Dear Insane Children,
Omri and I are working on the Map of Alice: Asylum starting with the first moments of the game and first stage we’ll explore. We start with Shock and then move into Denial. Omri and the art team will spend the next week+ defining visually the areas we see from the start of the game up until we enter Denial.
Spoiler Warning – Story and Game Details Ahead – Spoiler Warning
Scroll to “Spoilers Over” if you don’t wish to read these details.
Here’s my note to Omri on the topic of Shock – how Alice arrives there, what she finds there, and how the transitions to the next area. These are initial notes, a rough sketch, upon which we’ll brainstorm, generate art, and then build our design.
Ok… been thinking about this over the weekend. I’ll share what I have so far and then you and I can shape it into something…
First, we need to establish a mood, a setting, our characters, etc. That means the game might open on Alice’s normal life pre-fire. I still like the idea of something slow and peaceful – like building a snowman with her sister. This is the stage we call “Slumber.”
That will transition (somehow) into the Prelude.
This section might be largely cinematic – but in a walk-through mode… player still controlling Alice’s movement but on a sort of rail system where the only real option is to continue forward.
Prelude then gives way to Shock. I think this starts in a fashion similar to the start of Slumber – whiteout, snow falling, are we building another snowman?
As your list suggests, there are some elements we’ve already established. White sky, the burning/burnt house, cold, flakes of ash, flakes of snow, ghostly echoes of Alice and her family going through the motions of life pre-fire.
The first thing Alice does in this environment is pick up her White Rabbit Plush (from the snow where Alice fainted after her escape from the fire). Acquiring the Plush unlocks (ability? helper dialog from the rabbit? what?).
Shock is a stage of helplessness – so Alice will only be able to move around (stumble) and will be unequipped for fighting. She will have stealth abilities (given to her by acquiring the White Rabbit?) which she can use to avoid – Insert Enemy Which Feeds of Alice’s XYZ.
Question: How does one overcome shock? First, it takes Time. Do we find a representation of Time and make that part of the task list for this area? Perhaps this is where we deliver the Rabbit Clock Bomb item? Second, it takes a distraction. You cannot escape from Shock by focusing on the shock. Alice should acquire her List Holder and the tasks contained within. Tasks will take Alice’s mind off the state of Shock. What is the List Holder? A diary, notepad, book, or ???
Alice explores as prompted by the White Rabbit. She discovers the Clock Bomb and her Notepad. The Clock Bomb is used to overcome previously insurmountable obstacles. The Notepad gives Alice details on tasks she needs to complete in order to move forward and escape Shock.
Thought: The Notepad could be Alice’s “List of Chores” as given to her by her mother. The List would have been mentioned in the opening scene of the game – Alice’s mother calling to her and Lizzie, “Get back inside and take care of your chores.”
From Shock Alice transitions into Denial. I do not think we need to make clear the spatial relationship between these areas until later in the game when we’re able to see a large map of Wonderland or view the whole as a vista in the sky. When you are in Shock you don’t know it – you can’t think of a “next step” or even grasp the reality of where you were before you went into Shock.
Denial is a kind of protective mechanism after Shock begins to become too much. Her transition into Denial could literally be the donning of an old dress (which we’ll dub The Denial Dress). In the act of wearing the dress, Alice transports herself away from the numb horror of Denial and into the following stage (Denial).
So… that means that Alice’s Chore List will contain an item (like “clean your wardrobe”) which leads to the Denial Dress which leads to the next stage of the game.
In between, we’ll want to jump, swing, climb, use the Clock Bomb, sneak, jump, duck… what other Basic Movements are we teaching the player in this stage?
In terms of art style, I think you have a pretty good grasp on how to render this scene. It should give us the visual feeling of a constant ringing in our ears, of a nonstop feeling of vertigo. Shock is the complete loss of our grip on reality. Everything we thought we knew is a lie. And our minds race back through past events trying to put everything in the context of the new reality. What could we have done to avoid this? Whose fault is this? What do I do now? What’s the point of doing anything if all my previous planning and effort can be so easily shattered?
Shock feels shattered – mind and soul are shattered into many pieces. Another chance to represent the world as floating/broken chunks. Shock contains lots of pop-up surprises as your mind catches on some recollection, some phrase, some sensation from the past. Find a way to represent the swirling miasma, tornado of thought…
That’s my thinking on Shock. Please let me know what you have in mind.
Of the image Omri originally created to represent this area (posted above) he says:
We have / Had so many fire images, i think the color scheme of Red/orange/Black is just overdone. I worked according to the wiki, The burnt house is in the middle, i thought that for me, Shock is like a flash of light. I think artistically it really resonates with Bright white light. The cyan color i think fits better than, Again, fire and brimstone.
The house is in the middle of the island, a bright white sky, burnt flakes, Cyan Eye, Chaos symbol integrated.
I put Alice in her hospital dress and the rabbit will be with her, both looking at the house from a far, him comforting her. I want this image powerful but bleak and to stay away from the fire’s heat. Making it more detached so the shock factor will pass to the viewer better. for me the Fire is indication for Trauma, not shock.
So that’s what we have for Shock right now. Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below.
Crowd Design Session
There’s another Crowd Design Session on the calendar for tomorrow at the usual time. That’s Tuesday, May 14th in Hong Kong – Monday, May 13th in Los Angeles. Here’s the timetable:
We host these sessions over on our Discord Server. You gain access to that by pledging $5 (or more) for a month (or more). Your payment has to process for one month before access is granted (this is Patreon’s setup, not ours).
For more info on Discord, what it is, how to use it, hit THIS LINK.
From Shanghai with Shock,