Hello dear backers! We hope you're all having a terrific Friday. Down here it's a sunny, delightfully warm day, with clear blue skies and a wonderful sense of tranquility — we hate it and can't wait for the next thunderstorm.
I must excuse myself for the delay between the previous update and this one. It's been a decidedly hectic past few weeks and there's much to tell you, but first let's review the current status of Asylum.
We recently hit our biggest milestone yet, one that proves beyond doubt how crazy we are: the Hanwell Institute is already 100% fully explorable, from bottom to top, including all sorts of environmental effects. Finally, walking around Hanwell is a seamless, visually consistent experience and, speaking strictly from an interface standpoint, quite comfortable. We also managed to include every single door animation, which alone amounts to roughly 160 videos (yes, you read that right), ensuring the transition between rooms is smooth and precise. We have doors of all sizes and colors for the sake of diversity, and fortunately (or perhaps not) for you not many of them are locked. So the ratio of available doors / locked doors is quite low for an adventure game of this size, especially when compared to Scratches.
I can't begin to explain the feeling of exploring at will this immense building — it's twisty with hundreds of shadowy corners, but the layout follows a clear logic and it's easy to learn all the shortcuts. You can always access each floor from two different points and it's easy to figure out your current location in the asylum, especially since every room and corridor has its own distinct look and feel. I've been worried for some time about this aspect of the game, wondering if it would be too boring or cumbersome to move around Hanwell, but I'm happy to say that it has worked out. More so, we will be gradually enabling sections of the asylum for you as the game progresses, so you'll have plenty time to familiarize yourself with the environment before the juicy parts of the game take flight.
Speaking of juicy parts, I'm still working on Dagon, implementing features that we need in addition to putting the actual game script together. The guys, though, have already begun producing the cinematics, so we should have compelling new content to show you soon (without spoiling the story, that is). Since some of these cinematics involve complex stagings, it's very practical for us to live act them first. Here's one of our latest productions:
Although the actual cinematic is supposed to be a bit more dramatic than that... It happens to be one of the most tense moments in the game which may spark controversy (but I'm not saying more!).
Anyway, we still have work to do, but it's great to see this project beginning to look like a game. In fact, to test the layout of Hanwell and how it feels to navigate the building, I have already outlined the main flow, that is, the overall path players should follow when the game is complete. To achieve this, I created a sort of "tourist guide" that tells you which room or section you must find and visit next. And you know what? It's actually fun! I mean, we can already claim that this is a game. Like right now! Well, sort of... I mean... just let us enjoy this transitory feeling of accomplishment, OK?
Seriously, by the time you reach the dusty and crumbling rooms of the third floor, you feel like you are in the deepest bowels of this strange, gigantic creature. And if anything unexpected happens, well... let's just say it would take you a long, long time to reach the front door and run as fast as you can.
Conferencing Like There's No Tomorrow
In addition to putting this beast together, we had quite an unusual month in Argentina, with two important conferences and many illustrious visitors. I had the immense joy to talk about adventure games with Tim Schafer, which made me even more excited about Broken Age (I had no idea that was possible in the first place!), personally ask Zach Gage for a sequel to Bit Pilot, and test the genius games of Raph Koster, author of the acclaimed book Theory of Fun. It was inspiring to hear him talk so eloquently about the history of art and narrative in games. It was also a huge pleasure to meet Ron Carmel (World of Goo), Robin Hunicke (Journey), Nathan Vella (Sword & Sworcery), Lee Petty (art director at Double Fine), and Chris Taylor (Total Annihilation). All these fine folks gave excellent talks in the span of two busy but amazing weeks.
I was invited to give a talk as well. For the first time. Ever. The prospect was terrifying, to say the least...
My first talk was a quick overview of the development of Scratches, what the game did right and wrong, and how we're now applying the lessons learned to Asylum. The talk also included a revisiting of some strong influences in my approach to game design, from King's Quest to Dark Seed, and I even had the opportunity to scoff at Myst in front of a giant auditorium!
The second talk was about Kickstarter (or crowdfunding in general) and best practices to communicate ideas and deal with those pesky backers. It was a more technical and sleep-inducing talk, but I guess it fared better than the first one, which had a Pythonesque ending — sort of like "I... umm... have nothing more to say. Thanks, bye". In fact, you (yes, YOU!) took front stage at the end as I concluded that, contrary to popular belief, Kickstarter is not about raising money but working with a community.
Last, but not least, we showed live footage of Asylum in a showcase of Argentinian games, and judging by the screams of terror the audience was suitably impressed. Of course, by now you've already seen all the stuff we showed, but there's fresh new content for you just around the corner...
Lots going on these days on Kickstarter and I'd love to give a shout out to many projects I've personally backed, but I'd rather keep this section focused.
Playing With Fear — First we have this intriguing documentary on the world of horror games. With excellent production values, the project features a huge lineup of developers doing horror games, and we have been invited to participate. If the documentary is successfully funded, we will be interviewed about Scratches and Asylum!
The Slaughter — Any campaign name dropping David Lynch and Scott Walker deserves my support, but this fascinating retro adventure about a series of strange murders in Victorian London wouldn't even require those references. I really want to see this game funded, so please at least help spread the word!
STASIS — I have been a huge fan of the isometric perspective ever since I played Zaxxon . For years I dreamed about an isometric remake of Wasteland until Fallout came by. Heck, I even loved Heimdall. Suffice to say, I would also very much like to see STASIS, a brilliant Sci-Fi isometric adventure, brought to life.
Bolt Riley — Last, but not least, Oded Sharon is a passionate supporter of the adventure genre but he's having a hard time with his campaign for what may be the first game ever based on Reggae. Let's help him out, shall we?
Whew, that will be all for today. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at Dagon and how you may create your own adventures with this engine, and a brand new gameplay video soon!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend,