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A psychological horror adventure inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and set in a massive, decaying mental institute. Currently in alpha status and being tested by our courageous backers!
3,169 backers pledged $119,426 to help bring this project to life.

Uniting In Chaos

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Better hang on as this is one of those updates… Two weeks ago I was teasing about recent developments that were shaking the foundation of Asylum and, quite possibly, the very essence of existence itself (more or less). In short, the news is that we’re reimplementing the game in Unity.

Wait WHAT?!

It may take a while to digest the news but this wasn’t a decision that we took lightly. What began as a quick experiment became a serious consideration after we realized that some urgently required features could be implemented faster and better. Indeed, in merely three weeks we have achieved tremendous progress in our major pending task: the interaction with the denizens of the Hanwell Mental Institute. If you recall, we have discussed about the best way to integrate our characters with the pre-rendered graphics of the asylum. We didn’t have many options with the previous incarnation of our engine Dagon: since we were unable to incorporate realtime 3D graphics, the characters had to be pre-rendered as well, thus resulting in robotic and stiff animations.

While I toyed with the idea of supporting 3D models in Dagon, it soon became evident that we neither have the time nor budget to tackle such a development. 3D is darned complicated: from drawing the polygons, to properly applying the texture, to how lights affect the model, to correctly interpreting the internal skeleton for proper animation, to ensuring those polygons remain attached to the skeleton when it moves… Well, there’s a reason why there are dedicated engines for all that.

By moving to Unity we can bring our lovingly crafted 3D models with smooth, polished animations and manipulate them in ways that previously weren’t even remotely possible. It truly makes our lives much easier, and our tests are already promising vivid and meaningful conversations.

#{project_title}'s video poster

I know that Julia still looks robotic, but this quick test already looks better than our previous pre-rendered efforts. Expect a massive improvement soon as we now have full control over every bit of movement in her body and face.

But… BUT…

It’s true that right now we’re in a transitional period where things are progressing slower, reason why I also decided to postpone the alpha testing of the game. However, I’m convinced that within a few weeks not only will the game be at the same stage of development, but from then on we’ll continue considerably faster, especially with the character interaction logic out of the way (and one that is up to the standards we’re aiming). More so, we have been tweaking the Unity editor to fit our needs and allow a super-easy creation of the structure of the game. In short, porting the Asylum code itself is a straightforward and quick process, but right now we’re still focusing on the tools.

Surely the burning question in your minds then is why not choose Unity from the very beginning. When we began working on this game many aeons ago, Unity was still a young engine and not fit for an adventure like Asylum. It only became a suitable alternative in 2010, back when the game was announced. By then I was already working on Dagon and making solid progress, yet as months went by Unity became the powerhouse it is today. Make no mistake: Dagon is already a fairly mature engine that turns the creation of first person adventures into a crazy simple process. In fact, it would be already possible to recreate Scratches in Dagon alone, and make it look even better. It’s just that Dagon is still not up to the task of handling a game like Asylum. So, instead of bringing the expensive features we need for Asylum to our own engine, it makes more sense to Dagonize Unity to our liking. It’s important to note that most of the game is still node-based, though the illusion of realtime 3D is more striking than ever. Something else I wanted to do but scrapped the idea until now is a 3D notepad instead of a flat graphic one. The result can be appreciated in the following short video, and you can see how the waning sun affects the notepad for maximum immersion.

#{project_title}'s video poster

Yet another bit of great news is that we can now guarantee immediate ports to iPad and Android tablets once Asylum is complete. Suffice to say, everything that we do in Unity will be free and open in the same spirit as the original Dagon, and I’m hoping to upload our current tools to GitHub soon.

Expanding the family

An additional benefit of moving to Unity is the ability to collaborate on the code more easily. Making changes to the in-house developed Dagon was a complex task and the lack of a visual editor was a deal breaker for our artistic-oriented teammates. Unity is very comfortable to work with, and the ability to customize the editor has greatly expanded our horizons. For instance, all the new visual effects were created by Pablo with close to no input from me (up until now he was periodically annoying me to implement this feature in Dagon, which was waaay low on my list of priorities).

The decision has also prompted me to bring more crazy folks to the merry band of Senscapers. Three programmers have begun tackling different aspects of the port, including the new features I described. Today I’m introducing to you the amazingly talented Ani Albano, faithful Servant of Azathoth a.k.a. Nuclear Chaos a.k.a. Daemon Sultan a.k.a. Blind Idiot God. This already makes four of us working on the code of Asylum, and more should be assisting us soon.

The circle is now complete

The outlook is better than ever as we’re readying to deliver the final and decisive blow to Asylum. The news might sound scary at first as we’re essentially rebuilding the game, but it’s still a comparatively small task if you consider all the things we should have done to Dagon. True, we could have rejected many of these features (realtime characters, environmental effects, beautifully animated notepad and books, etc) and stick to our engine, but I don’t believe you would want that. We certainly don’t either — put simply, a better game comes first. It’s been hard for me to make this decision, especially after all the work I did for Dagon, but I would be a fool to disregard the benefits and smoother workflow that Unity provides us right now. I know a few among you have adopted Dagon for your projects, so fear not: the previous engine is by no means being abandoned, just put in hiatus as we migrate its functionality to Unity. It remains to be seen how we will achieve interoperability between both tools (let’s call them Dagon++ and Dagonity), but it’s definitely among our plans.

Stay tuned as we prepare more material to show you as well as an in-depth look into this radical new workflow.

Another Dagon

Speaking of Dagon, everybody’s favorite and loathsome monster from unfathomable watery depths, theres’s another incarnation that could really use your help. The Eldritch Cases: Dagon is an extremely promising adventure that in spite of a terrific Kickstarter campaign and an extremely promising premise, especially for Lovecraft fans, it has yet to reach its goal, even though it has already been more than 50% funded and it still has a few days to go. Curse chaos! All is not lost, though, and with a joined effort this Lovecraftian horror adventure could easily make its target. Please, don’t let Dagon become another detestable stone idol on a submarine obelisk of water-soaked granite!

Rich P, StromIV, and 23 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Creator Agustín Cordes on June 4, 2014

      Nick, we're not sure yet, but the plan is to wrap up the game later this year. The migration to Unity has slowed us a bit but we're still looking to hit a stable alpha soon. With that ready, we should be able to offer a more solid release date!

    2. Creator Nick Albright on June 4, 2014

      I may have missed it in the comments and forums, but what is the estimated delivery quarter?

    3. Creator Russell Deitch on May 31, 2014

      This has been a bumper month for delivery (and all of them late). I am now the proud owner of Among The Sleep, The Fall and Whispering Willows.

    4. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 28, 2014

      @Russell Thanks for the vote of confidence, it means a lot! We're definitely finishing Asylum, and we're doing everything we can to do it sooner than later. I know I say this often, but the final game won't disappoint... we have big and horrifying things in store for all of you :)

    5. Creator Russell Deitch on May 28, 2014

      I know people get funny about delay upon delay, but I have every confidence here that we will eventually get something worth waiting for. The estimated Project Fedora delivery date was December 2012. It was delivered (as Tesla Effect) on 7th May 2014.

    6. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 12, 2014

      @Lucas Certainly a possibility! We'll look into new ports when the time comes :)

    7. Creator Riggo 2x - AGL 589 on May 12, 2014

      Ooooooohh... Pretty...

    8. Creator Lucas Felipe Reche Gonçalves on May 12, 2014

      What about Windows tablets? With their new Universal App program and Unity Engine, Asylum could be easily ported among Xbox One and 360, Tabets, Hybrids and PCs.

    9. Creator Chris Stolz on May 12, 2014

      I highly support the move to Unity. I know it must have been a hard decision but the Pro's out way the Cons in this case. Good luck porting everything over and welcome to Unity!!

    10. Creator Cleo on May 11, 2014

      Having worked in the Dagon engine for over a year and knowing first hand of its multiple good points as well as its limitations, I applaud Agustin for making this gutsy move. The melding of Dagon into Unity may delay the game for a few months, but actually trying to make Asylum into the game that Agustin envisioned using just the Dagon engine would probably have taken longer. There was just a great deal left to be figured out in Dagon that is already available in Unity. In Unity, the ability to use 3D meshes will allow for greater interactivity, better character animations, and atmospheric effects. I have every confidence in Agustin and the Senscape team and will eagerly await the release of the "Dagonity."

      @Agustin -
      I'm glad to see that you're being nice to Pablo. You should give him anything that he wants!

    11. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 11, 2014

      @Snake I know and understand, but I'd rather wait so you can play a truly polished and rich alpha. You can expect to explore the entire asylum with the environmental effects I described, plus test how the character interaction works. We're working around the clock to make this happen ASAP, and I promise the extra wait will be worth it :)

    12. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 11, 2014

      @Gordon That would be correct, the game will remain node based, though the added visual effects will make a huge difference. There's no way we can turn Asylum into realtime 3D.

    13. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 11, 2014

      @Ingo No, not really. Those were still Dagon screenshots. I will post comparisons in another update, but the major difference in the courtyard would be the thunderstorm as seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch…

      No video can do justice to how it *feels* playing Asylum under those menacing weather conditions.

    14. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 11, 2014

      @Fate Thank you for the vote of confidence. I definitely understand the frustration, and by all means, if anybody needs to vent, feel free to do so. It's just that I can picture all of you playing Asylum in its final incarnation and I know you will realise that we made the right call :)

    15. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 11, 2014

      @Rowena Rest assured it WILL get finished. If anything, this decision is making our lives much easier. Not only Asylum will look better, it's actually the safest route.

    16. Creator Palindrome Bob-XSF-I'm in AGL589-BG5.22 on May 10, 2014

      I fully support this decision of yours. As you might remember, I had some problems getting the latest dagon to work properly on my Linux OS. I am pretty sure that will not be the case with Unity's version.
      As to those complaining this game will be delayed even further I only say: to me all you have to take care of is make a top-notch game up to your own standards. Only when you believe you have done the best you can, release it and not a moment sooner. I don't care if takes another year, or even two, even though I don't believe it will come to that.
      ### Member of the Pinkerton Road Cavalry ###
      ### Dreamfall Traveller ###

    17. Creator Snake on May 10, 2014

      One other thing that I'd like to say, is that after your previous update a few weeks ago, I thought you were about to announce that alpha or beta testing was going to start soon. Then I read this update and find that after all, you were talking about a decision that is actually going to delay that. Even though I don't feel mad at you, it is still a little frustrating...

    18. Creator Sharon on May 10, 2014

      These updates are starting to feel like taunting: "I stole your money! Ha ha ha!"

    19. Creator Gordon Shumway on May 10, 2014

      The first thing that came to my mind when reading this update was that some weeks ago this would have been one of the typical obvious April Fools.

      However, did I understand correct that the game will keep it's node based movement and it's prerendered background graphics or is the environment going to be rendered in real time?

    20. Creator Ingo Günther on May 10, 2014

      Update#35: "So, Pablo has been reworking several key scenes so that the illusion of traversing through Hanwell is never broken. A good example is the courtyard:"
      Is the following screenshot comparison between Dagon and Unity? Are the other two screenshots Dagon or Unity?

    21. Creator Fate on May 10, 2014

      Hey, this is my comment number 1000! I think it is a sign.

      @Agustín: Asylum/Dagon development time and the pre-paid supporters - Stress and stress! How do you keep putting up a positive front? Please continue to be as positive as you can! Yes, answer to the angry/disappointed supporters, but keep your chin up!

      I paid $750 to support Asylum, and I am not worried about Asylum one bit! Would I like to have the game by now? Yes, of course. Do I have money just to throw around? No, as a matter of fact I am currently struggling with paying my bills. But what I do have is knowledge that Agustín cares very deeply about giving every backer a quality game, no matter what they paid, and he will not stop until every backer has what they paid for.

      If you feel like complaining or being mad or venting or cussing out Agustín, go ahead. You have a right and your feelings are valid.

      I, for one, am very excited for the upcoming release of Asylum! I think it is coming out before Half-Life 3. I think! ; )

      Because I know the people at Senscape and Agustín are genuinely quality people who really care and can be held accountable, I am and will forever be, an undying fan.

    22. Creator Pogopuschel on May 10, 2014

      While I am deeply saddened that this will cause a further delay I think you made the right choice. I am sure that the final version will make up for that!

    23. Creator Rowena Windolf on May 10, 2014

      I am starting to get the feeling this project will never be finished. :o(

    24. Creator Stephen Crowley on May 10, 2014

      This also allows for easy porting to consoles like the Wii U.

      But I'm happy with the news.

    25. Creator Christoph Zürcher on May 10, 2014

      I certainly did not expect that... Best of luck with the change, I'm confident that you make the best out of it.

    26. Creator Daniel Vierna on May 10, 2014

      Wow! Where did THAT come from? I suspected this was the case when I saw MonoDevelop in the background in that picture a few days ago but I said "Naaa... He wouldn't..." But you did! Welcome to the world of Unity!

    27. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 9, 2014

      @Aaron Yes, it's definitely awkward right now. We're not doing real lipsync currently but rather a dirty hardcode, which adds some weird pauses between phrases. The lines aren't final anyway and she's going to speak (and act) far better than this early sample. We should have a new take pretty soon.

    28. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 9, 2014

      @Neil Believe me, no half job here. The game is coming and it will be every bit as awesome as we promised and then some. I know that I promised a playable build rather soonish, and that's happening too!

    29. Creator Steven "Blackthorne" Alexander on May 9, 2014

      Wow! This is big news. I think the tests look great so far, and I know you're only ever doing what's best for the game - and the experience the player has. I think this is going to be awesome... I'm looking forward to the developments, and I know this game is really going to be the immersive experience we're all looking for!

    30. Creator Laura MacDonald on May 9, 2014

      Do what you feel is best always. All I care is that you are thrilled with your game when it is done and ready to launch. If you do that - then I know I will love it too.

    31. Creator Aaron Burke on May 9, 2014

      As a software engineer myself, I can understand the painful decision of having to admit that your own lovingly homegrown tools are not the right tools for the job. Kudos to you for acknowledging that. However, it doesn't make me any less anxious for the game, even if the final product will be more polished as a result :(

      Unrelated, if I may make a suggestion: the script for the asylum clerk is too stilted. It's not natural speech. I don't know if that's final script and/or voiceover, but it could really use some adjustment to sound like you're talking to a character, not a talking book.

    32. Creator Neil on May 9, 2014

      At this rate it's going to be Dec 2014, very very late! I can see why paying up for early access or kickstarter is a risky venture. I do hope you finish it and not do a runner half finished as many others have done :(

    33. Creator Stew OotG Knight/Captain Bloodcoffee on May 9, 2014

      Great update and woohoo Unity!! :)

    34. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 9, 2014

      @Sean We have considered what you say a few times, and especially now. Truth is, while it's certainly possible, it's far more work than just bringing our existing scenes to Unity or a similar engine. We would need to redo all the lights and rework many objects, possibly remove a good deal of geometry and detail, thus missing the photorealistic look that we have today. It's too insane, even for us, and I'd rather keep the highly detailed environments :)

    35. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 9, 2014

      @Snake You make a good point. Yes, perhaps we should have reconsidered the game engine once the Kickstarter was successful, but keep in mind that we were promoting our own engine in the campaign, reason why I insist that Dagon is not being abandoned, just paused as we focus 100% on delivering the best possible Asylum in a timely manner.

    36. Creator Agustín Cordes on May 9, 2014

      @Jan Dagon is NOT being abandoned. The engine remains free and open source, and I will continue supporting it. I have committed to deliver updates and patches for Adamantus (a work-in-progress game), for example.

      I'm considering other options to ensure that Dagon++ and Dagonity coexist more seamlessly, namely converting Dagon++ to C#. Obviously there's no way I can tackle this development right now, but we'll see once Asylum is completed :)

    37. Creator Sean B. Brown on May 9, 2014

      I realize your entire design is built around specific nodes, etc., but with the move to Unity, have you considered moving to completely 3D environments? Your backgrounds are pre-rendered, right (I might be wrong)? Would I be incorrect in assuming you actually have 3D models for that stuff already, for the rendering? I certainly have no issues with the classic node-based movement, but I think games like Gone Home have shown us that FPS-like controls can work extremely well for an adventure game. If perhaps it is too late to redesign Asylum around that, is it possible that whatever project you move to AFTER Asylum could use a fully 3D world? I just find it adds to immersion.

    38. Creator Snake on May 9, 2014

      I recognize that you made a good decision by re-implementing the game in Unity instead od Dagon. I also understand the choice for using Dagon during initial development.

      But I after reading this update, I believe you made a mistake by not switching to Unity earlier, at least when this kickstarter was funded. Judging by what I read, development could have benefited from porting into Unity earlier.

    39. Creator Jan Šimek on May 9, 2014

      That's such a sad news for me. I was looking forward to tinkering with the Dagon engine once ASYLUM was released.

    40. Creator Ed Matuskey on May 9, 2014

      I can't imagine how tough it was to make this decision, especially with how possessive you must feel about your first baby (Dagon). Kudos for being able to make the hard call and prioritize the game before the engine, rather than the other way around. Plus, easy Android/iPad ports are nothing to scoff at!