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Alan Wake

CVG asks developer Remedy all about its psychological thriller...

Alan Wake is one of Xbox 360's most anticipated exclusives of the year - and one of the most notoriously postponed titles in the industry's history.

Just as well, then, that CVG was left pretty optimistic when we got hands on with the game last month.

Here, we ask the game's writer Sam Lake from developer Remedy all about the 360's first ever 'psychological thriller'...

What influences have you taken for Alan Wake from popular culture?
The small town of Alan Wake, Bright Falls, is in Washington. So there's definitely an echo of Twin Peaks in there. We are big fans of Twin Peaks at Remedy. It really was a revolutionary TV series at its time. You can still see its influences in more modern TV series.

David Lynch's work in general is something we like a lot. So that's definitely one thing. Pop culture in general is something we actively look to for sources of inspiration - not so much other video games, but movies and TV series and books and graphic novels. Of the more modern TV series, Lost is something we like a lot.

Lost is a very good example of good thriller storytelling in a TV series format. Then there are a whole lot of books. Stephen King is one author that we have mentioned a lot. We have a writer as a main character, who has problems in his life and whose writing starts to come true. Stephen King has a few books where the writer is the main character.

I can name a couple of other books I read early on in the project that were sort of inspiration for me; Brett Easton Ellis's Lunar Park, where he makes himself the protagonist - a very flawed writer character who is losing the grip of his reality - and there's a very good thriller called House Of Leaves by Marc Danielewski which I read before the project.

The torch mechanic is vital to the game. How can you be sure gamers won't get frustrated with it?
We are all gamers at Remedy - and all of us have played a few different games that have the problem of a flashlight that's constantly running out of battery. In Alan Wake, you do need a light source - it's essential for survival.

The batteries are not actually being drained at all, of course - this being a psychological thriller, we're asking how much is really happening and how much is happening in Alan Wake's head. He seems to be able to will his life source to burn brighter at times and to drain the dark presence protecting his enemies away faster.

Using that boost feature will drain the batteries quite bad. They do regenerate back on their own, but you can get boost faster if you use [more] batteries. It's a limited resource, and it's something to consider when playing the game. You always have your flashlight.

We've seen the intro and the Dark Woods area. Will there be plenty of variety in the final version of the game?
We have not shown everything that will happen. There is a variety of enemies and a clear escalation; an action movie-esque escalation when it comes to combat in the game.

You have The Taken - that's what we call the locals taken over by the dark presence - but there are different classes of them, who behave differently. We are also doing other things: A very strong enemy's dark presence regenerates, so that you need to keep your light on them, or they [become] just as powerful as they were moments ago. Then we have animal versions of them, like birds.

The dark presence can take over inanimate objects as well - these are violent towards you. It's another obstacle. The dark presence can take over a door or a gate and stop you from going forward before you have time to use your light on them.

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