More than ten years after overseeing Alice with now-defunct developer Rogue Entertainment, American McGee is wrapping up a sequel with his Shanghai-based company, Spicy Horse. "This will be the first ever console triple-A game that's been developed from beginning to end in China, for the Western market," McGee told Joystiq during an EA event last Tuesday. "There's been a lot of stuff that's been outsourced, or various pieces of it have been made there, but in terms of production process we had to invent a lot of what we were doing to get this game made there."
Spicy Horse was restructured to handle development of Alice: Madness Returns, and will restructure again once it launches the action game in June. "Well, we don't see that the future for us is in triple-A console games," McGee said. "We actually are trying to make games that are online, free-to-play, 3D advanced casual games, so as we finish this we're going to transition the company back to where we were intending to be when we finished Grimm."
Spicy Horse was on track to follow up Grimm -- its fantasy-themed episodic series for games portal Gametap -- with more casual fare, but was temporarily derailed by an irresistible offer from EA instead. "So, we restructured for two years, we built the game, we did a great job, we're gonna ship it on time, on schedule, we never had a crunch and it's been really awesome. But now, it's back to what our belief is in terms of where things are going, so it's going to be all about free-to-play, 3D games for Asia."
McGee claims that half of the development team has already completed work on Alice: Madness Returns, with ten to fifteen people doing "last-minute cleanup" -- of a project that has gone almost suspiciously (in this industry) according to plan. "I mean, we never had a freakout moment, we never had a crunch, we never had to work on a weekend and, in fact, we were always running ahead of milestones, so we would even give extra days off when the sky was blue, or something like that," he said. "So, it was a really pleasant development experience."
Since Spicy Horse is set on transforming its production process once again, it's currently unsure about what would happen if EA asked for another Alice sequel. "That's a question to ask them. But it might take them another ten years to figure it out," McGee joked.