It was a long but pleasant night. I am writing this article in my hotel room just minutes after I enjoyed a late breakfast. I’m currently on a business trip in Tallinn for my employer. We took part in setting up a local gaming event called MängudeÖÖ, which if translated would mean something in the likes of “gaming night”. The event took place in a local cinema and lasted until 5 AM (it’s being called “gaming night” for a reason), which explains the late breakfast. I was there to give a lecture about MSI and our gaming products. As you may know, MSI is a brand that focusses heavily on gaming hardware, meaning we’ll take any chance we get to connect with the local gaming community in order to reach out and gather feedback.
A few weeks before the event was about to take place I sat down with the organizers in order to talk through some last details and overall planning. Knowing I was a big fan of Remedy, the organization proudly informed me Gegrory Louden confirmed to appear as speaker. His presentation would focus on Quantum Break’s narrative design. Knowing that Gregory is a great fan of PayneReactor, this literally felt like a cherry on top of an already tasty pie. Needless to say, I was stoked. I reached out to Remedy to see if Gregory would be willing to chat after his presentation. He then contacted me personally to say he’d love to meet.
In the months following after the release of Quantum Break, Remedy has increasingly been more open about the ins and outs of the studio. Many of you might know Gregory as he often appeared in the many videos the studio released. Alternatively, you might know him from his appearance in Quantum Break. Gregory Louden is an industry veteran. He’s well known for his visual effects work on blockbuster titles such as Gravity, Prometheus and World War Z. Having worked in the film industry for quite some time, he realized that his particular skill set would be a perfect fit for Remedy. Being a computer person/gamer at heart (he was drawn to Remedy after the release of Alan Wake’s American Nightmare), it didn’t take long for him to apply. He has now been with Remedy for almost 4 years and worked on Quantum Break since the beginning.
After the presentation, I was granted some time to talk with Gregory. Before I even had a chance to ask him anything, he praised all the support Remedy has received from PayneReactor over the years. The website has been going through some tough times lately (a lot of hard work has been put in the re-design and we are still far from finished) so this really meant the world to me. The sincere enthusiasm he spoke with and the ear-to-ear smile on his face are such a big motivator! Greg, if you are reading this. Thank you! As I have asked all Remedy staff I met, I was curious to know about his opinion on Max Payne 3. Gregory told me that he absolutely loved the game and thought the franchise went really in the right direction. He respected the fact that Rockstar made it more or less their unique own thing. We both agreed there was a difference in writing style compared to Same Lake’s.
When I asked if more of these games is to be revealed soon he replied; “Sooner than you might think!”
He then quickly underlined that their upcoming projects, the single player mode for the FPS Crossfire 2 and the yet to be revealed “Project 7”, are very much a Remedy experience. Meaning a great story and memorable characters are at the center of their design. Remedy never has developed a first-person-shooter game before. According to Gregory, adapting their core values of game design to this format have been “part of the challenge” and has proven to be “great fun” so far. We are about to be amazed. When I asked if more of these games is to be revealed soon he replied; “Sooner than you might think!” Leading me to believe these games might make an appearance around E3/Gamescom. Since Alan Wake started out as an open world game I wondered if the mysterious Project 7 might build upon that idea, but of course Gregory held his lips sealed.
We then moved on to talk about Quantum Break. After I congratulated Gregory with the game’s one-year anniversary, I asked him how the team decided on where and when the many Easter eggs are implemented in the game. For those who have played Quantum Break, you might recall the game is littered with photos and references of and to the development team. Some of these I highlighted during my first few hours streaming the game. Gregory explained to me there was a point during development where the team was asked if they wanted to appear in the game. After gathering various ideas, many developers, their relatives and girlfriends (or no ex-girlfriends) were implemented in the game. Meaning anyone you might encounter might actually be based on a real living person. Pretty neat!
One of the last questions I had for Gregory focused on the differences between creating a TV Show and a videogame and trying to merge it into one. Gregory explained there were actually two separate teams, each with a different group of writers. The writers of Remedy (Sam, Mikki and others) would regularly have meetings with the writers of the show to make sure everything was aligned. It also proved to be challenging for the level designers, as they sometimes were unaware of how the show’s set would look like. Nevertheless, only because of the strong partnership between both teams were they able to tackle most of the challenges.
The last question I asked Gregory was about the naming of Jack Joyce. In Max Payne, the character’s name was identical to the central theme in the game; Maximum Pain. In Alan Wake, the name A.Wake was a play on the fact that the main character was sort of in a dream world. With Quantum Break a play on the naming of the character was absent. Gregory explained that this was basically because rather than one central character, the game features a cast of important characters. The name “Justin Time” for Jack Joyce was sort of a running joke within the studio, but many realized because of the strong cast present in the game, naming the game after just one character wasn’t right. Hence the name, Quantum Break.