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Our Conversation with Matthew Porretta, the Voice of Alan Wake

To celebrate the game's 10th anniversary, we sat down with Matthew Porretta, the incredible voice actor behind Alan Wake, to talk about his experiences and memories.

New Retrospective: Agents of Storm

In a new retrospective, we look back at Remedy's first mobile game developed in-house, Agents of Storm.

Behind the Scenes of Poets of the Fall's War Music Video

To celebrate 15 years of Poets of the Fall, we spoke to Director, Akseli Tuomivaara, about creating the Alan Wake-inspired music video, War. [Photo by Tiia Öhman].

Interviews and Conversations with....

Over the past eight years, I've had the pleasure of interviewing some amazing devs and actors inc. Cam Rogers, Kathy Tong, Fred Berman, Ilkka Villi, and Christopher Forsyth.

23rd July 2021
The Community's Favourite Max Payne Moments
Celebrating 20 Years of Max Payne

Today marks Max Payne twentieth anniversary! Congratulations to the developers and everyone who worked hard behind the scenes to help bring the game to life. It's an incredible title with such memorable events which stuck in our heads even two decades later. A little while ago, we reached out to our fellow Remedy fans on Twitter and Facebook to hear about their absolute favourite moments from Max's original advent. The response we got was absolutely amazing (thank you Remedy for the retweet!) and we had a lot to work with. It was also great to see a lot of overlap too and people responding to suggestions that other people had made with a "SAME!" 

Here are just some of those memorable Max Payne moments suggested by the community!

That Opening Scene

A good game needs a good start, so it's no surprise that one of the most submitted moments was the beginning of the adventure... or rather the end. starts rather unusually, with the story told in a long flashback. As the player, we get our first glimpse of the protagonist as the camera pans up from the cacophony of police sirens and the whir of the helicopter blades, to a man standing on top of a New York skyscraper. As players, we know the game will end there at the Aesir Plaza.

"They were all dead. The final gunshot was an exclamation mark to everything that had led to this point. I released my finger from the trigger, and then it was over."
The beginning switches to a flashback. In his introduction, Max makes a reference to his wife and his daughter, and the start of positive lifestyle changes. The details are revealed in a series of graphic novels, overlapped with James' McCaffrey no-nonsense delivery, but it isn't long before the player is thrown into the action. The control are handed over as soon as Max returns home and we are thrown into the first action scene with little hand-holding. Packed into only a few minutes, it's not only a heart-wrenching narrative that explores how dark the game can get, but it's an intense combat tutorial that provides players with tools to get through the game. 

"I didn't like the way the show started. But they had given me the best seat in the house. Front row centre."

Chasing Gognitti & I Don't Know About Angels...

The next memorable moment is a quotation so good that it not only did it become the title of the chapter but also became its own achievement in Max Payne 3. In Part One, Chapter Six, Max is chasing Vinnie Gognitti through the streets of New York, leaving a trail of blood from a gunshot wound. Max states, "Vinnie Gognitti was running scared. He could run, but with a bullet in his stomach like a broken bottle of Tobasco, he was quickly running out of time. He knew where his boss was, and I wanted to square things up with Jack Lupino. Gognitti would be moving fast." Before delivering that memorable line, "I don't know about angels, but it's fear that gives men wings"
Although still fairly nimble, Gognitti is able to get away at first, and perfectly executes a landing from the roof of a train. Despite the severity of the injury, Vinnie survives after the inevitable confrontation and reappears in the sequel voiced by Fred Berman (who later voices Barry Wheeler in Alan Wake). 



Ragna Rock

In Part 1 Chapter 8, Max visits the gothic-themed Ragna Rock nightclub in search for Jack Lupino. The inside is decorated with spray-painted walls and neon lights, with the first fight taking place below an ominous pair of TJ Ekleberg-like eyes. While the exterior is more church-like, the interior feels more FBC with stiff brutalist concrete providing the perfect canvas for the artwork. The further you explore the nightclub, the more the style switches from graffiti to occult symbols. It culminates in a collage of broken hearts, skulls and pentagrams drawn in blood just ahead of the sealed back rooms. Snaking around the backstage sets, Max eventually discovers a door leading to Lupino's private office.  

"The backstage area led to Lupino's Inner Sanctum. The hot air inside was like an invisible wall, thick with incense and something else, a sickly sweet smell that made you gag. This was the rotten core of the big apple. Lupino lurks somewhere ahead, like a spider at the centre of its web, waiting."
Entering the Twin Peaks-like room lined with red curtains, Max discovers pieces of a torn-up and bloodied letter from the Punchinello family threatening Lupino. The search for Lupino ends when Max steps into a large foyer adorned with red carpets, curtains and a dominating stained glass wall. Occult symbols and candles are spread throughout the area. After a quick fight with Lupino's henchmen, the curtains part revealing the big guy high on Valkyr and brimming with confidence, providing the game with one of its earliest boss fights.

Meeting Vladimir Lem

Another scene that proved popular with fans took place in Part II Chapter II: "An Offer You Can't Refuse" in which Max meets Vladmir Lem who proposes working together. Vlad asks for Max's help to reclaim his cargo ship, Charon, which had fallen under the Punchinello Crime Family's ownership. In exchange for his help, Max will be able to take as much as he needs from the ship's armoury to continue his one-man war. 

While Vlad's appearance in the game is brief, the sequel focuses more in-depth on his story and explores how Max might not be the dearest of all his friends. But another reason why this initial meet is so memorable to fans may be the casting. At the time, Remedy was developing the game on a low budget, and bring in friends and family for the roles. Portraying Vladimir Lem in the graphic novels is Marko Saaresto just a few years prior to the launch of his band, Poets of the Fall. The band would later feature prominently in the sequel with their debut song, Late Goodbye
Suggested by: @ViiIcarus


Travelling In Silence

Another popular memorable moment from the original game is only a few seconds long but with just enough comedic timing to stick in the mind of several players over the years. When Max enters Luigi's Laundry, a mafia-owned tenant building, he will need to ride the lift to get to the Punchinello family. Upon entering the lift, Max's ears will be flooded with excessively cheerful waiting music. The player can make the decision to shoot the speaker which turns off the music. If the shot is fired, Max will comment "thank you" although it's not entirely clear whether it's a comment to the new silence or a fourth-wall-breaking side joke.

If you're a fan of the lift music, there is a ten-hour loop of it on YouTube because... of course there is. 

Suggested by: @thegrasseson and @AndrewHostetl11


Address Unknown

While it may be optional, a lot of you wanted to give a special mention to the in-game television shows. Address Unknown particularly got a lot of love and with good reason! In the original game, the show may only be just a couple of minutes long but it proved so popular that it became its own level in the sequel. The clip was narrated by Marko Saaresto with Matias Myllyrinne providing the voice of the Pink Flamingo, and began a doppelganger call back that would run through two decades of Remedy titles. 
Address Unknown Transcript: "I don't want to go there. It's the last place I'd want to end up, but that's where I always end up anyway. Only, it's not me talking to the Pink Flamingo, but someone who looks the part, down to the finest detail... except that he's evil. I'm hiding in the shadows, watching it all unfold. The Flamingo speaks, it can speak here. It says: *distorted* "mirrors are more fun than television" *distortion ends*. That's "mirrors are more fun than television." Somehow I know this, just don't ask me how, and I, not me, but my double, nods and smirks at this like it was the funniest thing in the world. And then something goes wrong, and suddenly they know I'm there, hiding behind them, and they both turn to look at me with cold eyes, and the Flamingo speaks again: "The Flesh of Fallen Angels." I have no idea what that means. And, that's when I always wake up to my own scream, in that bright lily-white hospital room, strapped to my bed."

The Green Wire

Shortly after watching the Address Unknown episode, Max stumbles across a duo of... not-quite-bomb experts. The issue is that they have a bomb they need to defuse and they have three wires to choose from; red, blue, or green. "It's always red or blue in the movies." "So, green?" "No! Not the green!" There's a slight snipping sound followed by a loud explosion. When Max walks over to the area, there's a pretty big crack in the wall that looks structurally unstable. Unfortunately, the door he needs to get through in the wall is locked. Fortunately, when the door is tested, the wall comedically falls down, providing another entrance.

Suggested by: @AnttiKole, and @Dickjutsu


That Fourth Wall Break & Nightmares

A lot of you also had a very specific scene in mind when I posted the question on social media; the fourth wall break. In Part III's prologue, "A Little Bit Closer to Heaven", Max is drugged with Valkyr administered by Nicole Horne, causing him into enter a new nightmare sequence. In the dream, he is following the sound of his wife through their old house, his vision distorted by the drug. As he winds through the dream, he momentarily sees himself in the bedroom, as he's transported back to the office, bordered by walls of fire. Max picks up a letter on the desk, triggering a cutscene. 
"There was something disturbingly familiar about the letter before me. The handwriting was all pretty curves. 'You are in a graphic novel.' The truth split my skill open, a glaring green light washing the lies away. All of my past was just fragmented still shots, words hanging in the air like balloons. I was in a graphic novel. Funny as hell, it was the most horrible thing I could think of."

The phone rings nearby, and on it, a familiar voice is spouting nonsense. As Max leaves the room, he returns to where he was at the start, with another letter on the desk. 

"There was something disturbingly familiar about the letter before me, the handwriting was all pretty curves. 'You are in a computer game, Max.' The truth was a burning green crack through my brain. Weapon statistics hanging in the air glimpsed out of the corner of my eye. Endless repetition of the act of shooting, time slowing down to show off my moves. The paranoid feel of someone controlling my every step. I was in a computer game. Funnily as hell, it was the most horrible thing I could think of." 

The phone on the other side of the desk rings again, this time Woden's voice is clearer, warning him about the drug, but to Max, the words don't make sense. He attempts to leave the room again and manages to get further and back to the house. The familiar design of the home has changed, leading to another blood trail, accompanied by the sounds of a screaming baby. As he reaches the end of the maze, he is back in his bedroom, an evil double of himself as his wife's murderer. As he shoots his doppelganger, he gets a new vision of the moments just before he left for work, promising to hear his wife's dream. His double looms behind them as the image fades and he wakes up. 

Memorable Lines

As well as memorable moments, there were also a couple of memorable lines from the game which players submitted. Including: 

- "He was trying to buy more sand for his hourglass. I wasn't selling any." The words were spoken by Max as he faced Punchinello who was trying to explain that he had been reached by someone in government and that he was a pawn in the operation. He's killed moments later by a group that ambushes the conversation. 

Suggested by: @BrooklynBear, @RuneX@IsaacClarke00, and @TheeInsaaf

- In Part III, Chapter IV, Max discovers that Alex Balder's partner who was one of two officers who knew that Max had gone undercover had sold him out. In their confrontation, he askes “what does BB stand for, backstabbing bastard?” A random detail that love is that in the Max Payne (2008) movie, BB is played by an actor with the same initials, Beau Bridges. 

Suggested by: @Mcharejoo.

17th July 2021
Valve Reveals the Steam Deck with Control Spotlight

This week, Valve announced the brand new Steam Deck, a handheld PC gaming device designed to enable you to play your Steam library while on the move, including all your Remedy favourites.

A potential competitor for the Nintendo Switch and even subscription services such as Amazon Luna and Google Stadia, the Steam Deck is available in three different models. 65GB (£349), 256GB (£459), and 512GB (£569) in addition to the increased memory size, you also receive a number of extras, both digital and physical. Although if you're on a budget, the device also comes with a MicroSD slot which will enable players to also upgrade their storage space at a later date too. The Steam Deck is due to be released in December 2021.
With multiple versions, there's the potential for miscommunication. So, Valve has already addressed the potential issue of variation between the three models and reassured players that "there is no in-game difference in frame rates or graphics quality between the three models." 

Ahead of the reveal, IGN had exclusive access to the new device. Their hands-on review is lengthy, tackling subjects from the feel of the analogue sticks, to button customisation. The most surprising part of their article was that Valve was also developing a docking station, allowing for the portable device to become a desktop PC, allowing for gaming on a large monitor with keyboard and mouse controls. In his report, Bo Moore (IGN's Executive Tech Editor) was pleasantly surprised by the power of the little machine, "I played a bit of Factorio and Death Stranding with mouse and keyboard on a 32” monitor, and if it weren’t for the Steam Deck sitting docked next to me on the desk I would have forgotten it wasn’t running off a traditional desktop PC."

For his test, Bo tried a number of games out on the device. In addition to Factorio and Death Stranding, he checked out Doom Eternal, Control, among others. You can read the full IGN preview, HERE.

Check out the Steam Deck website to learn more, HERE!

16th July 2021
Stuart Macdonald's DevGAMM Lecture Now Online
"Building the Oldest House in Control"

In mid-May, Stuart Macdonald (World Design Director on Control) took part in DevGAMM 2021, a virtual expo with over eighty speakers in attendance, to talk about building the Oldest House.

Before moving into video games, Stuart's previously worked as an architect and a teacher, where he would focus on Brutalism in his role. He joined Remedy as a Lead Environment Artist during the development of Alan Wake's American Nightmare in 2011. Six years after starting at the studio, he returned to Brutalist design, putting his skill set to use for Control

In his fifty minute talk, Stuart explores what world design is, the importance and influence of lore, open structure, the physical (almost archaic) world of the FBC bureaucracy, and a lot more.

It's a seriously fascinating lecture, and it's also a very recent addition to the DevGAMM YouTube Channel. If you missed it when it was first broadcast, make sure to check it out below! 


16th July 2021
Upcoming GDC 2021 Talk: "Take 'CONTROL' of Animation"
July 19th, Presented by Ville Ruusutie & Ilkka Kuusela

GDC is back next week for another week of in-depth keynotes and networking opportunities. Included on the first day is a talk on Control's animation and how an issue during development, caused when the animation middleware was no longer an option, led to the studio adapting and creating their own in six months.

The pre-recorded keynote, Take 'CONTROL' of Animation, is hosted by Ville Ruusutie (Principal Animation Programmer) and Ilkka Kuusela (Lead Animator) who takes viewers through Remedy's animation system. The talk will take place on Monday, July 19th at 8:30am PT and is open to "All Access Pass" and "Summits Pass" types. You can purchase your online tickets, HERE. (Watch out, aas it's a developer focused event, ticket prices are high.) We will let you know if the lecture is later posted on the GDC YouTube channel down the line.

GDC will take place remotely again this year, and will be held between July 19th-23rd.  You can find out more about their conference on their website, HERE


Official Notes

As Remedy's latest game Control was entering production, the team was hit by a surprise when their animation middleware was taken off the market. After evaluating their options, they chose to build their own technology from scratch. Remedy's Principal Animation Programmer Ville Ruusutie and Lead Animator Ilkka Kuusela describe the team's journey from the first, stripped down iteration of their own technology 6 months before their first E3 demo, to finally shipping a multiplatform game with a complex playable character, 11 enemy archetypes, massive boss fights, cinematics and systemic conversations.

This talk will give the audience a look into Remedy's new animation system, show Remedy's animation pipeline and debugging tools for Motion Matching, and discuss the unique features they added to the animation system to tackle common game animation scenarios like cinematic transitions.

Takeaway

The audience will get an insight into Control's development and a modern animation system. The talk will give new ideas on debugging and authoring content for motion matching. The concrete examples of solutions for common animation scenarios will serve as useful tips and tricks for the attendees.

Intended Audience

The talk has a technical animation focus, and is targeted at animators, technical animators and animation programmers. It should also be interesting for people who work closely with animators, such as gameplay and AI programmers and designers. The talk will be understandable to a professional game developer without specific prerequisites. 



-- CONSOLE & PC GAMES --

The Crossfire Series

The Control Series

The Quantum Break Series

The Alan Wake Series

The Max Payne Series

-- MOBILE GAMES --

-- LIVE ACTION SERIES --

Beyond the shadow you settle for, there's a miracle illuminated.