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18th October 2019
How Nothing Could Quite Replace The Remedy Forums [Opinion]

The Remedy Community Boards closed down last week with the link now redirecting to the studio's main site.

I was a moderator on those forums and had been for about six years, but I only found out about that Remedy had decided to shut it down a couple of nights ago when I started to receive emails asking if I knew why it was suddenly gone after being "under maintenance" for two weeks.

I am pretty devastated that it's no longer around, so I wanted to write a little why it was important to me...

The Official Remedy Forums weren't technically official, especially not at first. It was a community hub created by Peter Papadopoulos, who wanted to share and discuss things following the announcement of Alan Wake. Originally part of his fansite, Bright Falls, the forums were later adopted by the studio and in a sense so was he! Until just a few years before Alan Wake launched, the studio never had a Community Manager and he knew the community well and had worked in his spare time to create wonderful hubs for the fandom, and so, commuting online from Australia each day, they approached him to become their first Community Manager.

Throughout Alan Wake's development, the forum was the centre hub of the community, Remedy even released exclusives on there for active fans. In addition to news and discussions, there were competitions, interviews, and other wonderful community-driven events. A number of developers were also very active on the forum.

I joined the Alan Wake community back in early-2011, it was just post-Alan Wake's launch but the buzz was still in the air with the DLC episodes, and I absolutely loved the atmosphere the forums had. I was also extremely reluctant to sign up; I never got along with forums. I had joined a few in the past, but they never quite clicked. I was also active in other communities and in those communities, certain sections of that digital space were frequently described as "toxic", a few of the boards were notorious hotspots. It was also from one of those boards where I was dealing with threats after I had written a positive article about an E3 trailer. So, sufficed to say that boards and I didn't quite work out. I definitely would not join another. Definitely not. Okay... maybe one more, but that's the last...

I had discovered Alan Wake earlier that year, and was in love with the game. Despite my initial reluctance to join the forums, fans seemed welcoming and had that everyone-knew-everyone vibe and in the end, I gave in and signed up. The boards had a channel for new members to say hello, and so I clicked "New Thread" and began typing. I was fairly young at the time, I was also lost for words, so I said hi, and mentioned that I had been playing Alan Wake and had been looking for more information when I came across the boards, and that I was making a website. Within a few hours, the thread had already attracted a number of people welcoming me to the boards, including people at Remedy.

Until that point, I had mainly kept the website thing to myself. At the time, it was called The Taken, although would later change to The Sudden Stop partly to leave the door open to focus on Remedy's other titles, and partly because the first name felt more like a placeholder. Originally at first, it was going to be a website themed around the Alex Casey series as though it was run by the publisher or the author, but over the months just became an archive for nerdiness. By the time that the site was ready, I was feeling more confident and relaxed on the boards but the idea of telling people about my site admittedly made me a little anxious.

Around the time I joined, the focus was on the DLCs, but soon after we would celebrate the first reveal of Alan Wake's American Nightmare. 

Starting that thread to talk about The Sudden Stop was such a nerve-wracking experience. I still remember that vivid weird mix of relief and anxiety. Not kidding, while my experience of the forums so far had been so positive, I was also absolutely prepared for threats; if an article I wrote over an E3 trailer attracted that much rage, what would happen if I had a bunch of articles on a different forum informing fans of a game that they had been following ten times longer than I had?

It turns out that they would be much more positive than I ever could have hoped. Everyone on the thread was so supportive and kind, and offered great tips. I got messages from members wanting to know if I had a social media account for the site as they wanted to follow, and lovely comments that made swearing at code for almost a year worth it. Before the first day came to a close, Pete sent me a message and offered to share it on the studio's social media channels which were a big thing and a big compliment for me. We also discussed how surprised I was by the reception, and I even admitted being slightly on guard when I was writing the post, he reassured me that the boards weren't like that and he was right. I have never found another place that was as accepting of me as a member or the work I did. It was something unique to the Remedy Boards that I will always associate with them. Despite him leaving soon after I joined the community, Pete was actually someone who inspired me to pursue a career in the games industry; his support really meant a lot and I wanted to be that person for someone else.

When I joined the forums, I also tried to push myself to get involved in as many of the discussions as I could to meet other fans. Surprisingly, one of the people who I got in contact with early on later became my partner, despite the long distance. We recently celebrated five years together. But that was the reason why, when the opportunity arrived to be a moderator, I immediately jumped at the chance. I wanted to give back to the digital space because I loved being there, I loved what being there did for me and I loved the people I met.

The forums as it was in 2013. The website can still be accessed by Wayback Machine but all the exclusive threads have been lost.

Recently things have been quieter particularly as Remedy posted less exclusive content on that platform over the years. But even for non-members, it still had value as an archive of the community's identity, especially throughout the Alan Wake era. When we lost the boards, we lost exclusive interviews, we lost Mikki's brilliant X-Com adventures which saw an army of forum members fight against an alien invasion (I died first but got carried over the finish line by an overeager Pickman who just wouldn't die), we lost fan write-ups about their visit to the studio, we lost artwork and fan fiction, we lost a lot of long-running in-jokes such as "Hotskari", and we lost conversations and in-depth debates. We also lost a place to talk about the things we love.

For clarity, Remedy apparently reached out in an email that was sent to all registered users. As a moderator, I only found out that the boards were gone when I started receiving confused emails from people. I've reached out to a few former-members in the community, but it sounds as though there may have been an issue with the original email as no one that I spoke to received a message in regards to the closure. I don't know why the boards were closed, I know that it was under maintenance for several days from September 27th, but it's unclear whether it was an issue with the forums themselves or a marketing decision. Personally, I really hope it wasn't the latter.

For me, it wasn't just a digital space, instead, it was such a huge and important part of the community; it was the first place that I felt truly part of the community, it was through those boards that I met my partner, and the forums inspired me to work in games. I had the first conversations with my partner saved in my inbox, as well as my first conversations with Remedy's community manager when I started my site and was anxious about how it would be received.

For me, those boards were the Remedy community and I don't know if anything can replace them.


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