Looking Back at the Making of Alan Wake: An Interview with Sam Lake (Topic)

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Looking Back at the Making of Alan Wake: An Interview with Sam Lake


Sam Lake is the writer for most of Remedy Entertainment's games. He not only wrote the script for Max Payne, but gave the character his face. Lake then helped create stories for Alan Wake, Quantum Break, and Control. He is one of the great video game writers who creates stories rich in detail. Of all the stories he has written, Alan Wake is probably the one that gets talked about the most. The game has been compared to the stories of Stephen King and Twin Peaks, trying to describe its unusual, dream-like narrative. This year the series celebrates its 10th anniversary. Game Informer interviewed Sam Lake, where he told the story of the creation of Alan Wake. We have chosen the most important of them.

Free 2 Play and the zombie apocalypse

According to the writer, he started thinking about the concept of Alan Wake after the development of Max Payne 2 ended. He was thrown from side to side like a pendulum during the creative process. Initially, he had thoughts to create a fantasy game far from noir with a lot of humor, inspired by the work of Terry Pratchett. And in its concept it was Free 2 Play.


The studio had many other concepts, from which the final version of the game later emerged:

“There was a zombie apocalypse game that was kind of a road trip from the East to the West Coast. And there was another idea with a small town. While this concept was ultimately different from the final game, the idea of a small town remained. Thus, we had day and night, light and dark, small town setting and the like - even if the concept we worked on was not entirely correct, some of its elements remained. And then we formed Alan Wake, inspired by Twin Peaks, says Lake.

In general, Alan Wijk was a kind of Frankenstein from different ideas. Somewhere the author used his experience and ideas from Max Payne, somewhere he took some elements from his own script for a Finnish horror film, but the author himself describes it as a normal creative process.


Not all the ideas that were in the head of the authors of the game have sunk into oblivion right away. When the idea for a hero who came to a small town was approved, the developers planned to make the game in an open world. When Alan Wake was first introduced to the public in 2005 at E3, it was announced as an open world project.

Strange open world

In 2008, when the main content of the game began to be created, Remedy tried many different concepts and ideas that can be used in the open world. They could not find a specific focus, which hindered production. As a result, the gameplay in the open world led the authors to the concept of survival.


“When night fell, a lot of problems started, and the player had to prepare for it. We had elements where you travel the open world looking for a generator, portable lights, generator gas, and then you set up camp and prepare for nightfall. However, at that time we were perplexed by the NPC: "Is there any point in the NPC being in the game at all?"

There have been many versions of the story where this kind of gameplay is appropriate. For example, the version where a volcano erupts at the corner of the lake, and the entire territory with the inhabitants was evacuated. There was also a supernatural post-apocalyptic version in which Alan wakes up in a house and darkness has already taken over the world. We only had seven Bright Falls survivors barricaded in their homes, and they have generators. We started to lose the idea that, in my opinion, was the most important, where we have this abnormal world and genuine weirdness, and then night falls, horrors and nightmares appear. In the end, we decided that "no" it would not be an open world. Although it was scary to make such a decision, because the game had already been announced with this element "- recalls the scriptwriter.


Then they decided to divide the game into episodes. Lake says that this idea came to him back in 2005, and they planned to release the game in parts. Then it was fashionable in principle.

The author and his texts

After Max Payne and the abundance of action, Sam wanted to create a more imperfect hero who did not have professional skills in wielding weapons, but was deep and human. This game is a kind of metaphor for creating a work of art.


Alan struggles with his stories, so the developers even felt a kinship with the hero. Alan is not a superhero and we feel like he doesn't always cope. However, since his fiction becomes part of reality, and he can influence and resist it, even without special training.

History and Narrative

Regarding how the story is conveyed to the player, the writer says the following:

“It comes from the days of Max Payne and how the stories were told there. We came up with the idea for Night Springs, which is inspired by The Twilight Zone, and each episode will relate to the themes and ideas that we discuss in the storyline. We also have clips, we called them "writer in the cabin", which show one week of wasted time when Alan is writing the book. We see glimpses of this week on live TV shows. A similar tradition later passed on to Alan Wake: American Nightmare, where we made cinematic videos during an advertising campaign. You know where we went with Quantum Break - we created a full-blown crazy TV show. We have moved away from that in Control, but I still feel that my interest in live-action is still alive and that we must continue to research and find new ways to use it. "


Finally, Lake said that the studio plans to expand its Remedy universe, and confirmed fan guesses that Alan Wake and Control are set in the same world. Even more, the Bureau is looking into what happened in Alan Wake and will be revealed even more in the upcoming DLC for Control.


“It will happen later this year, and yes, we hinted at it, but didn't explain anything. I can tell you that soon you will find out more about the Bureau's research about what happened at Alan Wake and where they are today. It's nice to have the opportunity to bring more Alan Wake-related content to fans on the 10th anniversary of Alan Wake. ”

The Topic of Article: Looking Back at the Making of Alan Wake: An Interview with Sam Lake.
Author: Jake Pinkman