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American McGee & RJ Berg On The Continuation Of Alice
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American McGee & RJ Berg On The Continuation Of Alice

August 23, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

The Lewis Carroll works are public domain at this point.

RJB: Right.

But, like some other public domain works, this one has been heavily, heavily capitalized by Disney. Recently, they did their latest movie, which I'm sure you get asked about all the time.

What's it like telling a story about a premise that everybody has read or heard of, but that other companies have also done very specific treatments of?

AM: I think we were really lucky the first time around in being sensitive to the core study and main character. It rewarded us by coming out in the first game as a very clear branch of something that felt very natural to a lot of people who played it.

A lot of people we respected, other creative people, would come and tell us that they thought this was the most natural adaptation and extension of the story that they'd ever seen. I think that really was an extension of how we approached it, in not trying to force things too much.

It seems odd to say that, because of the dark nature of the story and where it's told, but a lot of those elements were already there. We just picked them out and amplified them.

I think when we see other people who are doing adaptation, be it the Burton movie or be it a play that someone's putting on, those can all live and be in there own way. I don't think it really intrudes upon what we've done. Of course, RJ and I, we've joked... [laughs] We never got our royalty checks from some of the stuff we saw in the film.

But this Alice that we did has taken on a life of its own. You see it in, for example, the tattoos fans have gotten -- people take hold of this not just as a game but as a version of Alice in Wonderland that's as vibrant as any that's ever existed. We feel very lucky that we've managed to uncover this direction, and we're going to continue to be true to it.

On the note of that growing cult awareness, there's an interesting phenomenon over the last few years where publishers are really mining these cult hit PC games and blowing them up into huge multiplatform events -- Fallout, X-Com, Deus Ex, and so on.They benefit from the mythologizing that happens.

RJB: Yup. Sure.

How conscious are you of the benefit, or potential weight, of that?

RJB: Well, we would not deny that we are sensitive to fans who followed us along and have continually supported this effort. On the other hand, I don't think that we are in any way intimidated by other versions of Alice.

The trend to dig back to Deus Ex or something like that, I think is akin to cycles of music or anything else, where all of a sudden there's a bunch of '80s stuff hanging around. There's a certain amount of that no matter what, with memories of fondness.

The fact of the matter is that Alice: Madness Returns will be in every way better than the first Alice because we're better at what we do. The technology allows us to display things a little better. We're smarter about where we spend our money. But really, it's the richness of the property that keeps giving us so much of a step up. To bring it over to consoles is just a wonderful opportunity that EA Partners has allowed.

I suppose there's also a big difference between you and those other games I mentioned, in that you two are the actual original creators of the game in question.

RJB: [laughs]

AM: And we've kind of kept our ear to the ground with respect to the audience. We've listened to them for the last ten years, in the same way that they responded to the story, the characters, the settings, and the gameplay.

We're very sensitive to how the game was received, and that's allowed us to bring with us a lot of thoughts about how to speak to that audience and how to do what it seems they'd like to see done with it.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

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