American McGee working on three new games

Spicy Horse

(Logo design by Ken Wong)

After the launch of Alice: Madness Returns late last year, American McGee and his Spicy Horse colleagues haven’t been resting on their laurels, instead diving back into game development and taking it in a completely different direction.

McGee explains:

For the past year Spicy Horse has been working on a new initiative, to bring AAA quality gaming to browsers, social networks and mobile devices.

We’ve been using Unity3D to build three new games based on original IP – all of them what you might call “advanced casual” and all of them created using high quality 3D art assets. These are not your mother’s Flash-based social games! But we are integrating many of the elements that helped make online, social, MMO and micro-transaction/freemium/F2P games amongst the fastest growing segments of gaming today.

The studio is currently working on three new games, all in various stages of development and due for release later this year.

BigHead BASH

BigHead BASH

First off is BigHead BASH, a fast-paced online multiplayer affair, set inside a giant toy store (that’s a theme from Spicy Horse this year, you’ll notice).

McGee describes the game as a “new form of digital toy store”: Virtual toys are based on real-world licensed content (from games, comics, books, movies and even music), as well as original Spicy Horse creations. Collect a bunch, upgrade them all, and send them in to fight!

BigHead BASH is heading to Facebook and other social/game networks around in the none-too-distant future. For gaming on the go, a tablet version (designed to use a game controller) is also in the works.

Want in on this action? Join the Beta testing of the game right now, at the BigHead BASH website.



Secondly, the team has tackled another fairy tale, giving it the dark, twisted treatment we’ve come to expect from McGee and his friends. This time around, Little Red Riding Hood has received a makeover, a rich, narrative presentation and a stunning artistic direction, and now appears in Akaneiro: Demon Hunters.

Considered a “spiritual sequel” to the femme fatale fairy tale concept we saw first in Alice, Akaneiro is a sort of RPG-lite, in the spirit of Diablo.

Without mentioning a primary platform for the game, McGee promises cross-platform playability between a PC client, social networking and tablet versions – all using the same player account. He also mentions that social networking will be woven into this release as well.

Crazy Fairies: Jack and the Beanstalk

Crazy Fairies: Jack and the Beanstalk

Finally, the title which we hinted at last week. McGee wants to make sure people know that this is not a game based solely on Jack & The Beanstalk, despite the stunning concept art.

Instead, the Beanstalk is merely one level from Crazy Fairies, a virtual anthology similar Spicy Horse‘s earlier offering Grimm.

It’s been designed to draw on “a multitude of fairy tale stories from around the world”, with each story linking into a game play system McGee explains is similar to Wild Ones or the Worms franchise. That is, a turn-based, multiplayer, projectile weapon duelling game, with a comedy twist.

American McGee in Sydney to promote Alice: Madness Returns

American McGee in Sydney in 2011

Eagle-eyed gamers may have spotted one key point with all three games: They’re all being developed for mobile, social platforms, with nary a “major” console between them.

While McGee isn’t ruling out console development in the future, he explains the reasoning behind focussing on the alternatives, for now at least.

We are not interested in publishing to Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo proprietary platforms (at least not right out of the gate). There’s only so much bandwidth a team can throw at various incarnations of the games they build – both from a development/support perspective, and from a business development perspective.

Our ‘path’ is the one we view as having the least resistance – iOS, Android and web/social. If, after we find success on those platforms, we feel the need for “more” then we might publish elsewhere. This strategy means we can better focus our limited resources on making the best games possible.

McGee and his Spicy Horse team have spent the week in San Francisco, holding “many, many meetings” while at GDC. Upon their return to Shanghai, expect to hear plenty more about BigHead BASH, Akaneiro and Crazy Fairies, with all games expected to be publicly playable very shortly.

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