Alan Wake Used To Be An Open-World Game

In another sign that maybe it's time for developers to stop aggressively chasing the Grand Theft Auto style of game, Matias Myllyrinne, managing director of Remedy Entertainment, revealed today this his team's game, Alan Wake, used to be, mistakenly, open-world.

The developer was sharing the story here at the DICE gaming conference of the several-year development cycle for the May-dated Xbox 360 title. The game is now a linear, tightly-paced thriller. But it was, for six months of its development, an open-world, sandbox game. Bad idea, Myllyrinne said today.

"When a player turns up in a monster truck to a love scene, you know you're doing something wrong," he said. Making Alan Wake open-world — giving players freedom to go anywhere and be able to avoid following a specific, prescribed path — defied Remedy's ability to control the flow of their game and convey the tension and mood they wanted to.

Six months and a few million dollars' worth of work was discarded and the game was re-shaped to be linear. (Read a spoiler-filled preview of the game's first chapter.)

Earlier this year, No More Heroes 2 proved to be the rare sequel to an open-world game that didn't itself have an open-world. The GTA style of sandbox game may work for the GTA folks themselves and some others, but lately there are signs that the sandbox open design is something some developers are recognizing isn't for them — or the people playing their games.