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An epic supernatural horror adventure set in a massive, decaying mental institute. Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, Hammer Films and the atmospheric horror of yesteryear. Coming as soon as we can. We swear.
An epic supernatural horror adventure set in a massive, decaying mental institute. Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, Hammer Films and the atmospheric horror of yesteryear. Coming as soon as we can. We swear.
3,169 backers pledged $119,426 to help bring this project to life.

On The Threshold Of Insanity

Posted by Agustín Cordes (Creator)
26 likes

Hello my dear creatures of the night! I trust you’re all doing horrifically well. I must excuse myself for the long pause since the last update, but here I am today with a particularly lengthy piece to make up for the recent tranquility. I have much to tell you about Gamescom, the reactions to the playable build of Asylum, cool news about the physical boxes, and painful hype about our earth-shattering announcement next month. Ready?

Post-Gamescom craze

It’s well-known that we love Gamescom and always have a great time there. There’s generally a very positive attitude towards adventures that is rarely seen in other trade fairs or conferences. This year was particularly important for Senscape as our company was selected to be part of the first Argentinian booth in an international game event. Suffice to say, I was quite happy.

This resulted in the craziest and busiest Gamescom I’ve ever been to, as I got to meet old friends, make new ones, get in touch with major websites as well as popular let’s players, and talk to some publishers. I also got the chance to show our newest playable build of Asylum which was unanimously well received. In short, people agree that migrating to Unity was a wise decision as the improvements and refined gameplay are a huge leap since the interactive teaser that we showed a long time ago. In particular, the weather effects were highly praised and I swear that many folks wowed when they saw the amazing volumetric fog in some corridors.

The new interface picked a lot of interest as well as it truly fulfills its purpose: to make Asylum a more immersive and smooth experience. That said, we have some adjustments to do — it’s currently a bit awkward how the protagonist holds the notepad with his right hand and shows the selected item with his left one. In real life you would always use the same hand to use things, so this what we’re going to do in order to make the game feel more lifelike: we will simply use the protagonist’s right hand for interacting with the notepad and use items. Some people commented on the seemingly uncomfortable position of the arm as well; that is, you wouldn’t extend your whole arm to merely hold a key, so we’re going to redo those animations and make them look more natural.

In general, I noticed a huge deal of interest on Asylum and high hopes all around. We’re certain that the game will live up to the expectations, but I was very glad to see that people understand this is a work of love and we’re determined to deliver the very best we can. From the brooding introduction to the palpable fog in the ghastly corridors of the Hanwell Mental Institute, journalists, colleagues, and friends were amazed at the attention to detail that we’re investing into this monster of a game. There should be many articles and video interviews coming up about my presentation, so stay tuned.

I’m aware that many of you are expecting to try this new playable build as well, but we would like to work some more time on it. It’s still rather finicky and some locations are missing, so it may take a while longer until we’re ready to share it. Also, there’s something I discussed with VIP backers: all backers will have access to the preview version of Asylum, the same one that we’ll be sending to press sites. Note that this version will include the first couple of hours of the game but not the entire playable building, which only remains accessible by VIPs.

Finally, there will be soon interesting news about consoles. Oh, and check out the reel that was showing in the booth:

Backers, meet the box — box, meet the backers

Another great thing about Gamescom was the chance to personally meet potential partners. From the first moment we’ve been looking to produce a sturdy and classic box for Asylum. I strongly dislike needlessly big boxes and my ideal size has always been the venerable design introduced by Infocom: slim, solid, and attractive. Not just that, but the wonderful booklet/manual included was a joy to read.

I was quite lucky to find a manufacturer that can produce the exact design that we have in mind, and I bring a few pictures to show you. Unfortunately the box suffered an accident on my way back, so please excuse the battered looks. No, I promise that we won’t send you crushed boxes like this:

A question remains about the booklet (which would be the printed Record Book): my original intention was to make it detachable whereas Infocom glued to it the box, but I can see now why they did that as there’s no way to make the booklet detachable if it’s full size. The current solution is to have a smaller booklet but I’m not quite satisfied; I’d rather have a full-sized booklet glued to the box rather than a detachable half-sized one. Of course, I would like to hear your thoughts about this.

There’s more to tell about the contents of the box, but it will have to wait. We discussed some interesting surprises for you, including a new “feelie” and a very neat update to the visitor card. The blueprints of the Hanwell Institute and gorgeous poster are also confirmed!

Countdown to the unmentionable

Oh my… If you only knew. Next month. Madness. Mayhem. Chaos. Destruction. You totally won’t believe this!

Anyway, I also had the chance to show a bit of #UnspeakableAdventure at Gamescom, obviously without revealing much. Everything is still so secretive that I had to turn around the protagonist to hide his face in a scene of the game. We couldn’t be happier with the way this is looking, and people who saw it agree that the combination of detailed 3D with gorgeous hand-painted graphics are a feast for the eyes. I also made sure that this flyer was scattered all around Gamescom:

But wait, there’s more! In case you missed them, we have already released three teaser videos about the game that range from “what the heck” to “oh my god”:

This could be the last update before the new Kickstarter debuts next month so I’m suitably nervous and excited. I know we’re going to have great fun and I’m SO looking forward to another crazy time in the forum. I can’t wait to discuss this incredible news with you as it turns out that there might be more than one game involved. This is going to be nuts!

Believe.

—Agustín

Of Gamescom, Disembodied Arms, and Volufaketric Fogs

Posted by Agustín Cordes (Creator)
31 likes

We’re leaving behind some of the craziest weeks since the inception of Senscape as we set to conquer, nay, crush Gamescom next week. My mind is a whirlpool of ideas, to-dos, preparations, and packing, so this is going to be an unusually short update. Or not, because every time I promise a short update I end up writing a testament. I can NOT guarantee that I’ll make sense, though.

GAMESCOMING!

Sshhh… Can you hear that low rumble? It’s Germany trembling with fear as we’re readying to unleash the apotheosis of ineffable horror next week. Our devious plans of course involve sharing news of nether gulfs of madness in Asylum, the twisted yet sensual love of Serena, and the hideous mystery of #UnspeakableAdventure. This year I’m going to be making gross things in Hall 4.2, booth A036a at the business area. Every backer attending the event is encouraged to make contact and attempt to understand my guttural patois. Please, refrain from touching me if I’m cowering in a shadowy corner.

This is by far our biggest presence ever in a trade fair, so we’re suitably excited. There will be videos, playable things, flyers, and maybe even posters. If you’re not able to attend Gamescom, then I’m returning to the legendary Adventure-Treff party on Friday 15/8 at 5:00pm in Poller Strandbar, although by then I will be likely a palpitating mass of gooey flesh unable to articulate sounds. I still might be able to entertain you, although in a shocking and horrifying way.

ASYLUMING!

There’s been lots of progress on every front, and as usual you get the scoop: the main point of my presentation is going to be the successful migration to Unity, which in less than two months allowed us to implement all the major features that we needed in a mostly (and blissfully) painless transition. The biggest change for players perhaps is a new interface that takes Asylum to a whole new level of immersion, while at the same time being much more intuitive. Previously you only had a flat journal as a means to interact with the gameworld — using items was a rather awkward process in which you had to click on the option on the journal while facing the desired hotspot. But what we’re doing now is super-cool: when you click on the item, the protagonist will both show it and have it ready to be used. Not only this makes more sense in terms of interface, but seeing the protagonist’s arms makes you even more involved with the game. Not to mention how the lighting and visual effects will affect the arms, making everything that’s happening on screen incredibly consistent.

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I believe this could be one of the most modern interfaces we’ve seen in adventures: zero intrusion, total immersion. This is known as a diegetic interface (really, it has a name!) and has been used in fancy AAA games such as Metro 2033 and Grand Theft Auto 4. Needless to say, it would’ve taken us ages to implement it with our standalone Dagon engine. It needs more work, certainly, and we’re still not quite happy about handling the notepad with one hand and then the item with the other. We’ll do some more adjustments before sharing this build of the game with you.

WARNING — controversial statement ahead: while we are going to keep the mouse cursor for those who want to play Asylum with the classic feel, the default interface may not include a cursor at all. It’s what we’d call a… point-and-click interface without the pointing. Or... click interface? Post-point-and-click interface? We have an amazing solution in mind to unify desktops, consoles, and tablets that even the staunchest purists (such as yours truly) will come to love.

And if you don’t, we will still keep the current point-and-click scheme as an option. Before anyone hurls something at the monitor.

Next is the amazing fog effect. It’s exaggerated on purpose to show off, but it’s going to be subtler when you’re playing. This is another major feature in traditional adventures, as I don’t believe we have seen anything of the sort: sharp and detailed graphics with a strikingly natural-looking fog.

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Just look at that. I can't even… I… ngh…

Remember that Asylum is mostly a cube with flat surfaces simulating a 3D environment. Then how is it possible that we’re able to include fog that seems to permeate through the entire location, in which you can almost feel its depth and density? It’s sheer sorcery, I’m telling you, and Francisco Tufró explained it all in his blog post. The technique is called “volufaketric fog” and it’s making Asylum a moodier and more terrifying game. It’s worth noting that you won’t need a cutting-edge computer to experience this; that’s the magic of pre-rendered graphics.

One more unspeakable thing…

We are doing a third person adventure.

*throws mic*

-Agustín

Speaking About The Unspeakable. Confused.

Posted by Agustín Cordes (Creator)
24 Comments
26 likes

For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

We Interrupt This Program For An Important Message

Posted by Agustín Cordes (Creator)
62 Comments
38 likes

For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

The Blasphemous Return of the Loathsome Dagon

Posted by Agustín Cordes (Creator)
30 likes

Greetings from the damnable corridors of the Hanwell Mental Institute! I trust you’re all doing jolly well. We’re definitely doing great down here, save for the occasional crawling horror that is so intent on taking away our sanity. There’s so much going on these days that I’ll do my best to keep this update tidy and organized*.

So, the migration to Unity is going smoothly, even better than we thought, and for instance it’s already possible to walk around the asylum. It’s going to take us a few more days to rebuild the complete structure, but we’re almost there. Some beloved features from ye olde Dagon such as the interactive console are back and fully functional. Developers will be happy to hear that we’re continuing to support Lua and current game scripts will work out of the box in Unity. It’s pretty big news for early adopters of the engine, especially for those among you who were attracted to the simplicity and Zen-like nature of the Dagon scripting language. Even better, the engine integrates seamlessly with the Unity editor, so it’s possible to go back and forth between editor and scripting language for full flexibility and power.

Francisco (bless him) took over the entire engine and has been reworking every aspect of it. Oh, if you could only listen to our daily existential discussions about game design and programming… Dagon remains perfectly tailored for first person adventures but its inner workings have been redesigned with third person in mind and the ability to be extended in countless of ways, so it will be deceptively easy to write plugins or add new functionality. We’re big fans of JSON — every object that exists in the game (be it a node, room, hotspot, etc.) has its counterpart as a JSON data model. It’s completely seamless to create an object via script, tweak it with the editor, save its data to JSON, and even reload that data via scripting again. This might sound like mumbo-jumbo to most of you but I trust developers will be salivating at the possibilities. Saving and loading (a ghastly, evil aspect of game development) is essentially working and, because it was designed in an extremely modular way, we expect that Dagon will support loading saves among different versions of the game. That’s the beauty of JSON. Back in the days, a simple patch for Scratches would ruin all your saves. Ah… good memories.

Doctor, I have spots in my game

Dagon, and its process of creating adventures, was thoroughly tested earlier this year with Serena. We found that the engine and its philosophies were solid, but the weakest spot by far was… well, the creation of hotspots. I’m sure you heard about those. One downside of creating your own tools is compromises you have to make as you’re forced to prioritize certain features. In the case of old Dagon, we had no graphical tools whatsoever. Every spot had to be created by hand, and that means manually typing every coordinate of every interactive region in the game. You can ask my friend Jan Kavan how this process worked with Serena, a game with many… MANY spots. Clearly we needed to improve this process for Asylum, a game that promises a similar density of interaction with close to one hundred rooms. Francisco had a pretty cool idea and implemented a system that makes this process too straightforward. It’s almost magical:

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So now our daring Pablo can simply export textures with colored items and this nifty tool will create the hotspots automatically. This would have saved us days of work with Serena, and I can’t tell you how much time it has already saved us with Asylum. It gets even better, but I’ll get to that in the upcoming update.

Suffice to say, Dagon had an uncertain future when we decided to switch to Unity, but in the end it came back stronger than ever. We know for sure it’s going to be the ultimate adventure game engine, and you can quote me on that. Also, we have some huge surprises in store for you: we have added new glorious interface elements in Asylum and unbelievable visual effects that you will see in an upcoming gameplay video.

And there’s more… Another unspeakable horror lurking in the horizon. Stay tuned for a backer’s only update and unutterable news that I need to discuss with you soon. Come think of it, I’ll have to utter them in some way… hhmmm… doodles… or maybe hand signals…

Lunatika has entered the building

In other news, here’s a big, slimy welcome to our new community manager Luna! Really, we’re so focused on the programming and the tweaking and the rendering these days that we’re forgetting to interact with our communities. Luna has a lot of experience maintaining one of the largest horror websites in Spanish, so she’s definitely in tune and also happens to be a beloved friend of us. Of course I will keep sending you these rambling updates, my dear backers, but you might see her in our Twitter or Facebook accounts.

Thank you for joining us, Luna!

Aawwww…

Also, while I’m thanking, thank you so much for the kind words about Jr. Yes, it’s a little scary but we’re beyond happy. To those of you wondering, I definitely plan to complete Asylum before the new baby takes over my life. I don’t foresee any conflicts but, worst case scenario, it’s obvious which “baby” I will have to favor (please, do not quote me on that).

Anyway, little Jr. is doing so well. Look at it… Name suggestions?

One more thing…

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Yours derangedly,

Agustín

*Well, more or less.