Ready for a novel?
Inspired by Alan Wake here comes my best attempt.
I bought Alan Wake two summers ago on the Steam sale, thinking that it looked good, it had an interesting story, and it wasn't a typical horror game. So you might ask why did it take over 16 months to finish? Was it because I was super busy with life? No, not especially as I can always find a few hours during the week. Was it because there are other games that took up my time. Yes, but not because I valued them over good old Alan.
You see it took me only about 2 minutes of the game to realize that this would be a struggle the likes of which have rarely been seen outside of Star Wars. To begin, 3rd person games have difficulty with their camera controls most of the time. Alan took this to the extreme with its constant cut scenes which change the angle and expect you to turn and adjust within half a second of regaining control. The camera control improves when the game gives you access to vehicles. Mostly because the camera becomes static and you're too busy struggling with the driving controls of the cars.
But the thing that caused me to quit playing the game 4 times was the decision to give Alan the stamina of a 400 lbs 70 y/o grandma. Some of the fun of a game is finding your own way to solve the puzzles, or to deal with the boss fights. But with Alan Wake you were forced time and again to have to kill every single bad guy, every single time to progress.
So why did they limit your character with such abismal stamina? Was it staying true to the setting? "Alan is a writer, he won't be in very good shape" Maybe, however, you'd think that in an scenario where your wife has been taken and weird shadow-ie things are chasing your with axes you'd be able to sprint more than 10 feet. I'm in pretty lousy shape most of the time, but the two times a year where I attempt to start an exercise routine I am able to run 5 or 6 blocks before I collapse.
Were the developers trying to give the player a better experience with the limited stamina? Maybe, but there were so many other issues: camera, driving, dodging mechanics, overly exact looting, etc that made the game difficult to enjoy why would they waste their time on stamina?
So, was anything in Alan Wake done right? Yes, the cinematics were great, the character modling was awesome. The story was fresh and interesting. I particularly enjoyed the sweeping camera shots and the seeing the layout of the city.
Excellent framework for a game, I just wish they had put in a few more weeks work to tighten up all the shoddy bits.