It’s been a while since American McGee’s Alice has made an appearance. Alice: Madness Returns was released in June 2011, and the process of creating the third game in the planned trilogy has been a journey not unlike Alice’s.
Alright, so maybe not quite as wild as Alice’s life. She is traumatized by the death of her parents while dreaming about Wonderland, which eventually results in her being in an asylum while she works through the mental wounds. The first Alice was a success and Madness Returns was a worthwhile sequel, despite some flaws and bugs. McGee has spoken about how the game could have been better at length. It sounds like most of the issues with Alice: Madness Returns came down to time and money, which really shouldn’t have been an issue since it was published by Electronic Arts.
While speaking with GameSkinny on things he would have changed with Madness Returns, American McGee said, “I really wish we’d had more time at the end to polish the game. I would have compressed the action, removed a lot of the “filler” content and fixed some of the more annoying bugs. Then again, this sort of wishing in hindsight isn’t going to resolve any of those issues – the best I can do now is learn from those mistakes and make sure future efforts avoid repeating them.”
What I found most interesting about McGee’s thoughts on what could have been better with his previous game is he knows what needed to be fixed. He just didn’t have the time, money, and resources to address the problems. Alice: Asylum is still several years away but it’s been in pre-production for quite some time, still is! American McGee recently shared the full narrative outline for Asylum, which could change, but it’s still a lot of information in the meantime while development continues.
American McGee is funding the pre-production of the game through Patreon while he works on securing financing and publishing for the game. Asylum has already benefitted from years of creative work, uninterrupted by shareholders and deadlines, and now it can continue to be shaped by fans on Patreon while McGee and the team work on some major next steps.
McGee shared quite a bit of information on what to expect in a stream, which was later uploaded and pinned to his YouTube channel. He gives a good expectation on what you to expect across the next few years. He’s currently working on getting a license agreement with Electronic Arts. Asylum won’t be funded or published by EA but the company does hold the licensing and rights. McGee explains EA has said it’s interested in giving him a license agreement but it will take time, money, and work.
Alice: Asylum also needs “upwards of $30 million” in funding. Patreon can keep the lights on and help with ongoing costs but development and publishing the Asylum will take a lot more money. McGee goes on to provide reassurance for the future of Alice though. He says movement is happening and he’s getting bites from potential investors; it’s just going to take time.
“Threats, promises, and good intentions don’t amount to action.”
In the video, he also attempts to provide the best idea of an expected time of completion for Alice: Asylum too. It isn’t a lot of information but it does help people outside game development set better expectations. McGee went on to explain it took two years to secure publishing and financing for Alice: Madness Returns, and that was with EA being fully involved and interested. EA isn’t working against development but seeing Alice: Asylum to the end will take a lot of energy without EA’s financial assistance and support.
This development structure actually works in the best interest of American McGee and Alice: Asylum though. McGee has shown his abilities over the years on various games, including Doom, Doom II: Hell on Earth, Quake, the first two Alice titles, and more. It shouldn’t be too difficult for McGee to secure the talent, money, and resources to see Alice: Asylum through to the end, even if it does take several years.
If you’re interested in the potential game script and narrative outline for Alice: Asylum, check out American McGee’s Patreon account. It’s still a work in progress and things could change but it’s where the game is currently at in its development.
You can also help by keeping the lights on during pre-production. There are $1 and $2 tiers too so you don’t have to spend more than you can afford to support great art. You can also show support by purchasing official merchandise from American McGee’s online shop. If you’re interested in Asylum’s development and planned release but don’t care about all the little details then you can follow American McGee on Twitter.
Alice: Madness Returns is playable on modern consoles as well. It’s backward compatible and playable on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. You can also play the original Alice (the first game) on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. It’s available as an optional, paid DLC pack for Madness Returns. The game is available in EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (via EA Play) too. The games are thankfully easier to experience despite their age so don’t miss them if you’re interested in action-adventure and/or the macabre.