Welcome to the inaugural post of the Oz Fairylogue, a new blog that will cover all things Oz: past, present an future. Starting tomorrow I will be blogging about my experiences at the 48th annual Winkie Convention, this past weekend, but today I just learned some interesting news that deserves a post of it’s own; American McGee is working on developing a new Oz video game.
For those who don’t know American McGee got his start as a game designer working for ID Software, where he worked on the first two Quake games and Doom II. After serving as a programmer, level and sound designer on those tremendously successful games he went to work for EA, who acted as producers and distributors for arguably his greatest work: American McGee’s Alice.
Alice told the story of an institutionalized Alice Liddel, who retreats to a distorted version of Wonderland after losing her family in a house fire, and who must use her vorpal blade to cut a bloody swath of enemies to face the Queen of Hearts and regain her sanity. The game was a critical and artistic success, and soon McGee was teaming up with Ronin Games to work on another game, again a dark take on a children’s classic.
This game was of course American McGee’s Oz. The news was met with much fanfare, and a line of high end collectible models based on American’s designs were put out including a rather large and terrifying Flying Monkey figure, which I happen to have in my collection. Unfortunately due to financial issues at Ronin’s parent company, Atari, production on the game was canceled and McGee went on to produce other games for his company Spicy Horse including the episodic American McGee’s Grimm released by telltale games, and the follow up to Alice, Alice: Madness Returns.
However this is not the end of McGee’s Oz-story, as he recently teased fans on his facebook profile with designs for a new cross platform game, designs clearly based on Oz. This was quickly followed up with another photo with additional information. The game will be cross platform, and will play online; it is also a CCG or Collectible/Customizable Card Game.
CCG’s traditionally are games played with physical cards that you buy in blind packs and use to construct a deck that can be played against another player; they often have intricate rules that are affected and outright changed by the cards themselves. There have been several video games to take this concept and either adapt an existing physical card games, such as Yu-Gi-Oh, or Magic: the Gathering, or create a brand new game where the cards only exist within the confines of their own digital worlds. Some of these games such as Kingdom Hearts: Re: Chain of Memories use the cards as only part of their mechanic. There is yet another class of game that combines the physical and electronic, such as the PS3 game Eye of Judgement.
Very little is known about the mechanics of this new game yet, but from the screen shots it seems to emphasize military conquest, and violence (as evidenced the the presence of tanks, and other weapons and the caption on the Dorothy card declaring her a member of the “Emerald Empire”); which will undoubtedly unsettle many Baum purists who prefer physical conflict be kept to a minimum. Other details that can be gleaned from these screen shots indicate the game may have a tactical rpg mechanic, and a steam punk of asthetic as gleaned by Dorothy’s aviator goggles. The presence of tigers may also indicate that McGee, or the artist, Fellipe Martins, who McGee credits for these screen shots, may be drawing inspiration outside of the first book for the game.
For Oz fans looking for a CCG that’s more Baumian in nature, it appears that there is finally some progress on the Orion’s Bell game, as their site has been recently updated and they have a distributor lined up.