Alan Wake will have to wait.
It’s best when talking about Remedy Entertainment — the demoscene developers turned benchmark makers turned creators of Max Payne, Alan Wake and Quantum Break — to get that bit of bad news out of the way before delving into any talk of future projects.
The good news is that the Finnish game developer known for its narrative-driven, compulsively played games has not one, but two new big games in development. And while they still plan to support Quantum Break and are in casual conversations about a future for Alan Wake, the 130-person team is creating a completely new IP — and they hope franchise — for at least one of the two titles.
"When you are an independent company like Remedy with 130 people, there needs to be a next project," said Thomas Puha, head of communication for Remedy. "We’re not quite done with Quantum Break. We’re still working on an update for Windows 10, trying to make sure everyone is fine with Quantum Break."
While Remedy remains steadfast in its support of single-player, narrative-heavy games, the studio believes it needs to figure out a better way to create them and get them into players hands.
"We finally have two teams, which has been a longtime goal for Remedy and we definitely want to make more games," said Johannes Paloheimo, Remedy’s business director. "We don’t want to take five years to ship a game. It’s been a long process, trying to transition into a two-team studio, but now we can make more games faster and diversify both financially and creatively."
The first game is in active development with a brand new partner, not long-time publisher Microsoft, and Paloheimo said it is a new IP, a AAA game, but declined to say much more than that.
"We have to respect our partner and it’s up to them to decide when they want to talk about the game," he said.
The other game is also AAA and is in the concept stage with no solid plans yet for how to publish it, Paloheimo said.
He declined to say if that second game is a new IP or is a game created in one of Remedy’s existing franchises.
"We are constantly seeking and talking about business opportunities," Paloheimo said. "It’s a very long process, a very complicated one. Many, many stars need to align."
Neither game will be announced or shown at E3 or Gamescom.
Paloheimo said that the studio needs to be smarter in how it makes its games, in particular this second game.
"It’s kind of taking learnings from our previous games," he said. "Focusing on certain things and really doubling down on certain things without spreading ourselves too thinly."
Part of that process means using Remedy’s in-house game engine, the Northlight engine, which was first used to make Quantum Break.
He added that the games they are making have very big budgets and need good partners who can "carry that risk."
Puha said one of the reasons the team is being so tight-lipped about the two games they’re working on is because they don’t want to have such a long gap between when a game is revealed and when it is in a player’s hands. In the past, the studio often spent a big chunk of its time narrowing in on what it thought the game in the game was.
"Both on Quantum Break and Alan Wake it took quite some time to find what the game was," Puha said, "and we’re past that in both cases."
Both Puha and Paloheimo assured me that Remedy isn’t, as more and more developers seem to be doing, abandoning or reducing its reliance on story-telling and single player gaming.
"We’re not abandoning story and the narrative," Puha said. "We want to focus on what we are great and known for. We need to become better at incorporating new things, seeing where the market is going, seeing what players want to play more and then bringing that into the narrative experiences we are known for.
"I personally love single-player, story-driven games, but I also love lots of other types of games. The problem with single-player games is that we take so long to build an experience and then once we release it that experience is over quite fast. That’s a dilemma."
Puha said they’ve already started playing with potential solutions to that issue.
In Quantum Break, for instance, players had choices that could impact the story.
"That gave it replay value," he said.
Paloheimo promises that Remedy games will always feel like Remedy games.
"Even though [the two new games] are clearly Remedy games, with a strong Remedy DNA, to some they might come as a positive surprise, a little bit more than what we’ve done in the past.
"We’re also trying to break out of genres and reach out to new audiences, especially with one of our new games."
And what of Alan Wake?
Last year, Sam Lake, Remedy’s creative director and head writer, sat down with Polygon to explain why Alan Wake 2, which had a working prototype, still hadn’t been made.
Essentially, he said at the time, talk of Alan Wake 2 became talk of Quantum Break and the game had to be sidelined. But, he said that the developer was still very much into the idea of a sequel. You can read the full story right here.
Puha couldn’t be more clear that whatever may come of Alan Wake, neither of the two projects the studio is working on is an Alan Wake game.
But, they are having discussions about the franchise.
"We’re not currently working on an Alan Wake game," Puha said. "We talked with you about Alan Wake almost a year ago and our stance hasn’t changed. If the right opportunity came along we would like to do more. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one in the future. We just don’t want to tease people and give them the wrong impression.
"We are actively exploring other mediums where we could tell Alan Wake stories."
"New mediums?," I asked. "Does that mean comics, books, movies, television?"
Puha paused: "Yes."