Conferencing About Cinematic Milestones On a Sunny Friday
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,
seconds to go
Pledge $5 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $15 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $20 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $30 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $75 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $150 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $250 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $350 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $375 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $400 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $750 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $1,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (25 left of 25)
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:
Pledge $1,500 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $2,000 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $2,500 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (9 left of 9)
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:
Pledge $2,500 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $5,000 or moreYou selected
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:
Pledge $5,000 or moreYou selected
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)