Monday, August 30, 2010

Alan Wake Feelies

I've done it, ladies and gentlemen.  I have acquired quite a range of Alan Wake feelies, and it is my great pleasure to discuss them with you.  While I would enjoy a promotional flashlight and handgun as much as anyone, I'm speaking more of what would probably be more accurately termed' promotional materials' which, nonetheless, cause my heartrate to quicken and my fingers to become numb.  Welcome to the world of Alan Wake add-ons.

I recently blogged about the Signal, and I've been fan-girl-ing it up for some time now, but the flawless production of a world in which Alan Wake exists is something I dearly adore, especially because of the clever and accurate writerly overtones.  I've seen a bunch of articles where writers discuss the accuracy of Alan Wake.  Pish posh, people who are more famous than me.  Like many things, if you play the story to its conclusion, it all makes sense.  There are no famous, immediately identifiable writers in the world?  Stephen King and Brett Easton Ellis would disagree.  Harlan Ellison probably would, too, but, y'know.  Their other complaint seems to be that any publisher would never let a writer's wife do his cover art, or let his childhood friend be his agent.  To these people I say : Stay awhile, and listen...

First up - The Alan Wake Files, by Clay Steward.  This is a small hardcover book that came with the collector's edition of Alan Wake, and which I stole from my friend.  It looks like this:

Remember that guy in the very first mission, where you make it to the house after being chased by the hitch hiker, and there's some guy with a gun who say, "It's me, Mr. Wake!  Clay Steward!  Remember?"  Yeah.  This is written by him.

It turns out he was having some crazy dreams that lead him to Bright Falls, and he's met Alan a hundred times in those dreams, which is why he sounds so familiar.  Strange chronology, but true : Clay finds the files that Nightingale has on Alan, and which he stashes in the air vent of the motel he's staying at, and which you can find if you explore the motel in the last mission.  You can't take them out, but if you've read the book, you already know what they say.  The book also includes some of Alan Wake's published short stories, and they delight me just as much as the rest of it.

The second piece of wonder I obtained is this : 

I've glanced through it, and it seems to follow the game's dialogue and story pretty closely.  I'm looking forward to reliving the game during my week away at WorldCon (among the 5 other books I have to read before various panels... uh oh...)

Next, the strategy guide.  I'm not normally a strategy guide kind of gal, because I find I don't try as hard if I have the answers sitting on the couch (this includes living strategy guides, too).  However, what sets this one apart is that it's written like a story.  Yup.  You read that right.  The guide itself is written in third person about Alan's adventures through Bright Falls, with relevant information highlighted.  I may have squealed a little when I realised.  I also contains the transcribed conversations, TV segments, radio shows and various other possibly missed or unavailable tidbits that make this well worth reading, even without the walkthrough.

Fourth, the soundtrack.  Oh, the soundtrack.  I love it.  It arrived today and I immediately went to play it, forgetting that I was working from my EeePC, which has no CD drive.  I was sad.

And last, but definitely the best, is a little book known as Alan Wake Illuminated.  This is essentially an art book detailing the development of the game from its open-world-engine-prototype phase in 2005 to its release in 2010.  It contains extra notes about each of the episodes of Alan Wake, as well as a section on the missions, ideas, places and people that were removed from the game.  It's an absolute must-read for anyone who wants to know more about the cycle of game development.  It's frank and informative, while not glossing over just how much time was spent on iterations that ended up getting cut from the final product.  I read most of it in a happily-spent hour, and then my hands cramped up and I had to take a break.  As much as I love hardcovers, they're not all that easy to hold aloft for long periods.

So that's it.  My Alan Wake feelie wrapup is complete.  If you'd like to join the joy, each of the names will lead you to the appropriate page.  Now I'm off to read more of that strategy guide!

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