Project image
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

American interviews Chris Vrenna

Posted by American McGee (Creator)

AJM: Let's start off by getting out of the way some of the basics... Who you are and what you've been up to since you made the soundtrack for the first "Alice" game over 10 years ago? 

CV: I am Chris Vrenna. I scored your first "American McGee's Alice" game over 10 years ago. I can't believe how long it's been! I have had a pretty amazing post-Alice decade. I released three records by my side project, tweaker. tweaker is primarily a studio collaborative project where I have been fortunate enough to work with many of my personal idols. Robert Smith, David Sylvian, Will Oldham, and Johnny Marr to name a few. I also spent an amazing year or so drumming for Gnarls Barkley. Their single "Crazy" was a massive #1 hit in almost every country in the world. I was honored to play with, and become friends with CeeLo and Dangermouse. And I spent 7 years working with Marilyn Manson. I co-produced and co-wrote the last two records and toured the world as either drummer or keyboard player numerous times. In my "free time" I take on remixing, programming, and/or mixing projects. 

AJM: You're attached to the OZombie Kickstarter campaign as a "Stretch Goal." Have you ever been a goal of any sort or particularly stretchy? How does it feel to be a Stretch Goal on a KS campaign? 

CV: I have never been a goal, "stretch" or otherwise, on a KS campaign. And I am SO excited to once again team up with you (American) to score OZombie. I am the opposite of having any "stretchy" abilities, except maybe time-stretching samples! (Insert rimshot sound effect here.) 

AJM: It's a little early for final thoughts on many things related to the project, but have you had any early thoughts on directions you might take with the music for OZombie? We promise not to hold you too severely to any ideas you might express here. 

CV: Wow! It is definitely a little early to talk specifics. But, I am SO inspired by all the early concept art I've seen. Like with all your games, the design is so vivid it instantly gets my brain spinning with ideas for both sound palettes and melodies. 

AJM: You had a chance to visit Spicy Horse Games in Shanghai back in 2009 (is that right?). Can you share some of the impressions you took away about Shanghai?

CV: I believe it was 2009. It was my first, and still to this day, my only visit to China. I found Shanghai so fascinating and was surprised by how varied the city is culturally and architecturally. The ancient city, the European riverfront, and the incredibly futuristic business district just show the long history of Shanghai. 

AJM: What do you do when you're not creating music? Any hobbies or past-times you'd like to share? Any links between those hobbies and the inspiration you find to make music? 

CV: My passion is art. I buy and collect as much art as I can. There is such a connection when a piece of art (whether painting, sculpture, photography, etc) grabs you and draws you to it. It becomes so personal and that's when you know you just have to buy it so you can feel that connection forever. 

AJM: Lastly, do you have a favorite character from the Oz books or films? If so, why? 

CV: I have a few favorites. First has to be the flying monkeys. They were the most terrifying creatures as a child. And, at 46 years old, I STILL find them scary. And I have always had a soft spot for the Cowardly Lion. Can't really put it into words, but I always empathized with him. maybe because I was picked on in school.  

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To Live and Die in Oz

Posted by American McGee (Creator)
Almost as long as there have been video games there's been the concept of "lives" in their designs. We had limited numbers of them in the coin-op days, represented them as "hearts" in the early Nintendo generation and have explored a wide range of life-death variations, including things like "perma-death" and "rewind" in the years since. Death is the most basic and often the most compelling of constraints we can build into our games, but it presents a unique challenge in the world of Oz.

After Dorothy's visit, Baum wrote of Oz as a place where sickness and death were unknown. While this might seem like a utopian ideal, it actually forces alternatives to traditional death that seem nightmarishly cruel and unusual. For instance, when Baum wants to be rid of ("kill" in a more traditional sense) a character in a world where there is no death he invents ways to eternally trap those characters in unreachable locations. In "Scarecrow of Oz" we read that King Kynd of Mo has been sunk into a bottomless abyss by King Krewl. No longer an actor in the real world and as good as dead, King Kynd must suffer an eternity of darkness and crushing pressure in the endless depths beneath the world of Oz.

When it comes to OZombie the question of death is one we'll want to tackle head-on and as early as possible. When Dorothy arrives on the shores of Oz, does she enter a world where mistakes result in proper death? Or a world in which solutions for temporarily (or permanently) disabling foes must be constantly invented? We might find ourselves wielding sticky bomb launchers instead of weapons designed to kill. Or, taking a more gruesome approach, weapons designed to turn Dorothy's enemies into quad-amputees (ala The Black Knight in "The Holy Grail").

Personally, I'm more interested in finding creative solutions to this question that avoids the same-old "explode your enemies and splatter their guts on the walls" murder-death-kill simulation that we've been consuming for years on end. Can we evolve the most basic of design tropes without sacrificing the visceral satisfaction we all so clearly crave and enjoy? This is a topic I'm hoping we'll get to explore in-depth during the pre-production and design phase of OZombie. And I look forward to having your thoughts on the topic in the mix.


And let's get some more backers this weekend. Tweet this! 

Let Alice out of the Box! Back OZombie by American McGee via @kickstarter

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DOG, The Box, and Paypal

Posted by American McGee (Creator)

For all those who have been asking, we've set up a Paypal store where you can pick up any of the items from the Kickstarter, including add-ons.

And now a message from DOG about the Box: 

The Box has gone into hiding. Few people know what secrets it contains, fewer still know where it might be found today. Lulu knows both and she's terrible at keeping secrets...




Want to find out what secrets are contained within the box? Let's get to 6000 backers!

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Backer Q&A

Posted by American McGee (Creator)

It's time to answer some of your most frequently asked questions! We'll try to do this each week.

1. You say you'll support offline single-player mode, though you'll need to complete a one-time online registration when you first start, and Contain NO form of DRM. Online registration is DRM.

Since we will be distributing the game via online digital distribution platforms like SpicyWorld, there is by default a platform registration. The same would be true if we're eventually able to distribute via Steam. In order to download a game from Steam you need to register for an account on that platform. This is what we mean by "one-time online registration." If you feel that registration is the same as DRM, then your definition differs from ours and you're welcome to maintain that view. Please understand, we're not trying to be draconian here. We firmly believe that you should have free and easy access to the content that you purchase.

2. Will the game be coming to PS4 or WiiU since you can self-publish? What about Xbox360/XboxOne?

We will make every attempt to publish to as many platforms capable of running the game as possible within our budgetary constraints. Since each of the platforms here has different submission and acceptance policies, we cannot guarantee that our attempts to self-publish will be successful. That being said, we believe it's in the game's best interest to be on as many platforms as possible, so we will pursue that goal vigorously.

3. You've mentioned that Dorothy will form uneasy alliances with wicked witches, etc. What about the good witches? Will Princess Langwidere make a showing?

Good witches, Munchkins, Gargoyles and other characters all have a good chance of showing up somewhere in the story. Whether they appear as allies, enemies or neutral bystanders will be established once RJ and I begin proper writing of the game's overall narrative. At this point we're establishing a basic outline for the first couple of chapters of Dorothy's journey.

4. How will the Impassable Sands function in the story?

Throughout the books you'll find that the Impassable Sands are actually pretty passable. They've been crossed on foot, flown over and tunneled under. That means they can form a useful barrier when needed or get out of the way when the story demands it. Again, it's a bit early to be putting too fine a point on details like this.

5. What perspective will the game be in? Can you tell me more about the gameplay?

I feel 3rd person camera (like the "Alice" games) provides the best perspective for games that are narrative-driven. So we'll see a camera very similar to what you say in "Alice: Madness Returns." Locked to the player character, floating to the rear of the action and able to swing towards points of interest when needed.

When I say "action adventure" I think of something like the later installments of the Zelda series. I loved those games - and had an opportunity to work on a game in that style on "Scrapland." The game was developed by Mercury Steam and designed by Enrique Alvarez. Enrique used Scrapland to deliver a tight narrative wrapped with a variety of game mechanics and set inside a visually stunning world. If you want a reference for the sort of game I have in mind, take a look at Scrapland... but keep in mind that I'm trying to figure out ways to 'streamline' certain elements like combat. I don't know about you, but I'm a little "done" with typical lock & shoot 3rd person combat. I'd like to explore a combat system that relies on turn-based action and plays out more quickly so that we can focus on the exploration, adventure and narrative aspects of the game. Of course, a lot of this is still design in early development, so we as a group (designers and backers) should have an open dialog about these ideas and see what's going to make the most sense for everyone.

6. I don't understand if there are micropayments in the single player campaign or not. And what is the multi-player?

No micropayents in the single player. We are going to offer DLC in the single player - cosmetic-only items like dresses and boots (you can see those listed in the rewards for the campaign). You will not need to acquire those in order to complete or fully enjoy the single player game.

Imagine multi-player as a small arena where you might engage other player in races using broomsticks (like the Wicked Witches might use). Multiplayer functionality will revolve around discrete mini-games and will expand over time to include more and more of these types of tournament and competition-geared mechanics. One thing we should stress is that multiplayer is going to take a backseat to the single player portion of the game - so that you should expect these elements to appear after the single-player game is initially delivered.

7. Will expansion packs include all of the single player content? If I buy the $50/55 or higher tier and get the expansions for free, do I also get all of the DLC?

Those tiers do not include any future releases of DLC, only the DLC already listed in the campaign. However, you will receive any game updates for free.


Posted by American McGee (Creator)
When it comes to art direction I tend to prefer working on projects that push the boundaries visually while offering a chance to explore multiple styles in a linear presentation (ala "Alice: Madness Returns") or married together in interesting ways (ala "Akaneiro: Demon Hunters"). Expression across broad styles and tones also happens to make our artists here at Spicy Horse quite happy. They joined our studio for the promise of never having to render another fatigue-clad soldier or rocket-wielding mech. To date we've done a pretty good job of making good on that promise - and in return they've given our projects some really incredible art.

The original Oz books detail a Land of Oz that rivals Wonderland in terms of geographic diversity, surreal inhabitants, magical influence and mystery. And the Oz IP brings with it a legacy of imagery known the world-round: The broom riding Wicked Witch of the West, pinafore wearing Dorothy, and quintessential Yellow Brick Road. We all carry expectations for the visual representations of these things - linked to the books, the films or whatever imagery our imaginations provide us. Any attempt to improve or augment these standards is risky at best and sacrilegious if handled incorrectly.

Our approach to art direction with OZombie attempts to take all of this into account. It aims to present the diversity of domains and inhabitants with a range of styles - something like what we did in "Alice: Madness Returns." Places like "China Country" will maintain a unique and fitting style different from other places in Oz and without a hint of "steampunk."

When we do see steampunk it'll be in connection with the more technological races like the Tinkers or in association with Scarecrow and his army. The overall interface and branding for the game will also carry this style for the simple reason that it resonates with many people's expectations of the themes from the original books. Steampunk derives (at least in my mind) from a slice of Americana - of a technical and mechanical combination of gears and gauges that inspires memories of America at its technical peak. Oz shares this lineage so the marriage is right (at least I think so).

Assembled here are a handful of images meant to display the range of exploration we went through while in the early stages of pre-production. Dorothy 1 & 2 & 3 show a distinct difference in stylistic approaches - 1 being closer to a Victorian style (like Alice), 2 being what's more traditionally considered steampunk, while 3 heads in direction closer to sci-fi fantasy. 

I'd like to think that in our universe of infinite possibilities there are realities where every one of these permutations are being brought to life - and versions we could barely imagine as well. Dorothy rendered in cheese and sausages! None of them is necessarily more "right" than another, but I think steampunk influenced is the one that's right for us in this reality.

- American

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