Remedy's Matias Myllyrinne
The studio's MD talks about the decision to sell Max Payne, the Remedy recipe for making games and partnering with Microsoft to release Alan Wake
Despite having been in development for over four years, during which a lengthy silence after its initial announcement at E3 2005 led many to think the game was simply vaporware, the interest in Alan Wake has barely wavered. Indeed, even before the game's dynamic reappearance at E3 2009, the GamesIndustry.biz Network membership had predicted it would be one of the top ten hit games of 2009 - although that's a prediction that sadly won't be coming true, since the title is now scheduled for release in spring 2010
However, what that prediction does demonstrate is the faith gamers have in Remedy Entertainment, creators of Max Payne, to deliver a momentous showing on the new generation of consoles. This expectation is something Remedy is only too aware of, as the studio's managing director Matias Myllyrinne explained exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz. Ahead of his keynote address at GDC Europe, Myllyrinne talks about the 'Remedy Way' and the advantages or disadvantages of staying small, partnering with the large (Microsoft) and his latest game's lengthy development cycle.
First of all the disclaimer... there're loads of different methods and loads of different principles to success and to creating IPs successfully. We have our own recipe and principles that guide us, and that's something I want to talk about. We look at games as a form of entertainment primarily, not as software. And we don't look at them as technology, but from the audience's perspective.
We have a few rules that guide our design and guide our company as a whole. We try to do character-centric intellectual property - we think that characters are interesting. So if you look at Max Payne then clearly the name of the main character is the name of the intellectual property, and the same with Alan Wake. So we want to do kind of the James Bond branding where you have James Bond as a clear figure for the franchise as opposed to, for example, Mission Impossible, which doesn't really promote Ethan Hunt as a character.
We have certain principles behind that - we take a lot from popular culture, usually outside of games. So we look at films, TV series, books, plays and try to bring that into the games space and try to make it something of our own; something familiar to the audience but yet new in the games space. And also try to match that with a technological hook that suits the gameplay as well. So we start with the entertainment experience primarily and then we build the software to match that in-house.
I think there are various factors behind decisions like that. One was that, creatively, we'd been working on that franchise for seven years - the first Max Payne was a long learning process, four and a half years. As has Alan Wake been as well. We wanted to give the team the opportunity to build something new and, clearly, when the opportunity came to find a good place for Max Payne, we took it and can be confident that Rockstar would do a stand-out job with our baby.
Well, Microsoft has been very supportive. They're a huge company with loads of resources but also I think they're looking to build new things in the gaming realm. So if you look at things like Project Natal, for example, that's clearly something they're doing to expand gaming as a whole and I know that they're looking for unique concepts for their 360 platform - so that's been a good match.
They're a huge company and, as such, they can also help - when you're small you need to partner with the large, and the strong as well. But I think it's been a very good climate for independent developers as well. I know there's a lot that have been feeling the hurt but, on the other hand, I don't think it's been terribly challenging for us so far.