Dear Insane Children,
Do you know how memory works? Many people believe they remember things like a video recording – each moment captured frame by frame, filled with sound, sight, and emotion. And that events can be recalled, even years later, full of detail and meaning.
But the reality is that you don’t so much “recall” the memory of events as you “retell” them like a narrator. And with each retelling your brain makes small edits – changing events, filling in blanks, and making the overall narrative more interesting. It’s like a game of Chinese Whispers that you play with yourself. (There’s research to suggest that you’re constantly storytelling after every “decision” you make – when in reality those decisions are happening automatically on a subconscious level and your concision mind is forced to write narrative to explain “why” you did something when you have no real answer to that question. Look up “split brain surgery” and the effects on our understanding of why we think we do the things we do).
We’ve all heard stories of False Memories implanted by well-meaning psychologists… resulting in mass hysteria around satanic cults or child molestation events that never existed. And we know that emotion can be a powerful agent when mixed with the recording or recollection of life events.
When it comes to our Alice story, there are plenty of inconsistencies, gaps, and false memories. We (the player) see events through Alice’s eyes. We explore the narrative through Alice as a “vehicle” in the world of the first two games.
We must be true to the events and characters that precede AMA and AMR but we also need to ask ourselves how much of what we think we know can be trusted. How much is real? How much is mis-remembered? How much is implanted – false memories?
Let’s not forget that Bumby unleashed The Infernal Train inside Alice’s mind to literally destroy her recollection of the past and cover up his crimes.
It would be easy to get stuck on questions like, “Why don’t we see Lizzie in the family photo at the start of AMA?” (Check out the opening sequence video HERE). A simple explanation might be that young Alice’s memory simply stripped away the inconsequential information. All that filtered through her memory were the key elements – the (emotionally powerful) sound of her parents screaming resulting in a vivid recollection of their faces. Lizzie was silent (for reasons young Alice would not have been aware). So Lizzie was absent from that memory.
Is it necessary to go back and align each and every inconsistency with an explanation of this sort? Sure, we’re creative enough to do it, but what does it add?
This is one reason why, when people ask, “Why was X like Y in AMA?” I’ll answer with “That’s up to you to decide.” Yes, maybe I have an explanation. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I could make one up on the spot… But why put such a fine point on things? Not every question deserves an answer.
And if the (potential) answers to these questions would not result in dramatic changes to our understanding of the nature and end result of the story being told… then how important are those answers?
I’m thinking hard about all of this while exploring the moments of Alice’s life leading up to The Fire. Our art team are storyboarding these events and laying out a series of scenes which will lead us from the first frame of Alice: Asylum through to our descent into Denial (the first Stage we’ll explore in Wonderland).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. What elements of AMA and AMR are “sacred” to you? Is there any signals you’ve seen thus far that we might trample some aspect of Alice or her story in the work we’re doing on Asylum?
Let me know in the comments below!
Crowd Design Session #11
Speaking of your feedback…
We just uploaded the latest Crowd Design Session over on my YouTube Channel.
Hit THIS LINK to check out our latest discussion. This week we’re diving into the UI/UX designs presented by Alex.
A reminder that my mom is coming to visit Shanghai (landing in about 24 hours). That means that myself and Yan (and Lulu) will be busy showing them the sights for the next ~2 weeks. During that time I will continue to update with art, design, and story stuff. And we have an updated Cheshire Kitten design to share soon. But if the updates seem a little slower than usual – well, that’s why.
It’s my mom’s first visit to China. When I was a kid she used to take me to a place called “Hunan’s” in Dallas where I would giggle half to death while eating a “Poo Poo Platter.” That was about the closest we ever got (or ever thought we’d get) to China – so I expect her head is going to explode when exposed to the real deal!
From Shanghai with Poo Poo,