There are places in our world where fiction and dreams can come true.

30th October 2013
Article: Visiting Remedy

Back in July, I travelled to a place I’d been looking forward to visiting for a long while: HELSINKI!

I went to a sandy beach for the first time, I saw one of my favourite films at the cinema with a good friend I seldom get to hang out with in person, I tried new foods and met new people, I almost got killed by a ice-cream-stealing seagull, I went to a Poets of the Fall gig. It was an incredibly awesome week which concluded with a visit to the Remedy offices and spending the day with Mikki. 

One of the things that immediately strikes you upon walking in is the feeling that this is the Remedy studio. The new offices look gorgeous but are also practical; creating a place you can work and relax in simultaneously. Having outgrown their previous home, where the increasing lack of space had led to employees being pushed into corridors and the mobile gaming team being relocated to another building, the new Remedy HQ is better in almost every way. There is even enough capacity to allow the company to dedicate space for gaming, massages and simply hanging out.

From your first step into the foyer there’s a weird atmosphere that something is happening and if you thought that you wouldn’t be far wrong. Despite the silence and the seemingly empty entrance (we arrived in the middle of summer holidays), there were people planning and crafting the Quantum Break experience throughout ... and that’s a strange thing to think about that even as you stand there; someone is making something that you will eventually see on screen in your living room...Which, in my case, is about 1200 miles away.

There's also a series of flags outside the building with the Remedy logo on them which
is a nice little addition.

Taking us (my sister and I) on the tour was Remedy’s incredible Writer, Mikki, who actually took a day off from his holiday to show us around! Despite knowing and speaking to him for a couple of years prior to the visit, this was actually the first time we had the opportunity to speak in person, so I felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Any nervousness subsided within about a minute of meeting him; he’s probably one of the nicest and most relaxed guys I’ve ever met!

First stop, to the kitchen! It is Finnish law (or so I reckoned from the eight days I spent there) that a person must be within 100 yards of a supply of caffeinated produce at all time. The studio also offered healthier alternatives such as water, soda and juices. I tried Battery, which apparently is available in the UK according to Wiki, but you need to know a secret handshake to get a can. (Battery tastes like Red Bull, Red Rooster, and Boost...I finished my GCSEs and A-Levels extremely caffeinated.) And with that chilled energy drink we were ready to tour the building!

This photo was taken from the gaming area, looking into the kitchen. I like this shot because of
the homage to Max Payne 2 on the right.

The building itself felt big and open, despite being split into a number of separate offices. This was mainly due to the light colour scheme and to the abundance of windows, which made the place feel peaceful and relaxed. The second floor consisted of several smaller office rooms with glass walls looking out into the corridor. There are several incredible glass panels, etched with designs paying homage to Remedy’s previous titles. These appeared throughout the building, but the second floor included a pretty sweet-looking Death Rally window which features this promotional artwork:

We also wandered past several small meeting areas with soft chairs and bookshelves filled with reference material. Mikki explained that the company didn’t have areas like these in the previous building and that they had been included in the new design to aid communication: if a few people needed to talk quickly about something, they could go into one of these areas to chat instead of booking a meeting room or talking where others were trying to work.

We walked a little further down the corridor and into the marketing/community department where I got to meet meet our Community Manager, Lauri, who is as kind as you’d expect from his posts on the forum and other social media. We saw Oskari’s desk here, which had been completely covered in cling-film. An opening had been cut into the plastic, and the keyboard had been retrieved and left on top. The scene looked like the worst attempted theft I’ve witnessed; the cling-film was a mere nuisance to the office burglar but WOAH THERE ARE WIRES! ABORT! ABORT!

The third floor had been referred to with wide-eyed caution – and with good reason! This level is home to the Mr Scratch Room – which is not only a meeting area with the lovable antagonist staring into the soul of anyone using the corridor – but I’m pretty sure doubles as a warning to any visiting games journalist thinking about website statistics. As you enter the third floor you’re walking into the Quantum Break Zone which had been out of bounds to non-employees until the game’s announcement at the Microsoft Conference a couple of months earlier (May 2013). The main reason being that it houses a number of teams including animators, artists and writers etc. The cautious looks showed that the third floor was still a little wary of the presence of outsiders, which was difficult to understand before entering the area.

Despite being in the middle of the holidays, there were still quite a lot of people working and talking to each other about the game. The animation room, for example, had many people talking to each other about the various approaches to tasks. It was also one of the rooms which were completely out of bounds, with even the screens facing away from the glass wall. One of the things that was obvious within the room was that it had clearly been constructed with communication in mind, with the animators being given room to collaborate.

The Mr Scratch conference room stood at the end of the corridor; a huge etched image of the murderous antagonist staring out the glass as you walk by, the top of his knife visible at the bottom of the pane. Perhaps not the most reassuring thing to see, especially late at night...

Standing in the Writing Room was a strange experience; I felt like a kid who had been led into an area full of buttons but told not to press any of them! A huge whiteboard dominated one side of the room and a series of large windows on another. Mikki mentioned later in the tour that the developers recently discovered a product, called SmartFilm, which is like sticky whiteboard wallpaper, and which was in abundance in this room! The benefit of using the SmartFilm is that it’s easily rolled up and transported so you can put it up pretty much anywhere.

It occurred to me, standing in the room, that I could stealthily put notes on the desks, so when everyone returned from their holiday they would think that they forgot to put something in the game before they left. The power I would have!

I would name the main character ‘Derrick’.

And onto the fourth floor! While the first three floors are Remedy’s general working areas, the fourth floor is very different. As soon as you leave the elevator, you get a great view of the foyer (although you could be blinded by sunlight streaming through the skylight, so perhaps not!). We also heard that it was the perfect place for some model helicopter flying, and there are some pretty amusing stories from previous ... incidents.

Staircase in the foyer
Perhaps in constructing the original building, the designers faced long arduous days and in response created a pretty fancy looking recreation area. In fact it felt less like a video game studio and more like a restaurant/bar in a trendy hotel with sofas, a drink serving area, candles, a wooden fireplace and a deer head. Yep, a deer head. When Remedy moved into the new building they were contacted by their interior design company, who wanted to give them a deer head. Although initially concerned, the final product was a seriously cool looking head created out of shaped pieces of cardboard slotted together to form a 3D image. There was also a smaller version of the model in the reception area on the first floor.

Just beyond the room was a covered balcony area which had a barbecue. It’s a pretty nice area, but the really cool bit about the location was that it looked over the studio Remedy was using when they created Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. There’s a nice little evolutionary comparison.

Although the new Remedy HQ had a BBQ on their balcony and therefore won by default.

We returned to the first floor to access to the basement. We passed the reception area which I recognised from Sam’s Announcement to Fans video, with a huge Remedy logo on the wall and some really fancy red chairs in the centre. A series of glass cabinets populated this room, filled with awards the developers had won over the years, as well as a few awarded to Poets of the Fall. Beside these were numerous magazine issues with covers dedicated to Max Payne and Alan Wake. It was lovely to see the design of the studios honouring the developer’s titles; so many studios tend to do a full redesign of their offices to reflect only their current projects.

Reception area

We went through the motion capture rooms, which are both cool to see and impossible to really talk about unless you don’t mind Remedy sending a hitman after you. And frankly, even if they don’t put Agent47 on the payroll, it’s still kind of creepy to know that they know roughly where you live (how many people could there be in London?) and that they were the developers responsible for introducing bullet time to the video game industry.

Meeting area

Another meeting area! The new building has lots of space for discussions, with many
sections dedicated to different types of arrangements from quick talks to more formal meetings.
I can say that their motion capture room, at least comparing to that in the Alan Wake “behind the scenes” photos, is much larger than they had previously. There was even space in the corner of the room to allow for storage – including a mannequin modelling Sofia’s costume, as seen in the Quantum Break E3 trailer. There were quite a few mannequins lying around, which would have made the area a suitable level design for a horror title, but which served a useful purpose, standing in for actors wherever possible.

The storage room housed a tonne of old computer equipment, discarded in the recent office move into the new building, or simply upgraded since arriving. It also held lots of Alan Wake related goodies, such as t-shirts and the PC Collector’s Edition. On a shelf at the end of the room was the “Alan Wake. Do not open until...” box, the sight of which inspired mixed emotions; while you can understand the various reasons why this game’s much awaited sequel has being postponed, it’s still a little strange – and sad – to think that it’s not in production at all.

We travelled into the depths of the building and into the basement, where Mikki informed us that it is a requirement in Finland for any building with a size of 1200 square meters to have a fallout shelter, a precaution enforced during the Cold War. Some light made its way in through the high, narrow windows, but for the most part we were reliant on indoor lighting to make it through the basement area. We were led into a room which smelled strongly of paint but which we were told would, in the future, become an on-site gym. But at this stage it was filled with tool tables, saws and screwdrivers, with barbed wire cordoning off a section.

We had entered in silence, and remained that way for a few seconds before Mikki turn around and announced “WELCOME, TO THE MURDER ROOM”.

Fortunately Mikki chose not to murder us in the end – to do so would go against his Twitter biography (“to the best of your knowledge, I have never killed a man.”) and those things are sacred. What he did do was show us around some of the offices down on the floor. While the gym may still be under construction, the surrounding offices were already on their feet; especially the audio studio which had an impressive set-up and multiple screens; I like to think that when someone uses the room they recreate scenes from The Dark Knight and just broods over their morning cup of coffee (because who didn’t brood in that film?) while announcing that “no one should have this much power”. 

The audio room and its many gadgets!

Next door was the massage room. They have a massage room there! Dedicated to massages! (As opposed to anything else a massage room could be dedicated to?)

That was the final stop on our tour of the building, so we made our way back to the room we had started in, to kill an hour or so before going to get food. The kitchen is a nice, spacious area, with a large coffee machine on the countertop, dedicated fridges for drinks and Pac Man carpeting under the tables. It also opened into a recreational section where offices bordered a large meeting area. Bookcases around the room were filled with videogames from across a number of platforms. Having some time left at Remedy we put their extensive game collection to playing the first episode of Alan Wake.

Also I kind of broke the disc. It was an accident! And technically not even my fault. I assume that the last time the game had been taken out of the drive, it had been left out on the coffee table before being transferred into the box and either a drink had been spilt, or it was mistaken for a coaster. In either case, even after washing it, the disc was gone. We had a little funeral; it was beautiful, and some people said a few words, my favourite being “I read online that you could try putting a banana on it”.

Mikki had reserved a table at a restaurant called Lappi, where we would meet Kalle Kaivola (from Rovio) who is a genuinely funny guy. The food was incredibly good and if you’re in the Helsinki area you have to check the restaurant out! 

Many thanks to Mikki and to everyone I met during my visit to Remedy. I had a fantastic time and everyone was incredibly sweet and welcoming, taking the time from their work to stop and talk. And it was great gaining some insight into the company! Thank you so much! 

The shiny Remedy logo in the foyer. I like how it's not fixed directly onto the wall, so
it creates a rather nice looking shadow.


Formerly "Vanguard"

The Crossfire Series

The Control Series

The Quantum Break Series

The Alan Wake Series

The Max Payne Series



Icons by the incredible, Evil-Owl-Loki.

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