American McGee Discusses A Potential Final Return To Wonderland In Alice 3 (Exclusive Interview)

Veteran game developer American McGee talks about his vision for Alice 3 in this exclusive interview.

American McGee will be making the rounds at GDC 2013 for his annual pilgrimage to the United States. The veteran game developer, who helped forge the first-person shooter genre while at id Software with games like Doom and Quake, has been living in Shanghai for years now and running a successful game development business with Spicy Horse.

Currently, he has four games in development (including a brand new one that will debut at GDC) – as well as BigHead BASH, Crazy Fairies, and Akaneiro: Demon Hunters.

One of the meetings McGee has set up for GDC is with Electronic Arts, the game publisher that owns the rights to his unique take on the Alice in Wonderland mythology. After a pair of games, McGee would like to return to Wonderland one last time to finish the story of Alice. After posting a Facebook query to his community of fans, it looks like many gamers are eager to jump back through the rabbit hole, as well.

McGee talks about his take on Alice 3 and why he’d love to utilize Kickstarter to get fans involved in the journey in this exclusive interview.

What are your thoughts on the reaction your Alice 3 Facebook post has had so far?

McGee: "I only wish my friends and fans would get that excited about our non-Alice projects! Seriously, when I announce something related to our other games those 8,000+ "friends" and followers are quiet like church mice. When I make the slightest mention of another Alice project the comments and shares come so fast the update "dings" sound like an alarm clock! So, it's wonderful to see that degree of interest and support - and it confirms my hunch that we could make a successful Kickstarter campaign around pretty much anything Alice."

Why did you decide to ask gamers about this franchise after focusing on mobile and original games lately?

McGee: "It's as simple as what I said in the original post - exploring the idea and meeting with some guys at EA to discuss in detail during GDC. Nothing's committed and chances are slim something will come out of this immediately (if ever), but going into the meeting with a couple dozen articles on the topic and 3,500 "likes" on the idea won't hurt.

"With regards to our online and mobile efforts - I see these things dovetailing quite nicely. The first two Alice games focused on single-player because that's what made sense for the story (how exactly would multiple characters live inside Alice's head at the same time). For the new game concept we're exploring "Otherlands," meaning we're using Alice's powers to gain access other people's mental landscapes. That being the case, there's a way we can turn the adventure into something that allows co-op play and player created content to be presented in really interesting ways across multiple devices and platforms."

What is it about Alice that you find interesting?

McGee: "My original hope for the franchise was that it would provide an opportunity to leverage 3D game technology for something other than gun toting rampages through space stations or battlefields. She also represents (in my opinion) one of the more interesting and engaging video game characters because there's a depth to her as a character and (as the first two games have proven) a lot of variety to be found in the worlds she creates and explores. The world and characters still have a lot of story left in them. So long as we don't kill or lobotomize Alice, she'll have interesting adventures to share."

How long have you been thinking about a potential direction for another Alice sequel?

McGee: "Since the narrative work was being done on the second Alice game I've been thinking about a third installment to "close the loop." Alice is on a classic hero's journey, broken into three distinct and meaningful phases. The first game was about mastering the psychological - we saw Alice battling mental demons in Wonderland. The second was about overcoming obstacles in the physical world - her defeat of the real-world bad guy secured that domain. The third game would combine the psychological and physical, allowing us to present Alice as a sort of mind hopping superhero able to invade Otherlands - the mental landscapes of people around her."

What are your thoughts on what Kickstarter has opened up for you as a development studio?

McGee: "More than anything, it's provided a unique and valuable way for us to engage with our audience. The communication we've built and maintained with our backers has been really wonderful."

What role could Kickstarter, and fan feedback, play in Alice 3 potentially?

McGee: "Hard to say at this point as we're still in a very early exploratory phase. EA owns the Alice franchise, so to pull off crowd source funding would require some innovative licensing and legal acrobatics all-round. That being said, if EA's willing to license us the IP and the audience is willing to back the production, we could end up doing something quite historic.

"With all the negative press "big corporations" are getting these days, there could be a win-win in here for everyone - EA benefits from appearing to be flexible, a developer (that's us) gets to work on something they love and the audience gets direct involvement in a development with the possibility of showing the world what happens when indies and fans take the reins. We're seeing this work wonderfully with Akaneiro - I'd love nothing more than to now apply that process and engagement to Alice."

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John Gaudiosi has been covering the video game business for over 20 years for outlets like The Washington Post, Reuters, Fortune, AOL and CNN. He's EIC of video game site

Published Jun. 5th 2013
  • Kasra Abdi
    Please answer this question.🙏
    Will we get Alice: Madness Returns Remastered on PS4?
    Im really curious,and i really want it.
  • GrandTheftAngel
  • GrandTheftAngel
    YES YES YES YES YES I LOVE ALICE GAMES PLEASE MAKE ALICE 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • GrandTheftAngel
    YES YES YES YES YES I LOVE ALICE GAMES PLEASE MAKE ALICE 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Plukh
    I hadn't seen a game as beautiful as Alice: Madness Returns, ever. For all I know, it could've had gameplay not worthy of a 6-year old (it didn't - for the most part), and it still would be an EPIC game. As it stands, I'd played *a lot* of games (my Steam library stands at 200+ titles, and I'd started playing long before Steam came around), and a lot of those were great; but none were as *memorable* as AMA and A:MR.
  • mikolajholowko
    Take my money!

    Also McGee is listening to feedback on his facebook so if you guys have something to say about the previous games that the best way to do it.
  • johnbrian.luckhurst
    I can't really see how EA can lose out here, they'll either make a bit of easy cash for lending out an IP they don't use, appear to be more flexible, and show a bit of variety with the games they publish (assuming that the EA tag remains); or they... well, they can't lose money through Kickstarter can they? Either way, we'll wait and see, but I really hope I get to see the ending for my favorite series and protagonist.
  • prognastat
    The first was haunting, the second was beautiful, I can't wait for the third. Hopefully if it gets a chance at kickstarter it will blow past it's goals and really get the financing it deserves.
  • danilo.diniz.942
    EA or Kickstarter, I just can't wait to have it on my hands. I think Kickstarter is the best thing that could happen to Alice. Fans could back the game their love, and even help the development. The devs will have the flexibility to do whatever they think is the best AND get the direct support from the fans. Purrrfectly fits to Alice. And yeah, we could actually feedback what we liked and disliked about Alice1 and Alice2.
  • MaliciousXMisery
    I would be so over joyed if this really happened. Every bit of new artwork and information about this makes me giddy. I loved the first two games, they felt more natural for me jumping right in than any other games. The artwork and smooth feeling of controlling Alice in the 2nd game was just beautiful. The first game's unique art style will always be close to my heart as it has remained a favorite for me since its original release. The music in both games were absolutely fantastic and I really look forward to this possible future installment :). I trust in both Spicy Horse Studio and American to use their creativity and skills to make it as amazing as the last game.
  • Umbrella_4585
    If EA gives in, I will start buying more games on Origin.
  • J B
    "EA benefits from appearing to be flexible, a developer (that's us) gets to work on something they love and the audience gets direct involvement"

    Hopefully someone at EA reads this.
    If they dont agree to a fair licensing deal, I lose faith in the future of triple A games.
    You will have my support when this hits kickstarter.
  • Germ_the_Nobody
    Madness Returns is one of the most incredible games i've ever played. The graphics are ridiculously gorgeous. The combat is fun. The story kicks ass. Every single thing about the game is amazing.

    Definitely want more.
  • xXR0CK3TM4NXx
    The Alice games have provided an incredible storyline, and meaningful character development. I was horrified by the first (in the best possible way), and the second-while not being quite as frightening-was still a journey into a fantastic world. The story isn't quite done, and the horrific, macabre beauty that is Alice needs to be concluded.
  • rlemons92
    "The third game would combine the psychological and physical, allowing us to present Alice as a sort of mind hopping superhero able to invade Otherlands - the mental landscapes of people around her."

    That sounds so exciting and I would love to see how it would work. Madness Returns is a beautiful game as it stands, and from the Art of Alice book there were still so many great ideas that didn't make it into the game. I remember being young and seeing the first Alice in stores, and just being mesmerized by the box, curious about this dark take on the characters from one of my favorite stories. Years later I looked back into it and got to play it for myself. Very glad that I did rediscover it and so excited and surprised when I heard about the second game. Even more excited about the possibility of a third.
  • |Richhard|
    I really did like both games. Waiting for a third one seems about right. Madness Returns really was a curve ball regarding it's ending. I liked the game all in all but... It became to anti climatic for me or at least I did feel that the ending was to rushed, although the history was awesome, I felt that there was a sudden urge to finish the game.
    I have some good hope for a third chapter.
    Let's not forget IF we need a mediocre 3rd game to go with the mediocre 2nd game, not to forget this time to add some actual difficulty and bosses you know like the 1st game had.....I love the first game and all but damn was madness returns mediocre as hell...But then again lets be honest both games were huge failures and there really is only a small niche audience for this

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