Remembering Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (Part 1)

Hi everyone!

We recently unearthed early game design documents and concepts from our second game, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, that was published in 2013 by Frictional Games. We thought it would be great to share those with you, but couldn't realistically post all the documents as one blog entry, as they are HUGE! So we decided to make this the unofficial "Pigs" week here on the blog - hope you enjoy reading all of this!

“Mr Mandus, I admire your vision, your ambition, I really do. But surely there are not enough pigs in the whole of London to satisfy the appetite of such a machine!”
“My dear Professor, that all rather depends on what one considers to be a pig”

A Machine for Pigs

Conceptual Primer

Dan Pinchbeck
August / September / October 2011


From the diary of Oswald Mandus

“In my dream, this is what I see. A great machine, dressed in the skins of jaguars and the feathered headdress of a bloody saint. Bent across a man, shackled and in profit. He, in turn, bent over a pig, an animal to be farmed. Itself bent across the machine, forming a great unbroken cycle. The blood spilling as it turned was the lubricant that allowed it to spin. It crushes evil under its tread and liberates us all.

There is a violence in the world, in the spirit of man, like a tumour of the soul it grows, like a buboe, it must be periodically lanced or the infection bends inwards and grows within our very selves. This is the true meaning of sacrifice, to give ourselves, to bleed the body so that the soul may live. The Aztecs understood this, as did the Maya, the Olmec, and all of their forgotten ancestors. They shed blood in order to release the infection within it. Their tragedy was this: they simply could not spill enough blood to drain the sickness in its entirety. This has always been the dream of man. Only now, as we harness nature and bend the powers of steam, of magnetism, of electricity to our will, have we gained the power to eradicate this cancer of violence for always and everywhere. If we spill enough blood, we can be set free.”



The year is 1883. Wealthy industrialist Oswald Mandus has returned home from a disastrous expedition to Mexico. Traumatised by the deaths of his wife and children, he has thrown himself into work for the last four months, constructing “the greatest engine of the age”, a vast complex above and below the London streets. The machine’s purpose is unknown. There are rumours of an unholy technology, of deaths and misadventures, of screams from far below the ground. The stench of stale blood is always upon him.

The game starts with Oswald awakening from a fever, and pursuing what he believes to be the ghosts of his children. He follows their voices through his manor, through a strange airlock structure into a chapel that also seems to function as the entrance to a huge abattoir. Mandus realises he has constructed this machine and it is vast; it also seems connected to his expedition to Mexico. The structure is filthy and swamped with lethal bacteria; it also seems to be occupied by a degenerate form of man-pig. As Mandus travels through the machine, he begins to realise that the disease that he is so susceptible to is interwoven with the machine’s purpose. A new voice begins to speak to him, claiming to be a god. Although he initially writes this off as his delusion, Mandus comes to realise that there is indeed another presence in the machine, and it is The Machine itself. This machine intelligence needs Mandus’ help, to flush the infectants from its system and restore purity. Mandus realises that this is the fundamental purpose of the entire machine he has built. Around this point however, his travels through the machine lead him back above ground into a Hotel where it seems people are being fattened and fed into the machine: that it is designed for the mass slaughter of humans, not animals. Mandus realises that he has brought something else back from Mexico with him, something inhuman, with horrendous designs for London’s population. The machine, believing itself to be a trapped God, requires a massive sacrifice to wipe the filth of humanity from the world and restore its purity and power. It also boasts it has manipulated Mandus not only to construct its body, but then also to sacrifice his children to keep it alive, and then to journey back into it, diverting the filth and disease and building its power. Mandus realises he must destroy the machine, and travels deeper, finding a steam-powered neural network that forms the machine’s brain. He finds evidence that the Manpigs, far from serving the machine, have been attempting to poison it with infectious waste from the sewers. The machine realises and forces the manpigs to chase Mandus far down deep into its central processing units. However, when they capture him, rather than kill him, they infect him and throw him down a well into the very depths of the machine. Here Mandus finds its artificial soul, an orb suspended in a beam of light above a reconstructed Mayan temple. Mandus infects the orb and the two die together: a god and a servant, although it is no longer clear which is which.

[the machine speaks:]
All dark in flow my seep my shadow, be crawl in through my pipe my vein. I will croon so interiorly, between my sleep, my seep and the drip drip piston in pipe a manpig.
Beckony, beckony inward.


Of Men and Pigs

A queer sort of shuffling noise, a scraping of half-foot, half-hoof in the darkness, and at the same time, a thin, keening noise, air pushed wheezy through ill-formed nostrils, the pain of the lung in the desperate sucking and forcing of that awful noise. I became most frightfully aware of the stench, a gumming, a gluey, fecund hiss, a rot crawled under the cracking stone doors of a breached charnal house, a body exhumed in full ripeness.

Then the dragging feet stopping and I heard, distinctly, a sniffing, breaking the emphysemic whine of its breathing. A grunt broke into a squeal, excited and plaintive at once, and it resumed its dragging, lopsided shuffle towards me. I backed away from the light and, with a sudden rush of inspiration, took a bottle of the bleaching agent from the shelves and poured it across the floor. The creature in the dark stopped again, then with a half-bellow, half-scream, a wet and thin tear that spoke only of damaged vocal chords; an aria tortured from the tuberculouse lungs of abused livestock, redoubled it’s pace and came right towards the room, banging against the walls as it came, as graceless as it was inhuman. I slid myself between the shelves and the wall, and, tipping a volume of Mr Grip’s Encyclopedia of Biologickal Experimentations onto it’s side, found myself able to see the room from the opposite side of the door, as it all at once was pushed open and my pursuer stumbled into the room.

What exhumation was this, what rotten fruit, what be-stitching of parts? I found myself revolted, terrified, but even then, I felt behind the nausea, the disgust, an aching and overwhelming pity for the creature that stood before me. From some diseased vision it came, from the overzealous and infective fury of some medieval monk, ridden with plague and determined to visit their interior hell upon the world. Spindle legs, knees bent back like a quadruped, yet tottering upright like a man. Splayed half-hooves, ending in the fused stubs of near-formed toes, yet when I looked closer I saw they were perhaps not hooves at all, perhaps the feet had been stitched and strapped and sewn to create that impression. And again, looking upwards to those knees, not naturally deformed but broken backwards and then held in place with an arrangement of rods and calipers. This truss, this cage to bend the body into shape upwards towards the groin where, to my disgust, a distended pig’s udder swung obscenely backwards and forwards, some grisly grey fluid leaking lazily from each quivering teat. The whole thing held jutting forwards by the belts and straps of the truss, from one teat the end of a leather hose still swinging in the light. Skin stretched to break, to tear, stitches and plasters holding the distention together tight up against a swollen belly. A strangely inverse, flattened breastbone leaving the ribcage jutting out to either side, about to collapse in on itself, more half- sagged wings than breasts, the straps and chains keeping the body crushed forwards on itself, curled over into a half crouch. Permanently stooped to rut or feed, or perhaps both at once, a wholly perverted stance of no natural origin. All across the torso, thick blemishes, lesions that ran with the same grey gruel, like a sack of rancid milk come apart at a scattering of bloody seams. Thin, horrid, grasping arms, atrophied and barely able to lift their own weight, though they clawed and grasped forwards to steady the creature as it blindly stumbled forwards. Wires and straps like exterior veins, wrapped around the wrists, plunging through the palms like stigmata, looped and puppeting over wasted biceps, all joining with the belts from the legs, udder, belly, into a thick metal collar draped – no, riveted, nailed deep – into the shoulders. Crusted blood from the fastening. As it’s head moved out of the shadows, it paused, sniffing the air, confused by the cloy of the bleaching agent. Seeming suddenly unsure of itself, it half-turned as if to retreat and I stifled a gasp as it’s back moved into view. Some madman had been at play on this poor, savage devil. A great gash ran from the back of the skull, where the metal collar reared up and was fixed to the hairless, deformed skull by a spider-leg arrangement of pumping, pulsating tubes, sunk like proboscis into the wet grey flesh, all the way down the spine to the anus, which was distended and twisted into a sick approximation of a pig’s tail. From this festering wound, the spine of the creature had been ripped, raised out of the skin and held some six inches above it by an arrangement of wires and metal pivots. It was wrapped and bound in the same pulsing tubes, and bent by this contraption into a semi-circle, like the arch over a chapel door. This excruciating deformation was clearly causing agony to the creature with each tentative shuffling step, and it turned with ungainly, pained movements, it’s pathetic arms held tightly to the sides to try and keep it upright. The horrible sniffing began again and it stumbled further into the room, until the yellow of the gaslight finally fell across it’s ruined features.

In my time as an army surgeon, based in the fetid and ghastly jungles of Central Africa, I learnt, as one does, to erect great mental and emotional barriers against the horrors of the swamp diseases found in that godless region. But I never, in all that desperate time, saw as ravaged, as bent, as ruined a visage as that was stooping before me under the weight of its own distorted and mangled spine. Whether the creature was originally man or pig I could not tell, it flowed from first one species of origin to the other, and now was damnably neither. The lesions flowed upwards from the heavy metal collar to cake the lower jaw, a leprous jowl hanging yellow and sickly. The mouth was sewn shut, it was all the creature could do to whistle and squeal desperately through the heavy twine binding lip to lip. Above this savage tangle, a flattened snout-like nose, perhaps broken and pushed back flat into the face if once a man, perhaps torn loose and left to dangle like the stump of a nose if this creature was born a pig. Upturned, nostrils shoved forwards and gaping like wounds, thin drizzle of grey mucus onto the stitching of the mouth, smashed and bloodied and sniffing and heavy and wheezing oxygen into lungs crushed beyond usefulness by the spinal carriage and noxious wracking of the diseases clearly consuming the beast. In dark recesses, bloodshot yellow-white eyes, near blind with cataracts, wept viscous tears of bile into permanently wet, cracked and lesioned cheeks. Above this, the head swept immediately backwards, yanked into a horrible egg-like flattening by the skullpiece of the collar. The head titled back on the spindly, riven neck and sniffed the air once more, the milky eyes sweeping on their sightless path. Then it took another step forwards and one of the thin arms raised up and reach directly for the bookshelf where I was hidden, and through the sewn lips, I heard, horribly distorted by the deformation but discernible nonetheless, a wretched whisper: “for God’s sake man, help me, help me”

Little monkey manpig come down your tree I wait so long for thee. Losey hair your body and find your instead circle. Make a wheel fastening a great industry to spin and stop a curdle. I plant an egg in your soul it will make a crop of thee.