American McGee’s Grimm Footage

By John Walker on February 20th, 2008 at 1:26 pm.

American McGee has managed to maintain a reputation, despite having only really made one hit game bearing his name, eight years ago, and then the disastrous Bad Day L.A. in 2006. However, his name still maintains some weight, and his new China-based development studio, Spicy Horse, is finally ready to reveal some footage of Grimm.


Here, Gametrailers, have this delicious, shiny red apple.

Grimm is the bravest yet of the episodic experiments. Intended to be 24 thirty-minute episodes, it will be fascinating to see whether gamers are prepared to consume games in this format, at this brevity. It will be equally fascinating to see what price Gametap pick, for what will eventually be a 12 hour game. Anything more than $2 (£1) an episode and it will start to look pretty pricey in the long-term. But that’s a huge risk – if the project fails, or if it fails to keep its audience, the financial loss will be huge.

The graphics look absolutely gorgeous, and hopefully the tone of the trailer – silly, light-hearted, and celebrating the gruesome nature of fairytales in an approachable manner – will reflect the tone of the game. Self-harming rabbit chasers have a time and a place, but this doesn’t look like it. Instead, this looks like cheerful fun.

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28 Comments »

  1. Irish Al says:

    Nice graphical style – very Tim Burton.

  2. Okami says:

    Nice concept. Nice art style.

    That whole 30 minute episode thing.. even if the episodes arrive weekly that’s still awfully short with quite a long wait time for the next episode.

    I hope they include some mechanics that justify replaying the episodes a few times. Otherwise I don’t see this keeping it’s audience for more than two or three weeks..

  3. Meat Circus says:

    His reputation is for having a vast ego that far exceeds his talent, isn’t it?

    Or am I out of date on my deluded fauxteurs?

  4. Nick says:

    @Meat – I thought that was Cliffy B?

  5. John Walker says:

    Okami – don’t forget sitcoms are very successful, and run to 19 minutes a week.

  6. Meat Circus says:

    Cliff ‘Shit Eating Grin’ Bleszinski is on the list too, believe me.

    He only gets away with it because of the vaguely homoerotic stirrings he awakens in gamers.

  7. newt says:

    His reputation is for having a vast ego that far exceeds his talent, isn’t it?

    He’s constantly trying to bring something original to the market, so I’m all fine with him being kind of a prick. Plus, Alice was brilliant.

  8. The Soviet Onion says:

    Maintains some weight as a punchline, you mean.

  9. Okami says:

    @John Walker: The sitcom comparison was the first thing that came to my mind too. But I think we can all agree that 30 minutes of watching a tv show isn’t the same thing as 30 minutes of playing a game.

    If he was making an animated series about the same subject, 24 30 minute episodes aired once a week would be perfectly fine. That’s what we expect from TV. 30 minutes of watching TV is just right for lighthearted entertainment.

    You sit down, turn on the TV, turn off your higher brain functions, watch the whole thing and then get on with doing whatever it is you do. But a game is more immersive, you’re actually doing something. You need a bit of time to get into it. And then time passes a lot faster than it does when you just stare at a bunch of actors cracking the same joke for the hundreths time.

  10. roBurky says:

    If this is exclusive to gametap, surely nobody will be paying for it directly? You’ll have to subscribe to gametap.

    Which is probably quite a good way to do episodic games – like TV, you subscribe to a whole bunch of stuff rather than paying for each individual episode of star trek.

  11. Dracko says:

    Okami: Why do you hate television?

  12. John Walker says:

    Okami – I think your concerns are valid. It will be extremely interesting to see if this works.

    However, I dispute that 30 min shows don’t require brains. Sure, I love to spend 20 minutes with an episode of The Drew Carey Show for its daft, brainless fun, but my current daily 30 minute dose is In Treatment which demands a great deal of thought and involvement.

  13. Willem says:

    Sneaky, John. >_>

  14. phuzz says:

    I was thinking of it more like a webcomic, a single page, each week, that offers a pretty small amount of entertainment. It takes what, 5s to read, understand and laugh at a Little Gamers strip, but you keep going back week after week.

    Question:
    how much would YOU pay for each episode? (assuming you like the look of the game in the first place…)

  15. James T says:

    Psychonauts, n e 1?

  16. DigitalSignalX says:

    Serialized content isn’t necessarily evil, the latest Sam and Max episodes are very fun, and perfect in their small size. I thought I’d hate buying serialized content but it turns out to be a great way to kill a couple evenings before going back to whatever MMO or larger epic game I’m playing. Not sure what their sales numbers are for em, in terms of market success, but I certainly might consider Grimm if they keep it cheap and the gameplay looks fun.

  17. Okami says:

    hmmm.. I don’t really hate television. I just stopped bothering with it a long time ago. Granted, there are quite a few really good sitcoms/30 minute TV shows (british mostly), but..

    What am I doing here?

    This is the internet. I’m entitled to make sweeping generalizations without having to jusitfy myself!

  18. Alex says:

    He’s constantly trying to bring something original to the market, so I’m all fine with him being kind of a prick.

    Really? I guess McGee forgot that premise when he made Bad Day L.A., which was constantly and painfully unoriginal (and unfunny). He could’ve done something really interesting with that game and presented one of the poorest scripts for a game I’ve seen in years.

  19. sh33333p says:

    The only way I would play a game that is broken into short episodes like that, is once I have enough of the series downloaded (maybe the whole thing) so that I don’t have to wait for new episodes. I am going batsh!7 crazy just waiting for Fallout 3 to arrive. How crazy? So crazy I’ve spent the last 2 weekends doing literally nothing but playing though Fallout and Fallout 2. I got halfway through Fallout 2, decided to try the Fallout 2 Restoration Project, which necessitated starting again from the beginning.

    Personally, I don’t like episodic anything. I couldn’t really get into the Sam & Max episodes for some reason, maybe because I have no soul (a friend pointed this out when I told him I couldn’t get in to Psychonauts.) All of that aside, I think the reason the episodic format works for that game is that it is as much of a “show” as it is “game”. Yes you click on things to interact, but the payoff is in the comedy, it’s in the characters reciting their lines, just like if it was a show.

    Anything that’s exclusive to Gametap will not be getting my money. If I wanted to subscribe to my games, I would be playing WoW, Eve Online, or one of the other MMO’s out there. And as addicted as I am to Fallout 2, that would NOT be a good idea.

    Edit: I also don’t watch tv.
    Edit 2: Just realized I’m a hypocrite as I love the Half-Life episodes. But those are more like regular games, compared to a 30 minute episode. So maybe I’m only partly a hypocrite.

  20. steve says:

    One thing I really hate about McGee—or maybe it’s just the laziness of the press covering his games—is the talk about his “dark” versions of these tales.

    A “dark” version of Grimm’s Fairytales only makes sense if you’re unfamiliar with the source material. The same is true of Alice in Wonderland. I guess the Disney-fication of these things has watered down the perception of the source, but that doesn’t excuse the press for wholly buying into the hype of these being some radical reimagining.

  21. Kieron Gillen says:

    Steve: Yeah. Grates a little with me too – and surely everyone knows how fucked up earlier versions of little red riding hood were or whatever. I suspect it’s a case of having to repeat that every time you talk about it is just a bit too tiresome – I mean, when you say “Fairy Tale” or whatever, you’re not thinking of the originals. In a limited word-count, a dark version of the fairly tale is probably acceptable. I guess.

    KG

  22. Dracko says:

    I have to agree too. Fairy tales have always ever been gruesome stories.

    Hey, kids love that stuff!

  23. steve says:

    “I suspect it’s a case of having to repeat that every time you talk about it is just a bit too tiresome – I mean, when you say “Fairy Tale” or whatever, you’re not thinking of the originals. In a limited word-count, a dark version of the fairly tale is probably acceptable. I guess.”

    A “dark version of the fairy tale” isn’t that much shorter than “versions that match the dark tones of the sources.”

  24. Mr.Brand says:

    Now we just need Gametap to actually let Europeans subscribe.

  25. Kadayi says:

    I’m slightly skeptical about the 30 minutes of play claim. The speed with which people play varies considerably with puzzle games (consider Portal). Hopefully it will fall on the right side of 30 rather than the wrong. I approve of the art style though.

    @Mr Brand

    I’m in the UK and I bought all the Sam & Max games through Gametap last year. I’m not aware that they’ve changed their policies. I think you need a visa card though, because they don’t know what Maestro is.

  26. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    One thing I really hate about McGee—or maybe it’s just the laziness of the press covering his games—is the talk about his “dark” versions of these tales.

    A “dark” version of Grimm’s Fairytales only makes sense if you’re unfamiliar with the source material.

    True dat. Erik at Old Man Murray actually did the definitive takedown on McGee’s “dark Alice” when it hit the streets eight years ago:

    The problem with making a dark and disturbing version of Alice in Wonderland is that it’s pretty dark and disturbing to begin with, which gives it little training wheels that help cultural firebrands ride it into geniusdom once every eighteen months or so. Masterminding a trippy reinterpretation of Lewis Carroll is like making a version of Crazy Taxi, only crazy! At this point, about the edgiest thing you could do with Alice in Wonderland is try to make it a little less fucking insane.

    (Yes yes, I know that the first page of the review is all about Gunman Chronicles and some cruddy 80s 90s band. He gets to Alice on the 2nd page.)

  27. Macguffin says:

    I think the financial risk is less immense than you think – assuming they didn’t spend inordinate amounts of time putting their engine together, if the first two eps bomb, they cut the rest and limit their losses. Save all that money on the art and content creation.

  28. Western Infidels says:

    I played both Alice and Scrapland. It seemed to me that both of them were less ambitious and less high-concept than the hype promised, and unfortunately not much fun. (I didn’t even finish Scrapland.)

    The art and style of both were outstanding, though.

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