Remembering Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (part 2)

Hi all!

Pigs Week continues, with more juicy details from Dan's concept primer. It's quite text-heavy, but we'll have more concept art to show you tomorrow, when we continue exploring the concept docs for some specific scenes/environments from the game!


A Machine for Pigs

Conceptual Primer (continued)

The Mansion

Mandus is clearly wealthy; there is no doubt of that. His mansion speaks of every bit the gentleman industrialist, composed of professional taste and distinction. Yet there is a rot within the woodwork, all the plants are dead, dust covers the mantelpiece and the many pieces of fine furniture are draped in sheets. A few gaslights splutter and choke, other rooms are in darkness.

It seems some debauched party took place lately. Flower pots have been knocked over, the beds are in disarray and suspiciously stained. A pig mask is abandoned along with a pile of underwear in one bedroom, the bath is full of a viscious scum of shit, blood and other excretions. The interior greenhouse has been ransacked, the dead plants uprooted and strewn. Everything stinks of faeces.

The children’s rooms, in the attic of the house, have been untouched by this carnality. Up the cold and thin staircase to bare floor corridors and grey walls, the nurseries have clearly not been habited for some time. An elaborate game was abandoned halfway through – there is a recreation of some South American temple complex, some archeological fascination, all over the floor. Wooden temples, beautifully detailed, down to the eviscerated sacrifice upon the chacmool altar. All the priests are pigs. By the window, a rocking horse stops it’s motion in the dark as the light hits it.

“Papa, papa! Come and see! We’ve found an egg, a stone egg!”

The Chapel

St. Anthony the Abbott’s chapel is tucked away between what was the abattoir and a conveniently located pie-factory, accessed through a dingy alley that runs along the length of the two exterior walls. It was never technically decommissioned, more fell into disuse, probably around the same time as the scandal that engulfed the Mandus empire and it’s patriarch’s subsequent and mysterious disappearance.

From the outside, it is unremarkable. In fact, with its squat steeple, barely enough room to rig a single bell, you could miss the fact it has any Christian connotations at all. From the front, there are no windows, just a plain double door, now hanging slack. Inside, without any introduction, it opens into a bare, rectangular room with stone paving slabs, one of two of which are carved with the names of Mandus family members. A series of old pews still run through the middle with a central aisle, hugged closely by four paired sets of unremarkably fluted pillars. The archways above these splay out drunkenly, yet clearly serve no real architectural function, more a gothic conceit. The altar is a single block of stone, oddly resembling a fusion between a traditional dais and one of the creepy chacmool sacrificial statuettes of Palenque or Chichen Itza. Looking closely, one can see that on the wooden cross that stands obscene and proud upon the altar, a pig is nailed to the cross in a blasphemous variation of the martyred Christ.

Behind the altar, the space narrows into what could almost be a cage. Heavy iron bars come down from the high ceiling blocking off access to the presbytery. Some kind of mechanism clearly lifted them once. Fortunately, time has not been kind, and the section of the bars that served as a central door is missing, possibly looted and melted down for scrap. Beyond, the space is dark and dismal, a mouldy rope hanging without ceremony from the stunted belltower, and directly underneath it, a grille, dropping into unknown dark. A foul odor of old rot and evil emanates from this. If you look closely, it appears to be hinged.

The light into the chapel must have been provided by floor-standing candelabras once. The only other source would be a stained glass window behind the bell rope. It portrays as unholy and blasphemous a scene as ever located in a place of worship: a man wearing the mask of a pig, seemingly fused with machine parts and cables running to the four corners of the glass, holds aloft a bleeding heart, ripped from the torso of a pig with a human face.

I be spit slit split spilt silt in the river, my wombish pig. You cut and I bleed it gone, this raging, this unhappy. Manpig a sheep a sleep in peace with blood in your hair, this is the blood that you suckled my teat teeth in a sheaf soak the children of my udders.

Pig Line

Automation is the future, it is where all our solutions lie, and it is this philosophy that rests at the heart of the Mandus Patented Processing Engine. We integrate the very latest knowledge of chemistry, using low levels of a laudanum derivative in feed to subdue the product even before the initiation of the process. This means that when we drop them from holding pens onto the pig line, they are less likely to panic and damage machine components, other products or themselves. This section of the belt is sheathed in rubber and broken into low compartments to separate product out. We keep this section lit well, to maintain mood, and have actually found that the intelligent placement of gramophones and simple acoustic amplification tubes around the line means we can use music to further soothe the product. We find Debussy particularly effective in this regard.

After travelling through sorting, the product approaches stunning. This is achieved by two arms which operate on a clockwork timer to swing into place, triggered by the passing of the previous holding car. I should mention, of course, that each compartment is ergonomically designed, with a feed-trough at one end, so the product naturally settles into a position ready for the stunning arms to connect to the skull. We use the natural static charge build up by the friction of the carts against the belt to build an electrical charge, which is contained within glass vacuum canisters at the sides of the stunning arm mechanisms and delivered along the stun arms via copper cabling. We have observed that the artificial lightning contained within these canisters seems to calm the product further.

Post-stunning, the pig line tilts sharply to the vertical, the physics of which tips the stunned product upwards to fall, directly onto the hook of the bleeding line. This hook passes normally through the haunch or thigh of the product, and from this point, we dispense with the belt and instead instigate a channeled floor, which creates a funnel allowing blood and by-product excretions to collect and run to the fluid collection tanks. Brilliantly, our engineer has also installed a series of collecting vents along the ceiling at this stage of the line. He has noted that in the process of both stunning and bleeding, the product often expels vapours from its digestive system, which can be collected, condensed, and used in the methane boiler to drive the engine as a whole. In this way, the more product is processed, the more power becomes available to the machine, and productivity is actually increased. A simple stroke of genius, but one that encapsulates the benefits of self-regulatory automation.

The product moves now into the bleeding. We have cunningly arranged a system of spring-loaded blades, based upon the ancient principle of the agricultural scythe.
Tension is built via a series of springs that run along the bleeding line, again, using the momentum of the product itself to build up the energy for the action ahead. The blades are free-spinning discs mounted upon brass joints, which are released at a point of optimum tension as the product passes them. The combination of the speed of release and the sudden stop against the rubber buffers at the side of the pig-line set the blades spinning rapidly enough to cut the throat of the product without causing further damage to it’s structure. It is a clean, sympathetic and efficient process. Thus, the cut made, the product continues along the line, and the natural bleeding process is allowed time to occur, the blood collecting in the angled basin at the foot of the line. Secondary spring- blades are positioned at two further points along the line. Should the mid-level rubber buffers continue to be manipulated, in the form of a semi-bled product thrashing or twitching, these movements automatically form the basis of the spring energy required to send the next bleeding blade into activity.

Naturally, once bled, the product must be scalded, dehaired and scraped ready for gambrolling and evisceration. For this, we pass them through the steam reservoir, which is kept at a constant temperature by passing excess high-pressure venting from the engines, via the boiler and series of large copper pipes, into a stone chamber just below the workhouse. Now this is a cunning feat of design I am particularly proud of. At the centre of the machine, there is a component that must be kept at a consistently low temperature. Don’t interrupt me, I couldn’t begin to explain it to you. As it controls operations of the processing of product throughout the system, let us just call it our central processing unit. Just know that it must not overheat and be done with it. Along with this central processing unit, you should grasp more easily that our work on refrigeration is of the utmost important in retaining product quality, and this also requires heat to be removed from certain areas of the machine. What we have done is to combine two problems into a single solution – the removal of heat from some areas and the requirements for increased heat in others. Conducting panels draw heat using the principles of convection regulated by the boiler and sending freezing air along one set of pipes in one direction, and super-heated vapours in another. For this reason, the boiler may be though of as the beating heart of the entire machine, and it’s power source is one of our little secrets that evades even patenting. My dear fellow, it is of a sort I doubt even those clever fellows at the physics institute have conceived.

I digress. The products pass through the scalding room, above which vents carry the excess heat to the basement of the workhouse, providing those unfortunates with a source of hot water and a means of keeping their dormitories warm – yes, you can see now why they consider us so civically minded and agreed to build the workhouse right next door to our holding pens! – and I should also mention that we have, from a sense of duty and generosity of spirit, ensured that all the offal we cannot sell from our system is donated to the workhouse, making them perhaps the best-fattened unfortunates in the whole of London!

Newly scalded, the product passes into a section of the line that narrows considerably, and is lined with steel brushes. The contact with the brushes helps build up a static electricity charge which we use to power the lights in my mansion – no gaslights for me, my friend. At the same time, the natural process of abrasion removes any hairs and tougher sections of skin, and at the same time as this occurs, gravity will have ensured that the forelegs have dropped to an appropriate position to be removed with a further blade, this time of a heavier weight and a constant rotation, powered as it is by a compressed steam duct from the scalding room. A secondary blade mounted at the ceiling of the very end of the dehairing section cuts through the hindlegs at the level of the hook, and the product now falls naturally onto a new canvas conveyor belt and travels to gambrelling. The feet? Of course, we have considered everything! The hooks pass back towards the boiler to a smaller steam room when they collect for some days until the meat tenderizes to an extent where the hook can be removed by simply dragging them through a narrow aperture. The discarded remnants, the hooves and such join the eviscera in the tripery, which we shall come to in just a moment. Our product, now near fully prepared, is carried upon it’s new belt to the sorting machine, which uses gravity and natural shape to arrange the product in a prone position, head forwards, ready for the removal of the head by a descending blade. We run two parallel lines here, splitting the product between what we have (perhaps a little disrespectfully but one must make exceptions for a little gallows humor in our profession) named “Victoria” and “Albert”. The blades are attached to a pivoting arm, much like a set of giant scales, thus, with minimal additional power, the falling of one, raises the other, so that they operate most efficiently. Now we are left with simply a torso, the product meets with two hooks, one for each leg, which swing the carcass onto the evisceration line.

Here, another of our great innovations comes into play. Rather than the messy and wasteful traditional methods employed, we are using the very latest of scientific understanding to deliver a much more satisfactory solution. Our engineer has noted that the flow and change of air around the entire system creates differential pressure, including those areas of such low pressure one might almost consider them accidental vacuums of the sort we bottle for our physics. Why not then, he proposed, manipulate, steer and condense such vacuums as we do steam or water? Quite, quite brilliantly, he conceived of a complex arrangement of pipes to converge the naturally created vacuums in across the system into a single large chamber, to which is attached a pipe and funnel leading to underneath the pig line. As the product passes the funnel, the hook drops it upon the funnel mouth, and this change in weight opens the door to the vacuum chamber. The entire viscera of the product are removed, via the anus, in one clean and efficient process by the meeting of the two areas of pressure. This process causes the vacuum chamber to seal once more, building a new charge of pressure for the following product. The viscera flow into the tripery vats to meet head, feet, hairs and any skin lost in the scalding process. And waste not, want not, Professor, here it is sifted and sorted and enters the world through more channels and means than you could possibly conceive, though I will not trouble your conscience with the details, perhaps. For we have arrived at the penultimate section of the line, splitting. Here again, economy is our driving principle, for we are simply making use of another part of our engine to serve a dual-purpose. You will remember, perhaps, the systems of wheels and cogs and pistons a steam engine such as ours requires? From one such wheel, a gearbox turns a sub- piston, which drives a circular blade constantly back and forth along the vertical axis.

The product passes by this section of the engine and is driven through the blade, splitting it into two sections ready for the butcher’s block. And in the interim, it is kept in our freezer bays under the house, and the heat produced naturally by the refrigeration process feeds into the pipes and crannies of these rooms and is the very reason, my dear Professor, that we can sit here in shirts and waistcoats but no jackets, on a freezing January night, without a fire in the grate, and discuss our great enterprise. In a very real sense, my dear man, you owe the warmth in your belly and your toes, to those bellies and toes even now passing through steam, fire and blade beneath our feet. May I tempt you to another sausage?

Hither me, hither me, I have such love for thee as only death can offer. You profit my viscera. Kill the parent or kill the children, it sing bones of old steam. We make you escape forever, you slit the throat, bleed out the pig and it release into the curdle. That you set your species free.