The Toughest Part Of These Updates Is Coming Up With A Good Title
Last time we spoke I was readying for Gamescom, allegedly the world's largest trade fair for games but secretly a haven for the adventure genre. It's hard to believe that already three weeks have passed since then. Too much is going on these days, so I'm to keep this update as focused as possible and talk about the events that transpired last month.
As usual, Gamescom was an amazing time. It's not only a terrific week for developers and gamers alike, but for me it's also about meeting with friends and the most awesome people working in the industry. To be honest, I thought it was going to be more relaxed than previous years since we didn't release any promotional materials and we aren't ready to share code with the press, so my intention was to keep things rather low key. Turns out this year was the craziest yet before I knew it, I had dozens of meetings lined up in my schedule thanks to Kimara Rouwit who is assisting us with PR and marketing (by the way, happy birthday girl!), and also because I stalked many journalists. It was a week of non-stop action, very few hours of sleep, constantly running around the fair from meeting to meeting, but extremely rewarding. It was especially an interesting experience to sit down with people who didn't hear about Asylum and see their reactions.
As horrible as it is to show a moody game that demands attention and the right mindset in a noisy, busy trade fair, it was very well received, even in its early form and in spite of the anti-moody situation. People were impressed with the visuals, the introspective gameplay, and overall attention to detail. They were also very curious about the story which I didn't (and won't!) discuss long after the game has been released. Besides showing the full intro, which you've already seen, I explained how the first moments of Asylum will unfold, what happens when you enter the Hanwell Mental Institute, the first major puzzle you must solve (involving our Unique Inmate!), how you will interact with characters, how the protagonist evolves and changes the mood as you make progress and uncover disquieting secrets… In all truth, I did mention a few aspects of the story, mostly how it operates on different levels, including an intriguing duality that should be familiar to fans of Scratches. I stressed that it's a complex plot that will greatly reward your curiosity and dedication: the more you prowl for answers, going deeper in your quests, the more it reveals. In fact, I talked way too much, and by the end of the week I barely had any voice left (though the copious amounts of beer probably didn't help either).
This lovely article by Astrid Beulink (aka PolloDiablo) on Adventure Gamers sums up the whole presentation very nicely: Gamescom 2013 round-up: Part 3
You've known most of these things for some time now but I disclosed a couple of new details which are mentioned on that article. In any case, and to keep this update short, I'll get back to more in-depth revelations soon. The team has been producing terrific new content, including characters of remarkable quality, and I've been heavily working on the Dagon engine. A new release is just around the corner, one that the Linux users among you in particular will cherish (you will be able to test all the latest improvements with the readily available Interactive Teaser). Asylum is looking and feeling far better than we ever expected, and as soon as we wrap-up a couple of milestones, we will do a new gameplay video to show you where we're standing.
Guess what? We finally had a proper Backer MeetUp™! It was amazing to meet so many of you, some again, some for the first time, and discuss Asylum in situ (hope you were able to listen to what I had to whisper). This took place during the famed Adventure-Treff party, that magical moment for fans of adventure games that happens once a year, so we had the best possible environment.
To celebrate the occasion, I brought with me Official Asylum™ Posters®! They were a bit too dark (OK, they were very dark), but not too shabby for a first attempt. All the backers who attended took one back home, though I seem to have distributed fifteen (a bit more than the ten backers that I remember), so other unworthy non-backers might have taken advantage of my generosity. The idea is to produce several different posters and allow every backer who pledged on a tier including physical goods to pick any of them as an extra gift. Surpriiiiiise!
In the meantime, all of you may download a super high-definition digital poster in case you want to print it yourselves. Right now. Right over here.
That will be all for today. There's much more to share, so stay tuned as usual. Have a great weekend!
P.S.: You know that Jan Kavan and I are good friends and I still appreciate how many of you rallied to assist him in his J.U.L.I.A. campaign. I can't finish this update without mentioning one of the very best moments of my week in Cologne, which was becoming the first person to play a brand new game in a worldwide exclusive. It's… it's… I can't put this into words:
Produced by CBE Software (essentially Jan Kavan and Lukas Medek), this title challenges the very definition of "video game". It invites you to ponder about life, technology, and boredom. It also features the absolute best finger tapping animation ever seen in a video game. Download here for free.
P.P.S.: Another shout-out to Laney Berry who I also met that week. She's the creator of The St. Christopher's School Lockdown, which I believe several of you also backed. This is hands down one of my most anticipated games with a highly original concept and huge potential.
P.P.P.S.: Because there aren't enough screens on this update, here's a brief exchange that I had with a dweller of the Internet. It illustrates the dangers of playing too much Call of Duty.
P.P.P.P.S.: Hope that was focused enough.
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GUEST - You love us and we love you. For your kind effort, you will be granted a KICKSTARTER BACKER BADGE in our SENSCAPE forums. We will also feature your name on the ONLINE REGISTER OF GUESTS on the upcoming www.Hanwell.org website. Also, our undying gratitude: we will sing songs in your name and light candles on your behalf every night. We might even perform sacrifices!Estimated delivery:
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1998 backers Limited (2 left of 2000)
LIMITED VISITOR - Hurry! This is your chance to get inside Hanwell at the lowest price. You get a DIGITAL DOWNLOADABLE COPY OF ASYLUM for PC, MAC, and LINUX. This special price is available for early backers only. Of course, you will be featured on the ONLINE REGISTER OF VISITORS and also get the backer badge. And maybe more sacrifices.Estimated delivery:
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VISITOR - Oops, missed the previous offer? Worry not! For a few more bucks you can still get inside Hanwell and be terrified for the rest of your life. That's right: a DIGITAL DOWNLOADABLE COPY OF ASYLUM for PC, MAC, and LINUX. Plus the backer badge and online presence as a visitor.Estimated delivery:
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WELL-INFORMED VISITOR - You know your stuff. You want to visit Hanwell with all the leaflets and brochures. Alright then, you get the previous reward tier plus the DIGITAL RECORD BOOK including all sorts of gory details about the asylum, such as character profiles, backstory, and more. Also, the DIGITAL DOWNLOADABLE SOUNDTRACK, so you can listen to moody music as you walk down the somber and dusty corridors...Estimated delivery:
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WAITING VISITOR - You're a visitor and you're well-informed, but what if you have to spend time in the Waiting Room? We've got you covered: you get the previous reward tier plus a full-color PRINTED RECORD BOOK in glossy glory, so you can sit and skim through its pages in the old-fashioned way. Also, a download of A TOUR OF HANWELL documentary with many extras: interviews with the team, making of, and more.Estimated delivery:
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SPECIAL VISITOR - Ohhh myyy, are we fancy. You want to navigate the decrepit and unhealthy halls of Hanwell in style. Fine, then it's the previous reward tier plus the BOXED VERSION OF ASYLUM. Yes, the one we're talking about on the project page, which includes the printed Record Book.Estimated delivery:
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VIP VISITOR - Not content with being special, now you want to be an important, big bad visitor of the Hanwell Institute. Fine then, right this way: you get the previous reward tier plus a glorious DIGIPAK VERSION OF THE SOUNDTRACK, because you also love touching things, and we upgrade your badge to a VIP FORUM BADGE. We'll also THANK YOU IN THE ENDING CREDITS of the game. Finally, you get EARLY ACCESS TO ALPHAS AND BETAS as they're released. Yeah, we take the VIP thing very seriously...Estimated delivery:
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PERMANENT VISITOR - You really love the Hanwell Institute. In fact, you love it so much that you're going to stay inside... forever! This is the first tier that allows you to become immortalized in Asylum: you get the previous reward tier plus your NAME ON THE IN-GAME REGISTER OF VISITORS. This document will be sitting very close to the entrance of Hanwell! But wait, there's more! We'll throw in a cool ASYLUM T-SHIRT to prove to your friends that you've been inside Hanwell.Estimated delivery:
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24 backers Limited (276 left of 300)
INMATE - You don't just love Hanwell... you belong to Hanwell. No, really, you do because you're nuts! You've become an inmate, so you get the previous reward tier except you're featured on the ONLINE REGISTER OF INMATES. Also, you get your NAME ON THE IN-GAME REGISTER OF PAST INMATES. This will be a register in the Archives Room and readable by all players! Finally, your box will be upgraded to a SIGNED BOXED VERSION OF ASYLUM that you can feature on your shelf with style. It will be signed by Agustín himself (or at least someone who believes he's Agustín). We also give you ONE EXTRA DIGITAL DOWNLOAD of the game so that you can gift the horror to someone you hate.Estimated delivery:
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10 backers All gone!
EDUCATED INMATE - You're an inmate, yes. But you're a fancy know-it-all that pays attention in classes. So, you get the previous reward tier except there's a LABEL WITH YOUR NAME IN THE IN-GAME CLASSROOM. Yup, there will be a table with your name on it. Remember to bring the apple! From this tier onwards all the inmates become current residents of the Institute. Therefore, you get your NAME ON THE PRINTED RECORD BOOK as well. Also, all boxes will be upgraded to include a SIGNED AND PERSONALIZED MESSAGE. Agustín will write stuff like "Dear Eriq, I will haunt you in your nightmares. Forever and ever". Or "Joseph, I would love to eat your guts marinated with roach paste". Charming.Estimated delivery:
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4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)
CREATIVE INMATE - You're not that knowledgeable, but you're creative. You like making things. And labelling them. So, you get the previous reward tier except there's a LABEL WITH YOUR NAME IN THE IN-GAME WORKSHOP. This means there will be a lovingly crafted item, you know, like most handcrafted things you can see in schools or modern art museums, with your name attached to it. Awesome.Estimated delivery:
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10 backers All gone!
ARTIST INMATE - You're so creative that you can create art. Yes, art! Well, at least by the standards of the Hanwell Institute... You get the previous reward tier except there will be a DRAWING WITH YOUR NAME AND/OR SIGNATURE IN THE IN-GAME ART ROOM. And if you want to give us your very own drawing we will gladly feature it, as long as the whole team agrees. This goes without saying but the drawing shouldn't offend any religion, race, gender, favorite superhero, etc. It should be PG as well. Other than that, anything goes!Estimated delivery:
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10 backers Limited (30 left of 40)
DOCTOR - You didn't want to be an inmate anyway. You wanted to be... a lumberjack! Sorry, doctor. Thus, you get the previous reward tier except you're featured in the ONLINE REGISTER OF DOCTORS. Also, there will be an IN-GAME DIPLOMA WITH YOUR NAME hanging somewhere in the asylum and very visible to all players. Of course, you're also featured in both the digital and printed Record Book as a staff member of the institute. Finally, we will upgrade your backer badge to a GOLD FORUM BADGE, because we really appreciate your contribution, and you earn a SPECIAL THANKS IN THE ENDING CREDITS.Estimated delivery:
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1 backer Limited (49 left of 50)
SPECIAL INMATE - Your mom always said you were special and we're not going to argue about that fact. But everybody else should know it, so at this pledge level we're giving you the Educated Inmate reward tier except there will be an IN-GAME PROFILE WITH YOUR NAME AND CUSTOM BIOGRAPHY IN THE ARCHIVES ROOM. This is a full-sized profile that will be readable by players. You can even work out the details of the fictional biography with us, including real-life facts! Who knows, maybe you're so crazy you even get to visit a real asylum! You'll also be featured in the SPECIAL THANKS IN THE ENDING CREDITS and earn the GOLD FORUM BADGE.Estimated delivery:
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NOTORIOUS INMATE - You're an inmate and you're locked in a terrifying asylum, but that doesn't mean you can't be famous. You inspire respect (and occasionally fear) in your peers. Everybody knows they shouldn't mess with you... But, this also means that you're more closely watched by the staff. Therefore, you get all the rewards of the Special Inmate tier except there's an IN-GAME PROFILE WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPH AND CUSTOM BIOGRAPHY. These are going to be scattered around the asylum and will be even more visible to every player (for example, in Infirmaries, Meeting Room, Offices, etc). Your picture will be professionally retouched to make you look like a madman or madwoman. That's right, yet another step further into the Hall of the Insane Fame.Estimated delivery:
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1 backer Limited (14 left of 15)
DEAD INMATE - Are you crazy? Do you like being dead? Then this is the reward for you! You get all the stuff from the Special Inmate tier except there will be a PLAQUE WITH YOUR NAME IN THE IN-GAME MORGUE. Yes, there will be a refrigerator with your name on it that is very visible to every player. Also, we'll include a RELATED BIOGRAPHY WITH PHOTOGRAPH AND GRUESOME CAUSE OF DEATH right there in the morgue. In fact, you can tell us what you fear most in life and we'll make that the cause of your demise. Loads of fun for all!Estimated delivery:
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0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)
RENOWNED DOCTOR - So you're a doctor. But you never cared about other people's lives, you're only in it for the fame and glory. We understand. Therefore, we're giving you all the rewards of the Doctor tier except there will be a PROMINENT PORTRAIT WITH YOUR NAME IN THE IN-GAME GALLERY. A plaque will clearly state that you're a respected member of the asylum staff. You send us your picture and our talented artist will paint you as a very serious and pompous doctor. Certainly, your facial features will be fully recognizable because we know you're a show-off. Also, the portrait will be MADE A POSTER AND SIGNED BY THE TEAM, then of course mailed to you. Now take up thy stethoscope and walk!Estimated delivery:
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HIGH RISK MALE INMATE - Same as above but for MALE INMATES ONLY. This goes to show how serious we are about the architecture of the Hanwell Institute.Estimated delivery:
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0 backers Limited (9 left of 9)
HIGH RISK FEMALE INMATE - Now we're talking! You're crazy and you're mean. You're equally feared by other inmates and staff of the asylum. You have committed crimes, even. In a nutshell: you're adorable. With this pledge, your IN-GAME PROFILE IS FEATURED IN A CELL OF THE EXCLUSIVE "TUNNEL OF THE DAMNED". This is a very limited corridor with a dozen cells, and one of them is yours and only yours. For eternity. Not only will there be an in-game register stating this fact in an office before the Tunnel, but the profile with real photo adapted to look like a nutcase and custom biography will be featured right next to this cell. Needless to say, this profile will be MADE A POSTER AND SIGNED BY THE TEAM, then mailed to you. Of course, you also get the remaining rewards of the Notorious Inmate tier. Please note that to comply with the layout of the Institute, this pledge is for FEMALE INMATES ONLY.Estimated delivery:
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0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)
HIGH RISK FEMALE PRODUCER - You really care. And you really love us. Otherwise, why would you give five thousand bucks to complete strangers, right? Rest assured that your money is in good hands, and for your amazingly considerate pledge you get the same rewards as the High Risk Female Pledge, except you are FEATURED AS AN IN-GAME CHARACTER IN A CELL. We will painstakingly model an inmate that looks just like you, wonderfully integrated with the breathtaking graphics in Asylum, and the players will see your virtual self whenever they explore the dreaded "Tunnel of the Damned". For an example of how you will appear in the game, try our Interactive Teaser and look inside the last cell. We can also USE YOUR OWN VOICE for this character. You know, just send us a few screams, cries, groans, and stuff like that if desired. Of course, this tier includes the profile with photo and custom biography too, also printed and signed. Really: it's a virtual, animated rendition of yourself. Locked in an insane asylum. And thousands of players will see you. Must we say more? Yes, we must: your name will be FEATURED AS A PRODUCER DURING THE INTRO OF THE GAME. In other words, we really, really appreciate your pledge.Estimated delivery:
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0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)
HIGH RISK MALE PRODUCER - Same as above but for MALE INMATES ONLY.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10,000 or moreYou selected
1 backer All gone!
UNIQUE INMATE - This is the Mother of All Reward Tiers. You're just like the High Risk Producer except you are part of the story. Indeed: you BECOME AN IN-GAME CHARACTER THAT IS PART OF THE PLOT. Your virtual self will be menacing and will appear twice during the course of the game. Obviously, you will be quite the nuisance to thousands and thousands of players (we can privately reveal your role in the game if you're interested in pledging for this tier). As before, your character will be painstakingly modeled after your real picture. Unfortunately, the plot demands a male character for this role. However, an adventurous woman may still apply to experience what their male alter ego would look like. No matter your gender or sexual orientation, we will work out the facial features of this unique character directly with you. And because you're über-cool, WE WILL PAY FOR YOUR TRIP TO ARGENTINA where you will EAT A GENUINE, LEAN AND MEAN ARGENTINIAN BBQ WITH THE SENSCAPE TEAM. WE'RE SO EXCITED THAT WE CAN'T STOP USING CAPS. Uhm... sorry about that. Anyway, Agustín himself will cook that BBQ for you (if you're a vegan, maybe pasta). Seriously, many would pay with their lives for such a privilege, but we're only asking you for ten thousand bucks. We can be reasonable like that. Please note that the trip will be arranged for February 2014 and we will pay for your accommodation for two days.Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)