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Rendered in beautiful 3D animation, Alice enters the "Otherlands" of London's most beautiful and terrifying minds.
Rendered in beautiful 3D animation, Alice enters the "Otherlands" of London's most beautiful and terrifying minds.
3,389 backers pledged $222,377 to help bring this project to life.

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Alice Kicking Ass on the Big Screen

People are constantly asking me what I think about the Tim Burton Alice movie. Because I have a lot of respect for Burton's collected works and distinct style, it's difficult for me to say I didn't enjoy - or even like - the movie. The visuals were stunning, the costumes amazing, the music inspired and the direction flawless. There's just one problem as far as I'm concerned, and it's a big one. Alice isn't really in the film.

The Mad Hatter is certainly there, as is the Queen. Even the White Rabbit occupies a meaningful amount of screen and story space. But Alice? She's just along for the ride. An empty bag, blowing in the wind. Things happen to her but never because of her. The story's finale hammers home this point when someone reminds Alice that she literally doesn't have to do anything. She just needs to relax and let the Vorpal Blade take care of business. Snore.

For a character whose main obstacle is indecisiveness, you'd expect her final triumph to materialize in a flurry of blades and blood - a definitive signal that this girl isn't just along on someone else's ride. But no. It might have been a Burton film - and I'm certain that left to control the enterprise alone he would have delivered - but more than anything it was a Disney film. Can't be splattering blood all over the place. And god forbid a girl kick someone's ass.

Well... like they say back in Texas, if you want something done right, you've gotta do it yourself.

And so it is that today, I'm really happy to announce the presence of one of the masters of kick-ass, famed Hong Kong writer, producer and director, Tsui Hark. Over the years he's given the world a wonderful display of flying kicks, screaming punches, slashing blades and flying stars. Films like Once Upon a Time in China, The Blade, Seven Swords  and The Killer and Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame contain some of my favorite cinematic skull smacking and butt kicking moments. A few words from the man himself: 

Alice wanders in the eye-boggling fantasy land. The madness and violence reveal the inner power of a teenager fighting in a hypocrite world of the adult villains. I can already see the impact of the story as a movie. I'd be more than enthusiastic to participate in any effort to make it possible for Alice to come alive on the big screen. I'd join the team to make this project a wonderful success -----Tsui Hark

It's difficult for me to describe how excited I am for Alice and her future in Otherlands and on the big screen. She's attracting so much creativity and passion from all over the world. In working with visionaries like Tsui Hark, Chris Vrenna and the other directors, writers and musicians we're bringing on board, we have an opportunity to transform our bad-ass, butt kicking Alice into the definitive Alice.

Only problem is... she'll never get into Disneyland.

- American

(Below is the trailer for The Killer and Detective Dee... and a picture of myself and Mr. Hark when he came to visit the studio a few weeks back.)

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What's Alice Doing in these Animations?

The Backstory...

The original idea for "Otherlands" started life in the form of a game concept. At the end of Madness Returns we saw Alice walking out of the train station and into the streets of London - except that London was married with Wonderland - Alice's powers of imagination had become literal and the world was transformed into "Londerland." This ending hints at a story in which Alice's mental "tools" extend beyond the borders of her own mind and into our reality. By this extension, Alice is able to not only shape the world with her imagination but also cross our cranial boundaries and enter our Wonderlands.

I'm still working to define the rules that constrain Alice's abilities. Must she, like Mr. Spock, touch her subjects in order to enter their minds (the Wonderland mind-meld)? Or are her abilities telepathic and unlimited by range and sight? One thought I had was to impose a physical requirement (she has to touch you) paired with a telepathic network effect. It's "6-Degrees of Bacon Brain." If she wants to enter the mind of the Queen (of England) she doesn't have to touch the Queen (heaven forbid!) but could access her "network" by touching the Queen's cook.

Anyway, that's the setup - still a work in progress.

The Films

The question for today - how does all this impact the animations? What's Alice doing?

Should we worry about the rules of engagement? Do we need to provide a narrative setup for every mind Alice enters?

Do all the animations require a narrative arc?

I think we should chuck all these questions out the window. They get in the way and they limit the fun. Ultimately, what I'm looking for here - and I hope you are too - is a series of animations presented in purest, most visually satisfying form. I don't need to see Alice putting the Vulcan mind meld on Edison (though I admit that would be fun). And I don't care if some of the animations are structureless, LSD-inspired visual trips. What I think would be fun is a collection of sojourns of the psyche - mental meanderings. Leave the rules for the game!

For those of you old enough to remember… Pink Floyd The Wall would be a great example of what I think we could end up with. Another touchstone might be Heavy Metal. These were films I used to watch with purpose one day (usually while smoking something other than cigarettes) - and other times just leave them silently running in the background. They were art one day, experiences another. I hope Otherlands ends up being something similar.

Let There Be Music

Chris Vrenna, has asked me to let you know that he's super excited to contribute music to Otherlands. For those unfamiliar with Chris, he’s known for his work with such notable bands as Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and Tweaker and on video games from Doom 3 and Quake 4 to American McGee’s Alice (you can hear the soundtrack here). Chris is one of those rare musicians who can stride both sides of the aisle between performance and composition. And he does it well.

Let There Be Dance

Perhaps we'll pair him up with Ed Goin, the guy who created all those awesome 2D-motion graphic animations for Madness Returns? Ed has also signed-on to direct a new set of animations for the Otherlands project. I'm getting chill bumps imagining how awesome this is going to turn out!

Are you feeling bumpy too?

- American

(From the Desk of Ophelea)

I spent the better part of this afternoon adding 17 new Alice: Madness Returns posters, lithographs and screenprints up as add-ons for those who keep asking for more, moore, MOAR! It's a visually stunning array of images, take time to look at them all. I've posted a few below.

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Sample Canvas Posters

At the behest of many of you, I am posting some samples of  canvas posters we have had printed for previous Kickstarters (there has been no time to print any for Otherlands). Each is on canvas with fade-resistant inks. I can't begin to describe just how awesome these really are.

Expect that the posters you will receive for Otherlands will be of the same type, size and quality. Hopefully, this will help you make a decision in whether to purchase a poster as an add-on.

For the many who have asked, to add-on an item, increase your pledge by the amount of the add-on (plus any shipping); then, when the survey comes around at the end of the Kickstarter, you can indicate what the additional monies are for.

- Ophelea

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Backer FAQ #2

Today is Saturday in Shanghai and with that American is going to take a day off from writing. Expect him back in a day or two with more information about story, sound, and art. The interesting stuff. 

I've got a few FAQs for you. Many come from your e-mails or were asked repeatedly on last night's AMA. It's an interesting read, you should check it out. I'll do a little housekeeping at the end and then, a new poster up for sale!

Today's poster is the cover image for the video/box set/art book. It's entitled, The Others. This was the first piece of concept art I received when started discussing Otherlands, and it really set the tone for everything that came after it. Again, it will be printed on canvas, measure in some number of feet, and run $65 with $10 intl. shipping.

Since Otherlands is the last chapter of the Alice trilogy, does this mean no future Alice games?

The animations will not "finish" the trilogy. They would simply provide a peek into the minds that Alice would visit in the game. Keep in mind that the animations won't have an over arching story or interactive element to them. They will be vacations of the mind - beautiful, sometimes dark journeys through the subconscious – but without a larger resolution.

If Alice is traveling to another person's mind in Otherlands, does that mean we won't get to see the characters in her Wonderland anymore?

Good question, but don't worry... We'll still have a chance to travel in Alice's Wonderland and to see all her "friends" - both in Wonderland and in Otherlands. My hope is that characters like the Cheshire Cat will join Alice in these new adventures. Some of them may join the adventure to help or support Alice - while some may present themselves as demons that continue to obstruct Alice's goals and haunt her.

Can we get the art book autographed, please?

We've discussed this and regardless of where the art books are printed they will be autographed by American McGee. Now, go purchase an art book!

What kind of paper will you be using for the storyboards?

The storyboards will be printed on archival paper. They will last for 100s of years if taken care of properly.

What formats will digital the film shorts be available in?

We will output to the major file types - and custom ones if enough people ask for them. Yes, you will be able to play those files on your iPod or iPad. For that the files only need to be output in .mov format. Very easy to do for us.

Do I need to pay multiple shipping fees? Even for the same kind of item?

Unfortunately, yes. Different items will be made at different times, in different locations so we have no chance to bundle.

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Reddit I_AMA Going on Now!

AmericanMcGee is taking your questions on reddit right now. Go ask him anything you'd like about Alice, Oz, the film, his games, his hair... he'll answer!