MASSIVE Story Update (by Alex)

Dear Insane Children, 

We are prepping for a live stream on my YouTube and Twitch Channels at 10AM HKT (about two hours from when I am posting this). But I wanted to get this post out before that… so we might discuss some of what is contained within it.

As mentioned previously, I’ve been working with Alex on the Alice: Asylum Narrative. And we’re making good progress. There are lots of back and forth notes we’re making – and Alex thought it would be interesting to share some of that along with the work we’re doing. 

I’ll let Alex take it from here: 

Narrative Update (from Alex)

Hey everyone,
Alex here with an update on movement and news within the Alice: Asylum project.

For those who are new or who don’t know me, my role within this project is Project Manager, Narrative Co-Writer, and Lead Designer on the Alice: Asylum Design Bible.
I also draw stuff within the art team occasionally.

This is a LONG and detailed post, so grab a cup of tea and come on a journey through the wonders of pre-production with me.

If reading super long posts isn’t your thing, scroll to the bottom, and I’ll give you a TL: DR version. 

Is that tea ready?

Let’s get into it.


1. Initial RAGE and HYSTERIA Mechanics Rationale

——-What follows are notes pulled directly from an exchange between American and Myself recently in the Narrative Outline document. (More on the Narrative Outline in this post below).


I have an idea about “Rage” and “Hysteria.” We already have outfits and distinct looks for both states.
I propose: We introduce a new “rage mechanic” here.
Like the “Hysteria” tutorial before it in Slumber #2, this serves as a tutorial for “Rage.” Positioning gameplay as a story transition between scenes.

Rage Mechanic Rationale:
In Madness Returns, what I didn’t enjoy was that Hysteria was so cool, but if you played the game well and skilfully, you could play the whole of Madness without ever seeing the “Hysteria” state, given it only triggered if you were close to death. And it’s an awesome and iconic look.

In Asylum, I propose that 2x “Special” states are included in the gameplay. “Hysteria,” as is, triggers close to death for powerful clutch saves.
“Rage” is triggered the opposite way. It is a reward for skillful players who can continue combat unscathed, building a “rage” meter by successive combos and hits, dodges, and killing enemies without getting struck themselves.
Once the player is hit, the meter diminishes or is returned to zero.
For balancing, I’d believe once both states are encountered in-game, the player can freely “choose” which state they want to be able to trigger.
One of the other for how they want to play.
“Hysteria” most likely for noobs who get smacked a lot. “Rage” for skilled players who can build the meter successfully.
“Hysteria” a life-saving clutch option when close to death.
“Rage” is an attack buff and limited “super-state” bonus that the player triggers at will once the meter is full. Meter fills by successful and skillful gameplay (killing enemies/precision hits). Depletes by getting stomped.

Sounds good to me.


More to come as this takes shape.

Yay or Nay on introducing Rage as a triggered state instead of via the Rage Box in AMA (2001)?
What should it look like? Do we rename it?

Sound off in the comments.

2. Update on Story and Writing

In working as a co-writer on Asylum, I assist American in creating the story he is trying to tell in the Narrative Outline.

At time of writing, the outline sits at around 40 pages.
We expect it will go to around 60 pages to complete the Asylum story.

While I’ve been working on getting the DB to its current standard over the last few months, American has been working on the story, mostly solo, up until recently. 
I’d been involved in narrative calls, discussion, and ideation, but not so much sitting down and actually writing for a while.

This was interesting in that it allowed me a chance to jump back into the story after the DB work, granting me a new perspective as a reader.

And after reading it fresh, it raised a few flags for me.

I jumped on a call with American, and he suggested giving me time to review, compile, and provide constructive feedback to refine the story.

I’ve now done that, and we’re beginning work on reviewing and actioning all those notes this Friday morning.

Our mantra on this project really is; “If you find a problem, be sure to come back with solutions.”

In any creative process, anyone can raise flags or say something has issues.
What matters is how these quirks are fixed or dealt with.

We want solutions. Not more problems.

After going back and thoroughly reading and then re-reading the story, I understand the messages American is trying to get across.
I feel he’s touched on some exceptional and beautiful moments in Alice’s story.

There’s something really wonderful on those pages. When coupled with all the artwork in the DB, its magic.

But we both agree we need to iron out some jagged edges.

The story is ambitious, but I believe we can pull this off.

As a reader, when you find yourself “reading the story” when we share it again, a word of advice;

I needed to digest the story in pieces to appreciate it fully.

When we share the next pass on the story document, I want to advise people to try and read it; in sittings.

With breaks. As if they were playing a video game. Allow yourself time to digest.

Don’t speed-run it as I did.

I never felt any concern by reading the same narrative outline, alongside all the beautiful artwork, when presented in the design bible.

There was added pacing, structure, and flow. And that’s how it will eventually be presented as the intended finished format.

We share “Work in Progress” here. So please keep that in mind if you find yourself reading the updated Narrative Outline text document soon.

I don’t want to raise cause for concern by sharing my thoughts openly and honestly here.
This is what we signed up for. There’s work to do, and we intend to do it to the best of our ability.

All the same, the top priority that American and I both have within our workflows is finishing the story.

We will refine and tie the threads within the story to make it as cohesive, smooth, and enjoyable of an experience as possible.

There’s no harm in trying to make it the best it can be. So we’re all going to try to do that together with your help.

Here’s an update on where this is all heading;


3. Work To be done with the Story

As of yesterday, American and I now have a large list of itemized things to discuss, then action in the writing.

A brief look at some of the points we’re considering:


1. More dialogue to be introduced and applied where applicable. When a character is speaking, be sure to specify exactly who is talking in the script document.

2. More Shadow Alice encounters to be written into the story. Position her as an active Antagonist, not a “phantom to be followed.” Dialogue, scenes, and appearance confirmations are open to discussion.

3. The Inner Child’s learning experience is The Player’s learning experience. The voice in that aspect needs to be made louder, clearer, and more on-point (focused on those concepts and story beats we know to be critical).

4. Weapons and item pickups to be confirmed and inserted into the Narrative at key points. Can be addressed, discussed, and actioned after or alongside the points above.

5. Character motivations need to be established before dialogue is written. Dialogue serves the character’s agendas. Discuss, Check, Confirm for each character.


Some of the points on the rest of our list are minor and take a few sentence tweaks to tidy up.

For instance:

Brief: Remove the line “…just save Wonderland and go home!”. An old line that is not relevant to story anymore. Rework to suite narrative direction.)


Then, others are much more detailed and warrant further discussion.

(HATTER – Review ALL Comments on Page 23. 
Brief: Review highlighted comments, and confirm direction and understanding of Hatter as a character.

10a) Hatter’s Character, his motivations and agenda. Review all notes on Hatter. He is a key figure in the second half of game.
10b) Rework the Naming Convention of “Pieces of the Champion”. 
Confirm new name and suitable description for “Collectibles that allow Alice a way Home”.
10c) Dialogue for Key Points Hatter needs to communicate. Prima Materia and Overcoming Learning Through Trauma. How is this communicated to Alice / Player?


The focus now is landing on the best possible solution for these issues raised.

Once all that happens and the directions are agreed upon, the new writing in the Narrative Outline re-commences. 
We’ll share more of this with you all as it goes when its ready.

In the spirit of sharing openly, here are some key reference notes we have agreed upon that help guide the current narrative.


With things like this here, without other context, I’m aware it might be a lot to take in for a fresh reader without reading the rest of the story.

We are also aware that any major edits can pose a “domino-effect,” and changes can ripple through the entire story.



There are 3x distinct “Alice’s” in Asylum.
1. The repressed inner-child (player)
2. The Shadow (Antagonist / Alice’s Darkness consuming everything)
3. The Adult we know (Alice Liddell, the one from A:MR and AMA, who is at risk of being consumed by her own darkness (2. The Shadow) and can only be saved by her innocence and inner-child (1.).

All gameplay takes place “within” the psyche of (3.). With real-world consequences for Alice’s life depend on if (1.) or (2.) triumphs over the other.

The idea is that after so many years inside Denial (Circus Realm), she’s aware that something is wrong. That she’s a prisoner. And that she wants to go home. She knows someone put her there but she’s not sure who. And she’s not even sure where “there” is. She knows she’s a captive. And she MUST know she’s captive – so that she has the motivation to escape. And it’s important that our reader know that she knows this as well.

She does have questions to answer: Who is she? Where is she? Why is she there? How put her there? How to escape? Where’s her family?

This stuff exists prior to the Vorpal Blade introduction. But the Vorpal Blade is like a key that lets her open the door to start the adventure and answer those questions.
Remember, Neo in the Matrix was already searching for Morpheus before he was pulled into the adventure. He was looking for “something” and he knew things were “off” but he wasn’t entirely sure what he was looking for or what he would find.



I feel Caterpillar could do some more plot explanation here. Child Alice is the last part of Alice that can stand against getting consumed by the Shadow. Everything else in Wonderland is at risk, or is already being turned / consumed by Chaos.
Child Alice is their last hope in the Darkness. Wonderland = part of Alice. Wonderland consumed by Chaos = all lost in darkness.
I feel that’s what the Slumber encounters are preparing the Child for. To take on something only she can overcome, but she’s not yet ready.

Yes. The Snowglobe Wonderland was a jail in which they kept the Child. But then it became a sort of safe haven for what Wonderland used to be – a time capsule that survived while Real Wonderland was ravaged and destroyed all around it. In breaking open the Globe and releasing Child Alice into Real Wonderland, they are attempting a last-ditch effort to save Wonderland from Shadow Alice.


With things like this here, without other context, I’m aware it might be a lot to take in for a fresh reader without reading the rest of the story.

We are also aware that any major edits can pose a “domino-effect,” and changes can ripple through the entire story.

We’re mindful not to be destructive. We want to solve issues, tie threads, and create worthwhile solutions to the intended story.

I’d ask if you have any suggestions regarding the writing in future; please keep that in mind.

As always, thank you for listening to my TED talk. I hope this fills your knowledge banks with movement and where some things are at moving forwards in this project.

I’ll keep an eye on the threads, comments, and within the Discord.

As always, we’re open to your feedback and input, and we’re excited to get the work that needs to be completed done.

American and I both feel this is in a good position moving forward.
Let’s get to work.



Here’s the TL: DR version if scrolled to the end of this bad-boy.

1. New Rage Mechanic Outlined. Sound good? Y/N

2. Story and Writing. Is now back as the top focus for American and Myself.

3. Work to be done. Writing issues are outlined, identified and scheduled to be discussed, then actioned. Expect updates as these become available.


Alright, Insane Children, have a read through all of that… and join us in a little while over on Twitch for YouTube for the Live Stream. There will be PRIZES

From Shanghai with Love, 


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