Alan Wake EP16: Product Placement

By Shamus
on May 18, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

195 comments


Link (YouTube)

So… we’re watching a television commercial for a videogame. This television commercial is taking place within the context of a book, all of which is inside an actual videogame, and which is now in our Let’s Play. So I guess Alan wake wrote a Verizon wireless commercial into his book? So do we blame him?

You know, I don’t really have a serious problem with in-game advertising as long as it’s seamless and not mood-breaking. The television ad was not seamless, and it was mood breaking. By putting it in the middle of this scene that was (or aspired to be) full of tension, it yanked me out of the game and made me resent Verizon. I don’t mind if Peter Parker drinks a coke. I do mind if he drinks a coke while Uncle Ben is bleeding out on the sidewalk. Product placement should never conflict with the tone of the scene, or it will ruin both the scene and the advertisement.

This is especially egregious since we just finished a nice long segment where the ad would have been just fine, perhaps even a welcome novelty.

I’m not just saying this because its an ad for a giant corporation. Even if this had been for a small company, an indie developer, or even a charity – this was the wrong time. This particular ad was a mistake that was a detriment to the developer, the advertiser, and the consumer.

I know some people point out that it’s the job of marketing to get you to notice a product, even with a negative emotion. But that’s just saying advertisers don’t have to be good at their jobs, which is obviously not true. Yes, crappy little companies harass us with shouting infomercials, disingenuous half-promises, or ear-murdering jingles. But generally the big brands (like Verizon) try to keep it clean. “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” only applies if you’re an unknown, fighting to be remembered. Once you’re a household name you’re not worried about coverage, you’re worried about perception. If someone is looking at two world-famous products, you don’t want to be known as the “irritating one” or “the stupid one”. I seriously doubt the market of “People who have heard of Sprint but don’t know about Verizon and happen to be in the market for a mobile phone” is particularly big.

A lot of this ties in with stuff Chris said in his retrospective on Sonic the Hedgehog and how Sonic was marketed next to Mario. Check that out if you missed it. Also Penny Arcade mentioned this last week, in relation to the brand placement in Draw Something. I’ve never played it myself, but I understand that this was a conversation that people were having.

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Footnotes:



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From the Archives:

  1. X2Eliah says:

    This product-advert-placement in games is interesting stuff.. Interesting as in where is the line between acceptable/fitting and way-too-much or way-too-inyourface.

    Hmm.. Which games that I’ve played have had this.. I think, hm, Deus Ex: HR had something along these lines? I do recall seeing some billboards with “Eidos” logo – though I definitely don’t recall anything that bothered me along these lines.
    Idk if GTA4 / SR3 had anything – given that they had a somewhat realistic world with tons of billboards, a few adverts would probably fit right in.

    • Arvind says:

      Burnout Paradise had real time billboards in it’s game, and they downloaded new ads as well.

    • Dragomok says:

      As for GTA4, I highly doubt anyone would like to be advertised on the same billboards that promoted eCola and Pißwasser.

    • GreyDuck says:

      City of Heroes toyed with this a bit but it didn’t really take off. A shame, actually, since the in-game billboards are kind of perfect for it.

      • Dragomok says:

        I just remembered that id Software once planned to make profit from Quake Live by placing ads on maps’ walls (as well as in menus) but they abandoned the idea for premium accounts.

      • Torsten says:

        Anarchy Online also had advertisements on in-game billboards, but those have been mostly turned into banners for fansites. Personally I did not really mind the ads as long as they did not play videos with sounds. Most of those were five second trailers for bad action films.

      • ps238principal says:

        I think it was “Burnout Paradise” that wanted to do that with billboards and the sides of trucks. When I played it, I remember every ad being for Gillette (“Okay, gamers! I won’t say you smell bad, but you need to remove some hair!”), and I want to say that they switched to CompUSA right before it went bust.

    • Bubble181 says:

      Need for Speed Underground (and Underground ) have Cingular ads plastered all over (along with all the obligatory brands for car-related stuff). NFS:U had the Cingular logo pop up on your screen every time you got a text message (any conversation at all in the game, winning anything, unlocking anything, passing anything,…Pretty much anything you can do in the game except “go to menu and quit”). That’s 2003.

    • Velkrin says:

      DE:HR had the annoying loading screen adds they added in with a patch, and that I suspect most players ‘fixed’ with another patch too.

    • Zerotime says:

      Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory had a couple of small product placements for Airwaves gum and Axe deodorant, and Conviction went all-out with every flat vertical surface in every level of the game plastered with posters advertising for The A-Team.

      I’m in Australia, though – the Verizon billboards in Alan Wake only make sense in the context of the game, and not as advertising directed at me.

  2. Peter H. Coffin says:

    The war over product placement is even funnier if one remembers all the media in the 70’s and early 80’s that didn’t have it and the lengths that producers would have to go to in order to avoid it, to the point of relabeling thousands of cans for supermarket sets to avoid have Dole or Del Monte labels in the shot, and the eagerness with which they leaped upon the “Generic product” labeling movement as a way to have characters drink from a cab merely labeled “BEER” in black on white. Then Coors made it mainstream with a series of placements, including making a plot point out of it in Smokey and the Bandit and all pretense of subtlety fell.

    • Mr Guy says:

      A plot point? It was the bleedin’ premise for Smokey and the Bandit.

    • Michael says:

      I’ll admit, I don’t know the full story, but some of that was supposedly a fear of litigation. They were usually trying to avoid accidental product placement because their legal department didn’t want the film getting sued.

  3. Arvind says:

    The part where Chris made fun of Batman was great.
    His rite of passage to the crew is complete!

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Yeah. I have to admit I laughed pretty hard at that.

      And Mumbles, can you really see the first Scarecrow section and think that Batman got over his mommy and daddy issues? I can’t.

      • Amnestic says:

        Considering all the alternate universes and reboots (didn’t we just have another one?) it’s quite possible that Batman has both moved past the deaths of his parents and is also still obsessed with them. At the same time.

        I guess because he’s Batman, and he can do that.

        • psivamp says:

          I was going to incredulously ask if you were proposing there was some kind of Schrödinger’s superhero situation going on; but then I realized that this is actually entirely plausible in today’s comic settings.

          So, I guess this might actually pop up in this latest set up reboots.

          • LunaticFringe says:

            Considering that apparently Frank Miller believes that Batman is a closeted homosexual who uses violence as a release I’m going to say that Batman’s motivation varies.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Batman,the quantum knight.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Yeah, no, Batman never got over his parent’s. His cowl has small loofas under the eye-holes to absorb all tears that pop out whenever Penguin/Joker mentions Bats’ old folks.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I also fully expect it to be his last rites seeing as Mumbles could hear him.

    • Entropy says:

      Batman moved on? Is he still wearing the bat outfit? then NOPE. Did not.

      • MrWhales says:

        Although there is significant motivation to keep the Batman hero alive. What would happen to Gotham if he was no more? Villains regularly try to take it over/destroy it while he is still there. I think that the peace would last for a few hours if that.

        I want to say there was a storyline that was like that, Batman quitting. I’m sure there is and Google would be my friend if I bothered to check.

        • Dasick says:

          But then again, many interpretations of Joker have him obsessed over Bats… if Batman was no more, would Joker get bored and stop all the crime he’s doing? Depending on the universe, Joker is like 50-70% cause of all deaths in Gotham.

        • Thomas says:

          Check out No-Mans Land, Gotham cut-off Batman gone, suddenly everyone has to actually try and make their rule mean anything and survive fighting the other villains/

          It’s not a complete example though because everything is screwed, even the police have left Gotham. It might be No Mans Land or another story but I think there’s one time where Batman isn’t around and everyone actually behaves because they’re scared of what he’ll do to them when they come back.

          That definitely at least happened in Fifth Elephant with Sam Vimes

        • Sumanai says:

          Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is basically Batman coming out of retirement, so it sort of addresses the topic.

    • Dude says:

      I think, “So is Batman,” should become one of the show’s long lasting catchphrases.

      So, head count:

      Shamus: “In the original XYZ.”

      Josh: “Stop shooting me!”

      Mumbles: “I hate you guys.”

      Chris: “So is Batman!”

      Rutskarn: … er, anyway. Avengers, anybody? Good movie, huh?

  4. Mycroft says:

    If you misuse the flare it will respawn.

    • scowdich says:

      Well, that’s actually a bit disappointing. Although, the alternative would be to have people who misused it wander around for an hour and then ragequit, so…

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Hey, I never thought to try wasting the flare! Yeah, they should’ve had a narrative ready: “I realized I had wasted my one chance at getting out, and was about to-” *cut off by a game over* ;)

  5. newdarkcloud says:

    I still subscribe to my theory that Hartman wasn’t evil until Alan wrote the manuscript. I think he wrote Emil to be Zane’s assistant with his manuscript and gave him a motive and backstory to fit his new tale. It makes his character make sense as opposed to this completely stupid motive we have for him now.

    I’m kind of mad at Rutskarn. With that pun he made in this episode, he might of gotten the ball rolling in the comments.

  6. Thomas says:

    It’s fun to think of Alan sitting down and writing all that ‘Mott new Alan was way more smart than him, and more successful and had a hot wife’ stuff

    Particularly after Ruts erotic-fic thing :D

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I was thinking the same thing.

      “Oh yeah. Mott knew how obviously superior I was to his plebeian ass. He knew that there was no way he could possibly compare to my smarts and good-looks and my beautiful wife. What could someone as stupid as him know?”

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        The more I analyse it “from the outside” while watching this playthrough the more I think Alan is indeed a petty dickhead with limited imagination (particularly for a writer). This looks as if Alan had this unpleasant episode with the guy on the ferry so then he put him in the book as this obnoxious, incompetent, insecure, somewhat primitive henchman.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Although from what little I understand of it, I thought Alan had written most of the thing down, but once he started to twig what was going on, inserted himself into the already-written manuscript to give him a fighting chance at stopping it.

          • newdarkcloud says:

            That’s it. As he was writing the manuscript for the Dark Presence, he began to realize what the implications of his manuscript were, he began to insert himself into the story in order to stop the presence. Then, he remembered Zane and wrote him in to allow himself to escape.

            But we’ll get to that soon.

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              I know, though I don’t see how it changes my argument about Mott?

              Years ago there was a movie that run with this. A guy writing a “Bond superspy” type novels was basically channelling his real life frustrations into them, like when he was writing they actually made scenes with actors playing them and the author was the hero of course, the lady he knew was the Bond girl, his publisher (or editor, someone like that) was the villain and so on.

              • newdarkcloud says:

                I have a similar theory regarding Hartman being the way he is because Alan is a vindictive dick. Making Mott a villain for a similar reason isn’t very far fetched at all.

                Although I have to ask, how did he know Mott’s name? Does the power of Cauldron Lake allow him to either get his name or make it up? I don’t think Mott ever said his name on the boat, and he’s the kind of guy you meet once and forget. You know, the more a think of this manuscript stuff, the less and less it makes sense.

                • Sleeping Dragon says:

                  Yeah, Hartman would fits into this theory nicely. Though I’m more focused on Mott because he’s just so episodic and ultimately inconsequential that replacing him with a random orderly wouldn’t really change a thing.

                  Nice catch on the name there, I never really thought of that, though I imagine this also applies to the names of other people he never met before arriving at the cabin, as well as the places he never visited. I suppose it could be lampshaded by stating that as long as something is possible within the confines of the story and Alan writes it it has to be so.

                  • newdarkcloud says:

                    It would explain why they all have the kind of names you would see in a movie like Agent Nightingale (Get it? It goes with the Light vs. Dark theme. Because his last name is a play on the word night, he’s a dick, gets in the way, and is the bad cop.) and Sheriff Breaker. (Get it? Like the breaker in your house. Because her last name goes with the light theme, she’s nice, helpful, and the good cop.)

                    Really, those names are almost cartoonish. More-so than both the main character and his wife being A. Wake. As Josh would say, “It’s symbolism you guys!”

                    It’s easy to believe that Alan just made up Mott’s name too and ran with it and the power of Cauldron Lake retroactively changed his birth name (or made him get a name change earlier, assuming his name isn’t originally Mott).

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Sure,but in that case alan wake is also a made up name,and only tomas zane remains as a sort of a real guy.So not only did he write himself out of the real world,he wrote everyone else in.What a guy.

                    • Vic 2.0 says:

                      Very wordish names. All the more reason to suspect that Alan, Alice, Barry, and Nightingale (possibly Sheriff Breaker, as a reference to electricity) were all characters written into existence by Thomas Zane. Jagger, Hartman, Anderson, Weaver, Nelson, Mott, Maine, Marigold, Mulligan, and Thornton; these are all very believable names, yes? Even ‘Rusty’ sounds like it could be a real nickname. Hmmmm.

                      Neverminding Breaker for a second, it’s easy to see what all the characters in my first list have in common…

  7. Amnestic says:

    Josh: “Wait, there was a Max Payne movie?”

    ^ My exact reaction. Speaking of May Payne though, does anyone know why Rockstar are doing Max Payne 3? I did a double-take when I saw an advert since, as we’ve established, Remedy did MP1+2+Alan Wake. Sincere question. I couldn’t find anything from a quick wiki.

  8. Stratigo says:

    Advertising in the most jarring manner possible!

    I have a feeling that the devs tossed this in for giggles though. Not out of any agreement with verizon. Verizon folks know how to advertise their product. And this isn’t it.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I’m wondering if this could be TV reasoning. Like “then we break the chase mid sequence, let the commercial play and then resume. People will stay glued to the screen cause they want to see the rest of the action”. Doesn’t work for video games but I sometime feel like not everybody is aware of the fact it’s a different medium.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        That’s exactly my theory, at least concerning the actual commercials on the TV in the lodge. Main character’s in peril! Could die any second. Perfect time for a commercial break! ;)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Though to be fair,you dont have to turn the tv on.Its more like an easter egg.Granted,its a poor placement for an easter egg.

      • Newbie says:

        Personally I really enjoyed that easter egg. It was especially funny with the stupid and jarring nature of the tones. I’d give whoever came up with that a raise.

        Although if that was a real advert at the time and I was American/(Somewhere else that gets Verizon), I would probably be a bit more annoyed.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        In addition to what I said earlier, I think it was good that they chose that specific moment. One might argue that it breaks the suspense, but all the truly creepy parts in the lodge were over already. You just had one more poltergeist to get past and you’re out. If I remember correctly, I just gave the commercials a chuckle. By the time I figured out how to get past that weird chandelier ball thingy, I had forgotten all about it. Nicely done.

  9. Jakale says:

    I was surprised it took as long as it did for someone to bring up Alan’s smirk after he Hartman got taken. That is such a vindictive smile. It’s almost weird how much Alan immediately seems to hate Hartman. I can only remember the police station nose punch and this episode where the guy even showed up.

    • Chris says:

      I get hating him here – it’s become readily apparent that he’s manipulating these creative types to his own end and was involved in the faking of Alice’s kidnapping.

      But yeah, there was no reason for Wake to punch his lights out in the first episode – no *good* reason, anyways. Especially in front of a bunch of cops. Especially when his wife is missing and he’s already worried about raising eyebrows.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Like I said in a comment on the last episode, I think Alan subconsciously considers Hartman to be the one responsible for all of his ills, even at the police station. He’s the whole reason Alice chose to come to Bright Falls. It’s been established that Alan has a violent temperament up to this point. Him punching someone he considers a mortal enemy isn’t too far out of character.

        That might be why Alan wrote him to be such a vindictive jerkass in his manuscript. Alan hated him, so he gave him the part of a red herring to be a temporary villain who is disposed of later on.

      • Dasick says:

        I get hating Hartman. String-willed people (read: stubborn asses) respond really negatively to any perceived attempt at manipulation. Plus being called insane is somewhat of an insult, so I can see the logic behind the punch.

        Furthermore: It’s boring when fictional characters are reasonable. It’s much better than they stay consistent.

      • Mr Guy says:

        Actually, if I gave the developers any credit for subtlety (which I don’t at this point), the fact that Hartmann has a band-aid on his nose is actually really interesting, because it’s a subtle clue (WAY subtler than Alan’s monologue) that “actually, it HASN’T all been a hallucination.” If Alan was hallucinating everything, then he hallucinated punching Hartmann in the nose. The fact that Hartmann actually has a damaged nose points to “he’s lying when he says it’s all in my head.”

        Sure, he could have hurt himself some other way, or Alan could have punched him while hallucinating, but it’s at least a hint that the story doesn’t hang together.

        If that was the intent, then I mind less about having Alan haul off and whack him one (which was crazy, but c’mon, Alan wasn’t thinking straight at the time, and it’s not like this is the least believable reaction Alan’s had…)

        • newdarkcloud says:

          I think that detail is more about maintaining continuity than it is about subtle cues. It’s similar to how Alan himself has a gash on his forehead after waking up at the car and keeps a band-aid on it throughout the entire game.

          I have to admire the attention to detail with regards to this. Though it is undercut by having a bunch of axe-wielding psychopaths cut the shit out of him, only for his wounds to magically heal in the light, but I guess you can use some Darkness/Light mumbo-jumbo to explain it.
          That, or “Alan Wake is a bad writer.”

          • Vic 2.0 says:

            “I have to admire the attention to detail with regards to this. Though it is undercut by having a bunch of axe-wielding psychopaths cut the shit out of him, only for his wounds to magically heal in the light, but I guess you can use some Darkness/Light mumbo-jumbo to explain it.
            That, or ‘Alan Wake is a bad writer.'”

            Well, the latter is dismissed for any of us who have read The Alan Wake Files, not to mention his fame as a professional writer (How many wildly famous authors can you list that are also no good?). There is no way he is a bad writer. The manuscript is nothing to base this on, given the rushed, confusing, and unsettling environment along with Jagger’s constant revision. It’s like tying a marathon runner’s feet together and then ridiculing him when he finishes last.

            As for why the light heals him, refer to DLC#1, where Zane tells Alan: It’s not the light itself, but what it represents.

            I’d argue that Wake is not really being cut or broken by the sharp objects so much as being eaten at by the concentrated darkness that remains from the blow (precedent: all the liquid darkness you see on the ground, and on items that have been hit by some vague tool of the darkness but not transformed into a poltergeist). Suppose this is the way people are actually taken over by the darkness, by giving in after so much pain and struggle. But it isn’t the darkness that takes them over, but the sense of hopelessness as would naturally come from experiencing these things. Alan is the same, feeling hopeless and losing faith when he gets hit (because he feels as if he’s about to die) and then regaining his sense of hope quickly when he’s in the light or gradually as he goes without being hit again.

            That’s the most sensible explanation I’ve heard so far anyway.

            “But yeah, there was no reason for Wake to punch his lights out in the first episode – no *good* reason, anyways. Especially in front of a bunch of cops. Especially when his wife is missing and he’s already worried about raising eyebrows.”

            Who said he was worried about raising eyebrows? I think he has a very one-track mind here: He wants his wife back. And I wouldn’t defend Alan’s behavior as the right thing for him to do, but it definitely makes sense that he would hold Hartman responsible. Simple facts remain:

            1. Alan and Alice arrive in Bright Falls because they were invited by Dr. Hartman.
            2. Wife goes missing.

            Even without thinking for a moment that Hartman may be behind it, you can’t get to 2 without going straight through 1. I actually love the fact that they made this protagonist, Idk, believable as a human being, complete with flaws. Very few games feature the main character going through any sort of personal growth, or even demonstrating a need for it. Another good call by Remedy.

  10. ccesarano says:

    I, sadly, have not been able to find time to watch this series as I had intended. You guys update so often it’s crazy.

    But I know where you are due to the title, and I know the big controversy. The funny thing is, after I beat the game I saw people complaining about this commercial, and I had to YouTube it because I never found it.

    Which makes me wonder if Stratigo may be right, that Verizon told (Microsoft who told) Remedy that a commercial was a required part of the game, and so the developers put it in as a joke. They found the most ridiculous place to have such a thing, but made it optional because, well, who would think to check the TV when the place is tearing apart?

    Well, a lot of people evidently, and then people got angry for something that they didn’t have to see to begin with.

    That, or it automatically played and I totally missed it anyway because I was busy running out of the door.

    It’s a shame that this is the sort of thing people imagine when they think “product placement”, though. Even worse, Homefront isn’t even using product placement as they had to pay companies like White Castle to use their locations. To me, Homefront being paid for that would have been an ideal sort of alternate revenue that the games industry so desperately needs. Everyone knew that the family restaurant in Modern Warfare 2 was just a stand-in for TGI Friday’s or Applebee’s anyway, Homefront just took it the rest of the way there. But instead it cost them money.

    I envision a future where game companies get paid for smart product placement. Billboards should have real products, and with the advantage of an internet connection a game company can charge ad slots like websites do. Each month billboards in the game will change. Or maybe vending machines for candy or soda. Or perhaps even sci-fi games set in a near enough future that seeing a Fifth Element style McDonald’s is not out of place.

    But it seems people are so afraid of any inclusion of product placement ever, though it is understandable why. I can easily see Bobby Kotick saying “Why would we make a game set during the Revolutionary War? Or in a fantasy realm? Or a sci-fi universe like 40K that’s so far out there no modern brand is applicable? We can’t have product placement in THOSE.”

    But dammit, you can’t let fear rule you, and if people don’t want to pay for $10 activation passes then you gotta let the companies get paid somehow else so studios can stay afloat.

    • Jingleman says:

      This is right on. Product placement is a hugely preferable option to nickel-and-dime DLC and Project $10 style stuff. The best part is that when it’s done well, it can add a great deal of verisimilitude to the game world. Sports franchises have been doing this for years, and it adds a sense of legitimacy to franchises like Forza or Madden. I don’t understand why it’s controversial in action/adventure titles, unless someone were to put a commercial in the middle of an important action seq– oh, wait. They did that. Never mind.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        But its not mandatory.Its not like on tv,where they put a block of commercials right in the middle of a tense scene.

        And Im all for having product placement everywhere,as long as it means more money for the work to be made well.

        • Shamus says:

          Except, you don’t KNOW it’s not mandatory. The game has been training you that TV’s are important. They deliver scenes of live-action Wake freaking out in front of his typewriter. They’ve got episodes of Night Springs. Foreshadowing and exposition. Now all of a sudden you’ve got an ad.

          I can just see how this would go: I run past the TV, and later complain that the Mott plotline didn’t go anywhere, and am answered with, “What? You didn’t watch the special plot-point TV? It explained everything! It was right there! If you can’t be bothered to stop and listen then you can’t blame the game designers!”

          They knew what they were doing when they put that in the game. All they needed to do was put it 5 minutes sooner so as not to make a mess of things. More people would have watched it, less people would have been angered by it.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Night springs episodes are also easter eggs.The tvs that have alan in them turn on automatically.So if a tv has a button that you need to push,you know that youll be getting just bonus material.In this case,a lame bonus material.

            Personally,Id put the ads after nightspirngs episodes.That way,you get more places to put the ads on,they are all in places where things are slowing down,and you get a small doze of reality,and a free jab at commercialism at the same time.

            • Sumanai says:

              They’ve had Night Springs and Alan Wake explaining pieces of the story. So easter eggs and exposition.

              • newdarkcloud says:

                Yes, but the Alan TVs turn on automatically when you get close. You have to choose to turn on the Night Springs TVs.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Night springs episodes themselves never explained anything.Characters commenting about nightsprings episodes did.And only once does barry comment when you do turn an episode on,and that is also filler because it was already established that alan worked on some of the episodes.

                • Sumanai says:

                  Are you trolling me or just reading comments while tired? There are two types of things on TVs, not just Night Springs. Even though the exposition one of them starts automatically people are going to associate TVs with exposition. Hence they’re likely to turn the TV on.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    No,Im not trolling.Im just repeating that the night springs tvs,the one that you have to turn on,arent giving exposition.So anyone will see that there are two different tvs:The ones you dont turn on-exposition,and the ones you do-easter eggs.Why would they associate the latter with exposition when the difference is made clear multiple times before this?

          • ccesarano says:

            Oh man, I didn’t expect my comment to generate a whole thread of discussion.

            You do have a point, and honestly it has been long enough since I played to put together a worthy counter-point, assuming there is one to be made. As stated, haven’t had the time to follow along with the Spoiler Warning, been about two years now since I played the game.

            To me, it would all depend on the context of the previous episodes of Night Springs. As Daemian mentions, any plot-intensive materials with a crazy Alan talking to himself are all automatic. You have no control over when they appear, and the game will make sure you have time to listen and comprehend what’s going on.

            Night Springs, though… I don’t remember. I recall them usually being in safe areas where there was no danger of harm or attack, which would keep consistent with my initial statement. There is a TV, but crazy stuff is going on. In which case, the ad placement could still be a bit of a gag, as in “Ha! You actually bothered to check a TV during this crazy stuff!” Sort of “taking the piss” out of the player, as well as Verizon.

            That is a guess, anyway. I don’t know what the actual developers said.

            Though in truth, I think it was ultimately a bad decision. If it was played for laughs, it was too immersion breaking for the player to be amused. Not to mention that an achievement pops up (on Xbox at least) if you find it, which only makes it seem doubly worse.

            I think my issue is, while it was a bad idea, the response to it feels blown out of proportion.

        • Jingleman says:

          Agreed, there are lots of good reasons to have product placement, the best of which being that studios with more cash can produce better stuff if they know what they’re doing.

          But is it really not mandatory? For a while now, I’ve been wondering if the traditional notion of what is “optional” really applies to videogames, where players are theoretically attempting to do precisely what the designers have envisioned, and the closer the emulation of the ideal, the better the payoff. Certainly, the TV here is “optional” in the strictest sense. It is entirely possible to run past it without turning it on, or to leave immediately once it becomes obvious that it’s a commercial.

          However, there’s more going on here. The designers know that gamers like to collect things, perhaps serving a psychological imperative. They put collectibles in the game that range from worthless to plot-intensive, with the TV programs being a middle-ground of tongue-in-cheek content that illuminates the game world. By this point in the game, they have trained the player, like a salivating Russian dog, to use every TV he comes across.

          So, I’m not sure that it’s fair to put a TV in the game that looks exactly like the ones that dispense desirable content but actually shows an ill-timed commercial, and then say, “But it wasn’t mandatory!” when you KNOW that most players have been conditioned to press that button. It’s not mandatory, technically, but there’s a compulsion there that is only a step shy of it.

          EDIT: Ninja’d by the man himself. Cool. Nothing to see here. Moving along.

          • Dasick says:

            By this point in the game, they have trained the player, like a salivating Russian dog

            Really interesting turn of phrase you have here. Well-known Russian breeds are a rarity.. can’t think one off the top of my head. I keep getting the image of a common mutt, but then again, mutts are more or less universal.

            In terms of trained dogs… german shepards, collies, huskies, rotvielers, st. bernards, etc come to mind, none of which are Russian breeds.

            • Gale says:

              Probably a reference to Ivan Pavlov, who was Russian, rather than a particularly obedient breed.

              • Bubble181 says:

                Especially with the salivating bit, and that it doesn’t really point towards “obedience” or “good training” but to conditioning/brainwashing, really.

                • Dasick says:

                  Oh right. Just looked it up on wikipedia… a nice turn of phrase. Fit’s the player’s condition perfectly :)

                  Although if you’re following Extra Credits, they attribute this kind of training to Grant Skinner, the device to brainwash a Skinner Box and the vic – erm – test subjects are known as Pigeons.

                  • lasslisa says:

                    There was a whole school of psychology that did this kind of thing. Skinner was the most famous of the behaviorists, but Pavlov (if memory serves) sort of got the whole thing rolling.

          • Destrustor says:

            I think ninja’d is slightly exagerated. Your comment is different enough from Shamus’ to be more of a complement to it.

    • MintSkittle says:

      I think part of the fear against ingame advertizing is either that it would be too overt:

      http://hlcomic.com/images/concerned080advert.jpg

      Or that since the developers have taken money from an outside source, said outside source is now an investor, and has a say in development, and may try to push the game in another direction that may conflict with the original design.

      • Sumanai says:

        I don’t think buying advertising space makes you an investor, and I don’t think people worried about in-game advertising are worried about that either.

        But they could be worrying about badly placed or unfitting advertisement or that the company paying for it makes demands that the developers or publisher give in to without a second thought.

        • Sumanai says:

          Of course the worries I’m mentioning here would all be a sign of the developers of publishers not being all that good at their job, but the fear that “my” company isn’t as good as I think it is is rather common.

    • Mr Guy says:

      So, I agree with this. But the flip side is that you can’t just decide to drop a major company’s logo on a product, sit back and collect the checks.

      Major companies (with major advertising budgets) are very protective of their brands in general. They want some control over how they’re presented. And they want to make sure they don’t tarnish their image.

      Which is what makes it tricky. I’m not surprised at all Homefront had to pay White Castle. It’s an incredibly violent game in a dystopian alternate present. If you’re a family oriented brand, you want to to be careful about who you associate with, and who you support.

      What IF the Family Restaurant in MW2 was actually an Applebee’s? First, who wants people to picture death and carnage in one of their franchises? Second, they’re a family-oriented company. If they support “promoting violence to today’s youth!” you WILL have people in their target demographic decide to take business elsewhere. You might have people protesting outside the restaurants. You want to risk that for a little paid advertising?

      Some companies will be up for it, some won’t. Most importantly, as a game designer, YOU don’t get to choose which companies will be up for it. You can pitch an idea, but even if “Applebee’s would be the perfect cultural resonance here,” you don’t get to assume Applebees will take you up on it.

      Verizon’s association here is pretty brand neutral. It’s more psychological thriller than “generic shoot-em-up” (sorta). And the message isn’t really damaging. “Verizon – the company you can rely on when some shadow monster put an axe through the payphone!”

      Though actually, Verizon is apparently not terribly concerned about their image being associated with video games, because they also worked with Saints Row 3, which is the epitome of senseless violence. “Verizon! Whether you need to call in some thugs, launder a little cash, or just need to know where to find that guy you’re being paid to assassinate, Verizon is there for you!”

      • Jingleman says:

        That’s all true, but I don’t think that we should be too worried about it. Companies have to do these kind of evaluations any time they do advertising. They always need to make sure that they’re appealing to the right demographics while not alienating their core customer base. Whether it’s a violent TV show or a billboard set up too close to a strip joint, these are issues that all big companies are equipped to evaluate and deal with.

        As more and more gamers become corporate decision makers, and as “games cause violence” controversies become less prevalent, videogames will become a more common place to find ads. As more companies realize that games are viable avenues for publicity, it will snowball. That means more money and better games, I hope.

      • ccesarano says:

        This is all true, but it’s still something worth fighting for. I imagine if you go back and watch a whole bunch of blockbuster films you’ll see a lot of product placement that gets destroyed, or seems associated with negative things.

        In the end product placement isn’t necessarily there to get you to buy a product. Not always, at least. Not when done well. A character drinking a soda gets the viewer thinking about drinking soda, and suddenly they’re thirsty. You see a Camaro on the road, and suddenly you’re thinking about Bumblebee in Transformers and how awesome it looked driving around (allegedly).

        Hell, after The Avengers released, numbers came out attesting that Shwarma sales went up that weekend. Could be crap, but that sort of thing has happened before. Reese’s Pieces and E.T. and all that.

        So at some point, marketing teams are going to think more “Hey, if this game has a physical White Castle location, and they keep playing in that location over and over, imagine how many times they will subliminally want White Castle?”

        Which is why Verizon is so fine being in Saint’s Row 3. Who gives a crap what’s going on in the game? Just keep your brand name in someone’s mind, get it in there subliminally, and at some point “cell phone” becomes synonymous with “Verizon”. They’re actually ahead of the game in terms of in-game advertising.

        • Syal says:

          Restaurants and any other companies with finite physical space generally have to worry about the environment they’re promoting. Phone companies, soft drinks, etc. don’t provide an environment with their products and are more willing to just put them anywhere they’ll be seen.

          If Verizon had spots you had to go to to use the phone, they would care a lot more about whether they looked like they wanted gangsters as their customers, because otherwise non-gangsters wouldn’t want to go to those spots anymore.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      The TV in the lodge is humor. It doesn’t go any deeper than that. Main character’s in peril! Could die any second. Perfect time for a commercial break! ;)

      And I think they chose the perfect moment for it. One might argue that it breaks the suspense, but all the truly creepy parts in the lodge were over already. You just had one more poltergeist to get past and you’re out. If I remember correctly, I just gave the commercials a chuckle. By the time I figured out how to get past that weird chandelier ball thingy, I had forgotten all about it. Nicely done.

      Now it is no wonder why so many people didn’t understand the story in this game; they were too busy with real-world conspiracy theories!

  11. Torsten says:

    The best part on the advertisement was that Alan was standing there next to the monitor and giving kind of awkward pose, looking at the camera, looking around, shifting weight on his legs. Just like when two persons are having a public presentation and one is talking so the other one is just standing there thinking “Ok, I’ve done my job, but I can’t really go back to my seat until he has finished, so I’ll just stand here and be as quiet as I can”.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    ““There’s no such thing as bad publicity” only applies if you’re an unknown, fighting to be remembered. Once you’re a household name you’re not worried about coverage, you’re worried about perception.”

    Youd think that,but ea would prove you wrong.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Ugh. Why’d you have to bring them up? We’re all trying to forget those two campaigns!

    • Thomas says:

      The sad thing is EA proved it wrong both ways. They went through that nice period of trying to clean up for a couple of years and lost a crud load of money doing it, whilst Activision made bajillions pumping out CoDs and burning the music genre to the ground

      • Dasick says:

        When EA was “cleaning up” their act, they were still commiting a lot of big publisher follies that Shamus likes to harp on.

        Also, source?

        • Thomas says:

          What do you want to source?
          2007 was the change of leadership to John Riccitiello, who then began saying that EA’s business strategy of buying up competition and assimilating them wasn’t successful
          http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/19/arts/television/19game.html?_r=2&oref=slogin
          He also acknowledged the EA had a poor reputation and churned out lots of low quality games, which needed to be fixed for EA to be sustainable.

          During this time we had Skate, Spore, Mirrors Edge, Army of Two, Dead Space ad Dragon Age start. They weren’t all good games but that’s more original IPs than EA have pushed out in a two year gap since 1999. Before, between 2001-2006 we had 3 new IP’s released total.

          This was also the time they started trying to vary their marketing strategies, lots of original comics, webseries etc created alongside their games.

          Then in 2009 they had to cut 1100 jobs, close 12 facilities, made a $641 million loss during the 2008 winter, which is the time roughly that it’s considered EA gave up and went bad again. Merging studios, stupid acquistions, shutting down creative projects that don’t make economic sense
          http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/11/09/us-electronicarts-idUSTRE5A853220091109
          and since then business has looked relatively good for them again.

          It was a short period but the lesson was, don’t try to create new IPs, squeeze money out of stuff you already own

          • Sumanai says:

            The real lesson was “try not to squeeze money out of new IPs”. They were pushing out new IPs because they expected to be close to running out of old ones. Establishing new IPs cost money and take a lot of effort, which didn’t seem to happen.

            The effort I mean. How many problems did these games have? How ridiculous was the marketing behind Dragon’s Age? How about using DRM that could potentially drive away sales at a time when you should be thinking about getting people to try your games?

            If they had been serious about cleaning up they would’ve kept doing it for longer than two years, since that’s a pretty damn short time to try and get old or new customers when your image is as bad as EA’s. Consumers react slowly, which is why lot BS that is “only a problem for a minority” gets bought while the good that follows doesn’t sell.

            They get bitten by the former and then refuse to buy the latter because of that. Few have the time or inclination to actually follow news about products, which isn’t surprising considering how savvy you have to be just to find a place that’s reliable. So they have to go by their past experiences and hearsay. And guess what? At the same time EA was experimenting with DRM that wasn’t exactly liked.

            I’ve said this before, but I’m repeating it: “It costs 10 times more to get a client back than it costs to keep them.”

            • Thomas says:

              I don’t want do defend EA and I’m not justifying their lesson, it was short (although EA haven’t fully transitioned back to evil yet, their IP record is better than before and there was definitely some genuine goodwill there, remember stuff like Mirrors Edge, Skate and Dragon Edge were genuinely pretty counter-cultural at the time,) but at the height of it, they had basically won people back, I was trying to find some google trends data for you, but all I could find was a one day spike in 2012, but a lot of forums just before 2008ish were switching over to Bad Activision (this was probably peak Bobby Kotick) and saying that EA were making good steps.

              There is pretty much zero evidence though that bad principles and relations have any correlation on sales though (good principles and good games can help smaller companies just not other way round) the same that there are no statistics to suggest removing DRM alleviates piracy. We’re a peripheral market for EA and Activision, that make billions off people who see and advert and walk into a shop and buy the game, they won’t even know about EA;s track record.

              • newdarkcloud says:

                About that last paragraph, while there are no stats suggesting removing DRM would decrease piracy, there are also no stats suggesting it stops piracy either. That, to me, is arguably more damning.

                And secondly, why isn’t there a sequel to Mirror’s Edge yet!?

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  There is,however,proof that you dont need drm to be successful in business:Gog.Also,proof that you can succeed even in pirate rich environment by offering sales and such instead of draconian drm:Steam.

              • Sumanai says:

                Mirror’s Edge was marred by combat sections, which are, and were, very much cultural. Also by half-arsed story, that was the result of bringing in the writer after pretty much everything was done.

                Skate was a skateboarding game. That outsold an older skateboarding game. They were just getting into a new market.

                I take you meant to write Dragon Age, which Bioware was already doing before EA acquired them and if it had been cancelled it would’ve been likely that people would’ve taken it as a sign that Bioware doesn’t exist and therefore Bioware == EA which would’ve negated the point of buying a company for its brand.

                So hardly “counter-culture”, as I understand the phrase anyway.

                How would you go around measuring the cause of a sales drop? Like I said, if people get burned by something they don’t buy the next thing. That means there’s a delay between the event that causes the sales drop. Drawing the line between them can be difficult. And if the person collecting the data has an agenda, like they’re working under the CEO that made the screw-up, how hard would it be to blame “changes in trends” or similar?

                So excuse me while I take your claim about “there is pretty much zero evidence though that bad principles and relations have any correlation on sales” with a pile of salt and instead trust what I was thought in marketing.

                Sure, piracy might not drop, but sales might go up. Ignoring the potential negative effect of DRM on game sales because the companies that are flaunting these methods as mandatory for their survival are not giving out data that goes against what they’re saying might not be the most savvy thing to do in life.

  13. Michael says:

    I really, really wish this game had a stealth section where you got to play as Barry, infiltrating the mental institute by shuffling around behind a life-size cutout of Alan Wake and stopping dead every time an orderly looked in your direction.

    I mean, they already have all this comic-relief silliness going on with the toy hammer and suchlike. Why not just go the whole hog?

    Of course Alan Wake would still narrate all of this: “And then Barry… Uh, what the hell is that he’s doing? …Nope. I got nuthin’.”

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Barry should have his spin-off game,he is awesome.I actually cared for him.Pages about alan wake in dangerous situations:”Meh”.Pages about barry in dangerous situations:”No,they arent going to kill him off.Please dont kill barry.”.

      • Syal says:

        Suddenly I’m wondering if the game would have been better with Alan Wake being killed off all of a sudden, and the perspective switching to another writer trying to pick up the story where it left off.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Well I’m content with the minimal comic relief they had in the original game (That’s a “No” vote on the Barry stealth section). But Daemian Lucifer’s idea of a spin-off with Barry, complete with your suggestion, would be quite entertaining!

      That was the point of Alan Wake’s American Nightmare (and the insistence that it wasn’t a sequel), in my view, to explore some ideas inspired by criticism of the main game… without ruining the actual story for those who can appreciate it.

  14. ps238principal says:

    Re: A story in a story in a story, etc.

    Stephen King’s latest, “The Wind Through the Keyhole” really goes for this. Without giving away spoilers, our heroes are trapped by a macguffin for a while, so one of them decides to tell a story that the macguffin reminded him of. In this reminiscence, his younger self tells someone yet another story (which turns out to be the best part of the book, I think). That’s three layers deep. I dunno if any other tales have done that without having it turn out that the whole story is a dream or being written by the Starchild from 2001 or something.

    • Bubble181 says:

      Some parts of the Bible go three layers deep in parables. Just sayin’, the idea’s older than dirt (obligatory TVTropes link not included for your convenience)

      • Thomas says:

        It also a mainstay for any comedy that’s forgotten confusing doesn’t = funny. Tropic Thunder wasn’t awful, had some good bits and it was pretty cool that they were Actors pretending to be Actors Acting like Actors in a Real Life version of the place they were acting about but I don’t know if that makes it funny

    • Dude says:

      Uh, dude. I’m reading an English translation of the most comprehensive French translation of the original Thousand Nights And One Night. Three layers deep is *nothing* compared to what I’ve been through in the first hundred pages of this four book set. I have to check the mirror for beards every day now. (The stories are, in fact, just as brutal a shock as Game of Thrones is to someone expecting more Tolkien.)

  15. TMTVL says:

    Now that Alan’s escaped the… institution, I can think of something fun to do with it.

    You’re running through a forest (as you’re wont to do in this game). Suddenly, there’s a flash of lightning and you see the corner of a room, which disappears together with the lightning. It’s long enough so you can see it, but short enough that unless you were looking straight at it, you don’t have any idea what you just saw. This happens a couple more times during your trek through the forest. After a while you reach a clearing, and you see light shining from your right. As you turn, you see a wall, floor and a chair. When you turn around again, you see more of it. As you continue to turn around, more wall, floor and chairs keep spawning until the environment is completely changed and you see you never left the institution. In fact, you’re still in your room.

    …Although that might be better suited to a horror game.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And now we see that all that build up about whether alan is crazy or not was just pointless.Why did they have hartman just drop the act so soon and so easily?There was so much potential in this.Have him ignore the weird shit and ask alan “What flying furniture?”.So much wasted potential.

    Rutskarn,you get to fight the old gods of asgard in the second dlc,although not exactly.You are trapped in alans mind,and everything you see is his madness.Except for zane(though thats a maybe).

    • Thomas says:

      Also was I the only person who was expecting actually quite a scary boss fight, where you’re trapped with Hartmann in the room as the prescence decides to Take him? I actually found it quite jarring when it turned out it just killed him or something and he was no longer in the room, or an of it was an issue

      EDIT: Sorry was meant to be an original comment instead of a reply. Sorry for messing up your thread bit :(

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Are you implying that you don’t want to have a shootie bit here? Are you saying you’d rather have more cool story scenes? No. That’s impossible. You’re a gamer. You obviously want tons of shootie bits and no story.

    • Even says:

      Technically it’s still the realm of the Dark Presence. Things are only different now since it lost its skin and presumably lost most or all of its power to directly influence anything in the real world (since gaining Barbara’s form gave it the power in the first place). While we don’t know if the realm has any specific rules in it, other than that the manuscripts can still affect it and that Tom is somewhat exempt from its power, but he still has only very limited ability to affect the realm. I’d think it’s safe to presume that the Dark Presence still has control of its own realm, yet it somehow remains bound by the creative powers of Alan, and is seeking to twist Alan’s mind in an attempt to gain control of him once again.

      I guess at the end of the day it depends how you perceive the overall story. It’s not out of the question if the main game plot all really happened in Alan’s head. In one of his monologues during the long-ass drive to the Lighthouse, he realizes that he would have definitely had the capability of making up all the things he’d seen and experienced so far.

      • Even says:

        Erm, I mean the Cabin. Not the Lighthouse.

      • Syal says:

        Fun thing for the commenters; highlight a one-inch space in any spoiled text and use it as a teaser.

        I got “orm gave i”

        • Newbie says:

          “it’s sa” I’m guessing the next bit is “me Mario”.

          • Mr Guy says:

            “ehow rem” here…

            • Destrustor says:

              “till affect i”
              Actually almost sounds like it means something.

              • Even says:

                It’s obviously the first installment of the next hit RPG series, where you take on the role of a Gamestop employee facing the everyday challenges of running a semi-busy retailer store in today’s chaotic market. You’ll eventually get promoted to manager which sets up the table for the sequel where you explore the new areas of your increased responsiblity. The last part of the series focuses on the psychological effects of suffering through years of boredom and difficult customers. It will have a special ending featuring different colored disco lights and a rave junkie who has a degree in psychology. Will you end up taking the drugs, flushing them down the toilet or will you get a proper prescription to deal with your depression?

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “And now we see that all that build up about whether alan is crazy or not was just pointless.Why did they have hartman just drop the act so soon and so easily?There was so much potential in this.Have him ignore the weird shit and ask alan ‘What flying furniture?’.So much wasted potential.”

      He actually started off that way, but decided on a different tactic when Alan threatened to kill him if he lied again.

      I guess the devs figured they had spent enough time there at the lodge, which wouldn’t have been entirely wrong.

  17. Simplex says:

    I am playing Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, a game from 2006, and it has Axe and Nokia billboards in a deserted war-torn Mexico City. Seems legit.

  18. Lord Nyax says:

    “It’s like watching a TV that’s three inches wide!”

    Way to go Chris! I love it when I get obscure refrences. Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie FTW.

    • Chris says:

      Hah! I honestly did not expect anyone to get that. Props!

      • Lord Nyax says:

        I love that the information age has allowed two people who have never met, and likely never will, from different parts of the country (I think…I don’t actually know where you’re from) to both be able to appreciate a single line reference to a Canadian comedy group sketch from 2003.

        • Chris says:

          For those who are unaware, this is the skit in question.

          For some reason I think Shamus might like this video.

          Edit: And going back and looking at what they’ve done since I last heard form them I’ve found out that Joe died a few years ago. And now I’m sad.

          • Lord Nyax says:

            Yeah, I was pretty bummed when I heard that. It’s weird to think about it…especially when you’re laughing at a sketch you haven’t heard in a long time, and then you realize that one of is dead…whoo. Man.

  19. Axiomatic Badger says:

    This section, up until the Overcaffinated show up again, seems to be the most interesting part of the game thus far.
    Amazing what “not fighting” can do for a game.

    Say what you like about the Max Payne movie, it had some very pretty effects.

  20. False Prophet says:

    Maybe they should have made the ad more appropriate? Verizon by the Dark Presence? “Do you fear me now?”

    • Dasick says:

      Stephen King had a novel, Cell, where a zombie-turning signal is transmitted through cell phone connections. All of them. Naturally, he does the “Can you hear me now?” bit for a bit.

      Would have been a suitable place for product placement :D

  21. Even says:

    I can’t recall if it was ever mentioned, but I thought I should at least link to it in any case. They made a little web-miniseries called Bright Falls and released it sometime before the original release of the game on X-Box. It gives it’s own good spin for the already convoluted plot.

  22. LunaticFringe says:

    I think we can safely say that Chris ‘won’ this episode with that great ending.

  23. Taellosse says:

    “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” only applies if you’re an unknown, fighting to be remembered. Once you’re a household name you’re not worried about coverage, you’re worried about perception.

    I’m not really sure it even applies all that well then. I have never felt compelled to buy a thing because I discovered it via obnoxious marketing. Annoying ads make me avoid a product, often even if it’s something I’d otherwise be interested in. The very best I think bad publicity can hope for is it gets your thing in people’s heads, then they subsequently forget any specifics, so when they’re looking to buy your kind of thing, they gravitate to yours because they remember hearing of it somewhere. But that’s unlikely to happen all that often if you were successfully irritating or offensive – that’s exactly the kind of thing that sticks in a person’s memory.

    • Thomas says:

      The thing about advertising, is you don’t matter. Sure you’re put off, but why do they care? You wouldn’t have bought it anyway because you didn’t know about it and they’ll take the profit from the small percentage but large number of people who heard about it and weren’t put off.

      In fact controversy rather than putting off fans, tends to solidify their opinion because they get into arguments and debates with people.
      Check this article out for it’s Duke Nukem use
      http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/first-personmarketer/9000-Tainted-Love-The-Marketing-of-Duke-Nukem-Forever

      And with a little less controversy, the thing is if I wanted to buy car insurance and I’d never bought car insurance before, there are only three ways I’m going to find a certain company. 1)Googling it/price comparison sites, 2)Recommended by friend (but friend will have had to be introduced at some point, so this ties into the other two) 3) Checking out that site I remember being advertised at some point.

      It doesn’t matter what I think of Burns-Your-Cars-Down, if I’m struggling to find a company, or too lazy to put effort into a search, their’s is the site I’ll click because their’s is the one I remember.

      It’s even more effective with services/products I didn’t even know existed before the controversy. Oh wow you get get an iPad case with an attached ice cream dispenser? I guess that sounds kinda useful.

      But I think if you get to the point of Coke like fame, everyone knows Coke and Coke is on the tip of their tongues whenever they ask for a drink, so you just need to make sure what they think of coke is positive.

  24. Simon Buchan says:

    This is the episode that caught up to where I was, so I had to go finish the rest of the game so I could keep watching. So I was laughing my ass off when I saw the ad, imagining all the shit you guys would pour on it :).

    Fortunately, there’s some really interesting stuff in Episode 5, so I’m looking forward to seeing the reactions of the crew that haven’t been keeping up – the Nightingale pages in particular.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Haven’t watched this episode (of the LP) yet, but I’m going to take a guess and say they didn’t get or appreciate the humor of it. I’ll post a general comment at the end of the thread once I get around to watching the video.

  25. silver Harloe says:

    Probably better with Hartman would have been to cast him as the psychologist from Lathe of Heaven – trying to manipulate the creative people into making good things happen, but with unforseen negative consequences. Or at least make that a possibility some percentage of the game.

  26. Jarenth says:

    I did really like the fact that the game just mildly skips over the fact that Tor beaned a random woman on the head with a steel hammer, hard enough to drop her. How’s that for a harmless old coot?

    • Sumanai says:

      Surely it must be sublime commentary on the casual violence in video games and how lives of people do not matter in them.

      I like how for one full day no-one had commented on your observation, everyone basically skipping over it.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      It didn’t skip over anything; it’s mentioned in the narrative, which is likely how you recognized it in the first place.

  27. newdarkcloud says:

    You know, I just recently started playing Half-Life 2 for the first time, (I know. I know. Sue me.) and I just finished going through Ravenholm.

    When comparing this to Alan Wake, there’s no competition. Ravenholm scared the crap out of me until the final push with the old man. Alan Wake rarely manages to even make me jump. It’s even worse because Freeman is established as being infinitely more badass than Wake and therefore it should be less scary to go through with him. Plus, it’s a shooter and not a horror game. Assuming Alan Wake was supposed to be scary (and that’s the big question), they did a pretty bad job of it.

    • Alex says:

      The key to why Ravenholm works and this doesn’t:

      Freeman keeps his mouth shut.

    • Destrustor says:

      To be fair, That’s the thing: ravenholm is basically a horror level in an overall shooter game. You just don’t expect the fear, which makes it all the more powerful.
      If all of half-life was a huge, stretched-out series of ravenholm-like horror levels, the levels would be much less scary: you would anticipate the scary stuff.
      A good part of the scare factor comes from the surprise, and not just the jump scares. Ravenholm basically makes you go ” what? I’m in a horror game now? How did this happen?” And this sudden, pervasive change of tone fills you with a dread that follows you for the whole level and makes it that much scarier.
      Basically what Shamus once said about the whatsitsname cradle in that one thief game. Yay memory.

      • Alex says:

        Point.

        Actually, that reminds me of Shamus’ own writeup on Shalebridge Cradle. Maybe this is why so many “horror” movies don’t scare me. Goes against the whole “fear of the unknown” thing if I know from the start what’s coming.

        Does this mean that the best potential for survival-horror in games are in games that aren’t “survival-horror”?

    • ENC says:

      I did not find Ravenholm scary playing on hard.

      Granted it is scarier than the usual stuff I play (well except maybe L4D), but if anything it was actually easier (and less fearful as a result as I never thought I’d die nor would misunderstand why I died) than the rest of the game; I think I died once when I didn’t realise there were infinite spawning mobs like CoD forcing me to make my move.

      Dino Crisis 2 is scarier
      RE4 is scarier (very, especially with the bloody 2 shot dogs)
      etc.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        That confirms my suspicion that I am a total wuss.

      • X2Eliah says:

        What difference does playing on hard make vs. playing in any other difficulty?
        The levels don’t change. The enemy spawnpoints, positioning, ai, appearance – nothing changes. Does their amount of hitpoints define their scariness? If so, you’re missing the point of horror, I’d say.

        • Thomas says:

          It’s the sense of death that changes. An enemy you can blow away isn’t something to watch out for, if you know one good hit can do you in, it racks up the tension.

          It’s like Aliens isn’t as scary as Alien, because someone totally forgot to balance the difficulty. They were freakin’ Marines dude, game over, game over

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Well the enemies supposedly get more hit points,I think.The only noticeable change,for me,was the amount of rockets it took to bring down a gunship and striders.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “Assuming Alan Wake was supposed to be scary (and that’s the big question), they did a pretty bad job of it.”

      I’ve yet to see an operational definition of the word “scary” by any one of you, but most of you seem to be pining for “jump-scares”. No, there are not many of those in Alan Wake; it’s more meant to creep you out and, if you allow yourself to get into the story and atmosphere, work as more of a psychological thriller.

      You know, it kinda makes you wish they’da just put “Psychological Action Thriller” on the front of the case. Oh, wait… :P

  28. burningdragoon says:

    This is the best and only way to do product placement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjB6r-HDDI0

  29. McNutcase says:

    I’ve finally realised what’s been bothering the heck out of me. The geology of this place makes NO sense. A coal mine, a silver mine, and a volcano? All in the same place? As a former geology major, that makes my brain hurt.

  30. scowdich says:

    At one point in the episode, there’s discussion of who should play Alan in the movie. How about Sam Rockwell? He showed us quite capably in Moon of how well he can do neurotic and paranoid.

  31. Vic 2.0 says:

    Don’t you people recognize humor when you see it? All throughout the game up until this point, every television has had one thing on: an ominous black and white “Twilight Zone”-like film. Now that you’re finally flicking on a TV in the middle of an attack by the darkness, expecting the worst, Remedy gives you commercials. Furthermore, what could be more realistic? Cable doesn’t care if you’re about to die. What’s scheduled to play is what’s going to play.

    Besides, isn’t this about when a movie or TV series would jump to a commercial break? :P

  32. The Truth says:

    :10 – Right away, why are we assuming the bright light emanating from the page is a normal, natural result of the lamp shining down on it? That’s just a really weird conclusion to draw. There is obviously more going on than that. I’ve a theory. Thomas Zane is the one causing this. He’s preventing Alan from writing, so he doesn’t make the same sort of mistake that he made decades ago. It fits, right?

    :20 – No, this scene is not in one of the manuscripts. But he is prevented from writing in a similar way earlier in the game, when he tries to write for the “kidnapper”.

    5:58 – I would say the picture was meant to showcase the lodge, possibly when they first took over. Those in the picture may have been an afterthought on their part, for vanity’s sake, which would make sense, at least in Hartman’s case.

    11:50 – Absolute best case of product placement in any video game. Ever. Main character just might die in 5 seconds? TIME FOR A COMMERCIAL BREAK! As for the “tension’s lost” argument, the tension had been built up sufficiently before this, and all that’s left now is running past that ball thing and get out to Barry – comic relief! So I say it was placed quite nicely.

    17:00 – You get to fight the Anderson brothers in the second DLC ;)

    You guys had me laughing toward the end there. Good show, lookin’ forward to the next one!

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