Alice as a cover girl

GamePro is going all-out and featuring our very own Alice on the cover of their September 2010 issue.  According to the article on their website, Will Herring will be discussing the early previews of the game during his 14-page feature.  Will visited with us in China recently to get the scoop straight from the Horse’s mouth.

In addition to the overview of Alice: Madness Returns, Will also delved into the complex world of tracking the evolution and permutations of the intellectual property of Lewis Carroll’s slightly-addled heroine from the original stories penned in 1865 on through the movie treatment at the hands of Tim Burton.

For us, it’s excellent to be able to talk about the game finally, and even better to listen to everyone else talking about it, too.  If you missed the original announcement this past Tuesday, EA released the first teaser – and we’re all in agreement that it does tease!  If there was any question about it’s impending rating, we’re hoping that clears it up.

Get ready to snatch up your copy at the end of July.

Spicy Horse Art Store Launched

Mistaken Identity

Mistaken Identity by Ken Wong

Spicy Horse is proud to announce the launch of its online art store. Now you can purchase original illustrations by the talented artists who power the studio – the same people driving the imagery for projects like “Alice 2”. The store currently features artwork by Ken Wong and Luis Melo. In the future we’ll include artwork from “Alice 2” and other studio projects.

Details from the store:

From the trusty band of artists at Spicy Horse comes the chance to own authentic pieces of art produced by our video game artists. Each image is specially licensed and produced on canvas for a lifetime of viewing pleasure, and each piece is licensed, numbered and signed.

Head over to the store and grab your own signed print today!

Spicy Horse Online Art Store

Off the Map in China

Off The Map in China

Off the Map in China

Gamasutra has posted an interview by Christian Nutt with your truly. It begins with…

Famous for his work with id Software and on EA-published cult classic Alice, American McGee set up shop in Shanghai, China, in 2007 with his new studio, Spicy Horse. Though the company’s first game, Grimm, for the GameTap digital service didn’t make a big splash, McGee maintains that developing the game was instrumental in setting up a tightly-run and efficient organization in China, one which has helped him reexamine the very process of developing games.

In fact, McGee suggests that most of what developers know about working in China is wrong. He suggests that process can lead to a crunch-free environment and great quality games — his team is currently working on a sequel to Alice for EA, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Says McGee, “EA has talked about trying to figure out how it is we’re doing what we’re doing, because clearly they’re looking at what we’re doing and they’re seeing us hit all the milestones and come in ahead of time, and come in high quality, and everything that they could ask for from a development team. [But] I don’t know if you could export it.”

Christian and I go on to talk about life and work in China, cultural and development impacts on starting and running a studio in Shanghai, and more. You can read the full article here.

Also, if you’re interested in some of the thinking that originally inspired me to move to China, I suggest you check out “Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic” The book examines how American culture has become obsessed with consumption – and how it’s destroying people’s ability to be happy with themselves and what they have.

Voices and Moves

Cheshire Concept (old)

Cheshire Concept

As production on Alice 2 continues, the development team at Spicy Horse is making awesome progress. By many measures, we’re ahead of schedule – though it’s still too early to get overconfident.

While the internal team is cranking along on all cylinders, there are a few things we could use some outside “assistance” with. Namely, voice actors and motion actors for reference and actual use in the game. We have all our “bulk” needs covered – but are looking for a few special people IN SHANGHAI who can assist with lots of impromptu stuff related to VO and acting. These elements might go into the game or simply be used as temporary reference.

For voice actors – we’re looking for people (men, children, women) with BRITISH accents (real ones please). This will be used as placeholder – or could possibly make it into the final game (depending on quality, etc).

For stage actors – we’re looking for people with expressive faces and bodies – which will be used for animation reference and/or local motion capture sessions. Our animation director has requested “foreigners” for this role because she feels Chinese people and foreigners move differently.

If you are IN SHANGHAI and possessing actual Voice Acting or Stage Acting talent, the please contact me directly. You can do so by posting a comment to this article – it won’t be seen unless I approve it (which I don’t do for queries like this).

Hiring – Three for Art

Swimming Pond

Alice in the Swimming Pond

Spicy Horse internal headcount broke the 50 mark a few weeks back. As we approach 60 we’re looking for three very special people to fill three very special roles at the studio. These openings are at our Shanghai-based studio – so being hired means living/working in China. Read on if you’re an experienced game artist, like the idea of working in Shanghai, and want to be involved with some of our cool projects (like Alice 2).

Interested parties should drop a line: jobs (@) spicyhorse (dot) com
You can see all our current openings on the Spicy Horse website.

Here are the job descriptions:

ART DIRECTOR
Your job is to direct and manage the creation of next-gen 3d art assets for our games. You must be experienced in modeling software and game engines, but also in leading a team and documenting procedures and specifications. You will interface with outsource partners and also communicate with producers and other departments. You will work with other art directors and art leads. Overall, your goal is to increase the technical and aesthetic quality of our in-game art, while also keeping our team and workflow as efficient as possible.
– Experience working with Unreal Engine 3 or similar
– Proficient in Max, Photoshop and Zbrush. Maya expertise is a plus.
– Experience working at or with an outsource vendor
– Ability to create new techniques and optimizations, and document them for other artists and art teams
– Good attention to detail
– Experience leading a team
– Good communication skills
– Must be either fluent in Mandarin with basic English skills, or fluent in English.

ART PRODUCER
Your job is to manage both the internal art pipeline and the use of external art outsource partners. You should be an expert at keeping dozens of creative people organized, scheduled, and in communication. You must be able to improve the pipelines and adapt to problems, and have great attention to detail. You will work with producers, the Art Director and other creative leads and help make sure their visions and ideas are put into practice on schedule and at the expected quality. In particular, you will be the point of contact with multiple outsource partners, making sure their output meets our expectations.
– Must be experienced in people management and scheduling
– Experience at either a games developer or outsource studio required
– Must have initiative and a keen sense for organization
– Experience as a 3d artist is a big plus
– Must be fluent in Mandarin and have good English skills.

3D ARTIST
You are an experienced 3d artist. You are able to create high poly, low poly and texture work for both characters and props. You have a high attention to detail, but can you also work fast when required. You are interested in creating high quality work in a variety of art styles, and are able to learn new techniques.

– Proficient in Max, Photoshop and Zbrush. Maya expertise is a plus.
– Minimum 1 year experience in the games industry.
– Experience with Unreal Engine 3 or similar a big plus
– Creative and interested in new techniques and art styles
– Good team work and communication skills