Writing Notes – Denial to The Queen

Dear Insane Children, 

A sneak peek at what’s going on behind the scenes with tasks related to getting the Design Bible off the ground.  My notes for continued progression through the early narrative of the game.

Denial to The Queen (4/21/2020)

Still working on the exact sequence of transitions from Alice in her Circus Cage to An Audience With The Queen to Hatter’s Domain but here are a couple of bits and pieces. 

The Circus Realm is – subconsciously – a function of Denial. How does one get past denial (as a stage of grief)? We’ll come back to that later. 

The Circus Realm is – to the eye – a place to keep Alice endlessly entertained. It would have started off as a wonderful place for a little girl to spend her day. Full of curiosities, delights, thrills, and mysteries. As Alice moves through it, these aspects should still be on full display. Fire breathers, bearded women, unlikely animals, flying trapezes, and a sense of constant surprise. It’s also important that The Show Must Go On (CONSTANTLY) – everyone’s in a hurry, everyone’s late, no one has time to stop, sit, and think. “Must remember my lines, must perfect my flying somersault, must not be boring.” There are Ringmasters who crack the whip and keep everyone in constant motion (Tweedle Dee and Dum).

The Circus Realm is – in reality – a prison. A place of frantic order, scripted reality, and the invisible cage of never having enough time to do anything but practice and perform. Its design is the handiwork of The Queen of Hearts, the current ruler of Wonderland. She who sits on the throne in the Realm of Hearts; the place in which The Circus occupies a distant (preferably forgotten) little corner. This prison needs no bars because no one ever has time to escape. 

The Circus Realm has become – in recent days – a bore. Alice has attempted to escape a thousand times. Being a precocious and curious child, she’s always in search of something more. She craves deep mystery, proper puzzles, and an unscripted adventure. Problem is, The Moon. He floats above Wonderland day and night (mostly at night?) watching and waiting for Alice to run. And when she does he’s there on her heels singing a gentle lullaby. Before she knows it, Alice is fast asleep. And when she awakes, she’s back in The Circus Realm. And, like a dream, her memory of running away and all the days before is foggy and unclear. So she writes herself notes to remind herself of what’s come before. And from those notes, she knows she’s been trapped in this place for a very long time. And that her only hope of escape is a confrontation with The Queen. 

During her last attempt at escape, she came back with a souvenir – a Crystal Vorpal Blade – the meaning of which is not yet clear. A mystery. Good!

Running Away From The Circus

Leaving the “cage” she shares with the Mock Turtle (it’s not a cage… it’s a tent, a dressing room, a dollhouse – something a little girl would like to live in) Alice is push-pulled into a typical Circus Day. 

We can use this opportunity to continue the sequence of tutorial steps we began to introduce during the intro. The circus provides an excellent place for advanced mechanics – trapeze stunts, lion taming, knife throwing, shrinking and growing, etc… 

An opportunity presents itself – an opening in the circus tent, leading to a tethered hot air balloon – and Alice once again escapes! But this time is different because she’s got the Vorpal Blade and she means business. 

First step: Disable The Moon. The hot air balloon will get her where she needs to go. And the moon turns out to be a clockwork automaton filled with gears, levers, and steam pipes – a Hatter Industries invention apparently. Alice fights her way through The Moon and hijacks it for a ride towards the Queen’s Castle. 

A rough crash landing just short of the castle. A sneak battle through the Queens’ hedge mazes. 

The Knave is encountered somewhere in here. An Insane Child – modeled on a child Alice knew from The Asylum – who pledges to help Alice get to The Queen. Claims he’s tired of “all this order and perfection” – and will risk the Queen’s wrath to help Alice. 

Battle through the lower levels of the castle. Do we see The Sun held prisoner – used as an energy source – in the bowels of the castle? We need to think about the concept artwork done for “Judgement” and how that plus the resulting punishment (deadly croquet) fit into all of this (or does that all come later – the next time Alice “visits” the Queen’s Domain)? 

An Audience With The Queen

The Knave and Alice are captured. Alice confronts The Queen. “Why am I your prisoner?” The Queen explains that she’s only trying to protect Alice. There’s a force – A Chaos – threatening to destroy Wonderland. And the only thing keeping it at bay is The Queen and her insistence on Order. There are dangers lurking in the wilds of Wonderland – no place for a girl to go poking around. 

“Why can’t I wake up?” Reveal: A giant bloody drill bit spinning slowly has pierced the wall of the castle. The Queen explains that Alice, the little girl who would like to wake up, is no more. She was done in by the Asylum (a lobotomy). And that this corner of Wonderland is all that remains. Beyond this is oblivion. The Knave gravely confirms this fact (he’s in the dog house so he must be telling the truth). 

Hatter was assigned a task: Perform alchemy on Chaos – turn Chaos into Order. But the Queen’s heard no reports of any progress for weeks now. Alice must venture to Hatter’s Domain – she’s looking for an adventure, isn’t she? – and find out what’s happened. The Queen asks Alice to carry a gift to Hatter. “Be sure not to open it. Curiosity killed the cat, you know?” 

Note: How does one get past Denial? The next stage (Queen Domain) represents Anger. You get past Denial by a descent into Anger. Rage must propel Alice out of The Circus and into the next stage. How should we represent rage? Now that she’s got a Vorpal Blade the most obvious way would be for her to pull it out – a shock to those who would keep her captive – and use it in bloody fashion. Slice her way through whatever too stupid or too slow to get out of her way. A murder spree. Does that work? 

Note 2: Queen holds Alice’s Rabbit hostage. Why? Alice doesn’t want to follow orders? She immediately rejects The Queen’s version of reality (denial again – fractal) and becomes angry (again fractal) so the Rabbit is taken prisoner. The Queen is convinced that The Hatter will set Alice straight. He knows The Truth. 

More notes as they are created… feel free to share your feedback in the comments below.

From The Circus, 


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