Dear Insane Children,
It’s freezing in Shanghai! We’ve just gone through a cold wave described as “the coldest days in 20 years” and… my feet are freezing! Houses in Shanghai are not famous for being well insulated. As I sit here at my desk working, the thermometer reading is 10c (50f)… which is just brrrr!
Is it cold where you are? Or are you, like Alex, enjoying a southern hemisphere “summer” in your shorts and t-shirt?
Couple of things to look at today: Artwork, Live Stream, and Narrative
The main image (above) is from Adam. It shows Hatter giving Alice a guided tour of “the story to date” – a visual exploration of events leading up to where they are when Alice arrives in Hatter’s domain. Basically a “where are we and how did we get here.”
This scene takes place when Alice first meets Hatter.. and is designed in a way such that explaining the required exposition is done in a way that’s kept exciting and engaging.
The scene (above) with Alce and The Knave is her first encounter with this Insane Child who has taken up employment with The Queen of Hearts.
Lots of great art being produced these days – all of it following along the scenes written in the Alice: Asylum Narrative Overview. You can click on that link to download the Narrative Overview – but beware! – lots of spoilers contained in that document.
There WILL BE a live stream this week over on Twitch. The usual place and time…
Important Note: This is very likely the last Live Stream from our current location. And the last Live Stream in The Year of The Rat. Because we won’t do another Stream until after the upcoming Chinese New Year – as we head into The Year of The Metal Ox. Rawr!
And… we’re moving house! American and family will be heading to a new home on the southern outskirts of Shanghai. That means there will be a period of time where Live Streaming is disrupted by moving home – and another period disrupted by going back to Yan’s hometown for Chinese New Year celebrations (with her family).
The last item for today is related to Narrative Crowd Design.
STOP READING NOW if you want to avoid SPOILERS!!!
Lately, I’ve been working on the mechanic for presenting all the back story elements we need to convey to people playing Alice: Asylum. So we’ve come up with a couple of ideas… and one of those ideas is presented in what’s written below.
STOP READING NOW if you want to avoid SPOILERS!!!
The main idea is that we’re implicating the Liddell family lawyer, Radcliffe, in Alice’s encounter with chaos (the fire that killed her family, incarceration in The Asylum, Bumby’s predilections, and the problems caused by Alice killing Bumby.
And Alice’s discovery of Radcliffe’s involvement, plus her method for extricating herself from guilty in Bumby’s murder… are contained in a Letter she’s written to Radcliffe.
Anyway, before we get too far ahead of ourselves on this… have a read…
STOP READING NOW if you want to avoid SPOILERS!!!
Memory Scenes – Test Writing
These always take place when we visit Caterpillar. The main narration we’re hearing is Adult Alice – she’s reading the Letter to Radcliffe. (At the start, we are unaware of The Letter – and do not reveal it as a letter, or Adult Alice as the narrator, until much later in the game).
Show the scenes from the past (memories) as Living Scenes – ghostly actors moving around sets – where Child Alice can walk around, explore, and listen as the scenes play out. Night of the fire; taken to the Hospital; the missed Funeral; moved to The Asylum; years of Incarceration and Madness; the First Adventure; the Home for Wayward Children; the Second Adventure; the murder of Bumby; the murder investigation; ejection from The HFWC; life on the streets of London; discovery of critical evidence regarding Radcliffe;
Night of The Fire
Alice peers into the Snow Globe and is pulled into a ghostly scene: “The Liddell House – Date Nov 5th, 1863” – The scene is presented in a dream-like style of muted colors and uncertain lines. Alice’s avatar is solid and normal – wearing her nightgown – while other characters in the scene are presented as transparent specters – not solid; unable to interact with; cannot touch or be touched by Alice.
Alice stands in the front yard of her family home. It’s night and snow falls from the sky above. There are no lights on inside. The house is sleeping.
“That night began like any other. But it ended as an encounter with chaos, unlike anything I’d known before. But I was only 11, so what did I know of chaos?”
We PLAY as Alice navigates the scene and makes her way into the house through a front door that is open to the night air.
“At first I blamed the cat. Always knocking over the oil lamps and having nearly burned down the house at least two times prior. But it did not add up. The locked doors on the second floor. The front door wide open so that the flames could be seen raging inside.”
Flashes of imagery to match the narration: The cat knocking over the oil lamp; Alice’s parents frantically trying to open their bedroom door as smoke filled the corridor. Alice laying in the snow-covered front yard looking up at a burning house filled with screams – the front door conspicuously open.
We PLAY as Alice makes her way to the second floor.
“There were lamps on every floor. But we had checked to ensure they were all extinguished before turning in for the night. Lizzie and I even made a game of running around the house and snuffing them out. And no one ever locked their doors in our home. We had no secrets to hide… or so I thought.”
Flashes of imagery to match the narration: Alice and Lizzie running around excitedly to extinguish all the lamps. A shady black-gloved hand turning a key in a lock. A shadowy figure pouring lamp oil down the corridor outside the family bedrooms. A match thrown to light the oil on fire.
“I imagined you a centaur. I later discovered you were a different kind of monster entirely. But first… I had to be the monster.”
Final flashes of Child Alice being taken away in a straight jacket.
Taken To The Hospital
Alice peers into the Snow Globe and is pulled into a ghostly scene: “XX Hospital – Date Nov XXth, 1863” – The scene is presented in a dream-like style of muted colors and uncertain lines. Alice’s avatar is solid and normal – wearing her nightgown – while other characters in the scene are presented as transparent specters – not solid; unable to interact with; cannot touch or be touched by Alice.
Flashes of Alice taken from her burning home to the hospital. On a stretcher and tended to by nurses and doctors.
“I don’t know what they expected of me. A world blown apart in the span of a night. I was bruised and burnt. At the hospital, they treated my obvious wounds. But left unattended the damage they could not see.”
We PLAY as Alice explores the corridors of the hospital weaving a path that ends at Alice’s room. Here we see our first glimpse of the family doctor and another unknown figure: Bumby and Radcliffe.
Voices overheard: “It’s a miracle she survived.” “Inconvenient.” “She’s young. An event like this will be naturally suppressed – a sort of survival mechanism.” “You had better be right. Not only her survival depends on that.”
Flashes of scenes – Alice resisting the doctors and nurses. Police visiting her room, notebooks in hand. Alice stabbing a doctor with a scalpel.
“But my silence and rage – a sort of neurosis or hysteria – were taken to suggest madness. And from that madness blossomed a bouquet of accusations. The more they accused me, the more I lashed out. And so you had me sent to Rutledge.”
Alice peers into the Snow Globe and is pulled into a ghostly scene: “Rutledge Asylum – Date Oct XXth, 1863” – The scene is presented in a dream-like style of muted colors and uncertain lines. Alice’s avatar is solid and normal – wearing her nightgown – while other characters in the scene are presented as transparent specters – not solid; unable to interact with; cannot touch or be touched by Alice.
Flashes of The Asylum – Alice bound to a stretcher, thrashing as she’s rolled through the entrance. Nurses and doctors whispering and staring as she’s wheeled through the corridors filled with the shouts and screams of insanity.
“At that time you were already acting as my guardian. Having me committed to the asylum was easy. Who would you believe? The family lawyer and the doctor? Or the raving mad child everyone now believed had burned her family to death?”
We PLAY as Alice walks the corridors of Rutledge Asylum. Everywhere are signs of neglect, decay, madness, and cruelty. This is not a place for curing insanity – it’s a prison designed to drive one mad. The path leads past various rooms and corridors where we see variations on Alice’s routine in the Asylum. Mealtimes; bouts of uncontrolled rage; interactions with doctors, nurses, and psychologists; playing with the other Insane Children. A final room where Alice is bound to a bed; staring, catatonic, clutching her White Rabbit.
“The days passed into months. The months into years. And many of those years were spent in a state far removed from reality. That must have made you feel at ease – no one believes Insane Children and their make-believe.”
Flashes of Alice’s drawings – sketches on paper; scratched into the walls of her cell; carved into the flash on her arms. Our first glimpse of Wonderland and its inhabitants.
“But in my make-believe was your undoing.”
— End of Test Scenes
After reading that you might have some sense of our goal here. Let me know in the comments below… how does this concept strike you? Can you see this working in-game?
And a last note… Alex and I are working to present a new, longer format version of the Narrative Overview. Lots of YOUR ideas from Crowd Design are contained in there. And we should have something to share in a few weeks… depending on how much impact The Move has on things.
From Shanghai with Brrr,