Games like DOOM and Quake are where I got my start. Been known to make trouble (not always intentional) at/with Electronic Arts. Been living in China for the last 9+ years - and I run one of the largest indie development studio in Shanghai. These days I'm running a Kickstarter campaign to acquire the film rights to the Alice franchise. If I succeed, it would be a huge coup - and I'm hoping you might help me do it!

Aside from all that, in my spare time I build electric scooters, play cello, sail, weld, cook, learn Chinese, tinker with robotics and electronics. For example, my current side project is a Rasberry-Pi set up to track my dog's position and drive a servo gimbal with laser pointer (robotic laser toy!). Just so you know I'm not all about games ;)

Proof I'm me:

Comments: 433 • Responses: 119  • Date: 

Londer58 karma

Mr. McGee, wishing you all of grandness for your campaign for the Alice film rights; no one else deserves them.

Onto a question though, though it's for future consideration as your focus is on (as it should be) Alice.

Have you ever considered a trip to Neverland through the eyes of who Peter truly is?

americanmcgee56 karma

Can't do it. The books are under copyright. Alice is public domain.

Zakuroenosakura19 karma

Actually, I believe it's only the play script that is still copyrighted, the original novel Peter and Wendy having lapsed pretty much everywhere.

Disney only has the film rights, and has been publishing books under the auspice that the original is in public domain. It's one of the reasons Alan Moore got away with putting out Lost Girls.

americanmcgee72 karma

It's complicated. And when it's complicated it's best to avoid the situation. Things are difficult enough without having someone come and sue you because they think you've infringed. I've looked into it. It's just not worth it to me.

Suko8856 karma

Do you get along with Australian McGee and English McGee?

I've heard they are cool guys.

americanmcgee26 karma

I try to get along with everyone. Our studio has flags on the wall representing every nationality of the developers in our studio. I think there are more than 15 flags up there now. British and Australian are up there - and we currently have 1 Brit and 2 Aussies working in the studio. Aussies outnumbered all other nationalities for a while, but these days we Americans are in the majority. Well, unless you count all the Chinese people running around... in which case we're a significant minority.

Btw, this year we added a Russian flag and an Egyptian flag. Two of the more exotic and prized flags in the collection ;)

girlgonedead23 karma

I'm a huge fan of the Alice franchise and I'm excited about Otherlands, but I was hoping there would be more Alice games coming out in the future. Since Otherlands is the final chapter of the trilogy, does that mean no more new Alice games?

americanmcgee38 karma

Doesn't have to mean that at all. Otherlands is the end of a trilogy, but we could always go back in time. There's a period in Alice past where she was in the asylum for some years - something could be done there. The main thing is, we'd have to ask ourselves if we really want a new game so much that we threaten to mess up a nicely balanced and complete story.

I think we'll just have to wait and see. I don't really plan the larger elements of the franchise very far in advance. It's not as much fun for me that way ;)

xenobia14418 karma

Have you hidden any easter eggs in your past games that (to the best of your knowledge) have not been discovered yet?

americanmcgee33 karma

I think there are people's initials hidden in the geometry of some of the levels, but aside from that, no. Then again, our Level Designers could have hidden stuff I'm not aware of.

rosequeen17 karma

Hello, American McGee! Thank you for the AMA. I just have a few questions because "Alice" was a large chunk of my childhood, sadly, I am only now playing it.

How did you come up with the idea of making a game featuring Alice and how hard was it to break away from standard female video game sterotypes?

americanmcgee25 karma

The "how" of coming up with the idea has been told many times - you can Google for the complete story. The short story is that I was asked to come up with a new game concept - and I was driving along the coast of California doing some thinking. Heard the word "Wonder" in a song... and everything just hit me in a single moment of inspiration.

As for staying away from stereotypes... I just viewed Alice as a human being. She spoke to me as such and I listened.

americanmcgee15 karma

Alright, I've been at this for 9 hours. Thank you, all who participated!

Please, if you haven't already, head over and check out the Kickstarter for "Alice: Otherlands." With your support I can secure the film rights to the Alice property - which would allow me to make some cool animations for you - and work towards making a feature film based on the games. If I fail to grab these rights, who knows where they'll end up. So, if you love Alice, lend some support.

Search for "Alice: Otherlands" or my name (American McGee :P) over on Kickstarter!!

Thanks again! Bye!

Exmond14 karma

Please explain what happened to "Bad day in L.A" , one of your games that uhh wasn't too fun to play

americanmcgee25 karma

Years ago I wrote up a lengthy explanation on this topic:

Give that a read and let me know if you have follow-up questions.

Also, I'm surprised these days by the number of people who write me and say, “Huh, I played it and I had a really good time. I laughed and thought it was fun. What's the big deal?” I think a lot of people expected that it was going to be a “big” game, something in line with “Alice.” What they never understood was that it was an intentionally “B” game, made in a tiny budget (less than 1 million USD), and released straight to bargain bins at a bargain price.

gooutlikeacandle10 karma

Is there anywhere on the internet I can hear/see you playing cello?!

americanmcgee18 karma

Haha. I've never been brave enough (of foolish enough) to put any video online. Give me another 10 years to practice, then I'll think about it ;)

oktob3r9 karma

I'm sure it's been asked many times, but is there any chance at all we may ever see an American McGee's Alice movie? With crowdsourcing as popular as it is could it happen with Kickstarter?

americanmcgee10 karma

That's why I'm currently running the "Alice: Otherlands" campaign on Kickstarter! You might want to go check it out. Since I'm not supposed to panhandle on Reddit, I think it's a bad idea to post the link here... so, please, head over to Kickstarter and do a quick search. I think you'll like what you see :)

kyocheheme9 karma

Hello :) I was wondering, since you stated that there may be a potential third game to the Alice series in the future if you are ever able to obtain rights but also doing Alice: Otherland shorts, how would you then go about doing a third game? Wouldn't with the animations the trilogy be completed?

americanmcgee11 karma

The animations would 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.

trilobiting8 karma

What was the most surprising or unexpected part of your move to development in Shanghai? How has your experience there compared with your time working in game dev in America?

And finally, what's the most exciting part about acquiring the Alice film rights to you?

americanmcgee19 karma

Shanghai is awesome. I wish more people could spend time here and see that for themselves. It's really the kind of place that you have to see for yourself in order to fully understand. It's like Blade Runner without the flying cars.

The most unexpected thing? What used to surprise me a lot when I traveled (no longer does) was how wonderful and friendly the world actually is. Being an American, I grew up on a diet of fear and worry - being told that the world outside was dark and scary. The reality I've see is that everyone in the world is exactly the same. We are all the same. We all have love, family, concerns, jobs and dreams.

For the Alice film rights... what I've never understood is why something hasn't been done with them. I've got writers, directors and animators crawling all over me to get projects started. We can make such amazing and fun content - and I think the Otherlands animation project is going to be a great start that will prove that idea.

trilobiting3 karma

Thanks for the response!

I recently made the jump from Seattle to New Zealand to join the awesome folks at PikPok. I've been loving the kiwi attitude and how everyone here seems to have traveled somewhere completely different at some point. That seems so rare in the states.

Shanghai is high on my list of destinations, in part due to your posts about it, and because a photographer friend lived there for a while and absolutely loved it.

Look forward to seeing the Kickstarter project funded and evolve. It would be great to see more of the world your team has been creating, whatever the medium!

americanmcgee7 karma

Awesome move! I really want to come down and visit NZ soon. Maybe we can arrange for a studio visit? If you ever make it to Shanghai, let me know.

Vectorbug8 karma

It seems a lot of your peers and management from the id software days have kind of simmered down from what seemed like a fire back in the Quake days. The success that id created hasn't really been reproduced. Some might say everything those guys have made (since) flopped.

Porsches, Ferraris, Quakecon, etc... A AAA title hasn't really come out to change the gaming world from any of those guys back in Texas. I've always been a fan of your work, vision and compromises even with your EA partnership you're in China, which is an odd place to be (but cool!).

What do you think happened?

americanmcgee10 karma

What do I think happened at id? Can't really comment on it ... remember, I was fired after being there for a little over 4 years. What was happening at that point was a radical changing of the guard. All the old guard were being fired or asked to leave. A new group was replacing them. Things changed. All I can say is that I think the original team had a formula for success - a balance of all the needed elements. What came next... I don't know.

ClockParadoX8 karma

Hey Man,

Mustaine here. Let's play Quake DM4 sometime soon. Been too long. Do you still play?

EDIT: Or Zdaemon Map14. You made some badass maps my friend.

americanmcgee8 karma

Hey Tom! Good to "see" you :) Been a long time. Hope you are well these days.

Would love to DM... but afraid I probably suck at it. We built an online/web shooter called BigHead BASH and I designed some Quake-inspired maps for that. Maybe we jump in there and give it a shot? I think as far as multiplayer games go these days, that's the only one I'm still any good at ;)

imaginarycamera7 karma

If not for China, where else in the world would you have liked to move and run your studio?

americanmcgee15 karma

Oh, good one! So... I love the world. The one thing I regret about not being able to live forever is that I won't have a chance to live for extended periods of my life in all the places that really interest me. High on my list of places to live would be Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, India, any of the “Nordic countries,” and Vietnam. If your country isn't on this list it's not because I don't like you, btw. Thta's just my Top 10 (or whatever number that was).

One thing I dream of constantly is buying a big sailboat so that I can sail around the world and see as many places as possible before I die. I also think about combing this with making games – to create “Sailboat Studios.” With this idea I'd invite other developers to join me on the boat for months at a time – we'd sail, work on small games, see the world... Maybe I should Kickstart THAT idea ;)

oclc7 karma

Used to play your old Alice game for ages. Fun stuff, scared me to death though.

americanmcgee3 karma

Glad to hear it :)

Ronamon6 karma

While working in the gaming industry, what was the most difficult challenge that you had to overcome?

americanmcgee14 karma

I don't think it has to do with the games industry per se. All of my serious challenges come from within. Being a high school dropout means I've long dealt with feelings of inadequacy low sense of worth. Despite the fact that I'm constantly pushing myself to learn and know more, I'm always worried that I'm the dumbest person in the room. That means I've struggled to take criticism properly, have had to manage a quick temper and am constantly working on being more self aware... ultimately, I'm always struggling to feel a sense of value about myself. These are challenges I would struggle with no matter what I was doing – these are my human challenges.

ViolentLavender6 karma

Will you ever be attending any conventions in your hometown? It would be awesome to attend a panel. Also, I am sad to hear about OZombie. I am a huge Alice fan, but the concept for OZombie really appealed to me and I was already starting to plan a Dorothy cosplay to join my Alice collection. You do plan on being able to make it one day, right?

americanmcgee9 karma

My hometown is Dallas, TX. I don't know if there are conventions there. In any case, I only get back to the US about one time per year these days - mainly to attend GDC in San Francisco.

As for Oz... it's not yet clear what we'll do. Part of me thinks the response should be a sign that not enough people actually want this game to come to life. Who am I to go against that feedback? We'll see :)

ViolentLavender5 karma

I was excited to hear that you are from Dallas. There are plenty of conventions I know you will be completely welcomed to. Most of them for anime, a few for just gaming. I have not been to one con without seeing at least five Alice cosplayers. I really hope Oz becomes reality. Thank you for responding!

americanmcgee4 karma

If there's an anime convention, and we're able to make Otherlands a success, then I might have a reason for attending!

xarabas6 karma

What are the chances of seeing the first Alice game on Steam in near future?

americanmcgee8 karma

That is entirely up to EA. They control the game portion of the Alice property. If you want to see it released there, you'll need to petition them for that to happen. Wish I could help, but I don't have the ability to impact their decision making process in the least.

kyocheheme5 karma

With Oz, were you planning on also making that a trilogy like Alice, or a stand alone game?

americanmcgee7 karma

With Oz, I was thinking a sort of never ending story... Had some pretty big plans for how that world would expand into something that could go on and on. Guess we'll have to wait a while to see how that turns out ;)

Consili5 karma

With the beginning of the Alice Otherlands animation kickstarter, are talks with EA still proceeding for the video game rights? I know that you probably can't talk about specifics of, so in other words, would you be interested in setting both animations and a game in the Otherlands setting? It is something that has lit up my imagination with the possibilities. My initial preference was for Alice Otherlands but I was also a backer of Ozombie. I'm certainly backing this and best of luck to you and your team!

americanmcgee9 karma

Talks are ongoing and positive. That's all I can say about that.

And yeah, I see cross-over between Otherlands animations and the potential 3rd game. That's always how I've seen this. Actually, "Otherlands" as a game was planned first (the idea came into my head first) - and "Otherlands" as an animation series grew out of that original game idea.

Consili3 karma

Fantastic :D I didn't want to pry that is all I wanted to know.

Another question if I may, you have worked with Alice, and there was the Ozombie concept which you have said you may return to in future, are there any other bits of classic literature that you'd be interested in reimagining in a similar way?

americanmcgee20 karma

A dark video game version of the Bible would be fun. Not in a "convert people to this relgion" type of presentation. More in an interactive, “let's explore how messed up the Bible is” sort of way. Grand Theft Jesus FTW! :)

FluffRule4 karma


americanmcgee12 karma

She's yummy. Also, I hope you know it was American Greetings, not American McGee who sued PA for that. I don't sue PA :P

anderswohin4 karma

Where there other literary inspirations outside the actual stories of Alice that influenced Madness Returns?

americanmcgee10 karma

Not really. Once I 'killed' Alice's parents in the first game, I feel like a new history and time-line were created. That's the point where her world and her story became distinct from the original - and separate from the outside world.

A lot of the inspiration comes from inside. As I've said before, my own childhood contained some very bizarre events and people – all of which has helped fuel my narrative style and creativity.

Something_Wicker5 karma

On the subject of killing Alice's parents – having Dr Bumby start the fire was a pretty big departure from the way the event was portrayed in the first game. Was there any hesitation associated with rooting the sequel's storyline in a retcon?

americanmcgee8 karma

The cat was always a place holder. I knew from the start that the cat wasn't the real killer, so it wasn't a big deal for me to finally reveal what had really happened.

Chicagobearsfan133 karma

Hey Mr. Mcgee! I'd just like to share the fact that I couldn't get my sister off my dang xbox once I got her your game! She still hasn't beaten it yet though, it's the only game she actually plays lol.

americanmcgee2 karma

Glad to hear it. Maybe you should buy a 2nd Xbox just for her? ;)

Jannol3 karma

Mcgee...I wonder if your going to reveal any further info about our new antagonist we're going to be going up against? Well since in OZombie you revealed Scarecrow and his motivations which I wonder the antagonist in Otherlands would be and his motivations and also is he similar to Scarecrow from OZombie at any way? Maybe the antagonist has the same powers as Alice perhaps but unlike her though he has a huge following people consider him a philanthropist? Maybe it's possible that Bumby might have been one of his followers which I know the very first thing that Alice would do right after A:MR that she would break into Bumby's office and read any casebooks/journals/diaries/etc she can find which points directly to this person....

Contrary to NsmileViking, I really hope Alice survives at the end of Otherlands and I hope what you said about "But who knows? She might still die in the end. We all do." is not taken into consideration. Well actually I would prefer the ending to be open ended though.

americanmcgee2 karma

The idea with the antagonist in Otherlands is that this person (or persons) would be inflicting damage not to an individual (as was the case in the original Alice) or a group (as with Madness Returns) but upon an entire society. The theme here would be one of enslaving an entire city or country – or world – through the implementations of modern society. The question is... are we living in a healthy society? Compared to what? Would our world still have the degree of violence and insanity today if the basic structure of society was different? And how did we get the structure we have today?

The trick here is to present this exploration in a way that doesn't bog down the adventure, excitement and entertainment people want to find in an “Alice” game. Similar to how we explored a very deep, dark theme in Madness Returns, but you weren't aware of exactly what was going on until almost the end of the game.

Jannol2 karma

Well whatever it is though....Well I consider it can be something far worse than Bumby and well since I have to admit that Bumby is probably the most despicable antagonist/villain ever, I wonder how worse things can get with this new antagonist and can there be someone worse than Bumby? Maybe you and R.J. Berg would find a way.

Well thing though I was also going to add though which be a hint of whoever this new antagonist is...."Is the Imagination linked to Madness? it must be nullified to become productive members of society..".

Well question there a bigger Infernal Train/Ruin effecting everyone's minds or is there something far worse than that?

americanmcgee3 karma

I think you're going to have to wait until the next game to find out ;)

ApeOver3 karma

What American product (snack, soda, et cetera) is easiest to find over in Shanghai?

americanmcgee8 karma

Ha. Everything is easy to find here. You know KFC does more business and generates more money in China now than anywhere else in the world? It's all here... Western culture expands like... Western culture. ;)

Thejacobplumb3 karma

What do you feel about the current state of video games?

americanmcgee10 karma

Games are always evolving. What excites me most these days are advances we're seeing in I/O for games. As soon as things like Oculus Rift and various new forms of input (like touch screen, motion control, etc) are married together - things are really going to change for design, distribution and consumption of games. I expect we'll see more meaningful change to the industry in the next 5 years – more so than we've seen in the past 20.

L33tEd3 karma

What was the final name change for OZombie?

americanmcgee8 karma

Broken Road seemed to get the highest number of votes. Did we never announce that? I thought we did.... Hmmm...

creckora3 karma

Who is the most interesting or memorable person you've met during your stay in China?

Also, what is your favorite word in your new language?

edit: Also, I adored Alice as a teenager, thanks for that :)

americanmcgee14 karma

I've met a lot of great people here in China. There are 1.5 billion of them after all! Would hate to name a single name, thereby insulting everyone else I don't name.

My favorite word? Instead of calling “bullshit” on something (a word I used frequently in my past, being from Texas and all), Chinese people say “dog farts.” So I guess “go pi” would be the word combo that makes me laugh the most. Also, my dog farts a lot... which actually doesn't make me laugh. Usually makes me run away.

That_Creep3 karma

What kind of nationalists are your parents?!

americanmcgee3 karma

Actually, my mom said she was thinking of naming me either “American,” “Obnard,” or “Marrakesh.” I don't think being a nationalist really had any part to do with it.

Amorythorne2 karma

I think you lucked out on that one.

americanmcgee2 karma

Me too! Can you imagine? No one would buy a thing called "Obnard McGee's Alice." Wtf?


I know I said last post would be my last but this one is the last for sure.... I swear. which is your definitive Alice? the one from the in game or the one from the marketing animations? Thank you and sorry for asking silly questions:)

americanmcgee3 karma

I think everyone has their favorites and there are many to choose from. For my part, I like them all. The in-game one is certainly the one I've had the involvement with and control over – so I feel closest to her.

niggerbiscuit3 karma

Will you ever do anything new with Scrapland?

americanmcgee5 karma

That's a great game and I'd love to see something new happen with it as well. Keep in mind it was developed by Mercury Steam, a studio in Spain. They own it and control it - so you'd want to ask them if there's anything new planned.

ChappyWagon3 karma

What is your favorite Doom map (made by you)?

americanmcgee9 karma

Actually, my favorite map of all time was from Quake - DM4!

q4dc4 karma


americanmcgee5 karma

Glad to see the legacy lives on :)

mattjones5702 karma

Have you been following Chris Roberts successfully crowed funded Star Citizen? And if so, what do you think of his approach to getting his new game published when the publishing industry had no faith in his vision?

americanmcgee5 karma

Sure have! It's a wonderful thing to see unfolding. I really hope we see more success like this being built in the future. The industry badly needs a way to get away from the traditional model of funding and publishing.

Remnance6272 karma

What are you're plans after Otherlands (considering it gets enough funding) and will you ever try to return to Oz?

americanmcgee2 karma

You mean with Alice or in general?

If we succeed with the current KS campaign, then energy will go into making the Otherlands animations. I will also continue to pursue getting a feature film made (as I am doing right now). In fact, I'm traveling to Beijing next weekend to continue talks around getting the feature film production started.

In general, the company (Spicy Horse) is nearing launch of a new title (temporarily named “Hell Invaders”) which I have little day to day involvement with. My focus these days is mostly on running the company and things like Alice, Oz, etc.

geethmo2 karma

Will we ever know what's in the box?

americanmcgee4 karma

Haha. I think I've decided to take the secret of the box with me to my grave. More fun that way. For me at least.

FreedomCow2 karma

Probably way too late for this, but I wanted to say the original Alice was my favorite PC game for quite a few years, even when the graphics were quite dated. I almost didn't get it because I was around 10 or 11 years old at the time, and my sister didn't want me playing such a violent-looking game, but I nagged and begged at my parents successfully, 'cause I read the video game guide book and knew I HAD TO HAVE IT. (Later, she said it wasn't as bad as she thought it would be.)

thanks for that great creation!

edit* Come to think of it, I DO have a question, and if it's been asked and answered already I apologize. But what prompted the move to Shanghai? How fluently do you speak Chinese?

americanmcgee2 karma

Thanks! Appreciate the kind feedback.

As for moving to China, it's a story that has been told before. For example, Kotaku wrote up a nice bit on it some years ago:

My Chinese is ma-ma-hu-hu... that is to say it's not great, not bad. I speak it almost everyday. At home, at the office, at the grocery store and so on. I also have a driver's license here and am able to navigate around the expressways while reading the Chinese signs (most of the time). It's an ongoing learning process though. I still study a bit on a daily basis and figure I'll not be “fluent” for another 20 years... or ever.

siege9182 karma

Aspiring game creator here: What do you think has been the biggest struggle for Spicy Horse as an indie developer, and how have you overcome (or attempted to overcome) that struggle?

americanmcgee3 karma

Being an indie developer is a struggle for indie developers! We're constantly on the verge of going out of business – always searching for the next deal to keep us alive, struggling to make our games work and generally working our butts off... but that's also a good list of the reasons why I enjoy it so much. It' s a constant challenge. And if we ever do “make it big” I can look back and know that myself and my team accomplished something significant on our own.

BiggerJ2 karma

Will there ever be an Otherlands game, or is EA not budging?

americanmcgee3 karma

There's a possibility. We are talking. That's all I can say at this point.

monsieurDenuit2 karma

I guess i am a bit late but i just want to say , i cant describe how it felt to play through your first game and i couldnt finish your second one because it was so beautiful! i know it doesnt make sense but i dont want it to end so i dont play it. (i guess i have some missing pieces in my head)

anyway love your work , no more than that i adore it. i hope you best and i hope for myself you create more and more work!

americanmcgee2 karma

Thank you for the kind words. Means a lot to me and the team :)

humanoidrkangel2 karma

Hello Mr,McGee

i love you twist on alice. it has been a favorite of mine and i cant wait to see where alice: otherlands go. i was just wondering how did you come up with her story? i find it interesting that you now are going to add in where she inters the minds of others. what made you think of that?

americanmcgee4 karma

Alice's narrative arc is inspired by the classic “hero's journey” as described by Joseph Campbell. Movies like Star Wars and The Matrix are built with a similar structure. Writers like Campbell have argued that narrative journeys of this type feature a hero tackling first the physical, then psychological obstacles in their path – then combing those masteries to fight for a greater good. This is very much what Alice is doing over the course of these three stories.

Darkmessiah242 karma

What inspired you to become a game developer? Especially with ideas like Alice in mind?

americanmcgee8 karma

Nothing! I was sorta struck by lightning... it was mainly luck. Prior to making games I was working as a car mechanic. Happen to move in next to John Carmack (founder of id Software). Was offered a job. The rest was history.

Inspiration for Alice came from many things. Music, books, driving along the coast of California, living in San Francisco... Life inspired the Alice games! :)

mawk252 karma

I had a question about the queen of hearts. Why is she called to the red queen as well? Aren't they two separate characters?

americanmcgee9 karma

Roses are red. So are hearts.

I was going to make a rhyme but all I can think of is “farts.”

Something_Wicker2 karma

Apart from Wonderland and Oz, are there any fictional worlds that you'd love to get your hands on? Maybe something that's not in the public domain yet?

americanmcgee4 karma

I would LOVE LOVE to make games based on Snowcrash (Neal Stephenson) or The Culture Series (Iain Banks). Neither are in the public domain. The tech, political and social themes contained within these books... would be awesome to explore in games.

wolfhare2 karma

Dear American, 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?

americanmcgee4 karma

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.

TinyWater2 karma

Hello there, Mr. McGee! First of all, thank you for "Alice" games, I've been a big fan of them for many years. Secondly, I have a question about "Alice: Otherlands" animated shorts. You mentioned films by Brothers Quay and Laika Studios in AMR artbook, and there's also been a stop-motion "Alice" fan video. Would you like to make "Alice: Otherlands" a stop-motion animated short movies, if it was possible?

americanmcgee2 karma

Did you ever see The Animatrix? That's a pretty good example of the type of thing I'm hoping to do. Lots of different animation styles from a number of different directors and animators. We've already announced that Troy Morgan, maker of the stop-motion “fan” video for Alice, will be making video(s) for Otherlands. More announcements like this are coming soon. Expect we'll see 2D, motion graphics, 3D, hand-drawn, stop motion and other types of animation before all is said and done.

zip1172 karma

Aside from all that, in my spare time I build electric scooters, play cello, sail, weld, cook, learn Chinese, tinker with robotics and electronics.

How is that going for you? As an amateur I've tried my hand at welding a few times and constantly screwed things up. It is truly a skilled job. See, for example:

americanmcgee4 karma

Welding has also produced mixed results for me. Sometimes a mess. Sometimes useful. Always fun. I can point to several useful things in my life that are the result of my welding efforts though - so I guess, on the whole, it's gone pretty good.

Ultimately, my welding ambitions link to my desire for building custom electric scooters. I don't currently have a setup to allow all the manufacturing and building to realize every idea, but I'm getting there.

sketchbeets0072 karma

I just wanted to say I'm a huge fan of the Alice series, and good luck with Otherlands :)

Sorry to see the Ozombie campaign come to such an unfortunate end. I've been looking forward to an Oz game for many, many years :( Do you think the failure of the Kickstarter was likely the final nail in the coffin? Or is there reasonable hope for Oz to be put back on the table after Otherlands is all finished up?

americanmcgee5 karma

Thanks! I really appreciate the positive feedback, as does the team.

One way I'm looking at the failure of the Oz campaign is as a natural feedback mechanism on people's actual desire to see the game get made. In other words, who am I to tell people they want something they don't actually want? This is one of the great things about the platform. Ideas live and die purely on their own merit. It doesn't matter who I am or what my track record is (or isn't). If people were more interested in the idea then the campaign would have succeeded. Since it didn't, I want to assume that's a sign that I should move on and dream up other ideas.

In any case, never say never. Just not something I'm thinking about a lot these days.

squeakyb2 karma

I've donated to both kickstarter campaigns for OZombie and Alice: Otherlands. I'm really looking forward to seeing them, and am a huge fan.

What I wanted to ask was: on your Facebook, when you ask for suggestions from fans (like the T.O.T.O. acronym), do you use them?

americanmcgee9 karma

Of course we use them! When we asked for suggestions for the design of the main character in the game, we used a fan drawing as the final design! I take that sort of stuff very seriously - and I love getting the audience involved. Probably as much as they love being involved!

MissKittieChaos2 karma

As a lover of all things Alice, and an addict of the American McGee's Alice games, is there any way I can become more involved in the creation of Otherlands other than helping out with funding and sharing social media? (such as voice acting/I would love to somehow work for you)

americanmcgee6 karma

You can always message me via the Kickstarter campaign or our various other communication channels and offer your services. We get a lot of such offers, so you'd have to submit a portfolio or other expression of your abilities that really caught our attention - but the possibility is always there.

I'm a big supporter of giving people a chance. To me it's not about degrees and fancy papers, but about talent and passion. If you can show you've got both, then who knows?

JB11sos2 karma

Given that you're using different animation styles for each of the Otherlands shorts, are you open to submissions from different composers to do the music?

americanmcgee5 karma

Sure thing! I'm already talking with a number of my composer/musician friends and getting some announcements lined up on this topic. That does NOT mean we're looking to be flooded with a billion "hey, I'm a musician" emails and messages :)

eggie53912 karma

Just need to drop in to say thank you for the amazing games. Hope you can get the rights, you deserve it.

americanmcgee2 karma

Thank you. Nice to hear kind words :) Fingers crossed!

notme1234562 karma

Wow.... The stories you have told in my mind are some of the best in gaming. I have so many questions about your writing process but don't know where to start. Just know that I look forward to what's next.

Btw, do you have a Lin to your kick starter? I'll support it.

americanmcgee3 karma

Thanks! I really appreciate the positive feedback :)

As for a link... I am afraid to post it directly, since I think that's a violation of the guidelines. Still, it's very easy to head over to Kickstarter and search for either my name or “Otherlands.” Both will get you there very quickly.

ryansadler2 karma

Are any of the film studio projects you've been involved with actually going to come to fruition? I would love to see your original takes on classic stories in film format.

americanmcgee3 karma

Well, that's part of the goal with the current Kickstarter that I'm running. It would put me in a position to personally own the Alice film rights. With those in hand I'd be able to push to get a feature film made. I'm already in talks with a number of interested writers and directors. Feels like we've got some great momentum. Just need to make this Kickstarter happen and see where things go from there. Search for “Otherlands” on KS to find out more :)

Pinches_and_Snaps2 karma


americanmcgee2 karma

Hey there. Glad to hear you liked the game so much.

Inspiration comes from a lot of sources for me. One thing to keep in mind with the art and design of the characters – I work with large teams of artists, animators and other developers. The end result you see in the games is the work and inspiration of entire teams. When it comes to a specific design, like that of Alice... I saw hundreds of potential designs before picking the one you see represented in the game today. The Cheshire Cat on the other hand... there was one concept image presented and it was immediately clear it was “the” image.

Pinches_and_Snaps2 karma


americanmcgee4 karma

They were inspired by neo Borneo tattoo designs - like you might have found on head hunters back in the day. I also have some tattoos like this ;)

SockiestSockPuppet2 karma

Can I just fangirl all over this AMA? I understand it isn't productive, but I don't really know what to say to the person who created a video game that became such a huge part of my childhood. Mad props to you, sir.

Also, China? How do you like it there?

americanmcgee3 karma

That's totally fine. :)

As for China. It's great. I've been here almost 10 years now. Been witness to some incredible changes within the country and culture. It's also helped to change me personally in many, many ways. In my life, I think it's been the most powerful and interesting thing I've ever done (moving and living here). If you ever get a chance, definitely come over and see it for yourself.

MrsRickyRicardo2 karma

My friend told me that it's best to play the Alice games after smoking a quantity of cannabis. Is this true, or was this a factor when designing the games?

americanmcgee7 karma

I've said before... I designed and wrote the first Alice game while living in San Francisco during the dot com boom. Lots of "inspiration" floating around during that time. Best to leave it at that. As for how you might most enjoy the game... I think that's a personal decision you'll need to make on your own. I'm not a doctor or chemical engineer ;)

ThunderDumped2 karma

Hello Mr McGee, I was wondering if there were any chance of the original Alice game would ever make it's way onto a digital distribution platform other than pre-orders of Madness Returns

americanmcgee3 karma

This is entirely up to EA and totally out of my control. If you want to see this happen you'll need to petition EA and ask them to make it happen. If it were up to me, then yeah, it would be accessible in many, many more ways and formats.

spqx2 karma

The "Alice" games were definitely edgy and stylish, but with Madness Returns, there are a lot of places where elements felt phoned in or restrained. This is especially true with the graphics, which were stunning in places, but definitely chop suey on the whole. It was a B+/A- game that had the spirit and direction of an A+ game, which is always interesting.

Was there a lot of pressure from EA to reign things in a bit, or to trim down and repeat elements to make deadlines? Was the budget or man-hours restrictive? Did you find that others invovled, whether on the publishing side or the asset production side, didn't always understand or jive with your direction?

I'm listing example issues, but I guess the question is more open an best phrased as "what were your biggest challenges, how did you solve them, and what did you learn in the process?

context/biases : I'm a visual designer and artist for games that's been called in several times to clean up after outsourcing has failed to produce consistent work, and with also a few personal reasons to be frustrated with the way EA handles smaller studios and contractors. Short of doing 99% of the work in-house with a big heap of starter capital, I'm not exactly sure how small studios can thrive.

Edit: to be clear, this is also not intended to come across as disrespectful. My list of top 10 games for overall direction has you, Tim Schafer (grim fandango, psychonauts), and Fumito Ueda (ico, sotc) each appearing twice (the others are Eric Chahi for Another World, Hideki Kamiya for Okami, David Perry for Earthworm Jim, and Hideki Kamiya for Viewtiful Joe). The question is just about the realities of moving a concept to market.

Double edit: shit, I guess Kamiya is on there twice as well. Looks like I have limited tastes!

americanmcgee8 karma

There's only one aspect related to the failures of A:MR that I would "blame" on EA. That is that we knew the game was uneven and bloated as we got towards the end of development. I asked for more time (a month or two) in order to trim and polish. That request was denied. I think if we'd been given the time we could have made the game an 80+.

Now, the reason I put “” around “blame” is that I can't honestly blame EA for denying a request related to our team's failure to deliver what we'd promised in the time we'd been given.

For our part, I'm actually seriously surprised that we got done what we did! Think about it like this... when we started the game we were a 35 person studio with no console development experience. We'd only been in business for 2 years – and had just finished making “American McGee's Grimm.” Knowing this, you might ask yourself (I did) “why the hell would EA give you a AAA console dev deal?!” To this day, I have no idea, but they did. So, we built our team up from 35 to nearly 80 internal. We put in place and managed an outsource art pipeline with over 65 people creating 3D assets, animations and so forth. And we did all of this in a foreign environment. It was a challenge.

THAT, if you ask me, is an insane accomplishment. Of course, no one talks about that. We didn't print that on the back of the game box. And no one takes that kind of thing into account when writing reviews ;)

And yeah, we had internal problems. “Too many chefs” problem, “ambitions bigger than abilities” problem and more. Some of those problems were mine personally. Or problems that I sowed the seeds for. Other people also caused their own “fun” problems. I think that's pretty typical on a development of this scale?

Overall though, I think we had fewer problems than other projects I've heard of. Maybe they keep better secrets?

spqx3 karma

Thanks for the reply!

I asked for more time (a month or two) in order to trim and polish. That request was denied. I think if we'd been given the time we could have made the game an 80+.

You've been doing this AMA for a long time now and I appreciate one response more than a bit. If I were to ask a follow-up though, it would be whether you had any structure in place to combat feature-creep? My experience has been that even when extensions are granted, people often use it as an excuse to start in on all the things they wanted to do before but didn't think they had time for, and then a few weeks later the issues are twice as numerous and patience wears thin.

I can't honestly blame EA for denying a request related to our team's failure to deliver what we'd promised in the time we'd been given.

A forgivable sin if I ever heard one. The joke I've heard is to take a "realistic" timeline, double it to get the deadline you should actually set, and triple it to find how long it would have taken to actually accomplish everything to your own standards if you hadn't been forced to turn in the build.

So, we built our team up from 35 to nearly 80 internal

I didn't realize things had ramped up so quickly, which only adds another dimension to things.

THAT, if you ask me, is an insane accomplishment

I'm inclined to agree!

And no one takes that kind of thing into account when writing reviews ;)

Then at a final note, I'm grateful that you chose to do an AMA !

americanmcgee3 karma

u had any structure in place to combat feature-creep? My experience has

We did have a strict schedule and budget to stick to. Internally, to combat feature-creep on A:MR, the main thing was just having tons of meetings and micro-management. Being aware of what everyone is working on at all times is the surest way to avoid surprises coming out of nowhere.

BlizzardofFlame2 karma

I'm sure you've already received this question, but what was one of your biggest inspirations in coming up with such a dark and interesting world?

Loved both game, by the way.

americanmcgee3 karma

It has been asked many, many times and detailed responses can be found via Google. I also said that and pointed out some inspiration in some earlier questions on this AMA. Main thing was I was driving along the California coast and heard the word “Wonder” in a song. That triggered a flood of images and ideas – which eventually led to the games you see today.

beastablez2 karma

I just bought the Alice games two days ago during the PlayStation summer sale! Can't wait to start playing them

americanmcgee3 karma

Yay! Hope you enjoy :)

Consili2 karma

Another question while I think of it! Hopefully I am not too late.

This is on behalf of my brother. He is presently finishing a degree in sound design and music composition and what he would really like to do is either compose music, or do sound design (basically anything sound/music related) in games.

As someone who runs a large indy studio with projects like Madness Returns, what are you looking for when finding someone to design sound or compose music for a game? what could he do to make himself a better candidate for getting into the industry?

americanmcgee3 karma

Thing is... and I got asked this last time I did an AMA... and some people didn't seem to like the answer... there are literally a billion people out there looking to do "sound and music" for games. It's an insanely crowded market. If I had a dollar for every time someone emailed me, messaged me on Facebook, hit me via LinkedIn, passed a note through a friend, etc, etc... wanting to do sound for our games... I'd be a millionaire.

Look at it like this: On a team of 80 people making Madness Returns we had 1 dedicated sound designer and composer. About half-way through the project we added a 2nd. So over the course of 24 months we had like 1.5 sound designers. Those guys did a ton of amazing work, no doubt – but compare the sound department to other departments. Our art department was 15 internal and 65 people externally! Our tech team was over 15 people. Etc, etc...

When you can ship a game on an 80:1 ratio of sound designer to rest of the team... you're going to have a market with more designers than there are positions to fill.

For our studio... because we're in China, and good designers are hard to find here, the main thing was finding someone good who would be willing to move to China! Both our previous sound leads came from Malaysia. The guy we hired part-way through work on A:MR came from the UK – and as soon as the project was over he was hired into Valve! How did he get into Valve? He knew someone who knew someone … and got a tour that turned into an interview that turned into a job.

Hope that... helps?

Consili2 karma

It is helpful, and it is affirming as well as I (and he for that matter) expected it to be that way and it is good to have that confirmed by someone who is working in the industry. It is also far more helpful to have responses like this than something sugar coated. There is always the fact that there simply isn't enough dream jobs to go around.

Sorry, perhaps I'm asking questions out of my depth, he is the musical one (while I'm the scientist) so I'm thinking my question probably wasn't focused enough. Certainly we aren't expecting that he'd land into dream jobs off the bat, but I thought I'd ask advice on his behalf while I had the opportunity.

One more question related to what you said about the art department. I have seen the most amazing concepting for both OZombie and Alice: Otherlands, is there a possibility of getting some of this amazing artwork in wallpaper friendly resolutions like 1920 x 1080? Or perhaps purchasing posters? Particularly some of the artwork depicting Alice in well known minds like Edison and Van Gogh.

Thank you again for taking the time to answer questions!

americanmcgee5 karma

is there a possibility of getting some of this amazing artwork in wallpaper friendly resolutions like 1920 x 1080? Or perhaps purchasing posters?

You do know we're running a Kickstarter campaign right now, right? Head over and search for "Otherlands" or my name. You'll find the campaign for Otherlands, where you can get exactly what you're asking for :)

Alright, yours is going to be my last response for now. Been at this for 9hrs now.

Jannol2 karma

I got couple of questions:

  1. What is going on in Radcliffe's and if the house was bordered up how did Alice get inside from the front door? Did Alice squat in Radcliffe's house until she "Woke up"?

  2. Also What is going on in the Rutledge Asylum and Hyde Park sections? Can you clear this up? Is it a hallucination? If so where was Alice really at? Well if she was in Hyde Park the whole time why was she there?

  3. Is there any thing supernatural going on in Alice at all? Well I mean does Alice have supernatural powers? Well her entering the minds of others sounds something supernatural is going on here as if she has a gift or ability perhaps...well if you read the original story her sister actually entered Wonderland so that might have something to do with it.

  4. Will we see Alice's sister again face to face in Otherlands? Although this might be a spoilerly question though...

  5. Also is there a possibility of a Plot Twist at the end of Otherlands? Like for example....what if Alice's entire world was actually Charles Dodgson's Otherland or Alice is actually the only real person in her entire world hence solipsism.

  6. Of course when visiting other people's Otherlands, I wonder at the end she'll face each person's psychological twin and their "Imaged" counterparts? Like for example facing what Edison/Jules Verne/etc imagines themselves to be and their psychological twins...

americanmcgee3 karma

  1. Though her movements took place in a linear fashoin (time-wise), they are presented in a disjointed time line when you play the game. That means she's jumping between real world events and Wonderland.

  2. A sort of Hallucination, yes. Alice's brain was “under attack” throughout the entire game – the Train was destroying memories and connections. That's why we hear the Dr. early on telling Alice to “forget it.” He's brainwashing her.

  3. Yeah, we are basically working towards her having supernatural powers (super hero powers?) that extend to the real world.

  4. Hadn't really thought of that. Suppose she could if she entered the mind of someone who knew her sister. Meeting with her sister isn't really a major plot concern in the new story (at least not at this point).

balthisar2 karma

Alice was one of the first games I bought for Mac OS X, in its early days.

Did you pick a Chinese name like so many of us do? Gei Meiguo or something would make me smile...

americanmcgee2 karma

Yay! That game did very well for EA, though they would never want to admit it ;)

Yeah, my name in Chinese is a variation on McGee. “Ma Ji” which is “horse lucky” (or Lucky Horse).

amplemaple2 karma

Please tell me I'm not too late?

Hi American :) So do you like anime? If so, which ones?

americanmcgee3 karma

Big fan of anime. I have and watch tons of stuff from Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki, etc.

Actually, one of the questions we've been wrestling with recently is – why is there no horror/dark animation coming out of the West? I'm curious if with an Alice feature animation we could change this?

mrandrewhawkins2 karma

Who is on your "dream list" of directors for Alice: Otherlands?

americanmcgee7 karma

Since I am already in talks with a number of directors and hoping to get into talks with more, I'd rather not say - for fear of offending someone.

achimon2 karma

Mr McGee,

Did you know, that your Quakeworld map DM4 ("The Bad Place") is still played and one of the F**KING best/most popular maps in the world? What does it make you feel right now?

americanmcgee2 karma

Yay for DM4! Glad to hear it still rocks. Maybe on my tombstone it will simply read "DM4 FTW!"


coco-monster2 karma

I'm not sure if you're still brutalizing your fingers or not by answering posts, but I figured I'd give it a shot. I have to thank you for your work. My (awesome) older brother let me play a bit of Alice when it came out when I was 9 and I've played it ever since. I've never fallen so quickly in love with a story, environment, and atmosphere of a series more than Alice. (Closely beating Silent Hill.) I'm a huge horror fan, but what I feel is that a lot of modern horror lacks a certain elegance to it. Your games and the works of Clive Barker certainly have that dark appeal I'm looking for and I can't thank you enough for providing us all with such an amazing work of art. I could flip through the concept art every day and catch myself being constantly inspired again and again. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you Mr. McGee.

americanmcgee4 karma

Thank you. Very kind words. And since I'm also a huge fan of Barker I feel very flattered that you would mention us in the same paragraph :)

mr_woofles2 karma

Is this your actual name? Oh, and Alice rules. Both games.

americanmcgee3 karma

Yes, it is my actual name. My mother named me that. It's on my birth certificate.

Glad you liked the games! Thanks :)

Ymirism2 karma

Mister McGee, not a question as such but more of a shout-out I suppose. My girlfriend is a huge Alice in Wonderland fan, and was ecstatic when I introduced your games to her. She's not really much of a gamer at all, but Madness Returns she finished all the way through in no time flat. To this day, she has finished only one other game, so as you can imagine that says a lot about how much she enjoyed the game. Thank you for letting her experience the world of Alice first hand.

americanmcgee3 karma

Great to hear it. Thank you, for the kind words and support. Means a lot to me and the team.

Dobiedobes2 karma

First off, I have to say I am sooo appreciative of your darker version of Alice. While I absolutely love the original, I feel your vision/interpretation does so much more to explore the human psyche and the mythos behind your Alice's story has utterly consumed my interest!

Which leads me to my question - you had mentioned briefly the inspiration for your concept of Alice, but I'm more interested in if it also has anything to do with a need/desire for a darker understanding of Alice's 'psychosis.' You had brought up the fact that you had bizarre thoughts/dreams as a child. Can you be more specific about what some of those were and how they influenced your creation of this particular version of Alice?

americanmcgee3 karma

My childhood specifically featured a great divide between liberal and conservative parenting – I guess that's the PC way to put it. Under one roof it was fundamentalist Christian and all that implies. Under the other it was more “hippy.” My mother married a man who thought he was a woman – and he wore makeup and women's clothing inside and outside the house – if that gives you some idea. Two extremes. On top of that, there was a degree of physical and psychological abuse going on – some directed at me, some directed at friends and family. I often think back to those days and think it would have made for “great” reality TV. Of course, the reality was it was a painful and challenging time for everyone.

When asked about my inspiration for Alice (or other 'darker' stories), it's these aspects of my past that I'm referring to.

Dobiedobes3 karma

Thank you for being so open about your childhood, I think it speaks volumes in the story of Alice that you have created!

americanmcgee3 karma

I think being honest about these things during the creation process results in a story that people can relate to. That's where some of the best storytelling comes from.

BlondeFlip2 karma

I loved the Alice series, man. I gotta say great job and much respect.

My question is, where did you get the idea behind the first one and Alice Madness Returns? Those are really beautifully fucked up things ideas in them and i must ask where the genius behind it came from

americanmcgee3 karma

Quite a bit has been said about this in numerous interviews that you can find on-line. Since my time here is limited and my fingers can only type so fast, you might want to Google for the full answer. The short answer is that much of what you find in those stories was inspired by my own childhood experiences. Other elements of inspiration came from the books themselves (which are also pretty dark).

FreudianSlipped2 karma

My friend had a pirated(I think) copy of the first Alice game. Played some of that, which made me decide to get my parents to buy it for me.

When the second game was announced, I preordered it, hoping I would enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the first one. Needless to say, I did.

So, thanks for the good hours of mesmerizing game play, and beautiful art, packaged into one.

So, question. How much has piracy effected you, and your companies?

Oh, and Alice 3 when?

americanmcgee6 karma

The whole question of “have you been impacted by piracy” spawns a very interesting discussion. All I can really say is that I'm not convinced by arguments that I've heard either in “support/defense” of piracy – or those attacking it. I think all developers would rather find a way to convert pirates into paying customers. And pirates seem to have a useful array of arguments for why they might never have been paying customers anyway. It's really one of those topics I'd rather discuss in person, over a couple of beers... whenever I get into this conversation on the Internet a lot of people want to assume I'm decidedly “for” or “against,” when in fact I'm just trying to hear all the arguments and explore the topic – since I've not really decided fully how I feel about it.

In short – it's complicated :)

Glad you eventually bought the game, btw. Even more happy you enjoyed it so much. Thanks!


Hello Mr. Mcgee my question and I apologies if it has already been asked. How is Ozombie different from your original Oz concept that was rumouring around the net a few years back? If I may add Broken Road... is it? had a shaky start with the name and stuff that may have caused some confusion. is there any harm in giving it a second try?(kickstarter penalties etc.)

americanmcgee2 karma

No relation at all to the original Oz concept I came up with 10+ years ago. Actually, very important that there by no similarities because Atari still owns bits of that property. That was one of the reasons I wanted to create a very unique and defensible name – with OZombie. Yeah, the audience didn't seem to react very well to that name idea!

We might give it another try. In another answer here I detail how I think the platform might have “spoken” and maybe I shouldn't keep pushing something if the votes have been cast. We'll see...

gir7222 karma

Hi! I love the Alice games and am very excited to hear about your campaign.

On another note: are you a gamer yourself and if so what are you playing now? Any favorites?

americanmcgee3 karma

Thanks for the kind words. Very nice to hear :)

As for gaming, I do play from time to time but I don't think I'm what you'd call a core gamer. At the moment I am playing "Last of Us" and really enjoying that. Before that was playing "The Walking Dead" game from Tell Tale and really enjoying that. I think the last game before that was ... Skyrim?

I tend to focus on real world hobbies in my spare time. As I mentioned in the intro to this AMA, I cook, play cello, build electronic projects, learn Chinese, sail, etc. Only so much time left for virtual experiences :)

luis0162 karma


americanmcgee2 karma

Well, I don't just make games :P I do lots of things in addition to making games. And sometimes I also play games. At the moment I'm playing Last of Us. Just finished The Walking Dead series from Tell Tale. Loved those.

Jiyuomi2 karma

Hello! Me and some other fans were wondering - do you have plans to re-make the first AMAlice game with new graphics (like in AMR) in the future? That would be really cool to give this game a new life. Thanks in advance for the reply!

americanmcgee3 karma

I think that could be fun. The problem is that I don't control the game rights to the Alice property. A remake like that would be entirely up to EA. If you want to see something like this done, you'll need to petition them.

With our current Kickstarter though, we do have a chance to grab the film rights to the Alice property. With those we could make a proper feature film about Alice's adventures – so that's one way you could see an “updated” version of the story. Head over to Kickstarter and check it out... the project is called “Otherlands.”

SpyVSHorse2 karma

This is the worst AMA I've ever read. It must've been designed by American McGee too.

americanmcgee8 karma

It is important to strive for consistency in all things. Glad to hear I've not disappointed you.

goatcoat2 karma

Where did you get the idea for the kids running around the library with the tops of their skulls missing and their brains exposed? Super freaky.

americanmcgee3 karma

In the first game Alice was trapped inside Rutledge Asylum and scheduled to undergo a lobotomy. The Insane Children were representations of Alice's fears of lobotomy and also literal representations of the other children in the asylum with her at that time.

goatcoat4 karma

Did you know that after the inventor of the lobotomy was discredited, he drove around the country in an RV called the "Lobotomobile" to promote the procedure?

americanmcgee4 karma

I did not. Now I do! Wow. :)

Jannol1 karma

Well Mcgee, hate to break it to you but lobotomies didn't actually exist in the Victorian era until the 1930s so that's quite historically inaccurate actually.

americanmcgee1 karma

Yep, we're pretty aware of that :)

souperman5552 karma

Just wanted to say thank you for Alice games - these are my favorite books and you did a great job to turn books' off-the-wall-ness to the pure craziness!

I donated to OZombie and A:O campaigns and wish you do both of them eventually.

Thank you!

americanmcgee2 karma

Thanks! Very much appreciate the support!

fortytl2 karma


americanmcgee2 karma

I don't have a beard. Never really did. But I did dye my hair black (and other colors) back in the day.

kittenbreathing2 karma

Will there be another AMA any time soon? I bet there are also many fans who still want to ask you questions. ;)

americanmcgee2 karma

Whether or not there's another game is up to EA. I am talking about this with them - so we just need to wait and see. Right now, the nearest we might get to more Alice content would be the "Otherlands" series of animations. I am running a Kickstarter for that right now – so you can help out with that if you are interested. :)

kittenbreathing2 karma

No-no, I was talking about this conversation with fans on this site, it seems to be called AMA too :"D Sorry I didn't clarify it

americanmcgee2 karma

Oh. I thought you meant another "American McGee's Alice."

Um, I've done a few AMAs in the past. Will still be here for this one for a few more hours. Hopefully they can show up and ask soon ;) If not, I suppose there will be more in the future. This one is mainly to raise awareness for and answer questions related to our Otherlands Kickstarter campaign. If fans would like one focused purely on Alice-related questions, we can set that up later.

Meh-_-1 karma

Mr. McGee, thanks for returning to Alice! Madness Returns is one of my favorite games - tied for first actually. I'll admit that I'm a little disappointed that you won't be going ahead with a game version of Otherlands - I was quite excited when I first heard about it and entered the cosplay contest for the trailer - but I'm still quite excited to see what will happen.

I would also like to see OZombie happen one day too. I was really interested in the idea.

As for questions:
My degree, which I will be graduating with this fall, is in game development - my primary skill is as a Producer, and my secondary is game design. Do you have any advice, especially concerning producing, that you could give?

I attended GDC Main this year too. It was a wonderful experience! Was there any presentation that you particularly enjoyed, if you went this year as well?
Also, what are the chances that I might have the pleasure of meeting you in person next year? lol

americanmcgee5 karma

First off... please get rid of the thought that doing the Otherlands animations somehow means we won't do an Otherlands (or 3rd) Alice game. Nothing could be further from the truth! We are focusing on the Otherlands animations today, but I'm still working towards getting another game made as well. Your support of the Otherlands animation project would be helpful in sending a clear signal about people's interest in the Alice property in general.

As for producer advice... read books on human psychology and team behavior. Those, in my opinion, will be as useful (or more useful?) than understanding how to put together schedules and manage sprints. Anyone can do the mechanical work of a producer. It takes a person able to listen and understand people to be a great producer.

I went to GDC this year but was unable to see any talks or lectures. Too busy with business meetings. Boo.

Pretty easy to meet me at GDC. Usually hanging out at the St. Regis or W Hotel – in the lobby, taking meetings.

kyocheheme1 karma

Yet another question :) sorry. In Alice Madness Returns, the queen of hearts was said to be designed as a younger Alice in the art book, was she meant to symbolise a younger Alice in personality as well? Like how Alice may have turned out without the fire? Thanks!

americanmcgee3 karma

All the characters we find in Wonderland are representations of Alice's psyche. The Queen is the closest thing to an internal mirror of the most dominant aspects of Alice's personality – her psychological twin. Not sure that links her in any real way to an alternate Alice. Then again, with the subconscious, who knows?

Suko881 karma


americanmcgee3 karma

I still haven't set up Chinese text input on my Linux box since the last time I had to re-install, so English reply for you...

As for what Shanghai food I like... I guess my favorite would have to be xiao long bao. Who can resist soup dumplings!?

i_like_cookies_1 karma

What's your favorite cookie?

americanmcgee1 karma

Not much of a cookie person. More into brownies.

siege9181 karma

Do you feel like, as a whole, the game industry is getting better or worse?

americanmcgee2 karma

It's evolving. Evolution means turmoil. If I had to comment on that evolution – I'd say it's not happening fast enough. That we're still tied to keyboards/mice and hand-held controllers – or that the dominate console genres are still FPSs... says to me that not a lot has actually changed in the last 20 years. My hope is that things like Oculus Rift coupled with powerful mobile devices and alternate input methods (touch screen, motion tracking, brain wave reading!) will help drive a radical shift in the way we design and interact with games.

lavres1 karma

I wish you Success with your Kickstarter and the movies and games. Any chances of get a movie based on the first game of Alice?

americanmcgee2 karma

If we acquire the Alice film rights 100%, which is a goal of the Kickstarter campaign, then we will be able to make feature films related to Alice's story. That's why we're doing this campaign in the first place. The Otherlands animations are just part of the offering. That way backers get a reward (the animations) sooner than it might take for us to get a feature film done.

goemon19771 karma

I am a huge fan fan of the Discworld series, and I think you could do something amazing with are just odd enough for it. Any existing stories, books or comics you would be interested in turning into a game?

americanmcgee3 karma

It's a job and a passion. You shouldn't have to try to stay focused on something like that. It just happens naturally. aI mentioned some in another reply already. Big fan of sci-fi stuff... and would love some day to explore The Culture series and similar universes. Might always be “stuck” doing fairy tale stuff though, since that seems to be the expectation of the audience. Hard to get out of pigeon holes sometimes ;)


What is a fantasy world that you would like to make evil the most (i.e Alice or OZombie)?

americanmcgee3 karma

Odd as it may sound, I've never felt a design to "make something evil" - at least not when it comes to either Alice or Oz. I don't sit down and think, "Ok, how can we make this bloody, evil and awful?" I try to let inspiration for the tone and theme in those stories come naturally as a result of the characters and situations. Never been a big fan of forcing gore or fear “just because.”


Thank you for your replies. if I may be allowed one more question? will one or more of the shorts in Alice in otherland be live action? you certainly have well made kickstarter intros.

americanmcgee2 karma

No plan for live action at this point. Focusing mainly on a series of animations. I suppose one of the directors we're talking with could suggest doing something live action... so let's not rule it out, but it hasn't really come up yet. Also, important to keep in mind that my studio won't be actually producing these animations. We're looking to work with external partners – writers, animators and directors – and have them produce this content. That's exactly how we did it with Alice: Madness Returns and some of our other projects.

Boodahamster1 karma

This question is from my non-redditor friend who is a huge fan of yours.

She wants to know the fundamentals of getting into a concept art career are, what a student just starting college can hope to expect in a concept art career, and what she can do to maximize her potential of being successful in the field?

The Alice games are one of her favorite video game series' and were a huge influence on her want to be a video game art designer so answering this would make her extremely happy

americanmcgee3 karma

I'm a high school dropout and self-made person. Everything I know I taught myself – and I continue to teach myself new things to this day. This being the case, I'm obviously going to be an advocate for following a similar path. This would apply to your friend's situation in wanting to be a concept artist. All of the best artists I've ever worked with are self taught. And they all display a range and quality in their work that only comes from personally throwing yourself at a study and following your passion. I can't speak from personal experience, but having seen portfolios from students who have come out of many 'art schools' I'd say there's a distinct lack of range and passion in their work. It looks to me like they were forced through the same curriculum and kept on the same topics as all the other students. No “voice” emerged. So... my suggestion would be – start making stuff now. Start drawing, designing and doing now. You don't need a teacher, lesson plan or school to get you where you want to go.

JB11sos1 karma

If a 3rd Alice game does eventually get made, I was a little worried by the comments you've made about the combat. While I agree with the sentiment that MR was a little repetitive and not as refined as it could have been, I think changing it to turn-based would be a huge letdown. Have you thought any more about improving the 3rd person action rather than implementing a turn-based system?

I realize this is still a ways off but I'm guessing you're always working on things in the back of your mind!

americanmcgee2 karma

The idea of "turn based" was thrown out there but never settled on. Truth is, I'm exploring a lot of different ideas related to combat and other ways of presenting the game so that more people can enjoy it. As for improving the 3rd person action - I've already taken two stabs at that and still get a ton of complaints about the results. Ultimately, I think the Alice games could survive without combat at all... if you want to know how crazy some of my thoughts on this topic can get. But don't worry! I'm not going to take combat out completely... just want to find the right balance between action and controls...

NsmileViking1 karma

So "Alice: Otherlands" would be kinda similar to "Psychonauts" concept? It's kinda sad to me, because I was always hoping for the sad ending for Alice. Yeah, one one of those people who likes to see my favorite characters miserable, huh. Also Alice having superpowers is pretty... odd thing. I expected the end of the series to be less... fairytale-ish

americanmcgee2 karma

It would be somewhat similar to Psychonauts. You might have noticed that I put an Easter Egg in A:MR related to Psychonauts? I think there are some interesting similarities between the two games.

Haha. You want to see Alice miserable? She's been through quite a lot. But who knows? She might still die in the end. We all do.

NsmileViking1 karma

Thanks for reply! Oh, yes! I had seen it, that was incredible!

Yeah, actually I was hoping in the end of AMR Alie will commit suicide or something. Nice job on the villain, by the way! Though, such charismatic bastard really deserved more "screen time", he-he. You give me hope

americanmcgee1 karma

You know the guy who did the voice acting for Bumby did NOT want to have his name in the credits of the game? Once he found out what Bumby was about he was pretty upset. TYL that's why you won't find his name in the credits.

uberlad1 karma

What's your best piece of advice? Could be about anything you want. Games, music, general life advice, whatever. You choose.

americanmcgee5 karma

Travel. Get outside to other countries and see the world. So many of our problems in today's world are driven by fear of unknowns. Wherever you are in the world, your government and media are constantly assaulting you with “fear of others.” In order to overcome this and be a more aware, more healthy person, you have to GET OUT THERE. You will learn, grow and be a better person in the end. That I can promise.

Hanging on the wall of my office is this quote from Mark Twain:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” - Mark Twain, 1857

He obviously says it better than I do ;)

Jiyuomi1 karma

Hello again! One more question, if you don't mind: have you heard of conceptual music album "Alice's Inferno" by Spanish band Forever Slave? It's a crossover between "Alice in Wonderland" and "Dante's Inferno", some of the songs from this album remind me of your original "Alice" game :)

americanmcgee2 karma

Never heard of it until now. Will check it out. Thanks for the suggestion :)

aazav1 karma


americanmcgee1 karma

I stab at thee!

crossoverchick1 karma

What's your favorite part of the original Alice books?

americanmcgee2 karma

I always like the way the looking glass sequence was described. As a kid, after reading that, I would imagine that all mirrors and reflective surfaces were portals into other worlds.

AmbroiseLaFramboise1 karma

Hello American, I've read somewhere (likely some wiki article) that you did part of the sound design for Quake. How did it work back in the days, everybody in the team did whatever they could/had/wanted to ?

americanmcgee3 karma

It was awesome back in the day. Yeah, I contributed to a wide range of things on Quake... level design, scripting/coding, sound effects creation, music management (got to work directly with NIN, how fun!) and more. I think that sort of development style is the best. Certainly prefer it when compared to working on massive development projects with 100+ people. Both are fine, but I prefer smaller projects where fewer people are able to have hands in more things.

V1cter1 karma

Did you have an idea for either alice that you never were able to implement into the game, that you wish you could have?

And what were the most difficult things you encountered on making either alice?

Also the cheshire cat gave me a few nightmares after I saw him, it was the first time I believed that I wasn't old enough for a game. Thanks for the childhood scares and for creating one of my favorite games! I'm exited for your upcoming projects, good luck!

americanmcgee2 karma

Not really. Mainly because I don't think about the projects in hindsight. I believe games, books, films... are an organic expression of the circumstances and personalities that led to their creation. To go back and edit something after it's “done” is, to me, like violating the soul of the creation. Yeah, there are plenty of things we could have done better, features we could have added... but we don't live in that reality :)

As to difficult things, I've semi-answered this questions already during this AMA. Since my fingers are getting super tired, maybe you could search for that response?

You are welcome for the scares :)