310: To Die at the Hands of Your Own Creation

To Die at the Hands of Your Own Creation

Alan Wake may look like a game about a writer trying to find his wife, but it's really a story about the game's troubled development and the toll it took on the people who made it.

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Look, I know this article is great and everything, but you posted the exact same thing months ago.

Remedy signed the death of this game with it's 360 exclusive deal. Had this had the PC development promised and expected by most of the fan's it probably would have sold better. Microsoft made a terrible move by excluding PC gamers from this one. I, and many many others had high hopes for this, then forgot about it when the PC platform was dropped.

This is starting to get a bit too meta for me.

I said this the first time, and I'll say it again: This is a great article, and Alan Wake deserves it. It's a game that at least tries to break the mold and be smarter than its loudmouthed counterparts. The point to which it succeeds is debatable, but it surely reached some of its lofty goals.

This kind of analysis is always strange, since it always looks more like a Rorschach[footnote=Everyone who only knows how to pronounce Rorschach because of Watchman ('raw shark') put your hands up.[/footnote] test that says more about yourself than about the work you're analyzing. But while I would usually say that devs have stumbled upon this great metaphor their game accidentally makes (hell, I'm certain that the whole 'this character is being manipulated, but we are the ones controlling him, so in essence we are the ones being manipulated by the story and game design' thing so many found the most genial in Bioshock went so far over the devs' heads that it was shot down by the air force) I think I can trust Alan Wake to have actually thought it over. All of the little things that look like plot holes at first (what are the odds that a guy who's married to a girl who's afraid of the dark will get attacked by something that matches precisely her perception of the darkness?) have an inkling that they are part of a far greater thread that we have barely explored because the main character is largely unable to comprehend it. My personal theory is that Alan Wake, Thomas Zine and the Dark Presence are responsible for each others' existence in a massive effect-before-cause timey-wimey-ball mobious double reach around, and it doesn't sound stupid comparing to what the game puts forward. (Then again, I already got upset that my theory that Agent Nightingale was a fictitious character created by Alan Wake that manifested only when he added himself to the story was debunked by the Bright Falls webseries, so I may be wounded again. ALAN WAKE MEETS EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER OTHER THAN HIM BEFORE HE ENTERS THE CABIN PASS IT ON)

It's sad that it's OK to make this kind of crazy theory about (say) Moby Dick but not about games, and it's sadder that it's not because of some sort of prejudice but because games don't yet have their shit together and haven't yet figured out this whole 'say one thing that actually means another' thing most high brow narrative is pretty much based on. Hell, the game with the most symbolism these days is probably Bioshock, in which you know a place stands for a certain political philosophy because it will shout it at you until your ears bleed.

kman123:
Look, I know this article is great and everything, but you posted the exact same thing months ago.

Yeah, it's almost as if it this week consisted only of articles that have already been previously posted! But that would be MADNESS.

kman123:
Look, I know this article is great and everything, but you posted the exact same thing months ago.

I'm pretty sure it's been a mistake from whoever is in charge of posting articles because yep, it's the exact same article than four months ago (that or the E3 effect, as @The Random One mentioned), but I'm actually grateful to be able to read this right now because I'm afraid it went completely under my radar.

I'm compelled to play this game now, as probably a lot of other people have mentioned in the previous (exact) article, and to appreciate all this hidden message that most surely would soar over my head mistaken by cheesy vanity from the game developers. I'm a big fan of these kind of stories, and I usually take great pleasure from enjoying things at least someone has put some meaning on, the last being Deadly Premonition, in which I still am pretty early on since I play it when I really feel I can enjoy it.

I think the reason this article has been posted once again, aside from being really good and because everyone else was hogging merchandise at the E3 (for which I don't blame you guys- I'd do the same) is because it's pretty appropriate for what has lately been happening in the game industry: almost all of the (and all of the biggest) E3's new announcements have been sequels -except for halo. Halo has a NEW trilogy AND a reboot! woo!-, gimmick platforms are as powerful as ever, production costs make evident that not even selling a million copies of your product will make your game profitable thus you really have to go for sure, tried-and-true bets, (and even then making a game like Homefront will get you fired if you only manage to sell a meager million copies) and most importantly, Duke Nukem Forever: the greatest example of a lack of inspiration taken too far to make it viable. This all only shows this industry is at an impasse which is being announced for a loong time now, and which most probably won't cause another sector crisis such as in the 80's but that will pretty surely make evident the big elephant with "shit we can't really do anything good even if we wanted to" in the room.

Really good article Rob, and sorry for being late :)

weirdguy:
This is starting to get a bit too meta for me.

Very meta indeed. However this article actually made the game sound more interesting to me. Pushing the 4th wall, just so that it causes slight ripples that you don't notice or pay much attention to, unless you stop and start thinking about them. I bet you could find the game cheaply from some bargain bin now, too bad that it's on a system that I don't have.

Great article. I loved the game, and this adds even more meaning. But I have to wonder how much of it was intentional by the developers?

 

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