Justice in Max Payne 2 was probably a better send-up, I liked the ridiculous contrst between Lords & Ladies and the Max Payne world. It was always funny to see that some murderous crime boss had a thing for sappy public television historical dramas.

I wonder if Rockstar is going to put a TV show in the background of Max Payne 3? That’s Remedy’s gimmick, but the shows are one of the elements of the Max Payne World. And it’s not like Rockstar is a stranger to pop-culture satire. Then again, maybe being set in Brazil kind of prevents this. If they lampoon Brazilian TV it might come off as mean-spirited. On the other hand, shoving American shows into the world of Sà£o Paulo might undercut the setting. Even if they watch a good bit of American TV, the average American gamer isn’t going to know that, and the result would feel off. (Kind of how an establishing shot in a movie will always show the strongest elements of the local culture, as opposed to a McDonald’s, even if they have McDonald’s there.)

End of Episode 1.


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173 thoughts on “Alan Wake EP4:End of Episode 1

  1. tengokujin says:

    Woo! Twilight Zone!
    The problem with the “Night Springs” show, is how amateur the camerawork is. Due to the excessive amount of reviews and criticisms I’ve been watching, watching that send-up (while enjoyable) keeps setting off “this isn’t well-shot” flags.

    Now to comment as I watch.
    9:30 Those faces. Oh, goddess.
    10:00 What the heck? Really, episodes? … Ok, Chris, you have a point.
    11:30 Because they sub everything. EVERYTHING. I’m sure whoever had to sub it thought it was stupid, too, but they were just going through a checklist of “Subtitle everything”. At least, that’s what I feel happens in many games.
    12:30 Aw, short episode :/ Well, at least it’s a logical endpoint.

    Wait, if there hasn’t been a house on Cauldron Lake since whenever, but he did get a key to go to the cabin, and it’s presumable that others saw him and his wife in the car… aaaauuugh. Why am I caring? It’s your fault, you guys! I’m caring about the plot continuity of a game I haven’t and don’t want to play! >.<

    1. bit says:

      Aww, I was hoping that this would be, “End of Comment One.”

    2. Gamer says:

      I had that exact same problem when I was watching the another LP of this game.

      If the Cauldron Lake Shack wasn’t there, then what the hell were Alan and Alice doing at the beginning of the game? Why didn’t anybody notice!?

      Hopefully it get’s explained later.

      1. Michael says:

        I thought it wasn’t there because the world Alan’s in now is the dream world. As evidenced by his name, the song during the credits, the opening dialogue between him and his wife, the fact he has night-terrors to begin with, him falling asleep during the cut-scene in the car, and the fact that crazy stuff is happening.

        Either that or “Alan Wake is a writer. This is Alan Wake writing.”

        Sorry if that came off a bit mean-spirited, but I’ve always had trouble taking horror seriously.

        1. Michael says:

          Alternately, he pulled himself into some alternate reality, which would tie into the Night Springs bit and the TV bit at in the gas station.

    3. Xakura says:

      Creepy shadow lady gave him the key, the guy they were actually going to meet runs after them and shouts something, I believe. So they got the key, and critically, the directions, to the wrong place.

    4. Eric says:

      You realize those videos are obviously just made by the dev team in their office, right?

      1. tengokujin says:

        That’s obvious, yes.

    5. X2Eliah says:

      Yeah, I also don’t get the whole “there never was an island” bit, it feels like too much of a plothole.

      Matter of fact, at the end of all this episode 1 stuff, I sort of wonder if Wake even has a wife, and if anything at all we saw during thisepisode was real in any way. The only “sequence” that truly didn’t have any ‘creepy supernatural’ stuff was them arriving on the ferry. That’s it. Everything else had shadowbaddies to some extent (e.g. creepy lady in gastation with keys, shadow crows on the island, the shooting galleries)..

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        There was an island it just sunk after Zane had his close encounter with the Dark Presence. Basically the moment Alan took the key he unknowingly accepted the invitation from the Dark Presence and the cottage is its place of power. The arrival at the lake is real, but the moment Alan and Alice step on the bridge they enter “The Dark Place”. It would be curious if later on something happened relating to that, like the drunk guy in episode 2 mentioned something about “you… you just walked into the damn lake with your lady friend!”

        I think at this point they’re still trying to keep the whole “is it a dream? are you crazy? is something else going on?” thing so you wondering if Alan has a wife at all is probably a good thing, though Mumbles is right and the TVs give away way too much.

      2. Thomas says:

        I don’t want anyone to confirm or deny this and all this hinting about dreaming everyones done is probably a bit of denial, but I like to think that Alan’s wife died 30 years ago

        1. Amnestic says:

          Alice Wake
          Age: 30
          Birth: 1980
          Profession: Photographer

          Dead babies aren’t funny ;<

          1. Thomas says:

            How did I ever think that worked? I clearly have no concept of time

  2. Gamer says:

    Perhaps the combat isn’t very satisfying strictly because it feels unnecessary. If it just seems like a needless distraction to break up the story, then that might impact the overall satisfaction.

    I’ve never played it, so I can’t comment on the kinanesthetics of the combat. However, it looks like it’s perfectly good, just unneeded.

    On a side topic: Don’t forget to Google “Zerg Rush” today.

    1. Soylent Dave says:

      The combat is unsatisfying because it NEVER CHANGES.

      In most games the combat evolves, if only because you get more powerful weapons or the enemies attack in different patterns or something.

      In Alan Wake, you don’t get any of that – you fight shadow people with axes, shadow people who throw things, and shadow birds/ flying objects. And you have all your weapons right from the beginning of the game (you get more powerful versions of the same weapon, but it doesn’t change the way the combat feels; it just makes it easier).

      By the end of the first episode you’ve been through enough fights to be an expert at the game’s never-changing combat system – if they varied it up a bit (or reduced the number of enemies significantly) then fighting wouldn’t have felt so tedious.

      But it ends up just being something you have to grind your way through over and over. And over. And over.

      And over.

      1. Jingleman says:

        I think the problem is not that there’s no variety of combat, so much as it is that Alan Wake’s body count becomes ridiculous very quickly. This is a pretty common problem in game design, right? It cuts the narrative tension to have the character mow down 300 mooks, especially in a “psychological thriller” like Alan Wake, but if you don’t have some kind of combat like that, then what is the player going to do for 15 hours?

        So, I agree that cutting the number of enemies or having more creative non-lethal mechanics would have preserved more tension, but I found the variety of enemies and tactical options to be at least on par with most of the third-person shooter options out there right now. It’s just that Alan Wake is: “use flashlight, shoot,” and most of the others are “use cover, shoot.”

        1. Soylent Dave says:

          I think you’re overlooking the hidden complexity of cover shooters here.

          I’m not trying to defend them as deep and meaningful or anything – but they do tend to give you a lot of variety of gameplay beyond “take cover and shoot”.

          So for Alan Wake’s combat, your options are:
          Aim (light) at bad guys then shoot (revolver, shotgun)
          Shoot bad guys with flare gun, acts as grenade launcher.
          Aim searchlight (turret) at bad guys, then shoot / they explode
          Aim light at flying bad guys, they explode.
          Dodge melee and hurled attacks, or use flare to keep bad guys away temporarily.

          Enemies attack by melee, thrown weapons, flying objects or are swarms of birds.

          Let’s take Gears of War (because it springs to mind as a cover shooter, all this stuff will apply to most though) – your options are:
          Take cover, and then shoot bad guys (you can aim or blind fire) – use a variety of weapons, some are similar but there’s about a dozen.
          Shoot bad guys when not in cover.
          Melee attack bad guys (some variety in melee attacks)
          Use turret guns to kill bad guys.
          Use grenades or heavy weapons (e.g. mortars – stuff with a unique attack mechanic) to kill bad guys
          Blow up terrain to kill bad guys.

          There’s a bit more variety in *your* options, mostly in your weapon choices (which I appreciate is debatable – a gun is a gun is a gun) – but then your enemies, each have the same variety in attack options and weapons you have, and require different attack strategies to take down (not MASSIVELY different – you will probably end up shooting them somehow, but you know – it’s a bit of variety is what I’m getting at)

          All those options in Gears of War individually? They’re tiny. But because they’re all in there, because you have variety of attacks and your enemies have a variety of weapons and they each require different strategies to take out – it combines to make the combat more interesting.

          Because each and every combat scene isn’t near-identical – with both you and your enemies going through the same routine – it doesn’t feel like quite so much of a grind.

          No matter what game we’re playing, we’re basically just pressing A (or LMB) and watching our character do stuff – what makes the game fun is if our avatar does interesting stuff; if it’s always the same, then we get reminded that we’re just button mashing, and it becomes a chore rather than a pastime.

          It’s the developer’s job to stop me noticing that I’m just clicking buttons (or a game which makes a better noise when I click will grab my attention instead..!)

          1. Jingleman says:

            Good point, but aside from the diverging core mechanics (flashlight v. cover), I only count 2 options in your list of Gears features that don’t have analogues in Alan Wake, and you left out “run away to safe haven” in your list of Alan Wake tactical options.

            I’m not criticizing; you captured the two games very well, although I don’t think that the variety of guns that you and your enemies can use makes all that much tactical difference in Gears of War and its clones. That in mind, I think that listing the tactical options side-by-side illustrates that Alan Wake’s combat is deep enough for a game like this. It’s really not that much shallower than the current standard for 3rd person shooters that are explicitly all about the combat.

            I take your point that Alan Wake’s combat eventually becomes a grind, but I don’t think it’s about a lack of variety or tactical options in the enemy types or combat mechanics, rather, I would suggest that it comes from the combat undercutting the tension and feeling out of place in the narrative, and some linear, tiresome level design that is a byproduct of the forest setting making vertical design difficult.

            1. Amnestic says:

              Both Gears of War (which appears to have been chosen as our cover-based shooter example) and Alan Wake have vehicle sections in them too, though Gears of War felt more like an actual section while Alan Wake’s felt more like either a) an arbitrarily added vehicle section which could have been covered easily with either a cutscene or by playing the segment on foot, only being added because hey, games have vehicle sections! or b) yet another holdover from when the game was meant to be more ‘open world’.

              My opinion anyway. Not to say I liked Gears of War’s vehicle sections (personally I found the entire game unbelievably dull and forgettable, whereas while I found Alan Wake distinctly average at least I consider it memorable for what it did right and wrong), but they actually felt like sections rather than tacked on pieces of gameplay.

              Also Gears of War has allies alongside you. I dunno how much that ‘counts’ towards making combat different and interesting, but I think it’s worth mentioning.

              1. Aldowyn says:

                Watching Josh play… it does look very monotonous. Using our example, it seems the main example is variety of enemy types. In Gears, you have look enemies, fast enemies, big tough enemies, elite enemies with 1-hit kill weapons, etc. And you do have a lot more weapons and other options, which makes a huge difference. I think I’ll also bring up level design… how much do your surroundings affect combat in Alan Wake? It doesn’t look like they do very much, as opposed to a cover shooter, where the placement (or lack of) the eponymous cover makes a huge difference.

                So yeah, agreeing with Dave here.

                P.S. the zerg rush thing was cool, until the last part. Then it was BRILLIANT.

            2. Soylent Dave says:

              Ooh, I did forget “run to safe haven” – which is a major part of the dodge / combat mechanic, really.

              The level design certainly has a lot to answer for in Alan Wake, as you say – it’s just a series of foggy arenas which enemies fall into (or sometimes jump into) – that might have a bigger impact on the feel of ‘grind’ than I originally allowed for, because the whole thing does look incredibly samey (and then each fight starts the exact same way, too…)

              It’s perverse really, because Alan Wake is a much prettier game than Gears of War – the scenery is really very attractive, and the world feels a lot more coherent – it must just be that the ‘play area’ is much more restrictive.

              1. Jingleman says:

                Great point. The slow motion “time to fight now” animation (with the music) certainly defeats the purpose of a horror/thriller game by undercutting the tension. I hadn’t realized until you brought it up how much it contributes to the grind. So much more variety and anticipation could have been added just by letting the combat play out in real time. A couple of surprise ambushes and we’d be on our toes for the whole rest of the game.

                Goofy design choice. Missed opportunity. I wonder if they thought a cinematic intro to combat was more scary, or if play testers were having too much trouble with combat without any warning.

      2. Gamer says:

        So it’s a lot like the combat in LA Noire: Average, Static, and Almost Completely Unnecessary.

        Which is why I hated the finally!

        1. Jingleman says:

          I’m not sure that the L.A. Noir comparison is quite right; Alan Wake adds a number of layers of tactical options and resource management that were not present in that L.A. Noir – which was more of a tech demo for facial animation techniques than anything else.

          I don’t even think that Alan Wake’s combat would be bad at all if it were in a game that was not trying to be scary or a thriller. The mechanics themselves are not that bad. Not great, but not that bad. It’s just that they undercut the setting, narrative, and characterization of Alan himself.

          1. MatthewH says:

            I think the comparison is apt in many other ways. By the end of the traffic detective duty I was stunned that Phelps still had a badge given the number of people I’d shot. Most cops go twenty years without firing their weapon outside a range. I’d gone twenty shots before I finished a case.

            edit: forgot to make my point. In both cases the combat becomes absurd quickly. In Police Quest you fired your gun once in the entire game. And in the remake, you didn’t even fire it that many times. In the second, you fired twice. In the third, you fired maybe 5 times in the crack house raid -but that was with a full SWAT team, so not totally out of character. And the fourth game never happened, so the shootout in the Korean grocery doesn’t count.

            1. Jingleman says:

              Good point: I quite agree that, regardless of the quality or depth of the combat mechanics in either game, neither title’s combat segments fit the genre or narrative very well. I just hate to equate any shooting gameplay with the abysmal L.A. Noir combat. I find it hard to imagine another game doing it that badly in this day in age.

              1. Gamer says:

                At the very least, Alan Wake’s combat actually looks good. (Again, I don’t know how it is to play.)

                LA Noire’s annoyed me.

                1. Thomas says:

                  I’ve always want dev’s to design some decent one v one mechanics and it would have been so perfect with this game.

                  If you had one or two enemies who’d haunt you through a level and you could force them away or evade them but they’d keep coming back and when they came back they’d sometimes do different things (they could have helped drive the puzzly sections) and one time they could come back and they just follow the player at a distance until you fire on them or they creep up behind you and only charge when you’re looking towards them something like that. And you could still have the tension of the safe zones but instead of destroying them, they’d run away once you turned it on or something. Or if you want to be mean. Stand a few metres away in the shadows and watch you.

                  1. It’d be creepier
                  2. You wouldn’t get the relief of ‘yes I defeated that’
                  3. It’d work better narratively

                  I’m not sure if it would mix up combat that much, but it’s a way of having less of it which you pay more attention to crafting, without having gaps.

                  I guess you’d lose the zergling surrounded thing and you’d need to redesign a bit so the torch doesn’t stun so well and things like that

                  LA Noire I don’t know what they could have done, all I know is whenever someone died it felt like I’d failed and I always wondered if it was possible to do the mission without people dieing

                  1. MatthewH says:

                    Yes, every time the coroner came I felt like I’d failed. I could hear the Chief from SWAT saying “Remember, SWAT is a lifesaving organization.” Play that over Cole Phelps doing his ED 209 impression. Maybe play some Enya to drive up the ridiculousness.

                    I wonder if you could do a 1 vs 1, but still realistic combat by making it really hard to shoot. I’ve spoken to police officers who say that it is really hard to shoot a moving target in a stressful situation. Maybe instead of traditional 3rd Person Shooter/FPS rules, make shooting (I’m about to speak heresy) a quick time event.

                    Wait, wait, hear me out. I’m thinking something like a combination of using the laser designator in ME3 and starting the generators in Alan Wake. That way, you only need to shoot once -but it takes time and effort to make the shot and you have to choose whether to line up the shot and hope you get it off before the bad guy axes you, or run. Maybe make it easier when the bad guy is closer.

                    1. Aldowyn says:

                      So… basically what shooting someone would be like in Heavy Rain.

                      That was an interesting game, and I think the use of QTEs was actually pretty well done. So, so much more variety than just hitting buttons at the right time, and many of them seemed to fit the action, which is amazing design for QTEs.

                      Anyways, I agree that this game would have done A LOT better with less traditional combat. The one on one idea sounds pretty interesting and fits better thematically. How did Alan get so good with a gun, anyway?

                    2. Syal says:

                      I've spoken to police officers who say that it is really hard to shoot a moving target in a stressful situation.

                      That’s because your heart is beating faster, so you can’t steady your arms to aim and your vision might not focus (plus the moral problems of shooting at a person). I think those things could be better imitated by making the camera and/or aiming reticle sway around than with quicktime events.

                  2. Gamer says:

                    I don’t think it’s ever possible to avoid shootouts. And I don’t think it’s possible to not kill everyone in a shootout.

                    This usually tends to break my immersion. I mean, don’t cops have a write several reports for each bullet fired. And aren’t guns strictly last resort.

                    1. Thomas says:

                      I used to carefully line up hand shots and feet shots and I was annoyed when that still counted as a kill :(

                      @Matthew the problem with one v one normally is that you need to feel like you’re doing something or making some kind of progress, I imagine making it miss would just increase frustration.

                      But then I guess this is horror and people have already said they enjoy the engine starter. Maybe frustration and hopelessness would work. I guess the thing is though, if you miss a couple of times and lose replaying gets rid of the tension and it becomes about being careful with shots again.

                      Hmm, that amnesia post that got linked too is right. Combat in horror is hard. You want people to feel hopeless, you don’t want them to succeed, but you really don’t want them to die either.

        2. Soylent Dave says:

          Very much like that – I didn’t mind the occasional shoot-out in La Noir; they do fit into the story, and it could liven things up a bit.

          But because every shoot-out plays pretty much exactly the same way? It becomes a grind.

      3. PurePareidolia says:

        It probably would be more effective if light just stuns enemies, not kills them. A cover system might also have been effective because the idea is he’s hiding, not shooting them with his laser torch. Actually stealth mechanics seem pretty appropriate for a genre with a heavy emphasis on vulnerability, light and shadow, that wants to discourage actioney combat. In fact it might work better if each encounter is structured so you can run or hide your way through it, and use environmental traps as your main method of causing damage to them. So you can still kill them, but your character himself is no match for them one on one, so they’re still intimidating.

      4. Vic 2.0 says:

        “The combat is unsatisfying because it NEVER CHANGES.

        In most games the combat evolves, if only because you get more powerful weapons or the enemies attack in different patterns or something.

        In Alan Wake, you don't get any of that”

        That’s simply not true. You start with a flashlight and revolver, which you do carry through most of the remainder of the game (not unlike any other game). But then you’re gradually introduced to the shotgun, pump action shotgun, flare, hunting rifle, flashbang grenades, flare gun, and even some temporary tools of murder such as a vehicle or a military-grade floodlight. That’s plenty of variety in weapons for this genre! And that’s not to mention there’s a few moments in which you either don’t have a flashlight and/or a weapon of any kind, you’re stuck with just flares or just flashbang grenades, or you just don’t have what you’d like to have (e.g., you don’t always have flare gun ammo or flashbangs).

        The enemies come in plenty of variety as well. You have your flankers who move very quickly to get alongside or behind you, you have ranged attackers who throw axes and such until they’re close enough to just swing at you, you have assault Taken who are big and burly (slow but powerful), tele-flankers who move at superhuman speeds, and the occasional super-huge lumberjack with a chainsaw. Each of these require a different number of shots from the revolver, BTW. And that’s just the human Taken. The birds are all the same but rare enough so that you don’t get tired of them, just dread them when they’re in your sights or earshot. The poltergeists range from a simple wooden reel or shopping cart to a harvester or monster truck, and all the vehicle Taken move differently.

        Add to that the ever-changing environment. When I first played this game, I was expecting to be in wooded areas that all looked alike for most of the game. And indeed some critics have claimed that the game is just that. All lies. You spend maybe 25% of your game time actually IN the forest. This is not excessive! The rest of the game you find yourself fighting in the streets (on foot or in a vehicle), labyrinths, near a raging river, in watermills, sawmills, sheds, garages, cabins, lodges, motels, on a stage in the middle of a farm with heavy metal blaring through the speakers, train stations, on bridges with and without train tracks, warehouses, basements, lumber yards, junk yards, graveyards, ghost towns, right through Bright Falls in the dead of night, on top of a dam, around electric power plants, through fields set aflame by falling ships and I’m sure I probably missed one or two but you get the idea ;)

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Aaah!The zerg are attacking!

      1. Destrustor says:

        Submit to the swarm!

    3. Dante says:

      Zerg Rush still works…..and I’m still getting owned.

  3. AlternatePFG says:

    I liked the end of the episode breaks for the same reason Chris did. Alan Wake was a kind of game where I felt like the gameplay wasn’t engaging enough to keep me going in long sittings, but it was definitely the kind of game I’d pick up a couple hours a day to stop things from getting repetitive.

    On an unrelated note, I really want to try Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, cause that looks like a really fun game, but alas I do not own an Xbox. Gameplay looks a lot more fun this time around.

    1. ima420r says:

      American Nightmare isn’t much different than this one. There are more guns, though you need to unlock them by collecting manuscript pages. There are also more bad guys, like flocks of birds that take human form and huge guys with power saws. It’s a very simple, and short, game but the story was very enjoyable.

      I actually just played through and finished it this evening. Had some good ideas and it looked good. It’s really just Alan Wake 1.5. Same “shine flashlight, fire gun” mechanic, only this time your flashlight is almost instantly recharged when you stop using it and there are tons of ammo refills. It’s really easy, and the only difficult parts are when they throw dozens bad guys at you at once.

    2. Milos says:

      I think I read on RPS that there will be a PC version of American Nightmare. Unless I dreamt it… I do that sometimes.

  4. acronix says:

    I’m sure there’s some brazilian soap operas in my country’s TV. Last time I checked (like, seven years ago), they were still airing a bunch of them during the afternoon. Ussually one after the other.

    When I played Max Payne 2 and saw Lord and Ladies, my first thought was “Oh, they have these shows there, too!”.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      Of course they have ridiculous soap operas. Soap operas are a staple of Latin America.

      On the other hand, I don’t know if American audience is familiar with the phenomenon.

      1. PAK says:

        I can’t speak for “America,” I suppose, but here in Southern California, the answer would be a resounding “Yes.” Telenovelas are big business here. There’s a whole industry of American Spanish-language TV both importing soaps from Mexico/Latin America and producing their own programs modeled after that syle. One of my best friends from high school, who’s trying to make it as an actor, even had a role in one of the American-produced ones. My girlfriend grew up watching them with her family, first in Mexico, now here. When I eat at my favorite local restaurant, in my little agricultural hometown, novelas are often playing on the TV in the corner.

        1. Timelady says:

          Definitely yes for New Hampshire, too. And don’t forget the game shows…

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Driver san francisco also had that “end of episode” and “previously on”,and I liked it there.

  6. Marlowe says:

    It leaves me flabbergasted that no one recognized Roy Orbison. The reference is to David Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet which uses the song ‘In Dreams’ in a scene. Lynch went on to do Twin Peaks 4 years later with the lead actor of the movie: Kyle MacLachlan playing, of course, Agent Dale Cooper. The game needs Dean “Quantum Leap” Stockwell miming to the song like the Joker with Dennis Hopper grinning like a loon next to him. Since Mumbles apparently liked Twin Peaks a lot I can only advise her to track down Blue Velvet and watch it pronto.

    1. Soylent Dave says:

      I endorse this comment.

      1. froogger says:

        ..and I endorse this endorsement.

        On a completely unrelated note, your handle, Soylent Dave is cool. You have your very own flavor, eh?

    2. ps238principal says:

      To be honest, given how the budgets of most video games seem to be allocated, my first thought was “I wonder who they got to sound like Roy Orbison?”

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Yeah,this night springs thing looks nice,but its no scary door.

    As for max payne 3,maybe they can just do a parody american show,but dubbed,sort of like casa de mi padre.

    1. Deadpool says:

      Please don’t. Every time a game has tried to do Portuguese it has ripped my soul apart… At this point I almost prefer they don’t try.

      I blame “-Cancao do Povo” mostly… Worst attempt at Portuguese of all time.

      Anyways, Brazilian shows aren’t that different anyways…

      Most of the afternoon are news and soap operas. Run something similar to the Spainish novelas and you won’t be too far.

  8. Jingleman says:

    I love that Remedy does these in-game shows. They add a lot to the setting while giving the writers opportunities to comment on both their own narrative and other genres. I miss the multiple shows from Max Payne 2, where there were different plots and genres going on that would show up at appropriate times in the game.

    This incarnation of in-game shows (recursive media?) works much better than, say, GTA IV’s radio shows, which repeat ad nauseum with little or no progression, a lost opportunity for creating depth of setting.

    1. Soylent Dave says:

      GTA IV’s internet, on the other hand, is truly brilliant stuff.

  9. Amnestic says:

    The biggest problem I have with the ‘End of Chapter X’ bits are the summaries. The only way those make sense to me is if it was planned to be a multi-part title at some point and the summaries were kept in later, just like the coffee thermoses.

    Games like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta had a similar feature in that after each level(/chapter/act/whatever you want to call it) they gave you an opportunity to save, shop, quit or continue. The lack of summaries after each one though made it seem far less intrusive.

    Were I to keep the summaries, I’d have them as an optional viewable movie from the main menu. Maybe under ‘Extras’ or something. That way players who go Act 1->End in one sitting aren’t bothered by them, but players who dropped it three months ago and would like a refresher can just pop into the Extras menu before loading their game. Or not, if they don’t care to.

    Also Mumbles: Don’t forget to talk about Scarecrow in Batman.

    1. Jingleman says:

      I emphatically agree that the episodic breaks would have been much improved by an array of menu options like “save and quit,” “continue,” “continue and skip summary,” and “view manuscript pages/extras” for example.

      I loved the episodic format, and I thought that the recaps were just about right, but it would have been much better if there was a real, hard separation between episodes. The problem with the present system is that the game gives you a great stopping point – with no opportunity to stop. An exit sign with no off-ramp. Episode ending runs right into recap which runs right into episode intro, and the player, fearful of permanently skipping an important cutscene accidentally, sits through all of it wishing that the recap were shorter.

    2. Gamer says:

      Final Fantasy 13-2 also had little “Previously on” plot summaries that were played whenever you load a save file.

      They were a neat concept, except that they often didn’t the most recent event (ie. the ones that mattered for the story quest you were on) and became rather useless as a result.

      I still like the concept of recaps in games, though. Especially since you can’t be sure how long it’s been since the player lasted played.

      1. Amnestic says:

        I’ve yet to play FFXIII-2 (mostly because the idea of paying release price for a FFXIII sequel is abhorrent to me), but you reminded me that Deux Ex: Human Revolution also had summaries whenever you loaded the game in the form of small text blurbs (usually with an accompanied picture) which you could scroll through depending on what juncture you were at in the game. I thought that worked pretty well too since it was unintrusive and you could just hit ‘go’ instead of reading them all.

        Summaries can be useful, I just feel Alan Wake did it in a clunky way that could’ve been fixed if they’d cut out scripting Enemy Fight #2312, Difficulty Level: 3/5, and instead revisited the design choices of the episode endings.

        Chalk it up to another idea which fell flat in execution, I suppose.

        1. Gamer says:

          Trust me when I say 13-2 is much better than 13 gameplay-wise.

          As for the story, it literally ended on “To Be Continued”. You’ve no idea how angry that made me.

  10. Sydney says:

    “…leaving behind a lifetime of nightmares to come.”

    Should this line really have been delivered in a “putting the baby gently to sleep” voice? Who directed this clown car?

    1. Syal says:

      That’s the line I use to put babies to sleep.

      1. Monkeyboy says:

        Shamus you need a “like” button.

        How about “good night, sleep tight, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

        1. Dude says:

          Hey, look, it’s that Metallica song.

  11. JPH says:

    It always pulls me out of the experience when they put a video of real people into a video game. The juxtaposition of real people next to rendered 3D models meant to look like people just reminds me that it’s a game.

    1. Jingleman says:

      Something about the imperfection of the show’s presentation, especially the “off” lip-sync, but also the bursts of static and so on, actually made the show more plausible to me. It felt like a show that somebody else was watching, not one that was presented to me directly. Normally, I would agree that live-action footage next to 3D renderings is immersion-shattering, but in this case, the imperfection kind of gives it a degree of removal from my direct interaction with the game world, and makes the setting all the more compelling for me.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        They did that in ME3, in the intro with the news reports. I think it would have worked better if we couldn’t see their animated heads watching the live action news…

    2. Eärlindor says:

      Looking at the horrible character faces has already ruined the immersion for me, so the tv isn’t doing much.

      1. PurePareidolia says:

        Same here. I was actually interested in the show itself though, it looked like a show I’d watch if it were real.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          twas very Twilight Zoney, at least the narrator.

          No one mentioned that what the dude was talking about, with the two alternate realities, was basically a visible Schroedinger’s cat experiment where you know the result… I guess no one’s as much as a Physics nerd as I am.

          1. Jingleman says:

            I thought that Schrodinger’s cat was about illustrating a quantum superposition where the cat is for a time both dead and alive, but the parameters are such that the result is that the cat always dies eventually. I’m not a physics guy, though, so I’d be interested in learning more if that’s inaccurate.

            I thought that the episode was more about multiple worlds theory, which began more as a philosophical idea usually focused upon the idea of the “best of all possible worlds,” but which has found a place in quantum mechanics.

            The episode doesn’t really make much sense in either case, unless the point was how foolish the scientist was. The machine essentially did nothing. If every time the guy pulls the trigger, two universes are created, one in which the gun fires and one in which it didn’t, then what is the point of the box? It is meaningless to say that it ensures that he stays in the “survival” universe, because there’s always going to be a survival universe, and some version of him will always be there, surviving the shot, saying, “I told you it would work!” and experiencing the timeline split seamlessly as if his universe was the only one and his box kept him there.

            If that theory was right, the scientist could just sit in his living room pulling the trigger all day, creating dozens upon dozens of universes, in most of which he died, but always in one where he was saying, “see, I lived again!” For that matter, the plug getting pulled from the wall doesn’t affect the odds of the gun jamming at all, and if the scientist’s theory is right, then as long as there is some chance that the gun could jam, then there is some universe in which the gun did jam, the scientist lived even though the machine was unplugged, and probably the reporters all got really mad and assumed he had rigged the gun not to fire. That would have been a funny ending.

            All that to say this: If this scientist is right about multiple worlds theory, then ALL suicide is “quantum suicide,” and every suicide note could include a comforting clause at the end: “Somewhere, I lived.”

            1. Schrodinger's cat was about Schrodinger wanting to show up the absurdity of quantum mechanics. But yeah, you’ve kinda got the gist of it in that there are two waveforms, one where the cat is alive and one where it’s dead, and quantum mechanics can’t tell you which one is right till you check to see.

              The probability that the cat will be dead increasing with time is not something that any of my professors (teaching me history of physics, quantum mechanics, or various other courses) ever paid attention to, and is not really the focus of the thought experiment. It is really about Schrodinger going “WTF, this theory’s kind of absurd!” and the rest of the physics world going “yup, good point, but it still works”

              1. Aldowyn says:



            2. Michael says:

              “I thought that Schrodinger's cat was about illustrating a quantum superposition where the cat is for a time both dead and alive, but the parameters are such that the result is that the cat always dies eventually. I'm not a physics guy, though, so I'd be interested in learning more if that's inaccurate.”

              Schrà¶dinger’s Cat was actually a jab at how silly the Copenhagen interpretation of superposition was.

              Incidentally, the cat does not always die in the end. In the thought experiment, the cat has exactly a 50% chance of dying, but is simultaneously both alive and dead until observed.

              (Sorry for the redundancy if you already knew what superposition is.)

              EDIT: Pah! And ninja’d. Excellent play, ma’am.

              1. Aldowyn says:

                Well it wouldn’t be 50% since it’s based on the decaying of an atom, which should have a known half-life which affects how likely it is to decay in a certain time frame. The point is you don’t know for sure until you open the box and see a dead cat or an alive cat.

                1. Michael says:

                  Yes, and the experiment’s time limit is set so that both outcomes are equally likely.

                  There’s a Geiger counter which, if it detects radiation, sets off a device to shatter the flask of poison (think it was cyanide).

                  The Geiger counter is set up with a small amount of radioactive material such that, in the course of an hour, it has an equally likely chance of decaying either one atom or none. One event has to happen, and there’s two events. 50%.

                  And, yes, I did just go check Wikipedia to make sure I was remembering the 50% part of the thought experiment right.

              2. Bryan says:

                …And it was, and still is, rather silly.

                “Many worlds” isn’t much better though. You still have weird stuff happening (two universes branching off? really?) when you happen to decide to change around which decomposition of the identity (of the Hilbert space) you’re using.

                Which is why I like “consistent histories” myself — the whole idea of “wave function collapse” is discarded. It’s not a process that happens in reality (so Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance” objection doesn’t exist either); instead, it’s an effect of the physicist changing the decomposition of the identity being used to analyze the wave functions. (That decomposition acts more or less like a basis for the quantum space.)

                It turns the state of Schroedinger’s Cat into 50%-probability-alive, 50%-probability-dead before the box is opened, instead of what you get from a unitary-time-evolution setup (the linear combination), because the unitary-time-evolution setup isn’t compatible with any history that includes a physical measurement.

  12. Raygereio says:

    I’m curious. I haven’t played this game, but so far my impression of it through this LP are:
    -Combat looks like an unimpressive shooter with an equally unimpressive destroy-enemy’s-shield-before-you-can-damage-them-gimmick stappled onto it. I don’t think I would hate or have make me fall asleep, but it really doesn’t look like the combat-gameplay can carry this game.
    -Atmosphere looks like a hit-‘n-miss affair, leaning towards the latter. The artstyle in setpieces like the creepy, dark forest look cool. But any weight that the devs are trying to build is constantly sucked away by the combat and/or the narration (Alan’s VA isn’t bad though, he just seems to be used way to much and not really suited for what they’re trying to do with him).
    -QTEs. It has them; that’s a crime worthy of flogging.
    -Collection minigame. If I understand it right, you need to collect the manuscripts in order to (better) understand the plot. That’s potentially very bad depending on how well hidden they are.

    Does this game get fun/good at any point? Does the story suddenly become incredibly compelling starting episode 2? Because so far the only thing entertaining in Alan Wake are the facial animations (which admittedly have been consistenly amusing).

    1. Soylent Dave says:

      There are a couple of really good ideas in the story later on, actually.

      … but if the story isn’t grabbing you at all by now, then – no. It doesn’t get any better.

      1. Raygereio says:

        Well, it’s kinda hard to be grabbed by the story at this point seeing as all we’ve gotten so far is introduction and setup.
        The actualy story doesn’t seem to have started yet.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          I’m missing huge chunks of plot because I’m listening to Shamus and Co. I have no idea what’s real and what isn’t – although that may be on purpose. And I have no idea where these stupid shadow guys are coming from.

          So yeah, completely lost.

          1. Soylent Dave says:

            Don’t worry, you get plenty of chance to recap with all the ‘Previously – on Alan Wake’ we’re about to watch…

        2. Soylent Dave says:

          It’s a five act play – although because it’s a game the falling action and dénouement get a bit mingled together. And you get an end boss.

          If you don’t like the character(s) by now, you’re not going to; if you don’t care enough about the mysterious happenings by now, you won’t start caring in Act 2 (which is the fault of the writers, not the audience, incidentally)

          The story does step up a gear – but it progress rather than getting better is what I’m trying to say.

    2. IFS says:

      There was an interesting discussion regarding the QTE’s in the previous episodes comments, also while the game does damage the atmosphere with Alan’s narration we are also watching it while listening to five people talk about it which is far more damaging to the atmosphere.

      1. Thomas says:

        I feel this. I think Deus Ex: HR was the only time it’s been easy to follow a story on spoiler warning and that wasn’t great. This game seems to be all about details and narrations and things the enemy cries as they attack you and none of that is going to come over well on a commentary show, because we’re listening to the commentary.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          The atmosphere looks like, minus most of the narration and a huge chunk of the combat, it could be really spooky. I’m getting really tired of Alan, though.

    3. Sleeping Dragon says:

      In all fairness the QTEs are relatively few and they only very rarely fall in the “do or die” set. Also, remember that watching the game in a youtube window rather than playing it, with 5 people commenting, making jokes and deconstructing every scene kinda saps at the atmosphere.

      Combat is way excessive though, and it’ll get waaay excessive by the time we get to the ending.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        I don’t actually hate QTEs, as long as you know they’re coming. Some are different than others, but even the simplest (God of War style) have a purpose, and some of those kill animations can look pretty cool.

    4. Vic 2.0 says:

      “I'm curious. I haven't played this game, but so far my impression of it through this LP are:”

      Biased, then :)

      “-Combat looks like an unimpressive shooter with an equally unimpressive destroy-enemy's-shield-before-you-can-damage-them-gimmick stappled onto it. I don't think I would hate or have make me fall asleep, but it really doesn't look like the combat-gameplay can carry this game.”

      It’s not meant to. But I myself found the combat very addictive. You don’t get to see a lot of this “gimmick” where you have to “destroy the enemy’s shield” in other games, and anything that goes beyond the popular “spray bullets here” design is a welcome change, IMO. I can say nothing about the combat that was unimpressive. From the moment they appear to the way they go, I like it all!

      “-Atmosphere looks like a hit-'n-miss affair, leaning towards the latter. The artstyle in setpieces like the creepy, dark forest look cool. But any weight that the devs are trying to build is constantly sucked away by the combat and/or the narration (Alan's VA isn't bad though, he just seems to be used way to much and not really suited for what they're trying to do with him).”

      I didn’t find anything about the combat or narration distracting from the atmosphere. I was tense when I knew the enemies were coming (surprised those times I didn’t), hyped up when they appeared, and relieved when they were gone but only for a moment. Alan’s voice was somber and timid so as to make the enemies’ appearance all the more stimulating, the vast majority of the time describing what he was thinking/feeling in moments that were appropriate. Sometimes they used narration to sort of push you in the right direction, a clever way of making you feel like you’re staying in one place too long – as if there is danger even in areas there technically isn’t any. Nothing distracting about it. If Alan had been narrating during the combat or something, that would’ve been distracting, yes. But they seemed to have made it a point not to do that.

      “-QTEs. It has them; that's a crime worthy of flogging.”

      Gonna need some elaboration before I agree with you. You understand.

      “-Collection minigame. If I understand it right, you need to collect the manuscripts in order to (better) understand the plot. That's potentially very bad depending on how well hidden they are.”

      Well, first off, there is nothing essential to the main storyline that can be found only in the manuscripts. They contain information that fleshes the story out a bit, which shouldn’t be a problem as one can reason that the players who want more of the story than is needed are the same players who have no qualms with hunting it down.

      It’s been claimed the manuscripts “can’t be missed”. That’s not true. About half of them are fairly well-hidden, or at least off the main path a bit. And another gripe about them from the critics serves to confirm that these manuscripts often tell you what’s about to happen at some point in the game (something you’re going to learn anyway if you play it all the way through). I didn’t consider them spoilers, but some do. Ultimately the manuscripts are merely collectibles, rewarding in two senses apart from the corresponding Achievement: letting you know what’s ahead at times and giving you a bit more information on the story than you really have to have to understand the crucial parts of it.

  13. Hitch says:

    Is English the only language available for subtitles in the game? If not, then the subtitle to “End of Episode One” would be in whatever language your subtitles were in and therefore make sense.

    One possibility for a TV show for Max Payne 3 could be a cheesy American sitcom dubbed into Portuguese. With the setting, characters, and plot so cliche that it’s perfectly easy to follow what’s happening without speaking a word of the language.

    1. Neil D says:

      That’s a pretty believable explanation for the subtitle on the “End of Episode” screen. But what it really needed was Alan Wake to also narrate it out loud. “It was the end… of Episode One.”

      And on an unrelated note, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IT’S ROY FREAKING ORBISON, YOU BUNCH OF HEATHENS! Sorry, I just needed to get that out. Also, the only other chapter ending song I knew was Space Oddity, so perhaps I should just go chase the kids off my lawn.

      1. Deadpool says:

        Seriously, if someone reading this DOESN’T know Space Oddity don’t you dare come withing stabbing distance of me…

        1. Zukhramm says:

          Yes, death threats for not knowing a whatever it is (movie, book, tv-show?), seems reasonable.

          1. JPH says:

            It’s a song by David Bowie.

            A song that I’ve heard before, but couldn’t remember by name and therefore had to Google just now.

            Deadpool must have issues making friends if he stabs everyone that doesn’t know old songs.

            1. Thomas says:

              …but MGS3 referenced it…

            2. Soylent Dave says:

              “old songs”



              1. JPH says:

                1969 doesn’t qualify as old?

                1. Zukhramm says:

                  Before 1950 sometime, I start thinking of music as old. With some variation depending on genre.

                2. Soylent Dave says:

                  It all depends on your perspective – I was just highlighting that your calling Space Oddity ‘old music’ made me feel really old (and I was born in 1980, so it’s not like it was top of the pops when I was a teenager – but it was still on the radio when I was growing up)

                  You’re perfectly entitled to think of it as old music – it just made me feel a little bit more decrepit, is all.

                  1. JPH says:

                    Dude, you aren’t old.

                    Whenever I think “old person” I think, like, 50 at the very minimum, more likely 60-70. It feels weird hearing so many people in their 30s or even 20s call themselves old. You aren’t old, you aren’t even middle aged!

                    But yeah, I was born in ’92, so any music from before 1980 is old in my book. (Yeah, music ages faster than people in my book. Go figure.)

            3. Syal says:

              I have never known the name of that song until just now, despite hearing the song on the radio for years.

          2. Shamus says:

            Having met Deadpool at Pax I can attest that he’s actually a super nice guy. I’m sure it would be a non-fatal stab.

            1. Jingleman says:

              I’m confused. Is he threatening to stab folks who don’t know the song, or is he afraid that they are out to stab him?

            2. JPH says:

              He was nice to YOU, of course, because you presumably know what Space Oddity is…

  14. McNutcase says:

    At this point, I’m content with watching this game, which is a shame. Remedy’s produced some of my favourite games in the Max Payne series, and Alan Wake is looking like a good concept let down by execution.

    Which means that so far, Spoiler Warning has influenced me infavour of some games and against others. I’d like to play through Mass Effect, but non-game elements of #3 are making me unwilling to get it; Bioshock and Assassin’s Creed are pretty much off my radar now; I bought Fallout 3 as a result of Spoiler Warning, Fallout New Vegas is on my to-get list, and Deus Ex: Human Resources is currently top of said list.

    Five hosts does seem to be working out so far. I just wish Ventrilo was less nasty to Mumbles’s voice. Without Ventrilo compression, she’s a LOT less screechy. I’ll bet Vent is optimised for male voices because There Are No Girls On The Internet.

    1. Spirit Bear says:

      Funny how I’ve bought Bioshock and Assassins Creed II after their spoiler warning season and yet had all the rest of them. Though I don’t have Alan Wake and really don’t want to play it.

      I guess the cycle is broken.

      1. MatthewH says:

        Yeah, this has kind of put me off Alan Wake -which is a shame because I too kind of like the idea. But then, as a person who hates horror I was probably always on the margins of the market.

        Oddly, every game they have reviewed seriously up to this point has been one I later played and enjoyed -with the exception of BioShock. Though BioShock is a first person horror type game, so, again, I was never likely to get it anyway. (Seriously, I hate jumping in my seat while I play.)

      2. McNutcase says:

        All that really means is that you find different parts of the game fun. I saw the bits of Assassin’s Creed 2 that were fun – and those were plentiful. I also saw that there were things about it that would prevent me from enjoying it. Whatever those bits were, they didn’t prevent you from enjoying the game, and I’m glad you did enjoy it.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Assassin’s Creed does a lot of things right. Few of them fall squarely under the Spoiler Warning domain. Especially when they managed to pick the one with the least sensible storyline, imo. I had no idea who the bad guys were, a major drop from AC1, where characterization of the assassination targets was almost too much.

          1. Gamer says:

            I’m not the only one. Holy crap! I played through the whole game of AC2 while rarely getting a sense of what was going on.

            It took subsequent playthroughs for me to really understand the story.

            1. Aldowyn says:

              It throws WAAAAY too many Templars and Borgias at you in the beginning. I can get the general gist, but each individual templar? I have no idea…

    2. X2Eliah says:

      I just wish Ventrilo was less nasty to Mumbles's voice. Without Ventrilo compression, she's a LOT less screechy.

      .. Does nobody else hear that Josh’s voice is badly compressed too? I mean, what’s with all the ragging on Mumbles’ voice, it’s not any worse than Josh’s and Rutskarn’s mic (Shamus and Chris do have higher-quality audio, I seems).

      1. McNutcase says:

        It’s not as obvious to me. Then again, as far as I’m aware I’ve never heard Josh without Vent abusing his voice, whereas I know I’ve heard Mumbles recorded without the nasty compression.

        Also, Vent doesn’t turn Josh’s voice into the screeching of a zillion harpies. I’m sure Josh would sound better without it, but he doesn’t sound THAT bad with it. It’s like amplifier distortion; tube distortion is nice, transistor distortion is horrible.

        1. Destrustor says:

          At that point, if we do get to hear his real voice, it would sound wrong.

      2. Dude says:

        Dude, I’ve been talking about Josh’s voice for two freaking seasons now.

        It’s one of Josh’s continuous trolls.

  15. Luke Maciak says:

    Not sure if someone mentioned this yet, but the reason why they subtitled “End of Episode 1” might be as simple as localization. I have seen games in which you could pick the subtitle language to be different from the voice dub (this is actually how I prefer to experience foreign games and movies – have the original language track and English subtitles rather than an English dub). So in that case, subtitling a title card would make absolute sense.

    1. Bryan says:

      Or they could … you know … *translate the title card*. :-)

      I mean, they have to do the translation work either way (if that was the reason). The only thing the title card has that the subtitles don’t, is the high number of bits required to provide multiple versions of it — but it’s not like that’s stopping them from bling-mapping every single thing visible anywhere. (Though, maybe it is. I can’t tell for sure in this tiny video size, and I don’t have the game myself, so I don’t know how much disk is being taken up by that data.)

      But it seems like even with a probably-absurd count of 50 languages, with a full-screen title card for each, for five episodes, wouldn’t take up that much space. 32bpp, 1600×1200 (hey, why not), is still only about 2G. But the black compresses really well, so it shouldn’t actually take *nearly* that much; wildly guessing at a 75% compression rate, it’s half a gig. That’s not much at all these days…

  16. ps238principal says:

    In defense of Stephen King miniseries, I recommend “Storm of the Century,” though that’s mostly for the well-acted villain, Andre Linoge.

    I find that the biggest problem with adaptations of his works are when the directors/producers concentrate on the monsters rather than the characters.

    1. Chris says:

      I am still hoping that in the wake of The Hunger Games someone chooses to adapt (competently) The Long Walk. My favorite King story.

      1. Soylent Dave says:

        That’s one of my favourites as well (“Richard Bachman’s” other books are also pretty damn good; I don’t have very many King novels but I’ve got 4 of Bachman’s…)

      2. ps238principal says:

        Can that happen nowadays? In his book, “On Writing” (an excellent read for aspiring novelists as well as fans of King’s work) he lamented the fate of whoever had to adapt “IT” to a TV teleplay because of all the laws and cultural taboos surrounding showing endangerment of children (not to mention… well, read the book).

        I’m thinking unless they resorted to the military escorts pointing their guns at the participants followed by a cutaway to a tree full of crows taking flight as they’re startled, there’s no way they could do that and expect anything other than an NC-17.

        Still, it’d be a low-budget affair, compared to some movies, and I hear King will sell you the rights to any of his stories for $1. Maybe if someone started a Kickstarter?

      3. Dude says:

        I want to see a miniseries that adapts some of his short stories. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with, say, N.

  17. NonEuclideanCat says:

    So how long are the “episodes”, compared to this first one? Are we going to be seeing roughly an episode per week?

    1. Chris says:

      The next few get a little longer – I’d be surprised if we managed to time them exactly to a week per Alan Wake episode. They’re somewhere between 2 to 3 hours to complete, depending, so I think it’ll be a week and a half for the next couple. We’ll see, though!

  18. Deadpool says:

    Btw, I think Asura’s Wrath did a much better job at the episodic approach…

    1. X2Eliah says:

      Oh, definitely. Asura’s Wrath was designed with the episodic breaks and pacing from the very inception of the concept, whereas in A.Wake game it’s.. Well, it just is kinda there and that’s about it.

      1. Chris says:

        I think they served the story well – each episode does a good job moving the overall plot forward while still managing to give the player some sense of closure or major revelation. It’s like watching a TV show on DVD – the transitions give you a good break point when trying to marathon an 18 hour TV season.

  19. Destrustor says:

    Am I the only one who just can’t concentrate properly on A) a videogame, B)the game’s subtitles, and C) five people talking over it?
    During the in-game tv show, I was constantly zoning out about 3/4 of everything that happened, focusing at random between the show, the commentary, the subtitles for the show, the back of Alan’s head and that swingy dangling log outside.
    This is pure madness and I just can’t help it!
    And I have this problem even in games that I’ve already played: in new vegas I was often distracted by the NPC’s dialogue despite already knowing all they had to say.
    I’d almost need to watch the episode a few more times…

    (not that this is a complaint or anything. It’s just funny that your show about a game with a show within the game and five people talking over it is so confusing. It sounds so clear and straight-forward!)

    1. Thomas says:

      To be fair it is hard. During New Vegas I’d have to force myself to read the dialogue and then rewind so I could hear whats saying.

      My sisters on the other hand are multitasking geniuses. Their default browsing set-up is to be watching an episode of Phineas and Ferb on one half of the screen and doing homework or drawing pictures etc on the second half. Even when they’re doing stuff on Sims they play the audio of a Simpsons episode over the top so they can follow the episode in their minds as they play

      1. SyrusRayne says:

        I think women are actually physically better at multi-tasking than men. I’m pretty sure this is a Science Fact.

    2. X2Eliah says:

      That’s how I always view this show. The more familiar I am with the game, them ore I can pay attention to what the cast is speaking about. When the game is an unknown, I’m zoning all over the place.

      I don’t think that the 5 people versus previous 4 is that much of a change. There was some chaos when they moved to 4 people format as well, and there quite frankly is and always has been a certain amount of chaos in the commentationing.

      1. Even says:

        “When the game is an unknown, I'm zoning all over the place.”

        I’m the same. Watching Assassin’s Creed 2, I had to keep pausing the video to read the dialogue first just so I could keep up with the commentary.

        “I don't think that the 5 people versus previous 4 is that much of a change.”

        I believe the difference here is the fact that they’re really putting effort to avoid the chaotic overlapping by taking turns and letting each other finish their piece before talking. So far it seems to be working alright. I expected worse at the start of this season, but I’m glad to have been proven wrong.

      2. Gamer says:

        Same here. I just watch a separate LP of the game to get the atmosphere/dialogue/story and come back here to listen to the cast and take part in the discussion.

  20. arron says:

    There was probably a great game that could have come from Alan Wake, but this isn’t it. I haven’t played this game, but not mightly impressed with it so far. It’s like someone crashed LOST, Twin Peaks and Silent Hill together and produced something that looks like a vehicle pileup. It’s not horror, it’s not really that surreal..and the mystery element like putting together a jigsaw of unrelated facts to find out the whole picture is lacking as well. I’m not convinced of the characters either, which is another let down. The cardboard cutout of the main character is probably satire isn’t it? It’s difficult working out which one is which. The vague feeling is something like LOST : Via Domus except you’re a writer rather than a photographer. And they had a TV programme as source material.

    The fighting mechanic is very weak. They could have made a lot more of environmental factors (how about turning the lights on inside a house/removing shutters to ward off Taken from getting in?) or using portable lights as a perimeter shielding to prevent Taken from approaching from certain directions. Or positioning cars and using their headlights to act as shielding. The game so far is basically one set piece fight leading to another set piece fight.

    There’s very little in investigation or optional branching paths. At least Half-Life 2 had buildings that you didn’t have to visit, but these could contribute to additional story or evidence to what is going on. There’s no dialogue choices with characters, so you get the sense the whole experience is spoonfed to you without any variation. At least in Left for Dead, the game would analyse your play style and mix it up to ensure that you were kept on your toes.

    The episode format is quite a neat idea. The problem with it that this does feel like you’re watching a television programme and so you can’t affect what happens on screen. I would prefer if actions that I did through the game would affect the ‘preview’ to come so you feel like you’re controlling the action, rather than following something that someone else has written. Silent Hill 2 was pretty linear, but you still had the ability to influence the endings based on your actions..

    I don’t know yet how this will turn out, but if Episode 1 is basically the format for the entire game, then it’s been a good idea ruined by execution.

    1. arron says:

      Another addition to the combat mechanic they could have added was the ability for the darkness to remove lights. Streetlights could be removed by Taken driving vehicles into them, flares and electrics could be put out by water. The less light, the stronger the darkness..and then more powerful enemies can then be deployed against the player. The player then has to both protect light sources, add more to the area to lessen dark influence and keep themselves safe.

      Light sources could be varied – a raging fire is difficult to put out, so setting fire to piles of wood, petrol tanks, gas bottles, and these can be short lived. So there’s a short lived strategic element in (1) do you use them all to be able to run to the next area without being mobbed or (2) use them sparingly to reduce the number/strength of enemies to fight them more effectively?

      This in turn can effect the story. If the police find out your responsible for what seems to be a orgy of pyromania, then does this affect your chances when you ask them for help in protecting the town from the darkness when it rises? Will other characters think you mentally unstable and not worth trusting?

      1. Thomas says:

        I think we’ve got the mentally unstable bit already with the police people. Except it seems to be the darker, has he just shot a load of people?

        I like the idea of darkness consuming the light but I think we’re reaching a point where we’re designing a completely different game (I’ve already been pretty much guilty off this in this very thread)

        Remedy aren’t bad developers and even what they’ve got here is fairly unique and interesting. I guess I’m beginning to be convinced that maybe they weren’t coming to this wholly committed to a horror game, otherwise surely they would have thought of some of the stuff we’ve thought of?

    2. Vic 2.0 says:

      “The fighting mechanic is very weak. They could have made a lot more of environmental factors (how about turning the lights on inside a house/removing shutters to ward off Taken from getting in?) or using portable lights as a perimeter shielding to prevent Taken from approaching from certain directions. Or positioning cars and using their headlights to act as shielding. The game so far is basically one set piece fight leading to another set piece fight.”

      LOL, yes let’s waste time building a fort rather than book it to save our wife! I love it *rolls eyes*

  21. Even says:

    So how about the 90’s cult series Address Unknown?

    1. Chris says:

      Holy crap. I had completely forgotten the TV show in Max Payne 2. This is more or less Alan Wake: The Foreshadowing.

      1. Marlowe says:

        Does Alan Wake meet his evil double John Mirror (who is more fun than television)? The bald dude in the Quantum suicide story bears resemblance to the Jack Lupino character model in Max Payne, physically and in terms of general insane utterances and actions. “The flesh of fallen angels.”

        1. Amnestic says:

          Alan Wake Spoilers.
          Yes, there is a mirror duplicate called ‘Mr. Scratch’ who Alan has to fight against in some of the DLC. There was also something to do with him taking Alan’s place in the real world at the end of the actual game but it was all very confusing to me.

          1. Jarenth says:

            I really liked that bit of setup, but it’s only really capitalized on the the American Nightmare DLC / game. The regular game and accompanying DLCs don’t really touch it, which I thought was a shame.

            1. Sagretti says:

              It’s especially a shame because Mr. Sratch is one of the best video game villains I’ve seen in a long time. Completely self-aware he’s a creation of pure evil (and at times aware he’s in a video game), and revels in that fact. It’s pretty much Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs taken to its logical extreme. He manages to be entertaining, funny, and completely chilling all at the same time. I really hope we get an Alan Wake 2 with him as the main villain.

  22. PurePareidolia says:

    Usually, even with a game I know I tend to try read the dialogue and listen to the hosts at the same time, or rewind if I miss something. I haven’t gotten the urge to do that here – the manuscript pages are boring, the characters aren’t saying anything interesting or important to the plot, the subtitles are usually just Stucky yelling non-sequiters (which is scary I guess?) and the plot seems to just be all over the place.

    I mean, I know what’s happening by now, I just don’t care – there’s nothing about the gameplay or scenery that draws me in. It’s all generic forests and flashlight shooting. I mean, they’re nice forests, but nothing fantastically original.

  23. rayen says:

    okay i’ve watched for a week. Now my thoughts. I’m not sure this 5 host thing is gonna work. at least not for a linear game like this. in this linear enviornment there are too many things one right after the other and you 5 are tripping over yourselves trying not to talk over eachother yet get your thoughts down in a small amount of before the next thing.

    For the purposes of alan wake or half-life (or even mass effect), probably should switch around the hosts having only three or four at a time. maybe only even two peoples… though that might get boring. then again that might be hard knowin you guys shoot in blocks. I dunno it just my feeling.

    5 hosts can work but it would work best in a sandbox game like fallout where you have long treks across the wasteland to far off places. Or assassins creed where you gotta get to your mission and then sneak up on the target (unless your josh).

    this seems like a good way to do it from my view. and then even if one of you is sick or tired or working, it doesn’t interrupt the flow. These aren’t criticisms just some thoughts. plus i don’t know your set-up so i may be speaking crazy-talk.

    1. Thomas says:

      A week isn’t long enough yet. You’ve listened to one recording session (I think), give them time to find their pace. Although it sounds like a week to us, you’re only actually judging their very first thing. If we were making decisions at this sort of time then we’d have been asking Chris to leave DX:HR because he wasn’t actually finding a place to say anything and instead he’s gone on to become a fantastic commentator deserving of our love as much as the rest of them.

      I think they’ve done a good job and I think within two weeks you won’t even think 5 is special.

      1. Gamer says:

        From what other people were saying, the transition from 3 to 4 hosts went about the same way.

        I was initially hesitant about the concept of 5 hosts, but after this week, I think it can work. They just need spend a few recording sessions to adjust and they’ll be fine.

        1. Destrustor says:

          What I’m afraid of is that even if they do eventually adjust perfectly, they may not all be able to say everything they’d want to say at any given moment. That we would lose some good insight to time constraints and such.
          At three commenters, there were some silent pauses where nobody had anything to say.
          At four, these pauses were still there, but fewer and more rarely.
          I don’t know whether or not everyone will be able to speak out when they have something to say before having to move on because another commenter used up all the timeframe in which the comment would be relevant.
          They could still go on five-minute tangents while ignoring the game anyway, though…

          1. Jingleman says:

            I had the same thought, but if we didn’t have all 5 hosts, then we would be certain to miss out on whatever insights the absent party might have. I’d rather risk missing a few comments along the way than giving up on any host for the entire episode.

            1. Aldowyn says:

              So have the best of 5 instead of all of 4, basically.

              1. Jingleman says:

                Indeed. And sorry about the italics goof up. Still figuring out the system here.

                1. Syal says:

                  ends italics.

                  EDIT: and of course it doesn’t show up if you write it correctly.

                  EDIT EDIT: …or incorrectly.
                  Anyway, put a slash in front of the i to end italics.

  24. Timelady says:

    Just poking my head in to agree that Roy Orbison is always very win. There’s also a really pretty rendition of Shady Grove on a radio behind the police station that I absolutely love.

  25. scowdich says:

    You guys hated on the tutorial during the first episode, but I’ve been watching old episodes, and would like to point out this:
    At about 16 minutes, you guys lament the lack of traditional tutorials in games.

    1. Amnestic says:

      If you look at their examples (Deus Ex, Half-Life) then it offers tutorials as an entirely separate feature. They were selectable from the main menu as optional levels you could choose to do or not to do. They were weaved into the gameworld, but they weren’t in your face about needing to do it.

      Alan Wake’s tutorial on the other hand is not optional, feels distinctly out of place and indeed the stuff you learn appears to be taught to you later anyway. If they’d had it selectable from the main menu I think it wouldn’t have garnered nearly the same criticisms from the SW crew.

      You’ll also note that they seem to heap praise on Portal, which is essentially a game of 90% tutorial. It’s all about the execution of it. Something which – in the eyes of the SW crew it seems – Alan Wake failed at.

    2. Shamus says:

      Remember in old games, when the tutorial was a different level altogether. Half-Life, Deus Ex, Thief, System Shock 2: They all had a self-contained tutorial where you could learn how to lump, shoot, put on hats, or whatever you needed to know in the game. This avoided exactly the problem we have in these games, which is situations where characters and foes must be stretched to accommodate player training. And on subsequent plays, you have to endure the tutorial again.

      This game would REALLY have benefited from some non-monster tutorial encounter.

      I’m not saying games should NEVER integrate tutorials with gameplay. (HL2 does this really well.) I’m just saying tutorials need to be carefully balanced against the needs of the narrative.

      1. scowdich says:

        So what I’m getting from this is that you’d vastly prefer the opening tutorial be either of:
        -Integrated into the story
        I can get behind that. Even Borderlands was pretty tutorial-integrated, what with an easy gunfight, then gradual introduction to the shields, grenades, stores, and vehicles.
        And then you fight Bone Head…

      2. Jingleman says:

        The problem with adopting a philosophy that says in-campaign tutorials are acceptable so long as they serve the needs of the narrative is that it is a much more subjective proposition. I’m sure that the writers of Alan Wake thought that the nightmare sequence served the narrative quite well. So, we’re left dissatisfied, and the best advice we can offer is, “Well, you should have done it better.”

        That is, we shouldn’t underestimate the effect of bad writing. the manuscript pages in Alan Wake, unless the Remedy team is doing some sort of meta-commentary on Alan’s talent, illustrate the reality that it’s really easy to believe that one’s writing is good, when it just isn’t. Leaving it up to the writing and design teams to explicitly incorporate tutorials about game play mechanics, which are really about the player, into parts of the game that begin to develop the narrative, which should be about the characters and plot, is a recipe for mistakes unless you’ve got a really, really competent team.

        Even though some developers, like Valve, seem to have the design and writing talent right now to make it work, a firm policy against in-campaign tutorials would effectively take away the risk of poor writing, and as you mentioned, it removes the unnecessary drudge for veteran players.

        1. Gamer says:

          The problem with that tutorial is that one can remove it completely, just begin with Alan having a nightmare, and nothing changes.

          As far as I’m aware, I’m 3 1/2(out of 6) episodes in to the LP I’m watching and the “God” character is in the story “maybe” one more time if I’m right.

          1. Gamer says:

            Correction, I was wrong it does become important.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Maybe the nightmare does work in narrative,but the problem here is,from what I saw,that the tutorials are repeated.You get the nightmare,and then in the first level you get slow build up again,which couldve easily been used as a tutorial.

      3. Zukhramm says:

        One thing I really feels games often fail at with tutorials for me is offering a place to learn. They often offer lessons but that always feels a lot less efficient in getting the player to understand the game. An area with fairly non-threatening things to fight that are easy to just run past, so that I can spend as much time as I feel I need to learn, but so I could also just ignore it if I’m already confident in my abilities. That’s something I wish all games had.

      4. Blake says:

        Yeah I think all the tutorial really needed was something you had to roll through, then a conspicuous door, covered in shadow, that you have to shine your light at before you can interact with it (maybe even having it hurt you if you touch it otherwise).

        That way you’ve learnt dodging, and how to fight the bad guys, without needing to even see one yet.

        Also, replacing the zoom-in-on-bad-guys with some kind of sound which 50% of the time is bad guys nearby would’ve really upped the tension.

        1. X2Eliah says:

          Opening a door and shooting at dudes are pretty far-removed activities.. I don’t think one can serve as a tutorial for the other – especially when gaming character designs so often use fancy visual effects just for show that the “covered in shadow -> needs light” connection may be completely missed.

          1. Amnestic says:

            Just pointing at the enemies (which you would do if you were planning on shooting them, something I think most gamers would understand how to do) starts burning their darkness shield off in a visible (possibly audible) way. I highly doubt people wouldn’t get it.

      5. Vic 2.0 says:

        Something needs to be there to explain just how Alan, the character, knows that shining a light on the Taken for longer than a second will push the darkness back so he can kill them. And they could’ve let Zane show up in the “real world” to do just that, sure. But isn’t it more unnerving that, up until this point, Zane is just a dude in his dream; that is, you’re made to believe there is no floating light to save you when you first encounter danger in the “real world”?

        I suppose they could’ve informed Alan of this via something written, something he finds laying around the cabin or in the woods before the first attack. But even then, you would at least know there was someone in the “real world” to help him. When I first saw Stucky’s silhouette on the trail to the lumber yeard, I remember thinking, “This would be a good time for that light dude to show up!” But I didn’t question why he wasn’t there at the time, because I just figured he was imaginary. By the time I learned he was real, I knew he wasn’t following me around because that wasn’t the way Alan wrote it. If I had thought to question Alan’s choice here, it wouldn’t have been long before I learned about the need for balance in the story. So it all works out.

        Now, there is another alternative: Alan dreams about just Thomas Zane, and in a brief cutscene he’s told that the light is the key. Okay, now wake Alan up on the ferry and there you go. But that wouldn’t be a tutorial at all. I suppose it wouldn’t break the game to have the player figure it out from there, but then again neither did the way they decided to put it together.

  26. McNutcase says:

    For those of you wishing to find the theme, hit up Kevin McLeod’s website and look for Fork and Spoon. It’s classified under Funk, and the only feel tag is Grooving.

  27. Alex the Too Old says:

    Until I heard Mumbles utter the phrase “wrinkly Vulcan asshole”, I had been unaware that it is indeed possible to snort ice cream out one’s nose. Ow.

  28. Spencer Petersen says:

    I think specifically the extraneous subtitle is for alternate languages, as they wouldn’t need to change the slide but just the subtitle. The opening of L4D2 does this also and I think its for the same reason.

  29. dalek610 says:

    Hey, Sony took the video down due to copyright. Thought you should know.

  30. Dentarthurdent says:

    “This video previously contained a copyrighted audio track. Due to a claim by a copyright holder, the audio track has been muted.”

    This makes sad.

  31. Lachlan the Mad says:

    Video’s not working because of some asshole making a false copyright claim on your soundtrack. RAEG

  32. Vic 2.0 says:

    5:50 – “(The story) stops dead in the water whenever you’re in the woods (fighting)”

    Seriously? The dark presence can’t even try to stop you as you’re making your way to the next bit of story progression? I’m pretty sure this is true of 99% of the games out there. Unless you are fighting someone important to the story throughout the entire game, you’re putting the story on hold for the sake of the combat. I’m sorry, this was just a very odd comment.

    6:50 – …If the game’s doing so much explaining… how is that everyone’s completely lost for the entire game and especially at the end? No, they adhered to Stephen King’s rule well enough. And nothing was explained in the tutorial but the gameplay mechanics.

    7:20 – I find out at least one of our critics hasn’t even played or seen the game through til the end… Okay.

    9:00 – Good catch! Most people won’t admit when they jumped the gun with a criticism. Apparently, no one else was paying attention to the error. So this made it especially big of you to correct it! :)

    10:10 – I’d really love to hear just what makes the TV show style endings “corny”. I thought it was a nice touch *shrugs*

    The “End of Episode One” bit did not need a subtitle, I’ll give you that one, congrats.

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