Madness Re-Returns: McGee Ponders EA-Free Alice 3

By Cara Ellison on March 15th, 2013 at 11:00 am.


Alice’s late! Alice’s late! For a very important… oh you know never mind. Creator of flawed beauties Alice and Alice: Madness Returns American McGee has announced on Facebook he hopes to have the opportunity to Kickstart Alice 3.

McGee asked fans:
“1) If we could get the rights from EA, would you play “Alice 3?”
2) If you’d play “Alice 3,” would you back it on Kickstarter?
3) If you said “yes” to those two things, make some noise – I’m trying to gauge interest in case I happen to discuss this with EA during GDC in 2 weeks. The more interest there is, the more seriously they’ll take the conversation.”


Fans on the Facebook page seem keen but I guess that’s expected. I personally would like more indication from McGee:

1) How many graphics it will have
2) How many levels it will have
3) How many people I will have to set on fire
4) How many explosions will be in it
5) Will the RSPCA or PETA be pretty annoyed about it
6) Will it start with Alice simply getting the psychiatric treatment she needs (because that would be rad) and then it’s just a nice story about how she lives a well-adjusted life with slight traumatic elements when she observes a bunny rabbit
7) Will it be an investigation into Lewis Carroll’s obsession with underage girls and controlling their bodies
8) Will it be a deep investigation of gamer obsession with hats and men who wear hats and gamers’ mad hat-based buying habits because hats
9) Will it have multiplayer
10) And if so can I be the super stoned caterpillar
11) Can I buy a hat for the caterpillar

I will be attending GDC! What would you like me to ask American McGee to put in Alice 3? I SWEAR I WILL DO IT.

Sidenote: almost every single post on Alice that we’ve done here at RPS has that terrible “I’m late” joke in it. Check out our shame. HURR.

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84 Comments »

  1. skalpadda says:

    “What would you like me to ask American McGee to put in Alice 3?”

    Endless bears? Bearless ends? Lessened Bears? Bared lesers?

  2. gravity_spoon says:

    Can we play as a mass-murderer rabbit too ? Please ask him if you meet him. Kthxbai

  3. plugmonkey says:

    …roll on the tumbleweed…

  4. rustybroomhandle says:

    I have played neither of the first two and likely never will due to bad case of EApukehockspitickyitis, but might back this. Some people take issue with McGee but he seems like an orrite sort.

  5. overgrownpath says:

    Oooh yes please. Do want. Ask him if it’ll be a prequel because that would be perfect.

    Also give an obligatory comment on his name

    • TWChristine says:

      Wouldn’t the first one essentially count as the “prequel”? As I recall, didn’t her parents die in a fire that was show in the intro video, explaining all her zanyness? I could be wrong though..

      • dskzero says:

        Yes. And No. The prequel would be the first and second books.

        • TheTuninator says:

          But Alice isn’t mentally traumatized then at all, and therefore Wonderland would not be damaged or dangerous in the slightest. Can’t really have an Alice game under those circumstances.

  6. iucounu says:

    Serious question: does anyone actually give a fuck about American McGee? Why do they put his name on things? Who is he? (She?)

    • Serpok says:

      I remember seeing him in Quake1′s credits as a map-designer (remembered his name because it’s a rather weird name) – that’s about it.

    • Ich Will says:

      Those of us who knew him as one of the most genius level designers for Doom and Quake give a fuck.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Oh god, yeah – when you played a McGee level, once you realised, you knew you were in for all sorts of twisted traps – he pretty much invented lava in games! Oh, and he created the nailgun. Nuff said I think.

      • iucounu says:

        Ah, I see, he’s one of those guys. OK as you were.

        • Ich Will says:

          Remember Alice was released before the internet was as accessible as it is now, putting his name on the cover was the easiest way to tell his audience that it was made by him as they weren’t likely to be able to just look it up via the interwebs. And if your name was American McGee, you just would!

    • abandonhope says:

      I believe he said why in a (fairly recent?) interview or something. EA wanted to distinguish Alice from Alice in Wonderland, which is public domain, in order to make it more clearly ownable or whatever. I’m tired.

    • TWChristine says:

      If I remember correctly (trying to remember an interview from 13 years ago..) he was rather uncomfortable with the idea of having his name put on there a la Sid Meier because he didn’t feel that he was accomplished enough, and people would think it was his idea, etc. However, EA was at the time was wanting to use him to push a new “brand” of name recognition, where he would pump out really awesome games. The hope obviously being that people would see the name, say “Oh yea! I don’t need any WITs, it’s got his name on it! GOLD!”

    • sinister agent says:

      Before I read this, I was pondering whether to post a comment asking if I’m supposed to know who American McGee actually is, aside from being the one who put their name on the Alice games. I feel a little better about it now.

    • MartianGames says:

      American McGee: To know him, is to love him. To love him, is to know him . ;)

  7. Screamer says:

    BOOKFACE!

  8. SkittleDiddler says:

    I love the setting and atmosphere of the first two, and an EA-free version would be even more tits. I’ll gladly contribute to a kickstarter.

  9. Drake Sigar says:

    If it comes DRM-free and in a boxed version, I’d buy it. Freakin’ Madness Returns took me weeks to get working.

  10. Ricc says:

    The ending of Madness Returns is pretty much #7 on your list. Lets just say it gets quite dark and depressing for a bit.

  11. bitbot says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to fund a triple-A Alice game from a Kickstarter. What’s the most a project have gotten so far? 3 million? That’s nowhere near enough money to make a game up to the quality of the last Alice game.

    Now if he’s doing a different style of game with it, then it might be possible.

    • Lemming says:

      Neither of the existing Alice games I would describe as ‘AAA’. they are middleware games.

      • Cerius says:

        That’s a….. particular creative misuse of the word “middleware*

        • Lemming says:

          Maybe I am misusing it, but I see games like this, and Dead Space as non AAA games. ‘Middleware’ seems appropriate: ie. good games with a medium-sized budget that aren’t expected to sell millions upon millions and have some creative wiggle room.

          It was EA trying to treat Dead Space like mass-appeal AAA that resulted in Dead Space 3 being a flop.

        • Ninja Dodo says:

          Middleware is used to refer to tools made by third parties which are often used by developers instead of creating proprietary software… The Unreal engine is middleware. Unity is middleware, as is Bink, Havok, etc.

          Some might make the argument that any game built on third-party tools is somehow ‘lesser’ than one created from scratch – personally I think this is pointless snobbery – but the use of middleware as ‘middling” is incorrect.

    • Ed123 says:

      The estimated cost to make Psychonauts 2 was around 20mil. I can’t see an Alice sequel (assuming it was roughly the same kind of game as 1+2) being significantly cheaper than that, and frankly I don’t think the Alice franchise (in a videogame context) has all that much pull.

      Not to mention the fact that if EA thought people were interested in spending 30mln to fund a new Alice, they wouldn’t want to sell the IP in the first place, imo.

    • dskzero says:

      The only AAA thing about the games have been the licenced engines. The games have been rather subdued compared to, say, Call of Duty.

  12. Knaarfje says:

    Ah yes, Alice, with ‘live’ hair before it was cool

  13. GameCat says:

    I would totally play it. Especialy without EA, who forced developers to cut some content (like gameplay sections in real London) in Madness Returns.
    Also I wish they would make something more sophisticated than jump&slash game.
    Something like… SKYRIM IN WONDERLAND.

    Nah, just joking with that Skyrim. It would make worst gameplay in Alice series.

  14. RedViv says:

    Okay then. *rattles with keys*
    Noisy enough?

  15. NecroKnight says:

    YES! YES! YES! A new Alice game! Strange, just a few days ago I was thinking how cool it would be if American McGee started a Kickstarter for a new Alice game. It saddens me that there is no way for me to financially support it. :(

  16. Lemming says:

    I’d much rather see a re-imagining of the first game. The concepts were more interesting and it’s difficult to see where you can go after Alice 2 without overstaying your welcome in Wonderland.

    • NecroKnight says:

      That also sounds awesome. Making a remake of the first game would be a great idea. Imagine how it would look like if it was given the same attention to detail and esthetic as the second game. Also, the first game was frustratingly hard, even the lowest difficulty was sometimes challenging.

      • Lemming says:

        Yeah I replayed it as it came free with Alice 2 and the years have not been too kind. There’s a lot of falling off things that you tended to forgive back in the day that just seem unfair these days. The character design, script, voice work and story hold up just fine, however.

        • Wut The Melon says:

          You must know, then! Does Alice 2 for PC come with a copy of the first game as well or is that just for the consoles and US pre-orders? I’ve been waiting until I could find a PC copy of Alice 2 that would come with the first Alice, but the EA description doesn’t mention the first game.

          • Ignorant Texan says:

            It depends on which version you buy for PC. I think it’s the one listed as “complete” or “enhanced”(going by memory). It also includes all the frocks that were sold as DLC.

          • Lemming says:

            I’m afraid I don’t know the details of the PC version. I bought mine for PS3. I tend not to ‘do’ 3rd person action games on my PC.

            However, if you are really unsure it’s available by other means on PC. It’s a bloody old game, so I don’t think you’ll be losing anyone their jobs by obtaining it.

  17. Sander Bos says:

    Alice *3*? No, no, this is 2013, reboot time, it’s just Alice without suffixes or numbers please.

    I don’t get the apparently recurrent Alice is late joke. Alice is pregnant? I thought it was the rabbit that was late? Is it pregnant, seems like something a rabbit would be.

    But anyway, I fully agree with Knaarfje (sounds Dutch, the ‘je’ gave you away) that there is only one important requirement for a new Alice game: Tress effect hair!

    • Jae Armstrong says:

      It’s a reference to the… you know, I’m not sure it is in the original text. I think that might be something Disney introduced. To this, in any case.

  18. NecroKnight says:

    Dear Cara Ellison, ask American McGee if he would love to make an Alice anime with Hayao Miyazaki. The world needs this.

  19. rustybroomhandle says:

    Seems like Kickstarter is poised to become the crossroads of the universe. Oh well, Alice well that ends well.

  20. Siamese Almeida says:

    Yeah, well, too bad EA was the least of their problems. You can’t blame EA for the drivel that the story of Madness Returns was. That’s entirely on AMG and RJ Berg.

    They actually had a chance to write a meaningful sequel because there was room for one. We had a lot of bright ideas on the AMG forums. Unfortunately, they figured the best way to go about it is to retcon the cat/lamp thing (which we very much feared they would) and turn the story into a completely unnecessary whodunit which did exactly nothing to progress Alice as a character.

    What did EA exactly do? Clip the excess from the game and yet *still*, it felt thoroughly repetitive and way too long. The gameplay had solid basis, but they squandered that as well. Forget challenge and DMC styled combo madness, it’s all about shooting that teapot cannon for as your brain can withstand the tedium. Speaking of which, the level design seems to have been the process of pooling all the props and assets and liberally scattering them into little pathways and islands of clutter and calling it a day. Will we blame EA for that as well? No, I’m sorry, I’m not buying it. Especially after a glance at Akaneiro which suffers the same lack of creativity MR did.

    Sorry American, all the faults with the game are entirely on your soulless team of Chinese worker ants. Hilariously enough, that’s pretty much your words, not mine.

    • Jae Armstrong says:

      So, what was you problem with the story? Specifically. I am curious, because I thought it worked fine.

      • Siamese Almeida says:

        It was trite and pointless. They had a chance to explore the relationship between Alice and Wonderland, instead, they’ve relegated Wonderland to a mere plot device for a completely uncalled-for murder mystery.

        I mean, we’ve been over this — the cat knocked the lamp over. Why do we need a big retcon in order to shoehorn a completely unnecessary — and to add insult to injury — completely predictable conspiracy theory? The only thing surprising about it was that turned out a brainwashed rape victim child prostitute. I mean, I knew the psychologist wasn’t really all that, but damn son. Wasn’t dark enough as it is, huh? What’s in store for Alice 3? Turns out the psychologist never existed and it was daddy’s fault all along?

        Come on now. Alice suffered enough, there’s plenty of suffering to base another story on. The ending of the first game left Alice recovered, but eerily confident in her mish-mash of reality and the Wonderland in the face of a world she cannot possibly be ready for after having spend her childhood bed-ridden. After all, she was always relying on her inner world as a crutch for dealing with the harsh reality. In the first game, Wonderland helped her recover from coma. The second could and should have dealt with what happens when Alice cannot reconcile her dream world with the responsibilities of adulthood. That’s plenty enough for a quality coming of age story that actually follows and expounds on thecharacter study nature of the story that was already established.

        How’s this sound? It’s all fine and dandy for a while, but Wonderland takes a dark turn the more time she spends on her own in the slums of London. Wonderland — as a metaphor for Alice’s inner world — was already becoming cancerous and turning against her the more she doubted herself. Coma was a horrifying experience, but increasingly so, the cold reality doesn’t seem much better at all. She is retreating into Wonderland far too often, but the cognitive dissonance between what is so apparently imagined and the actual world that is constantly imposing itself has her losing her ability to hold onto her imaginary playground. Her fixed idea of Wonderland is changing and melding with reality. In trying desperately to hold onto what it was, she ironically enough – again – starts turning into the despotic Red Queen she worked so hard to defeat once before.

        You need a big hook to get things going? Here’s something off the top of my head, loosely based on some early trailer footage. It’s unnecessary, but I understand video games plots need this sort of thing so everyone including your dog can have something to latch onto. So: have Alice witnessing a murder and being pinned for it. She completely loses it again and becomes trapped, living as a fugitive in a messy amalgamation of London and Wonderland. There. That was a good idea all along, it just needed an actual reason to be there.

        So, now for the real meat of the story. The Red Queen rules with renewed might. Alice’s Wonderland friends once more help her navigate and survive, reach the Queen’s domain and defeat her. This time however, you have a choice:

        1) Kill the Queen once more and reinstate Wonderland as it was for a dubious, awkward ending recalling how the first game ended, but hinting at history repeating again in the future.

        2) Alternately, realize that Red Queen cannot — and shouldn’t be defeated. One successful revolution will only lead to another down the line, as was already proven. She is not the enemy, she is merely a cruel facet of Alice’s personality turned inward, born out of a need to respond to the cruelty of the real world. Alice needs to reason and reconcile with her. Her inner world cannot be a lawless land of wonder without any basis in reality because reality is eventually an inescapable part of life. The more she tries to fight this fact, the more she’s limiting her imagination by relegating it to a mere hugbox which is something it just won’t be. Imagination is constructive but also reactive — it ebbs and flows but it’s always anchored into a point of reference: yourself. By trying to divorce it from it’s wellspring, she was ironically turning it into a closed-off prison instead of a vehicle of release it is supposed to be. And so, in recognizing the Queen is an integral part of herself and in turn, Wonderland, it becomes inevitable that Alice will have to wield the Queen’s power. In the wake of the realization, the Red Queen suddenly disappears, in her place, an insecure, confused Alice in her torn London outfit, wielding the crown and scepter. Things are never so simple — enter the familiar, smoky eyed Alice with her blue dress, bloody knife and that same sadistic glint in her eye. The Alice you’ve been controlling up to this point. See where this is going? Alice found a way to deal with the Red Queen, but as a new claimant to the throne, she will have to face this capricious force of chaos that’s always fighting to tear down any sense of order. In her eyes, you’re just another despot. So cue the boss fight as you struggle to earn the right to rule Wonderland.

        Isn’t this neat? Genuinely relevant to Alice as a growing, changing character fighting to come to terms with new circumstances and entirely new realizations. Thematically consistent with what was already established in the first game, with zero need for reliance on gaudy retcons.

        So what of the Wonderland now? It used to oscillate between two extremes. Chaotic wonderland ruled by no one and totalitarian nightmare ruled by one, cruel, limited facet of Alice’s personality. Now, it is as it should be. Kingdom of imagination and wonder, albeit one led by a benevolent leader ready and able to protect it’s denizens and to help them thrive. What a neat way to symbolize Alice coming to terms with the responsibilities of real life. Speaking of that — what of Alice as a fugitive in said real life? Well, you see, she was never accused of anything. It was a paranoia-induced illusion. Alice spent her entire life bed-ridden, extreme fear and paranoia is a natural reaction to being left to tend for her own self in the streets. Particularly stressful event like witnessing a murder was just a tipping point, a catalyst, one that sent her off the deep end where she surrendered to all her her nagging fears and doubts. After battling them out as described, she finally the real world as it is. And as for Wonderland, it is no longer a means of escapism, but a source of inspiration and imagination driving her to make a positive change in real life. Think along the lines of the ending cinematic of Madness Returns with London overgrown with Wonderland’s flora. This way, it actually has symbolic relevance instead of being meaningless pathos.

        Coming in Alice 3: Alice struggles with trust issues as she attempts to welcome others as meaningful factors in her life. Possible love interest plot arch with zero rape involved…

        … Haha, just kidding. Alice gets raped by not one, but two psychologists slash brothel owners. She is forced into prostitution once more and the gameplay consists of scenes of Alice taking a fat one up her skirt. Your role here as a player is an engaging series of QTEs that control the intensity of Alice gritting her teeth through increasingly painful scenarios. Particularly challenging are gangbang scenes where Alice is sedated which translates into laggier input response. The beeg tweest reveals both psychologists were Alice’s fathers. Also, the fire that swallowed her home was no mere arson, it was a nuclear detonation. Alice 4: Both of Alice’s fathers are being raped by Alice’s three grandfather psychologists. The two fathers are in turn double teaming Alice who’s now a double prostitute which means she has two vaginas as a result of enforced bodily modification where her dead sister’s vagina was grafted onto her to satiate the vile appetites of wealthy Londoner brothel customers.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          To be fair, Wonderland was the main setting for the game. It wasn’t a mere plot device.

          I wonder if it’s just me, but I get the feeling that you seem a bit offended that the mood of the second game was even darker than the stuff in the previous material. There’s a sinister undercurrent running through the original book, so to imply that the story is too dark is just a matter of personal taste.

          • Siamese Almeida says:

            But that’s my point, it was merely a setting this time around. Alice didn’t grow, Wonderland didn’t grow, it was just a trippy place for Alice to work around her amnesia and to defeat her tormentor.

            And no, I don’t mind darkness whatsoever. I don’t think Madness Returns is much darker than the first game either, it just has more real world grit to it. That’s another thing I don’t mind, as long as it *doesn’t mean the inclusion of unnecessary retcons and alien themes with no relation to the established values of the franchise*. I don’t mind Alice being raped per se, I mind her being raped because it adds nothing to the story but artificial drama.

            Imagine if there was a sequel to James’ story in Silent Hill 2 and it turns out he was raped by a psychologist as a child which is what made him eventually kill his wife. That’s what Madness Returns is to AMG’s Alice.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I get your point, but I don’t really see how the setting in the first game was any more maleable than it was in the second. Wonderland is present in both games as a nothing much more than a backstory enhancer and mood-setting environment.

          • Siamese Almeida says:

            “I don’t really see how the setting in the first game was any more maleable than it was in the second. Wonderland is present in both games as a nothing much more than a backstory enhancer and mood-setting environment.”

            Well, that’s just plain wrong.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edpXPiq3iAE&t=6m36s

    • NecroKnight says:

      I admit that the gameplay was sometimes monotone and unchallenging, but everything else was fantastic. Despite it’s flaws I think the game was amazing.

    • Ninja Dodo says:

      I thought the story in 2 worked well enough. I just wish the level design was as imaginative as the art direction. I remember Alice 1 being better in this regard but maybe this is nostalgia talking.

      Though next time if you put collectibles in a game, don’t make them unlock things only if you collect every single one (in a level). Especially if most of them serve no other purpose than to unlock things. Really not going back for that.

    • Ed123 says:

      I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the story either – and I’m yet to play the original Alice. Oh sure I liked the general atmosphere, themes and VA, but the actual plot seemed a bit by-the-numbers, a bit “dark-for-the-sake-of-being-dark”, especially the TWEESTS at the end, which struck me as rather pointless.

      “Though next time if you put collectibles in a game, don’t make them unlock things only if you collect every single one (in a level). Especially if most of them serve no other purpose than to unlock things. Really not going back for that.”

      Ugh, this. Especially when you have to get them all the first time and can’t come back.

  21. zachforrest says:

    could you ask him if he remembers that cartoon where some kids flew about on a bed going on adventures, i think they had an old english sheepdog with them. perhaps on the kids wore an old fashioned nightcap? Also i seem to remember a talking pillow….maybe.

    Thanks

  22. bstard says:

    That caterpillar hat looks suspiously rubbery.

  23. Quatlo says:

    As much as I love Alice I am still nightmared by the Bad Day L.A
    Anyone remembers this atrocity?

  24. JabbleWok says:

    1) If we could get the rights from EA, would you play “Alice 3?”
    2) If you’d play “Alice 3,” would you back it on Kickstarter?

    Maybe and maybe. It would depend on the detail.

    However, i’d be far more likely to throw money at it if it were indie and DRM-free than if it were from EA and presumably limited to always-online. And broken.

  25. napoleon_in_rags says:

    ‘EA-Free.’

    Say no more!

  26. Pat says:

    Ask him about some (proper)modding support, dearly missed it in both games.

  27. Skabooga says:

    Tell him to put some of the characters from ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ into his game. I can’t believe that crossover still hasn’t been done yet; it would be the ‘Aliens vs Predator’ of children’s fantasy literature.

  28. Aardvarkk says:

    Could you ask him if he’s done anymore work with the little American McGee urban achievers, I thought that was great that he was working with those kids who were without the necessary means.

  29. charmed23 says:

    wow, this is good news.
    The gameplay and level design of the series so far are often flawed and repetitive, but the atmosphere and art direction are excellent.
    I would definitely support the kickstarter for a third Alice game!

  30. TheTuninator says:

    I don’t see how they could do a proper Alice game without publisher funding, but goddamn if I won’t be giving them my money to see them try.

  31. edwardh says:

    Hopefully this time with a decent save system. I LOVED the style and gameplay of “Madness Returns” but I HATE games that have widely spaced, fixed save points. Which made me incredibly angry at the developer because I really wanted to play that game.
    Take e.g. “Mark of the Ninja”. Now there is a game with a reasonable amount of save points. Doesn’t take you five minutes to get to where you already were every time.

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