ASYLUM - AgustinCordes
Hi all! 👋

This is a brief update to show you our new gameplay video. A collection of greatly improved, familiar locations and new ones, focusing on interactions and things to do — including speaking with the mysterious denizens of the asylum! Take a look:

https://youtu.be/2-YgD6FhsmI
The game is working remarkably well. In fact, any stuttering you may notice in the video was our recording software behaving erratically 🙄

But, what you see here is 100% in-game stuff, no processing, no tricks. Asylum is running with a stable 60fps in fullscreen High quality on a 3-year old computer. It's even perfectly playable on Very High quality with extra sharp graphics!

So this is how the game looks and feels, and we hope you like it 😊 Just a tiny glimpse of many more locations you'll have to explore!

LIVESTREAM (CONFIRMED)

I'm really sorry about this one. I should've posted more updates here. The promised livestream was postponed due to an incredibly nasty acute bronchitis I got a few weeks ago. It was sheer Hell 🤢 And all because I didn't get a flu shot 💉

Thankfully, I'm back in action and the livestream is totally happening this Friday 22 at 8:00 PM (UTC) on Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/senscape



If you can't make it, don't worry, I'll record everything. It would be great to see you there! I'll be happy to answer all your questions.

And that's it for today, but hopefully see you soon!

—Agustín
ASYLUM - AgustinCordes
Grrrrreetings from a nefarious place where unholy creatures dwell in the shadows! I'll make it short and quick today because I have quite a lot to tell you. Horror month is here and, while Asylum isn't quite ready yet (sorry, sorry, I know), we did prepare a whole lot of fun things for you.

Let's start with a progress report...

WHAT KIND OF SORCERY IS THIS?!
You may have seen this already as it went viral a few days ago. It's a feature that's been on our wishlist for years — in fact, one the earliest things we discussed for the game. We knew it could be done in theory, but never thought the resulting effect would be so uncanny. Have a look for yourself:


It looks even better in the game itself! Like a seriously detailed 3D scene with dynamic lighting and all the bells and whistles, except it's just a bunch of flat images. It's the cherry on top of our quest to bring you the most immersive adventure ever made 💪

Even better, this works just the same on older computers. It's hard to believe when you see it in the game itself. Look how the ceiling behaves:


Wooooooooooooooo 🤯

Of course, we won't include exaggerated lighting effects such as this in the game, but imaging malfunctioning lights, a throbbing ambiance, and all kinds of gorgeous moody effects. It will be an atmosphere to die for.

AT LAST: LIVESTREAM!
Yes! This one has been a long time coming, but I'm ready to do a big livestream for the game. We did have some short, casual livestreams before, but nothing like playing the actual game and answering your questions live! Take note:



Don't miss it! I'll take the opportunity to discuss the status of the project and potential release date in greater detail 😬

EXPANDING THE FAMILY
Please give a warm welcome to Tais! She joined the team just recently. A brilliant student of Unreal Engine who's just getting started in the industry, her class project after just a few months of learning the engine blew me away. Far better and more entertaining than many games you see on Steam.

Tais will be mostly focusing on the addition of new hotspots, including videos, interactive items, general polishing, and lighting effects. We're thrilled to have her talent and attention to detail in the project 😄



POTPOURRI OF PROGRESS UPDATE
And here's when I start rambling. Let's see, in addition to implementing the usual stuff in an adventure game (puzzles, hotspots, secret details, etc.), we achieved some important milestones:
  • macOS & Linux are in the bag! Yeeeeeey. While the game was running on macOS pretty well, we had some lingering bugs that hampered the experience. Luckily, we've been able to squash them all and the game now runs as smoothly and polished as Windows. Linux was another story: technically, the game was running, but none of the videos would load (which in turn crashes the whole game, usually a bad thing). Following an inordinate amount of testing and experimenting, we managed to come up with a usable alternative for the videos. I'm happy to report that now everything is working as expected on Linux as well. We're even supporting Windows 32-bit for those of you who can't upgrade 😊

  • We can now save and load! Yeah, so we figured this was an important feature for a 15+ hour long game. You can save in up to 12 slots anytime you want and load anytime you want. Cutting edge technology, just one click away!

  • Doors! Thanks to dozens of different sound effects, FMOD, subtle randomization, and a lot of goodwill, we can ensure a different sound effect for every door in the game. This is how much we care.

  • Transparencies! Not that transparencies are terribly exciting per se, but they allow us to do nifty things. For example, show you interesting stuff happening outside the asylum as you explore the interior (passing clouds, distant thunderstorms, etc). A GIF doesn't do justice, but this surely sets the immersion factor all the way up to 11! Such is the kind of things we're doing as we go deeply into the polishing phase.


In short, it's all looking great! I know I've been saying this a few several gazillion times, but we're thrilled with how things are coming along. Asylum is exactly the kind of game we wanted to make, and we're 100% sure you'll love it. Thank you for hanging on in there as we do our best to wrap it up as soon as humanly possible 🙏

SCRATCHES GROUP PLAY AND LIVE INTERVIEW!
OK, but to wrap up this update, two more news: our Discord community is getting ready to start group playing Scratches tomorrow, Saturday, October 12. Does that ring a bell? It should! It's the day when Michael Arthate arrived at Blackwood Manor and the story began 😄



What is a group play, you ask? Basically, dozens of fans gather to play a game at the same time, but promising they won't use a walkthrough. Each play lasts around one week and they tend to be incredibly active and lively.

In the case of Scratches, we've been preparing loads of fun activities. For example, fans have been writing Michael Arthate's bestseller "Vanishing Town" together, there's been quizzes, and starting tomorrow I'll be around posting rare trivia, insider details, and stuff you've positively never seen or heard before. It's going to be a mandatory event for fans of the game!

And last, but not least...



Tomorrow, Jonathan Boakes of Dark Fall fame (and also Jerry's voice!) and Matt Clark of Barrow Hill fame will be asking me uncomfortable questions live about the game on Discord! Of course, we'll be happy to answer your questions too. Take note of the event if you want to participate:
Sorry about the somewhat haphazard update but it's been an intense week and I'm dying to turn off the computer and watch a horror movie 😅

But really, we have some fun moments ahead of us and we'd be delighted to see you around! Remember, though: Asylum livestream coming soon and loads of more concrete news. We vow to amaze you 🙌

Have a sinister weekend,
—Agustín
ASYLUM - AgustinCordes


Salutations from a desolate place in which sinister shadows crawl as if they were sentient creatures from unhallowed spheres of existence! Yes, it’s been a longer pause than usual since our latest juicy update, but there’s two important reasons behind this: first, we’ve been working very hard on wrapping up spoiler laden sections of the game, including its crucial and secretive final moments. Quite simply, we had little to report as we’re adamant about inadvertently leaking key plot details. Second, we love torturing you with these periods of unnerving silence. Yes, it’s true — we’re horrible people.

Anyways, we have lots of ground to cover today, so grab a cup of coffee or drink, depending on the time of day (or hell, maybe just a drink *regardless* of the time of day) and enjoy the read. Suffice to say, we’re having an amazingly strong momentum and beginning to savor a gloriously finished game!



SYSTEMS. SYSTEMS EVERYWHERE.
As you may recall, the first segment of ASYLUM has been thoroughly tested (roughly 2 hours of gameplay) and we gathered invaluable feedback, which we put in practice to finalize the far more intricate and ambitious second segment. It includes a puzzle that, while not the most challenging, it was possibly the trickiest one to implement as it involves a lot of factors and is highly non-linear. It pushed the tools we developed for the game to their limit, and I’m thrilled to report we came out victorious!

We now have close to 5 hours of continuous, super-polished gameplay that our VIP backers will be testing soon. This is truly exciting as it’s when the story of the game begins to take flight, and it features our second NPC, a security guard called Bruno.



We used the dialogue with Bruno to improve our postures/gestures system for all characters in the game. The conversation you have with him also happens to be remarkably twisty in the background, as his potential responses depend on a large number of decisions you, the players, can make. It’s almost RPG-ish in nature. While it can’t compete with AAA titles, I’m very happy with the quality, especially when you consider we’re just 3 guys on a shoestring budget. And there’s room for improvement yet, especially when it comes to the animations.

Now, the real interesting bit happens in the background:



Even though we’re using Unreal Engine, we developed a large framework for the game, which is rather atypical in nature. It’s almost like we brought our own engine and are using Unreal merely as a renderer. That’s how crazy we are, but it paid off: we have complete control of characters and texts in the game by using simple spreadsheets. For example, we can trigger postures and gestures with just a tag, even combining them as we please. And there’s a lot of magical things we can do, as I’ll show you next.

TALK, IT'S ONLY TALK
OK, disclaimer: this is purely for testing purposes and the result is a mood killer. However, I’m proud of this recent development because of what it implies: using that spreadsheet and leveraging the scripting and text-to-speech capabilities in macOS, we managed to export audio files for the entire dialogues in the game… with just one click.


Thanks to FMOD, the middleware we are using to mix music and audio effects in the game, we were able to import all those files into ASYLUM in a heartbeat, and start testing the game as closely as possible in its final form. Why all this trouble, you ask? Because the dialogue scripts aren’t quite finished yet and it’s never a good idea to start recording voices until they’re fully proofread and ready to go. I learned the hard way that even during later stages of testing you realize the game needed a new dialogue line or pesky misspellings are found. So voice recordings is the very last thing you’re supposed to do.



In the meantime, though, these audio files are extremely useful as we can get a feel of the script, pacing, tweak our lip sync algorithms and perform accurate testing. Keep in mind that all we need to do when the voice recordings are ready is simply replace files!

Here’s an excerpt of the conversation with Bruno, but please remember it’s very WIP and for educational purposes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZyxEx8M5i0
Or maybe we could release the game right away! Surely nobody will realize about the text-to-speech. Right? RIGHT?

ASSORTED THINGS!
There were too many improvements and tweaks over the past two months to mention in our quest to put ASYLUM in releasable status, but I’ll show you a couple of standouts. Quality of life improvements, as they say. First, visual cues to quickly identify hotspots in nodes. Hit spacebar and BAM! interesting things shall be revealed to you. Hit spacebar again to bring back the deliciously creepy immersion in ASYLUM.



The next one is admittedly minor but it was annoying the hell out of me. The crosshair now elegantly hides whenever a hotspot becomes active. It’s super-minor, I know, but it’s small details like this that give a game that cherished final, polished look.



As for mandatory and disturbing imagery in a horror game update, I can give you this intriguing… contraption. Nobody knows what it does, but it doesn’t look inviting.



Also, someone suggested we should include cats in ASYLUM as they’re popular these days and highly meme-able, but the only cat we could fit in the storyline is a rotten, decomposing one. But hey, a dead cat is still a cat!



READABLE THINGS!
However, this update was meant to be focused on technical improvements and internal tidbits. It always pays off to invest time on developing custom systems that fit into your workflow and operate exactly as YOU intend. For example, I do all my writing in plain text and tend to do several revisions over time. Usually, it’s not that straightforward to import texts into a game, especially if they need some sort of special formatting. So we devised a custom workflow in which we merely feed plain texts files to the engine, which then does the following… all by itself:



By the way, that’s one of the journals by James Blackwood that you find in Scratches. Let’s try updating the text file, and certainly, we can change the font as well as the line spacing. This is the result:



Same 3D asset, different content. This can be combined with other books in the game, even loose papers. The system even automatically places the text across an arbitrary number of pages! Magic, I tell you!

You can see a more detailed video with different settings here — and please, note the exquisite typography:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hO42lhCiE8
This system has an added benefit too: translations will be a breeze as all we have to do is replace text files! And yes, we’re planning to bring ASYLUM to as many languages as possible.

CONFIGURABLE THINGS!
When I say that I want an immersive game, I bloody mean it! All the way to the settings menu, created with the collaboration of our esteemed Discord community:



See if you can figure out what each thing does. Now, we know we’re playing with fire here as settings should be crystal clear and accessible. Then again, this is still WIP and there are plans to make these pages easier to understand in case you can’t figure them out.

Do note as well how we’re willing to sacrifice our creative vision to let you fiddle with the look and feel of the game as you please, even if that means removing the incredibly awesome vintage film grain effect that it took us so long to create 🙄

I RAN OUT OF IDEAS FOR THESE HEADER TITLES
My goodness, look at the word counter! I guess it’s time to say goodbye. But first, the usual thanks for your unending support and positive comments! I read all of them and few things are as encouraging as hearing that you appreciate the time we’re investing on this project, including these updates: when you take the time to read through these lengthy write-ups (which require quite a few hours to prepare, trust me), and comment and ask questions, it makes it so much worthwhile to spend time writing them.

That’s a good analogy, I think, to capture the kind of game we’re making here: ASYLUM is going to be a lengthy, engrossing experience filled with details, small things you can discover everywhere, a riveting storyline, and much, much dread. Just as I take the time to prepare these updates and you take time to read them, when ASYLUM is finally completed after all these years, it’s going to be a game that will remain with you forever. I promise that. I’m also hoping to comment a bit on its release date in the coming update.

And now… let the torture begin.

ASYLUM - AgustinCordes


Greetings from a twisted plane in the further regions of experience! Wow, that last update was quite well received. It’s safe to say it was our most popular post ever. There’s no chance we can live up to that… but we can always try!

There’s a great deal of stuff I’m going to discuss today, so expect a rather neurotic writeup. But let’s start with the major bit of news this week…

WE HAVE A GAME!
ASYLUM is now playable from beginning to end, a milestone that understandably makes up very happy (and relieved!). We’re anxious yet afraid to perform a full playthrough — consider we’ve been working on this project for 10 years and how intimidating it will feel to play it for the first time. No matter how we feel, though, that playthrough is happening soon, and I’m thrilled to report the individual portions we played are terrific and up to the standards we set for ourselves.

Keep in mind we don’t consider this beta yet, just the implementation of the whole game logic. Some portions still have mockup assets and we’re now swiftly working to replace them with the real deal. I mean, while it would be a decidedly unique experience, we won’t release the game like this:



Haha, imagine your face if we did… and our severed heads in retaliation.

OLD SCHOOL ADVENTURE GAMING
So, all puzzles are implemented! During this process, we took a bunch of days to revise the entire game design, balance things up a bit, and make sure pacing is tight. For instance, we decided to keep the first third of the game fairly linear, after which it becomes more challenging and hugely non-linear. Reason is that we want to make you feel acquainted with the environment and mechanics before leaving you to your own devices. One thing I learned from Scratches is that people don’t like wandering aimlessly, so we’ll only open up the entire asylum for you once you have a good sense of direction and what to do next.



Interestingly, the game is far more puzzle-oriented than we originally anticipated. It was only recently —after taking a step back and looking at the big picture— that we realized the puzzle density is fairly high, without ever being overwhelming. We’re positive fans will love the brain teasers we designed here — a few even feel like throwbacks to classic adventures. I spoke about this a bit last time: ASYLUM combines the design philosophy behind Infocom adventures with modern game design sensibilities. It may be the closest you’ll ever play to a graphical text adventure (without dead ends and sudden deaths, that is).

Check out the flowchart sample to give you an idea of how the game branches in later stages, and keep mind this is just one tenth of the whole chart!



WHAT NEXT?
Besides concluding the game logic, recent areas of work included the dialogue system, inventory, and interface in general. We consider all of these aspects final now, though we expect another wave of feedback from Kickstarter backers. There’s always room for more tweaks, but the “shell” of the game is pretty much done. Keep reading for interesting glimpses of what we did.



From now on, we’ll focus on implementing the last critical assets required to reach beta. Beyond that point, the greater volume of work will involve adding further non-essential details (readable stuff, easter eggs, feedback lines, etc), sound effects (many are still missing) and more music. As soon as we reach beta, we should be able to confirm that mythical release date.

All in all, things are pretty good! The game is getting done and will feature a consistent and thorough quality level. I guarantee you an engrossing experience: we took great care to ensure everything is consistent and makes sense. No matter whether you’re cross-referencing clues, understanding the layout of the asylum, or figuring out stuff, ASYLUM will reward your observation and intuition. To give you an idea of our dedication and attention to detail, we have designed entire piping and wiring systems. In fact, we spent a full morning deciding where to include a drain in this restroom:



If the game doesn’t sell well, we’re ready to become constructors! Just please, bear with us while we work on this last, very demanding phase of production 😅

INVENTORY RELOADED
This is one of the changes we implemented following invaluable feedback from backers, turning the journal into your hub to keep track of everything currently happening in the game: people you’ve met, items you're carrying, topics you should investigate, and concrete tasks you must complete.



It's more clear and friendly now to understand which item you're holding along with a sweet feedback. Thanks to your trusty journal, you can quickly see the full list of stuff you're carrying and how it looks. It's minimalistic, immersive and useful!

MENU RELOADED
If you liked the journal, wait till you hear about the menu! We strive to maintain the immersion, even when you’re perusing the game options. But this is more than just an everyday menu — one of the last tweaks we did is give you the ability to review essential documents that you find in the game. We don’t want to have you backtracking to reread a clue or recall a key plot point, so we basically turned our achievements system into a collection of documents and cutscenes that you can review anytime you want… all from within the same book!



There’s many pages like this and several stuff you can collect. Even the achievements themselves maintain the mood: is your memory good enough to recall all flashbacks while you were a patient of the Hanwell Mental Institute? Then you will unlock the Retentive achievement!

We can’t tell for sure if ASYLUM will be a great game, but its menu is gonna be AMAZING.

MATRIX RELO... NO WAIT, WISHLISTS RELOADED
The other bit of exciting news we wanted to share with you is… 30.000 WISHLISTS ON STEAM!!!



That’s a huge lot and extremely good news because it positions the game as a potential indie hit. And frankly, we never even expected to achieve this much! 30K was my very best case scenario.

ASYLUM is getting far more popular than we ever imagined, and believe us when we tell you that we want to finish it as badly as you want to play it. Of course, we couldn’t have reached this astounding goal without your staunch support 🙏

It’s a specially meaningful achievement for us because we managed all this without a publisher. Even better, we still have room to grow as we need to do more PR. Speaking of which…

CALLING ALL REPORTERS!
Curators, journalists and producers among you: we’re finally getting close to sharing a preview build of ASYLUM with you! There's a chance you're already in touch with us — we got tons of requests over the years and we’ll get back to you (provided you’re still alive).



If we never spoke, ping us at team@senscape.io or use distribute() to request a key: http://dodistribute.com/access/DgpZCR20PR

We’ll give priority to stream the game to people who have supported us from the beginning, including backers, but eventually all publications and creators, no matter how big or small they are, will receive keys. Also, we’re totally OK with creators monetizing their streams — we love supporting you too ❤️



And that’s it for today. We should have many more cool news to share with you next time. Thank you for sticking with us, and hope you have a stormy and sinister weekend!

—Agustín
ASYLUM - AgustinCordes


Greetings from a dimension of ineffable cosmic hideousness! It’s about time I made this post as some of you keep asking this question, not to mention lighting torches and raising pitchforks. I’ll try to resume as best as possible our vision for ASYLUM, what we’re trying to achieve with the game, and why the darned thing is taking so long.

This is a long post, so grab a cup of coffee or beer and enjoy.

THE OBVIOUS

We’re a very small indie team —essentially three people— operating on a shoestring budget. We tried going with publishers several times but either we found they didn’t share our vision, demanded too much or gave too little. There’s definitely good people out there, but we could never find the right partner for the project.

Moreover, the conditions in Argentina, where we live, aren’t always the best. We’re fortunate to have struck a balance between our personal lives and work, but often it’s not that easy. Thanks to the generosity of Kickstarter backers, we were able to finance 50% of the project, the other half being self-funded from our own pocket. It’s very, very hard to finance a large game project, especially one as atypical as ASYLUM.



So we did what we humanly could throughout all these years, responding to industry changes and juggling with the circumstances. Of course we did mistakes, too. We truly regret the game has taken this long to develop, but one thing has never changed…

THE VISION

ASYLUM was born out of sheer love of adventure games and horror, as well as the experience with my first project Scratches. It was always meant to be a more ambitious take on the ideas introduced in that game, which miraculously took only three years to develop. ASYLUM is at its heart a classic point-and-click adventure, but feels different. Its ultimate goal is to be a modern and updated take on the traditional adventure game.



I’m even tempted to say Interactive Fiction. It recently became obvious to me how much companies like Infocom have influenced ASYLUM (and Scratches). The layout of locations and emphasis on exploration is very similar to your average Infocom game — in fact, the entirety of ASYLUM could be rewritten as an IF game and still work well.

So exploration is a key aspect we kept in mind when designing the…

LOCATION

Another goal was to give players the chance to explore virtual asylum that felt like the real deal. And yes, we went overboard:



Turns out asylums are rather big places:



Yeah. They have many floors too:



AND basements, but enough of these blueprints. Keep in mind that each one of those rooms have a distinct look and feel, as well as tons of little details to discover and cherish, as we don’t want to bore you to death. The whole location has been painstakingly designed and eventually you’ll have full liberty to explore it as you want. It’s huge, intricate, filled with spooky secrets, and we estimate you’ll spend several hours just exploring the whole place.

GAMEPLAY

It’s no secret the game is a love letter to adventure games, with a twist. We iterated over the interface several times until we found the right approach and balance. At its core, ASYLUM works essentially like Scratches: it’s node-based with discrete movements.



This tried-and-true technique is ideal for adventure games as it allows us to create very detailed graphics for the game, as well as avoid repetition. While the presentation might be somewhat jarring for some players who aren't familiar with classic adventure games, we found that you quickly stop thinking about it after playing for a short bit. Case in point, Serena has been downloaded over 2.000.000 times with close to no friction when it comes to its presentation. Of course, fans of Scratches know the format can work very well.

But we aren’t just making a bigger and badder Scratches here — we went one step further by integrating actual 3D elements with these pre-rendered nodes, tweaking stuff as much as possible to make it seem as if you were playing a full 3D game, for instance adding breathe and walking effects.



(before you ask “why not go full 3D?”, we did consider it at some point and realized it was virtually impossible to do, not to mention that it didn’t “feel” right for the game)

So, imagine that we have these highly detailed rooms modeled with a 3D editor and each node is an actual cube. Fine, then we need to export 6 textures per node. Some rooms have up to 12 nodes. We connect the nodes together, add effects such as fog, dust, sounds… and this is just to move around the atmospheric locations. Interactions are a whole different story.



The nodes are flat textures (yes, really, people still don’t believe this), so any change in a scene has to be represented by another texture. When you pick something up, we must replace that portion of the scene with another texture patch. And of course we also need to define hotspots so that you can interact with stuff:



Every single thing you see in the game is a hotspot. Well, you don’t see the hotspot, but it’s there. It’s not like we can say “oh hey, when the player clicks on this painting…”, no, we need to manually define the interactive region. This is more straightforward in a 2D adventure game because there are proportionally much less scenes. But consider this: 80 scenes in a 2D adventure are already quite a lot — in pseudo-3D like ASYLUM with an average 4-5 nodes per room, those 80 scenes become 400. And this is in fact the amount of nodes we are estimating have been rendered for the game.

WRITING

Haha, see? See why we’re losing our minds with this project? But wait! You don’t know everything yet. Because I hate repetition in adventure games; I really dislike when you click on a hotspot and get the same canned response over and over again (i.e.: “The ocean looks serene and comforting.”). It especially feels artificial when you click a couple of times to check if the protagonist has something else to say and turns out the feedback is exactly the same.

So, we implemented a complex system to avoid that and wrote up to 12 different responses per hotspot.



Not just that, but a number of responses are tied to the mood of the protagonist (optimistic, somber, desperate), so some responses will be triggered after certain situations occur in the game. Imagine going back to a room and discovering that the protagonist has a completely different perspective on stuff. That previous line about the ocean turns into “Just as we came from them, one day we’ll all return to the eternal waters”. Cheerful.

The sheet where we are keeping all this is BONKERS:



CHARACTERS

It’s estimated that just the modeling, texturing and rigging of a character costs $8000 in the industry. That is excluding animations. We have 4 main NPCs here, and 5 minor roles. Considering the animations, the "pro" industry price for our complete cast would have been the entire budget of the game. Games. Are. Expensive.

As an indie team we have options, but still, our inability to afford such industry costs resulted in a huge deal of time and headaches creating these characters alone. They may not look AAA, but they more than get the job done and we are happy with the results.



In fact, we estimate that the Hanwell Mental Institute alone, where the game takes place, took us 3-4 years to create, and then another 2-3 years for the characters. There’s many other aspects of course, but location and characters by far took us the most time of development.

STORY

The final piece of the puzzle is the story. Writing down the script was the first task that was ever done for the game many aeons ago. It’s thorough, twisty, and full of surprises (and we somehow managed to keep it secret for 10 years!). Our undying confidence in it is the reason why we spent so much time and effort working on this project. It’s the ultimate requirement to fulfill that original vision, to ensure the game does justice to the story that was written in the first place.



It’s far more ambitious and engrossing than Scratches, which was praised for its story — case in point, Scratches was designed to make sure you never get to see any characters, with conversations always happening over the phone. However, this meant that great part of the plot always felt detached somehow, since there’s this rich array of characters you never see. The story in ASYLUM simply wouldn’t work that way. You need to see these people and even the past inmates through flashbacks. Come think of it, that’s yet another aspect that took us a great deal of time: ASYLUM has countless of cutscenes everywhere with characters and drama, many times more than Scratches… but I’ll stop here.

AND NOW... THE STATUS UPDATE

That was merely a general overview. There’s tons of angles behind the development that I’m not discussing here, but hopefully you’ll understand a bit better our position and why this is taking so long. Ultimately, we don’t want to make a passable game but one that surprises you and is never forgotten. Turns out making that sort of game today implies a vast amount of work.

But still, we keep making strides and enjoying a great momentum: as the game keeps growing in popularity (27.000 wishlists now!), we’re eyeing to have a complete playable build (beta) within 2-3 months. The vast majority of assets are ready and we're now focused on implementing puzzles and interactions.



As expected, this phase of implementing game logic is comparatively happening much faster than all the previous years of production. To put it into perspective, imagine that we spent 90% preparing stuff and 10% putting everything together. This happens often with adventure games that depend a lot on narrative content and not so much on prototyping, AI, randomly generated content, etc.

As for the big question of when it will be ready, we're looking to confirm a release date when we hit the aforementioned beta milestone. However, it does look like we can make it this time and ship the game later this year. For the past several months, we've managed to meet every goal that we set for ourselves. Indeed, things are looking great!



Meanwhile, I’ll stick around updating, appreciating your patience, and answering questions. Let there be no doubt that we remain fully committed to this project and making sure it’s released as soon as humanly possible. And I can tell you this: it’s thrilling to finally see the script coming to life, which is working as we hoped, equal shares of horror and mystery that hopefully you won’t ever forget!

—Agustín
ASYLUM - AgustinCordes


Greetings, esteemed Steam community! We hope you're off to a terrific 2019! As promised, we come bearing a series of exciting news from the sinister corridors of ASYLUM (and of course eye candy, because we know you love it).

Here we go!

STATUS UPDATE... AND POSSIBLE RELEASE!

Things are progressing speedy and smoothly, so we feel comfortable to disclose our plans. To recap, since December hundreds of Kickstarter backers have been playing a good chunk of the game with overwhelmingly positive reactions. We can confirm ASYLUM is performing great and no major issues have shown their ugly face. Even better, we seem to have hit a stride, meeting milestone after milestone: we're wrapping up an even larger segment of the game now, and expecting to hit beta around May.

A beta in May means our goal to release the game later this year is doable. We're not officially confirming this yet, but you'll be the first to know. So this is really happening after all this time, and we couldn't thank you enough for your understanding and support! ASYLUM is exactly the kind of game we wanted to make, and the follow-up we just know fans of Scratches will love 👌

WISHLIST LOVE

And speaking of support, wow... We're now at a whooping 23K wishlists milestone, and it feels 30K may be just around the corner.



This is all very, very exciting! For reference, only the top and most highly anticipated games in all Steam reach 50K and beyond. It's an ambitious goal, but what if we can make it? What if?! 🤞

CREEPINESS

We're thrilled (so to speak) to have wrapped up work in one of the scariest environments of the game, the High Risk corridor where the most dangerous inmates are kept, fondly referred to as the "Tunnel of the Damned". And yet, it's not even one of the top 5 scariest locations you'll find 😮



For now we'll keep working on this lovely basement concealing dark secrets. Yes, of course there was going to be basement in the game!



We've also prepared some charming night scenes for you. There's people who swear they see hidden scary faces in this gloomy sky, but we did nothing of the sort (at least not yet):



And since we can't get enough GIFs, let us show you the kind of visual trickery we're doing to maintain that old school adventure tone and feel in ASYLUM:



Yes, that's cute... but what if we told you the record, arm and knob are the only 3D elements in this scene? Just think about it: the whole background and turntable are FLAT 😮

A MOCAP INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT

Finally, we got access to a fairly pro MOCAP installation in Buenos Aires yesterday and did some tests for the game. If this works out, the amount of work for remaining animations we need to do will be dramatically reduced!



It would be quite exciting if we can include this technology in the game. Not that our handmade animations are bad, mind you, but this would certainly make our lives much easier. It's pretty fun, too!

THE END... OR IS IT?

Of course not, there's lots more coming, but we're concluding this update for now. We hope you enjoyed it, and let us know in the comments if you have any questions. We're thrilled that things are progressing so well, and we honestly can't wait to see you finally playing ASYLUM!

Have a spooky weekend 👻
ASYLUM - AgustinCordes


Phew, following a couple of very intensive weeks, we're happy to announce that we have a playable and fully featured demo of ASYLUM working great with top-notch performance and minimal loading times! It's a huge milestone after all this time!

This is an internal demo that we're sharing with Kickstarter backers, and so far initial reactions have been hugely positive: players are in love with the atmosphere and agree that, even after this short glimpse, "what we can expect was worth the wait" and they are "very excited to delve deeper into the dark, decaying corners of ASYLUM!".

Did we say short? Yes, it's only a fraction of the final game, yet backers reported playing 60 minutes, as much as 90! This means our estimation of 10-12 hours for the final game is either spot on or quite conservative. Fans will also be happy to hear that performance is solid even on older computers, and we still have more optimizations to do!

All in all, the outlook is very positive as we now work towards beta status and get ready to suggest a release date. We just ask you a bit more patience, but rest assured: ASYLUM is happening!

EYE CANDY

Of course, it wouldn't be a proper update without sights and goodies from the game! First, we'd like to share with you this extended gameplay video that we showed last month in the Argentinian game expo EVA 2018 and got great reactions from the audience:

https://youtu.be/KwaPvJiGPgs
(please note it was recorded in 720p, hence some blurriness in the video)

Improvements to the game include tabs in your trusty notepad, so that you can clearly keep track of the stuff you must know, from tasks to inventory items:



Speaking of which, can fans of Scratches detect the Easter Egg in that scene?



And then there's the gorgeous menu system, essentially a patient record (the patient being YOU!):



Yes, we always try to maintain the mood of the game. Even on the menu.

HORRIFIC GIFT



We know it's a bit late for Halloween, but we sent our previous update just before Halloween. Anyway, we're still giving away Scratches keys to all Whisperers in Darkness of our Discord community: https://discord.gg/senscape

Rumor has it it's quite easy to become a Whisperer (mere minutes, in fact) — but hurry up, this won't last longer.

THANK YOU!

And last but certainly not least, a big THANK YOU from the whole Senscape team for your patience and understanding as we strive to complete this game. Things are looking extremely good and we hope to be sharing more exciting news soon. For now, rest assured that ASYLUM ACTUALLY EXISTS and PEOPLE ARE LIKING IT.

ASYLUM - AgustinCordes


Salutations to our wonderful Steam community!

It’s been an exceptionally busy month for ASYLUM and it’s not over yet. Things are progressing fast and we’re happy to report that we’re just about to wrap up a big playable chunk of the game — in near final form, truly polished and ready for public consumption. Exciting times ahead, and the momentum on Steam keeps getting better! We’re now nearing 14.000 wishlists, mere days after we reached 10.000. Wow, just wow!

EVERY DETAIL COUNTS

Most work on the project now amounts to adding interactive stuff and implementing the remaining puzzles. It’s taking time, though, because we’re going out of our way to add as many details as possible. We plan to reward your observation as you unlock the mysteries concealed by the dreadful Hanwell Mental Institute.

For instance, we created a full maintenance schedule for our janitor, complete with an easter egg for fans of Scratches:



If you pay attention, you’ll find that every element in the game is very consistent with each other. There’s a huge timeline of events and intertwining storylines leading to a big finale you won’t forget, and every detail counts. We really can’t wait to share our monstrous baby with you!

GAMEPLAY IMPROVEMENTS

We also added a crosshair to the game. Yes, we wanted to avoid it because it breaks the immersion, but it doesn’t hurt as much as we expected and greatly improves the gameplay. Don’t worry, ASYLUM is still a classic adventure game and you don’t need to shoot zombies! Inmates maybe, but not zombies.

(just kidding)

https://youtu.be/MOa3nFaOnIE

Please note the mouth-watering atmosphere complete with subtle fog. And yes, there are tons of items you can pick and investigate in great detail.

Of course there's been more progress on this front and we're happy to report that its interface and overall presentation of the game are pretty much done. We'll need to do testing and tweaks but it's already playing smoothly. Yay!

CHOOSE YOUR OWN HORROR!

We also had a bit of fun doing promo materials:



Funnily, a lot of people asked where they could buy the book. We wish!

ABOUT THE VOICE ACTING

Regarding our previous update where we showed a glimpse of the dialogue system, we want to clarify that there will be voice acting in the game. We just haven’t recorded voices yet, but that’s planned.

As for the eternal question (is ASYLUM ever going to be released?), we must quote Jerry Dandrige:



Thank you for your continued support and patience, and have a spooky weekend!

—The Senscape Team
ASYLUM - AgustinCordes


Greetings, dear followers! We trust you're enjoying your weekend. There was a huge deal of positive reactions to our latest progress update —especially that glimpse of our dialogue system— so we decided to share more:

https://youtu.be/QhzGV36uLWI

That's right, this is exactly what happens when you enter the foreboding Hanwell Mental Institute! It's finally possible to complete a first big chunk of the game, conversations included, which is a big milestone for us. While we haven't recorded voice overs yet, this should give you a good idea of what it feels like interacting with denizens of the asylum.

And since we're here, let us show you a glimpse from one of the most menacing rooms in the game:

https://youtu.be/qGDCnCEPN5o

This screams ATMOSPHERE, right? You'll be screaming too, trust us. We hope you like it, because we're doing this game with much love.

And speaking of love:



THANK YOU for pushing us over 10.000 wishlists! (actually over 11.000 as of this writing). ASYLUM is enjoying a great momentum and development is progressing fast.

We hope to be sharing more news with you soon. In the meantime, thank you so much for your patience and support as we conclude this monstrous adventure game!

—The Senscape Team
ASYLUM - AgustinCordes


Things are looking up with the development of our colossal horror adventure! We’re happy to report ASYLUM is nearly feature complete and we did a little video to show you:

https://youtu.be/9m9zIbjGh9Q

"Feature complete" is a crucial milestone meaning all the systems intervening in the game (exploration, inventory, dialogues, menu, etc.) are ready. A quick lowdown of the stuff we did and improved since our latest gameplay video include:
  • Revised cursors and hotspots. The hands are smaller and detecting spots is now ultra smooth and sexy. No more annoying red outline (we listened to you).
  • Incredibly awesome menu system and very die... diaie... diegait... DIEGETIC. Wait till you see how our achievements work — completing them will be super fun for Steam users!
  • We’re finally able to have a proper conversation with the denizens of the asylum. And it looks good! And feels good! Our context-based dialogue system is unlike anything you have experienced in adventure games.
  • 3D inventory and journal, including 3D pencil. So immersive, so fancy. Much 3D.
  • Too many visual effects and tweaks to mention here.
  • Surely many other things we’re forgetting. And obviously a huge deal of playable content!
Talk to the hand... err, about the hand
We had many users complaining about the hand icons and saying they ruin the immersion. On the other hand (see what we did there?), just as well many users prefer their "classic" feel. Please, let us know your thoughts based on what you're seeing on this video, either in the comments or our discussion forums, as we're studying alternatives: https://steamcommunity.com/app/230210/discussions

Become a fan of Senscape!
In other news, we have one of those fancy creator pages now in which we review and recommend adventures with a focus on horror: https://store.steampowered.com/developer/Senscape

Make a wish!
Finally, remember to add ASYLUM to your Steam wishlist in case you haven't, and why not follow the game as well for more news?

https://store.steampowered.com/app/230210/ASYLUM

There’s more coming! We’re getting excited. We hope you’re excited too! Thanks for your amazing support and see you soon.

—The Senscape Team
...

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