The last generation of consoles kicked off worrying over the most shallow of concerns: graphics. Developers were obsessed with conquering the uncanny valley — the unsettling disconnect a person feels while viewing virtual humans.
But with the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the attention of many of game development's best minds seems interested in a deeper, more meaningful problem: narrative dissonance.
How do you tell a story with complex characters while still ceding control to the players? How does one account for a lovable adventurer who spends much of the 10 hours of a game killing hundreds of people while in control of a player?
It's a problem that Remedy Entertainment has been struggling with for years. Their solutions all seem to look to other forms of entertainment for an answer. Max Payne leaned a bit on graphic novels. Alan Wake looked to television. And their upcoming game, Xbox One exclusive Quantum Break, actually splits the narrative between video game and live-action television.
I sat down with Sam Lake, the Finnish studio's creative director and lead writer, to discuss Remedy's interesting approach to narrative; how the lines continue to blur not just between television and video games, but seemingly all forms of electronic entertainment; and how things are shaping up on Quantum Break.
I didn't ask him to make the Max Payne face, but I did ask him about the future of Alan Wake 2. I hope you enjoy it.