The last few years have seen a great deal of change for Finnish games studio Remedy.
Famous for its single-player supernatural action titles such as Max Payne, as well as the Xbox-exclusive Microsoft-published Alan Wake and Quantum Break, the developer is now a multi-project studio whose latest title, Control, is coming to multiple platforms.
Initially codenamed P7, the project was announced on-stage at Sony's E3 conference with 505 Games handling publishing duties.
That title is - in a shocking change of pace for Remedy - a third-person supernatural action adventure game. But communications director Thomas Puha argues that this is an evolution on the company's previous work in this space.
"On a high-level Control is a supernatural action-adventure game," he explains.
"It's funny - we keep discussing this as we always have this sort of tagline - the explanation of what the game is, like with Alan Wake, and we need to have it with this one. Then the theme of Control, losing control, order vs chaos, these were the main themes that came up when Sam, our creative director and the game's director were planning the game. We can distil it down to 'third person supernatural action-adventure'."
He continues: "Control is redefining Remedy again. We made two very linear story-driven games and, again, we're going to have the story but in a game that's a lot more adventurous because we can do that. Hopefully, this is something we can keep building more in the years to come. I feel very good about it. As a company, we're in a very good place."
Both Alan Wake and Quantum Break were Xbox One and PC exclusives. This will be the first time a Remedy game is appearing on Sony hardware since Max Payne 2 in 2003. As such, getting the PlayStation 4 edition of Control right is both a priority and a focus for the studio.
"In this generation, both the Xbox and PlayStation platforms are relatively similar in terms of architecture," Puha explains.
"They're not so far off from PC because we don't have the craziness of what PlayStation 2 and 3 were. From that perspective, it's a lot simpler. Of course, every platform does have its peculiarities or differences. It's about optimising for each platform, but that happens really at the end of the project. Of course, you need more manpower, but we know PC and we know the Xbox platform really well hence us starting on the PlayStation version pretty early on just because that's the biggest unknown.
"The game has been up and running on PS4 for a while now. It still needs a lot of work. The bigger challenge will be - and this is a long way off - is when we actually submit and we have to figure out all the different platforms. Then we have the Xbox One and the Xbox One X - and there are pretty significant differences there, far much more so than the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro which for all intents and purposes are the same SKU."
Control is redefining Remedy again. We made two very linear story-driven games and, again, we're going to have the story but in a game that's a lot more adventurous because we can do that.
Given that Control is coming to both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as PC, this is probably the largest addressable audience that Remedy has had in a long time. While Puha says reaching a wide market is obviously part of its company strategy, he points to Crossfire 2 from Smilegate - which Remedy is developing a single-player mode for - as a bigger deal in this regard.
"The company strategy is to reach as wide an audience as possible," he says.
"Of course, there are financial reasons why you want to do that but also creative reasons that you want people to be able to play our games. That's why, for example, Crossfire 2 is interesting. It's a very unknown property in the West, the sequel especially. It's a huge franchise in Asia, so whenever the sequel comes out that'll probably the getting the largest Remedy audience to date. That game has been really interesting to work on with Smilegate, a Korean developer. There are very different ways of working and that keeps it exciting as well."
Not only is Crossfire 2 pushing Remedy out of its comfort zone by virtue of being for the Asian market, it has also been a learning curve for the studio on a technical level.
"Well, we want to be out of our comfort zone," Puha says.
"I can't really say much about the project. But we were approached by Smilegate who said we do really good stories, something they wanted for Smilegate 2. It's in first-person - which is an interesting challenge for us. We have a lot of people who worked on Battlefield and other first-person shooters. But it's a technological challenge, which we were able to sort out pretty quickly. I'm really hoping that people can experience the game soon. It's very much in Smilegate's hands, not ours."
At Gamescom this year, Remedy announced that Control would be supporting the new RTX raytracing tech revealed by card firm Nvidia, showing off the game using this tech at the show. This follows the company releasing a raytracing tech demo at GDC earlier in 2018.
Remedy was founded back in 1995 by members of the Finnish demoscene - a movement in the region of software developers who were pushing what was possible in the early days of 3D graphics. These kinds of tech demos have become way less frequent but with the advent of a new kind of graphical standard, things have come full circle.
"Nvidia is a very obviously engineering-driven company. A lot of the raytracing stuff has been developed by Remedy alumni and Finnish developers in general," Puha says.
"We were all in the demoscene - it really has come full circle. It was fun to do the GDC demo, but we didn't really have the resources to do it. It wasn't like we had five engineers that were looking for something to do - everyone is insanely busy. It's fun to do those things but then that helped kickstart the whole Nvidia relationship."