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pledged of $950,000pledged of $950,000 goal
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Jul 15 2013
pledged of $950,000pledged of $950,000 goal
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Jul 15 2013

Recent updates

Backer Q&A #2

Posted by American McGee (Creator)
1. I read in the news you’ll need additional funding beyond Kickstarter… Is this true?

It’s common practice to set Kickstarter funding goals at amounts less than what’s needed to completely realize every possible aspect of a game’s potential. Like other video game campaigns, we’ve stated that funding above and beyond the campaign goal will be used to create more content and support additional feature development. From a design perspective, if we ask for 900k but end up with 2 million USD, that would allow for expansion of the design goals and development scope. If we come in closer to 900k then we’ll develop and deliver a smaller game that fits within that budget. The design is expandable to allow for this sort of thing.

In terms of publishing deals and their ability to support continued development of our games – there are many territories in the world where we’re unable to self-publish. China is a good example. So we’d need to sign up a publishing agreement with a Chinese publisher and they’d support localization, marketing and publishing efforts in that closed market. Those kinds of deals sometime come with up-front license fees paid to the developer (that’s us) and we can use those fees to support overall improvements and ongoing development for the game. In markets where we’re able to self publish we will.

2. What is Plan B if the Kickstarter doesn’t make it?

Sometimes you have to kill your babies. For OZombie, it would mean the end of my efforts to design and develop it. I see Kickstarter as an excellent platform for testing the viability of a game concept and understanding the potential for customer demand. If the Kickstarter doesn’t make it that’s a pretty clear sign that there aren’t enough people interested in the concept to support developing, releasing and maintaining it. I want to build products that I’m excited about – and I’m very excited about OZombie – but also products that clearly excite our audience.

For our studio it means we’ll continue working on smaller, mobile/online titles like “Akaneiro: Demon Hunters” and “Hell Invaders” (this is the mobile/web title we recently signed with DeNA – not the final name of the game). I’m not as involved in the design and development of those titles, which means my day to day will focus on running the studio and our business. We can’t currently fund on our own the development of a larger single-player title like OZombie, so making that kind of game will have to wait for some future date.

3. When will we see gameplay videos? Every other Kickstarter has gameplay videos.

When we designed and planned the campaign we did so thinking a gameplay video wouldn’t be necessary. Successful campaigns from Double Fine and InXile (among others) have proven this point by pitching game concepts using only 2D artwork, basic design outlines and the track record of their development teams. And, I figured – incorrectly it seems – that saying “We’re going to make an Alice-type game set in the world of Oz” would be enough to fire people’s imaginations.

In response to feedback from backers on this topic we’ve decided to build a quick demo to show character interaction and art direction within a simple environment. Unfortunately, this sort of thing is just as likely to cause confusion and outright damage, as it is to allay people’s fears. This is one of the dangers in sharing early development efforts and “work in progress” – something we’ve seen happen repeatedly when sharing concept artwork and design exploration.

I’m hoping existing and potential backers will be able to view our efforts in context of the pressures and constraints that have shaped the final result, but you know what they say about hope.

4. How does Alice affect OZombies goals? What if you only raise $950k and part of that is “Alice” money?

That really depends on those backers who have put in money primarily to support the idea of purchasing the Alice film rights. They always have the option to remove their support – so it seems we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we get to it. In that sense it’s the backers who control the campaign and decide its fate. That’s the wonderful thing about Kickstarter.

5. Why did you sell the Alice game and film rights to begin with?

The “Alice” property was never mine because I created it while being employed by Electronic Arts. Generally speaking, when you create or invent something while working for someone else (like a corporation) that creation is automatically their property. I even signed away my name in connection with Alice – meaning EA could make another Alice game and put my name on the box, even if I were uninvolved or dead.

The film rights were first optioned, then purchased outright, by a group of independent film producers in Hollywood. Again, this was a transaction that took place between EA and those producers – I had no involvement in it and didn’t benefit directly from that sale. Why EA would sell the film rights to one of their most popular original IPs is a question you’d have to ask them.

What’s happened recently is that those film producers offered me a chance to acquire the film rights before they put them on the open market and sell them to the highest bidder. This was a kindness on their part, recognition of the fact that a property’s creator should have greater involvement in the decision making process that leads to exploitation of the property. Our mutual expectation was that fans would recognize and agree with this fact. I guess the question is – who would you rather have controlling the film rights? The concept’s creator or some faceless corporation?

If I’m unable to raise the money needed to purchase these rights then they’ll end up in someone else’s hands – who knows, maybe EA will buy them back? I wouldn’t be surprised.

6. Why not run a separate Kickstarter for the Alice film rights?

The timing simply wouldn’t work. When I received notice about the film rights I was told that there was a limited window of opportunity. Beyond a certain date the rights would go to the open market. That date would be beyond the end of the OZombie campaign, but we didn’t finalize the deal to start working with these rights until after the OZombie campaign had already started.

This is one of the reasons I’ve built “The Box” into the OZombie campaign – it’s an interesting way to announce expansion of the campaign in the event one of these deals closed during the campaign. Since we’re still working on a couple of potential surprises we can still have an interesting reveal when the box is finally opened. I’m actively working to put in place some exciting partnerships around the Alice film rights. Just hoping I can get those deals done and make meaningful announcements before time runs out.

- American

The Perils of Being a Zombie

Posted by American McGee (Creator)
How easy is it to manipulate and control people? What kind of power do officials, experts and authority figures have over our thoughts and actions? These questions are more relevant than ever but we’re being systematically conditioned to never ask them in the first place. These are questions that go to the root of power – questions that story in a game like OZombie can explore and illuminate. Some background on the topic…

The Milgram Experiments were carried out at Yale University during the 1960s. Researchers wanted to understand how, during WWII, so many seemingly normal individuals committed atrocities against their fellow human beings. An experiment was created where a test subject (in the role of “teacher”) would ask another subject (in the role of “student”) a series of memory challenge questions. The “teacher” was told to punish the “student” with an electric shock if any question was answered incorrectly. Each incorrect answer also caused the subsequent shock to be delivered at a higher voltage – starting at a mild 20-volts and ultimately ending with a beyond-lethal 450-volts. The teacher was always a random test subject (a person “off the street”), unaware that the student was an actor – and the electric shock and pain reaction fake. Throughout the tests a research scientist (an authority figure) remained in the room with the teacher to oversee and record results.

These tests revealed something very disturbing about human psychology. Teachers would ask their questions, students would respond incorrectly and shocks would be administered. The voltage would increase with each incorrect answer. Mild yelps of discomfort would turn to screams of pain. The student would ask that the test be stopped. At this point the teacher would look to the researcher for guidance and the researcher would insist that the test continue. This is where things got really scary.

Even as the voltage increased to near lethal levels and the student begged for the test to stop, the teacher would continue – so long as the researcher insisted that the test continue.

Can you guess what percentage of teachers continued the test, administered shocks and increased the voltage up to and beyond lethal levels? How many normal test subjects would harm and even kill another human being simply because a scientist overseeing a university research experiment demanded that the shocks be administered? You’re probably sitting there thinking there’s no way you or anyone you know would continue.

Up to 65% of test subjects continued administering shocks all the way up to the lethal 450-volt level. That’s 65% of subjects who would kill another human being because an authority figure told them to continue. Read the Wikipedia article – it’s sobering stuff.

Milgram, the guy running these experiments, drew two powerful conclusions from the results:

First, “…a subject, who has neither ability nor expertise to make decisions, especially in a crisis, will leave decision making to the group and its hierarchy. The group is the person's behavioral model.”

Second, “…the essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view themselves as the instrument for carrying out another person's wishes, and they therefore no longer see themselves as responsible for their actions. Once this critical shift of viewpoint has occurred in the person, all of the essential features of obedience follow.”

Within the world of OZombie we’re going to discover and must repair instances where Ozites are being turned against each other by abuse of this same knowledge. You’ll find Munchkins engaged in ritual sacrifice of their friends and family members, Quadlings committing mass suicide, Winkies snitching on each other, Vegetable People on death marches and the inhabitants of China Country smashing their own homes – all because authority figures have convinced them these things must be done. More critically, you’ll find yourself in positions of power over others with trusted authority figures asking you to do things you know are wrong. How will you respond?

It’s a fascinating topic and one that few games (“Fallout” is one) have properly explored. And it’s this type of conformity we’re referring to with the use of “zombie” in the game’s title. What’s interesting to me is reading the different tone in reaction comments on websites announcing our Kickstarter campaign. On those sites where the writer (an authority figure) details the game’s narrative theme and alternative use of the word “zombie,” the reactions are largely positive. On those sites where the narrative isn’t mentioned or the “zombie” idea is highlighted in a negative way, the comments are largely negative. Goes to show that independent thinking is a rare and special thing.

- American

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What makes this an Action-adventure game with RPG elements?

Posted by American McGee (Creator)
We’ll have classes but providing details about the subject of is difficult. It’s difficult because the moment you’re asked to select a class is wrapped around an event that’s crucial to establishing the overarching narrative theme of the game. Describing in too much detail would be a spoiler.

Let’s just say you will be asked (forced, actually) to select one of three possible classes. Each available class is linked in a unique way to a Country in the Land of Oz: Land of Ev, Winkie or Mo. Each class brings with it unique abilities and vulnerabilities which will impact your strategy when fighting enemies or overcoming obstacles. Class will also impact how those you encounter initially react to you.

Classes can be upgraded and modified. One of the easiest ways to add new attributes to your existing class is through head-swapping. By replacing your own head with the head of an animal or enemy, you’ll acquire special abilities related to that head. Perhaps you swap heads with a tiger in order to attain night vision or borrow the head of a frog to use its sticky tongue as a tool. When you’re finished enjoying the benefits of your borrowed head simply sip a bit of Truth Pond water and you’ll be restored to your normal self.

Ev = Tinker, Winkie = Tin Woodman, Mo = Witch – Tinker “class” is Mr. Tinker himself, since Tinker isn’t a race, it’s a specific man. In one of the books, he’s climbed to the moon and pulled up the ladder, effectively escaping Oz. He’s brought back to Oz during the conflict and trapped when his ladder is destroyed. Tin Woodman and a Wicked Witch are also with Dorothy’s “party.” When Dorothy stumbles upon this group they’re all trying to escape from Oz, to flee the war. They tell her she should do the same and she agrees – Oz at war isn’t what she was looking for. 

Mr. Tinker is a mechanical wiz. He’s able to control and repair machines. He lacks magic and strength. Wicked Witch has magic but machines confound her. She’ll die instantly if she touches water and isn’t very strong. Tin Woodman is incredibly strong. He’ll rust if he gets wet and cannot do magic.  

Items & Inventory
As you travel through the Lands of Oz your inventory will fill with a surreal collection of useful (and sometimes useless) items. Powder of Life can be used to revive the dead or make inanimate objects spring to life. Wishing Pills can instantly teleport the user to a wide range of locations. Eggs, of the chicken variety, are an effective deterrent against nomes – leaving them on your path means nomes cannot give chase. Magic pearls can give you superhuman strength, protect you from harm or whisper wise words in your ear. Liquid of Petrification will turn any enemy or animate object to stone. Lavender and purple berries will cause you to shrink or grow. The list goes on and on.

To overcome many of the obstacles you’ll encounter will require use of one or more of the items you’re collecting. You may find a nome-filled cavern with a floor of lava and an exit only big enough for a mouse. By careful use of eggs, Liquid of Petrification and Lavender berries you can deter the nomes, freeze the lava and shrink yourself to fit through the exit. Depending on what class you selected the solution to a given obstacle might change radically. Timing, wits and ingenuity will determine whether you overcome obstacles or they overcome you.

- American

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Alice: Otherlands goes Hollywood

Posted by American McGee (Creator)
We here at Spicy Horse have been working for the past couple of months on securing rights to further develop content related to the "Alice" property. Our talks have been split between EA, who own and control the game rights, and Collision Entertainment, who own and control the film rights. While our talks with EA about a new game have been productive and it's likely we'll eventually reach an agreement for a new game, the negotiations around the film rights have finalized and we're now happy to announce that deal.

Does this mean you’re making the next Alice game?
No. We are still in negotiations to obtain a license to make another game. But, we have the opportunity to purchase the film rights so that we can produce animated shorts or perhaps a feature film based upon the “Otherlands” concept.

What does that mean, “purchase the film rights?”
For the past 12 years, the license to make the film has been owned by another entity. We’ve reached an agreement whereby we can purchase that license. This will then allow us to move forward with producing Alice’s story in film.

How much is this going to cost?
As with most things in Hollywood, the deal is a little complex. It's structured as a purchase option, which is like "rent to own." We pay $100,000 USD to secure the option, which also enables us to make animated shorts based on the Alice property. In order to purchase the license outright and be able to make a feature film we need to pay $500,000 USD in total. The initial payment of $100,000 USD goes towards that final purchase price. That initial payment needs to be followed up with yearly payments in the same amount or the rights revert to the seller.

Then, how much money are you asking for?
We need at least $100,000 to purchase the license. Anything additional will go towards creating animated shorts unless we raise enough to buy the license outright and then go forward with film creation.

Why make this a stretch goal with OZombie?
We're going to link the Alice film rights to the OZombie campaign in hopes that doing so will increase awareness about OZombie and put us in a position to secure and develop the Alice property as animated shorts and eventually feature film(s). This doesn't mean Spicy Horse is trying to "get into the film business." We're simply interested in capturing control of the film rights so that we can work with experienced animation studios, writers, producers and directors to see some great content made. OZombie is what Spicy Horse Games will be working on for the next year while the “Otherlands” films are in production.

How much money does this mean you need to raise?
Because we are game developers, not film makers, our next project needs to be OZombie. To that end, we need to raise $950,000 to support the production of OZombie over the next year and an additional $100,000 (minimum) to obtain the rights to the Alice films
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Yellow Brick Road Warrior

Posted by American McGee (Creator)

Dorothy just wanted to escape the violence and bloodshed that surrounded her on the post-apocalyptic plains of Kansas. Oz was supposed to be a peaceful, magical land. At least that's what her great-great- grandmother's diary said. Outfitting a seaworthy boat, sailing half-way across the Pacific, days spent hove-to in a typhoon and finally shipwrecked on the shores of the Rose Kingdom, Dorothy was totally unprepared for what came next. Oz in turmoil; great armies under the command of Scarecrow cleansing the land of magic and enforcing unquestioning conformity. For sure, the people she met welcomed her, but not as a refugee - as a potential savior. This wasn't what she'd planned for.

So begins Dorothy's adventures in OZombie. A narrative that immediately brings to mind one of my favorite reluctant heroes, Mad Max - The Road Warrior. In fact, the iconic image of Max and his Blue Heeler "Dog," influenced much of the early art direction for Dorothy. I shared the Max image with our art team and told them to think of Dorothy as a "female Mad Max." Like Max, Dorothy hasn't come to Oz looking to be a hero. That's not to say she isn't able to kick ass. Life up until her arrival in Oz was kill or be killed - such is the state of the world she's from.

In game you'll spend the majority of your time playing from Dorothy's perspective. She's going to rely on a mix of technology and magic to defeat enemies and overcome obstacles. Your view on her world will be 3rd person and, as mentioned previously, we're going to push away from the frustration-inducing 3rd-person lock-on camera found in the "Alice" games... towards a turn-based combat system set within a fixed-camera combat "arena." Dorothy and her companions will maintain an inventory of tools and weapons - likely upgradable and interchangeable.

Not all of Dorothy's obstacles will be overcome physically or magically. The people of Oz are engaged in a political and psychological war, torn between allegiances and traditions. Because of this, Dorothy's interactions with Ozites will shape her image in their eyes and ultimately decide whether or not she can succeed in helping them defeat Scarecrow. This isn't a battle that can be won by a solitary hero.

Below you'll find a range of images displaying the degree of visual exploration we went through in trying to find our Dorothy. Three of the images (Dorothy 1, 2, 3) are from Spicy Horse artists. The other two come from fans who were engaged with the project during early days on our Facebook page. In fact, the final design for Dorothy you see today was 100% inspired by Valeria Tan, the artist behind "Dorothy 4."

We hope to maintain this kind of direct and transparent involvement of our fans in the ongoing pre-production, design and development process. The results thus far have been great.
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