OXCGN’s Time with Alan Wake Hands-on & Dinner In Kings Cross
©2010 Grant Smythe:
Well the last week has been a hectic here in Sydney, what with a hands-on with the official Bungie limited Media Muliplayer Beta Testing at Microsoft’s Head Office last Friday, and the hands-on with Alan Wake on the following Monday and then of course the excellent community dinner with Alan Wake Managing Director Matias Myllyrine and Community Manager Peter Papadopoulos on Tuesday night. You could certainly say that it’s been a busy week, and it’s not over yet.
Tuesday night saw several community site members and Facebook winners sharing a close intimate dinner with both Matias Myllyrine and Peter Papadopoulos who were here to showcase their upcoming ‘Action Suspense Thriller’, Alan Wake.
The even was held at the very trendy Favela Churrascaria‘s Brazilian BBQ Style Restaurant section in at Potts Point, an area otherwise known as Kings Cross to the locals. Which was the perfect location and added the right atmosphere for the evening with its dimly lit premises. If you haven’t been before, make sure you do go at some stage if you are in The Cross.
We were presented and served with excellent food which was cooked by the extremely friendly staff of the club, and served straight to the tables. None of the pre-prepared stuff, it was all freshly made and served straight away.
All manner of meats, sauces, salads, vegetables, BBQ potatoes, the food just kept coming and never seemed to stop. I think they were catering for a 100 people, not a total of around 30.
Drinks were of course on-the-house, and several big-winks from Microsoft had dropped by to share in the evening, as well as some execs from EB Games.
It was wonderful catching up with some of the community members that I had not seen for ages, as well as making new contacts, and restablishing relationships with some of the industry people while we were there.
Aaron Bertinetti and I had a great time chatting with both members of Microsoft’s team that were there, the community Xbox leader, Ashley Jenkins (Jinx) and generally ‘smoosing’ with all those there on the night.
Matais is obviously very passionate about his game, and so he should be. He gave a small preamble to the game’s storyline, the reason for the game, and took us on a small section of gameplay to set the mood for the evening.
And I must say this before we go on, and its something that I had noticed while playing the game on Monday as well.
While you watch the game being played by another person, or watching the cut scene footage play out, you can’t help but kind of think . . . hmm . . . yes well . . . this all well-n-good . . . it seems okay, sort of seen similar to . . . . etc.
But it is not until you get behind that controller that you understand what the term Matais constantly uses when describing the game “this is an action, suspense thriller” in the true sense of the word. He really means that when he talks about with this game.
Here’s what he had to say when interviewed by Capsule Computers on the night
The game’s atmosphere is certainly there, and you’ll find yourself riveted to the screen, and your chair, or be like some, keep getting up and moving around to avert the anxiousness – as well as dodging left and right as you fend off attacks left right and centre when playing the game.
I had mentioned this to my colleague Aaron Bertinetti the day before after my hands-on with the game on the Monday, and sure enough, he passed comment that I was indeed right, and he had the same experience.
So please I implore you, do not judge the game based solely on any videos or even reviews you may see or read without first having played the game. If you do, you will be doing yourself a huge disservice, that is for sure.
It really is quite immersive. Watching others playing it you could see how involved they became. Unlike some games, where the player simply sits there and works the controls, you could see people shifting in their positions, moving by instinct when things were happening on the screen, and even dodging attacks as if they were real.
Now that is when a game has the player immersed.
Alan Wake might not appeal to all gamers, and there is a great deal of difference to the final game compared to the original concept brought about some 5-6 years ago prior to the 360′s launch. But for those who will take the gamble, and I certainly hope that you do, it will be a thrilling ride, that is for sure.
Also, on the Monday evening, right after the end of the Media Hands-on with Alan Wake, some of you may have remembered that Microsoft were looking for some “test subjects” to do a bona-fide test with via a professional 3rd party research team.
Well that night, Microsoft had set up 6 subjects at the very spooky Sydney Quarantine Station situated just on edges of the Manly headlands overlooking Manly-proper. Where I might add, it is purported to be haunted with ghosts of little children and adults from centuries past – I kid you not! I spend 3 nights there many years ago, and can attest to that fact that things DO in fact happen there at night – that IS a a fact!
The premise of the testing was to see which medium evoked more physiological, psychological
and related nervous systems responses from a subject to find out which media style was more immersive. Using such mediums as novels, movies, games, audio.
And what perfect timing, yes, Alan Wake was of course used in the Game sequence – naturally.
The test subjects were set up in different sections of the station, wires attached to their heart, brain, wrists, etc. One in the morgue, one in the toilet/shower block, another in the abandoned medical facility, another is a disused storeroom etc.
All with only the bare minimal lighting that was need to see was used, and data was then recorded and is to be compiled over the next week or so – check the images out at InsiderX’s link below. They were not hand-held, but simply monitored closely from a remote area within the station so as to have them feel quite alone and – well – unprotected.
NB: You’ll find some InsiderX info on the test subjects here at Jinx’s InsiderX Page.
The results which were very rewarding for the research team were most impressive, and of course. Matias and Peter were there to oversee the event taking place while the research team used their game as material for the test.
Matias did say the place certainly had a ‘certain’ edge to it, and was perfect for the tests. Although his eyes did bulge somewhat when I mentioned it was in fact really haunted – to which he replied “you’re shitting me man – really” I left that up to him to find out personally.
We’ll have a more detailed report on this once Microsoft and the research team analyse the data, which is being gathered from the subjects use of reading thriller novels the likes of Secret Window, movies such as The Shinning, Audio files, and of course, the game Alan Wake.
One comment about two subjects were interesting though, and we’ll end it with that. During their time with the game, one subject was totally immersed with the game, so much so he was often seen standing up, looking around to see if someone or something was not behind him.
His eyes darted left and right, as if awaiting something to literally pounce on him at any moment. Another was surprised by an very inquisitive Ringtail Possum, who happened to literally ‘drop right down’ next to the subject and say Hi – what are you up to in my neck of the woods! . . .
Needless to say, the poor unsuspecting subject acted accordingly, and almost ran out of the place backwards.
So I’d say Alan Wake had achieved its goal while here in Sydney, that being, showing everyone that came in contact with it, that was indeed a totally immersive action based suspense thriller unlike any other on the market today.
And of course, Sydney said goodbye to the Alan Wake guys today in a truly ‘mist’erious way this morning.
Very befitting a game such as Alan Wake, as Sydney awoke to find itself covered in a blank of thick foggy mist from pre-dawn through until around 9.30a.
The boy’s from Remedy Games had headed out in an early flight, straight into the fog and mist . . . A perfect goodbye to the game being presented here in Sydney.
©2010 Grant Smythe:
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