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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

Zombies, What're They Good For?!

Posted by American McGee (Creator)

There's been a fair amount of commentary on the idea of "zombies" in OZombie. The title is pretty in-your-face about the whole "zombie" thing, but as I've detailed on the Kickstarter page, in recent updates and in interviews, these are not your typical, shamble of the mill, brain-eating zombies. In this instance we're applying one of the alternate definitions of the word:

zom•bie [zom-bee] noun

1. the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.

2. a person whose behavior or responses are wooden, listless, or seemingly rote; an automaton.

3. a tall drink made typically with several kinds of rum, citrus juice, and often apricot liqueur.

4. Canadian Slang. an army conscript assigned to home defense during World War II.

Yes, that's right. OZombie actually casts Dorothy as an army conscript assigned to Canadian home defense during WWII. You got me. This is the game I've ALWAYS wanted to make. She's drank too many zombies and lost her marbles - resulting in a psychedelic journey to an imagined world of Oz. We were going to call it "OZ-CanadianArmyConscript," but it just didn't have the right ring.

Seriously, the definition we're going for here is #2 - an automaton. Specifically, of the type found throughout our modern society. The person who goes about their daily lives oblivious to the political and financial forces that shape and determine the quality and content of life. "The Matrix" offered beautiful commentary on this concept - of an entire race plugged into a simulation of life, and of a certain number of people who would prefer the illusion to the reality. These are the kinds of zombies we're talking about.

I know the name is causing some confusion, but to be honest, I think that confusion only serves to prove the point. You're reading this because you know the truth, because you know there's another layer to the story. The knee-jerk reactions from readers in the comment sections on Eurogamer or Kotaku shows they haven't bothered to go beyond the headline. They jump to a lazy conclusion and deprive themselves from a deeper, more meaningful understanding. You can't force understanding and I don't think it's my responsibility to force a more "descriptive" title on the game for the sake of those zombies.

Beyond the metaphorical, there's the literal usefulness of the name "OZombie." It creates a clear and defend-able name space for the game, was available as a domain name and it's instantly recognizable and it's easy to remember. Even the current controversy around the name is useful because it's forcing people to talk about the project.

A zombie by any other name would smell as rotten.

But hey, we've said this was going to be an open process that you, the backers, would be involved in. What do you think? Are you not convinced by my logic? Think we should keep the name? Change it? If so, to what?

PS: Below you'll see an early concept image representing one idea of what happens when Scarecrow converts a Munchkin into one of his followers. This is a pretty literal zombie-fication. 


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The Figurines Are Here!

Posted by American McGee (Creator)

Sort of. The first pass of the sculpts are here. The preview of the Tin Woodman and Dorothy have been sent to and they are looking incredible. Hand sculpted and every bit as detailed as we could have hoped, these will be beautiful when complete. 

Hope you like!

- Ophelea

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Chapters - The Backbone of Story

Posted by American McGee (Creator)

Chapters divide the game into chunks of story, each with clear beginning, middle and end. These chunks will frequently span more than one physical location in the world of Oz. We're thinking about presenting Chapters as sections of gameplay you can finish in roughly 1 hour. This way an entire, self-contained section of the narrative can be delivered within that time and space. This sort of format might be described as "episodic," though we've not really gone as far as to suggest that OZombie will be an episodic game (yet). 

How many Chapters we're able to deliver initially will depend on the amount of backing we receive. At a minimum we'll deliver enough Chapters to start and finish a proper intro to the characters, locations and struggles contained within the world of Oz. The timing of the release of chapters will also be something dictated by the amount of backing we receive. If we end up going over our target and making more than the "intro" chapters, then those additional chapters would likely be released as updates to the initial release. In that case, we might be looking at something more properly described as episodic. We'll see.

Because the overall size of the adventure will depend on how much backing we receive, it's impossible to state with certainty just how big the final game might be. We can outline some of the major moments you would see, regardless of how big the final product ends up: 

  • A beginning - Dorothy arrives in Oz by sailboat. She is shipwrecked on the shores of the Rose Kingdom. She's shocked to discover Oz has been transformed by war into a something very unlike the place described by her great-great-grandmother.
  • The problem - Dorothy explores the nearby Kingdoms. She discovers each land of Oz being made to fight against every other Kingdom. Enforcement of conformity means inability to accept those who are different from you. In a world like Oz, where differences abound, embracing conformity means rejecting unity. It creates green vs. red, blue vs. yellow, Munchkin vs. Winkie, etc. 
  • The bad guy - From his ruling center in the Emerald City, Scarecrow watches over the mayhem. While the masses fight each other they are unable to unite in battle against him and his army. They are "free" from magic. Dorothy has a first encounter with Scarecrow or one of his minions. The threat and conflict is cemented. 
  • The allies - During her journey Dorothy meets and aligns herself with the Tin Woodsman and Lion. They've each amassed armies and are set on fighting for Oz. Dorothy also forms uneasy alliances with the wicked witches, nomes, gargoyles and others. Political intrigue unfolds along the way. 
  • The people - Ozites are mostly caught in the middle of this war. Like most people, they just want a peaceful life and to distance themselves from conflict and politics. Dorothy must work with her allies to overcome the initial resistance presented by the people of Oz. 
  • The resolution - Having explored most of Oz, formed allies with as many Countries as possible and prepared herself for the ultimate showdown, Dorothy will engage in a final battle with Scarecrow and his armies. Will her powers and the armies that follow her be strong enough to defeat Scarecrow? Or will her defeat forever doom Oz and the surrounding Kingdoms to a future of tyranny and slavery? 
This basic outline would serve to guide our hero through the lands of Oz. As with all good narrative, the drama and engagement will flow from the characters that Dorothy encounters. A few, like Tin Woodsman, will be instant allies. Others will require more finesse on Dorothy's part before they'll join her cause. It's in overcoming these obstacles that our narrative will find its true voice. What sort of leader will Dorothy be? That's the question we'll want to explore. 

**Notes on the theme Baum biographer Rebecca Loncraine points out that the story is a critique of power and shows how “easily people who lack belief in themselves can become willing participants in the deceptions practiced by manipulative figures who rule over them.” 

What is 'magic' in this instance? The magic is belief in oneself. Without this belief a person has no magic, no ability to believe things that are impossible or to manifest realities that seem only like dreams. How do you strip a person of belief in himself? How do you restore that belief once it's been taken away?

- American

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Why Not Alice - What's her Future?

Posted by American McGee (Creator)
1 like

I won't stop trying to make new Alice games. As you can see from all the early pre-production work we were doing on Otherlands, we're still happy to devote resources and time to developing new ideas around Alice's story. That will continue long into the future. 

We're still having meaningful and productive conversations with EA regarding Alice. Truth is, it's an important bit of IP for them and for us (and for you!) which means that negotiating a deal is going to take time. This is normal. Think about it this way - it took over 12 months (yes, 12 months!) to negotiate and close a deal for "Alice: Madness Returns." This time around, we started talking with EA about a new "Alice" during GDC 2013 and those talks are still ongoing. Everyone involved in the talks knew about the upcoming Kickstarter campaign and has worked towards getting something in place that would could link with the campaign. Who knows? We might still get there before this campaign ends, but past experience has taught me not to bet on things like this. 

What's certain is that your support of OZombie today will help put Spicy Horse in a better position to tackle another Alice game in the future. Our work on "Grimm" is what convinced EA to fund "Alice: Madness Returns," so it stands to reason that our continued development of technology and content helps prove we're still able to make good on any designs for a new Alice game. So, if not for the sake of OZombie today, then think about supporting Spicy Horse in general for the sake of a new Alice game sometime in the future. 


Scarecrow - The Building of a Bad Guy

Posted by American McGee (Creator)
What's the most important thing to establish when creating a new game? When I first started thinking about reviving the idea of a game based on The Wizard of Oz, it was necessary to create a narrative that would clearly separate it from previous versions (like the MGM and Disney films or "American McGee's Oz," the game project canceled by Atari). Narrative and storytelling is where I almost always begin my game concept exploration and the protagonist and antagonists - along with their motivations - are the first parts of the story I tend to establish. This time around I knew Dorothy - or some close facsimile of her - would be our heroine. So it was while working to identify our bad guy and his drive that I spent most of my time in early story development.

Who could make a good bad guy? The world of Oz is filled with many dangerous and wicked creatures. Some of the witches are labeled outright, "wicked." These characters have been explored thoroughly in books like Wicked, so I felt a fresh, new bad guy was what we really needed. Because I also wanted to use the game to examine ideas related to conformity and religion and society gone bad, a villain with obvious links to these themes was required. The witches were out, the Gnome King's attempt had already been foiled and other contenders just didn't make a lot of sense - a Menacing Munchkin Mastermind? Nah.

Scarecrow stood out like a ... well, like a scarecrow in the middle of a field of potential bad guys. With his legendary lack of brains he seemed the perfect candidate for a dictator bent on enforcing mindless conformity. A series of concept images inspired by this basic character description are displayed here. They appear in order of their creation - with the first being used to refine the direction for the second and so on. Early versions placed emphasis on traditional "zombie" aspects and also leaned heavily towards a steampunk style. These elements were removed and more focus given to a more traditional use of materials - hay, worn fabric and a wooden frame. A bulging brain also emerged, displaying an interesting contradiction to the idea of this Scarecrow villain as "brainless."

In final form, the forth image portrays a Scarecrow who, despite his previous lack of brains and the Wizard's gift of "bran, pins and needles" (the placebo brain given to him in the books), now sports an impressive cerebral bulge. The needles are now used as a form of armor across a frightening frame of hay and cloth.

Looking at this new version of Scarecrow I see a story emerge. Here's a character that was once king of the Emerald City, ousted in a coup, and eventually exiled to a life of solitude, despite being described as "the wisest man in all Oz." There's a lot of frustration, misunderstanding and rage contained within his life's journey. After enduring such insults, who can blame him for wanting to retake his rightful position and establish an Oz where his intelligence and rule will never again be questioned?

Where will we go with Scarecrow in the game? One idea I'd like to explore is that Scarecrow is opening up a "6th sense" for his followers by painting a new organ on their bodies. How this sense will work, where the organ will be attached or how this relates to Scarecrow's desire to convert Oz into a world of mindless automatons is not yet clear. Exploring and solving those questions come during the next phase of design...

From Shanghai with Love,


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