I’ll never understand the Internet: post one screenshot that was already publicly available and in less than 24 hours it becomes our most popular post in Facebook, with an astounding 38 likes. On Sunday, no less. Now, start a developer’s diary, reveal a few exciting new tidbits about the project, post ANOTHER exclusive screenshot, and it gets 21 likes — nearly half. On Monday. Conclusion: does most people read Facebook on Sunday? Because if that is the case we might be forced to reorganize our marketing department… Unfortunately, since the amount of likes did not surpass the previous post, there won’t be a new screenshot of Asylum this time. By all means, if todays post surpasses 21 likes, you get a new breathtaking shot in the next update of Diary Of A Madman! Yes, I’m evil.
Anyway, I’m sorry that I took a bit longer to publish this new update but Easter holidays has complicated things a little bit. Many keep asking about the status of the project because, apparently, we’re in 2011 already, but rest assured that we’re steadily moving forward. It’s tricky to settle on a release date since there’s a lot to be done yet, but we are certainly preparing some exciting things to ease the wait. Remember that playable teaser I told you about last time? It’s just around the corner in fact and a few privileged ones have been testing the code with very positive first impressions. The overall consensus is that exploring the Hanwell building feels eerily realistic and is filled with “touchably crisp textures” (one of my favorite quotes). What’s holding us from releasing this code then? On one hand bug fixing, obviously, and on the other the inclusion of a couple of features that were suggested by our daring group of testers. If done well, this has the potential to change the way you think about adventures. Seriously, it’s that huge.
An aspect that has become very apparent during our testing is that Asylum, unlike most first person adventures (Scratches included), is really fluid. There are virtually no loading times, control is quick and smooth, navigation is easy, you have an amazing deal of freedom of movement — all in all, everything feels just right. At times it feels like a first-person shooter actually, which is pretty cool if you ask me — after all, adventures should test your creativity and intuition, not your patience with the controls. In this regard I believe that we have definitely achieved our goal because Asylum feels, in one word, “modern.” It’s immediately accessible, which is what most gamers seem to demand today.
Another aspect that remains almost completely in the dark is the story. Occasionally someone asks about this, a few shrug, and we all move on. I prefer to keep it that way. Actually, there’s quite a bit of information leaked about the story already, either through interviews or forum posts, so if you’re really interested you could put all the pieces together and get a pretty accurate picture about the premise of the game. I will only say this: Asylum is supposed to feel surreal, like there’s something horribly wrong going on inside Hanwell as soon as you set foot inside the place. Don’t try to make any sense out of it, at least not until you’re halfway into the game. If the premise of Scratches was that “a novelist escapes to the solace of an old Victorian house to finish his horror novel” then the premise of Asylum would be that “an ex-patient returns to a mental hospital to understand why he is suffering of bizarre hallucinations”. Think about it: that’s all you needed to know about Scratches before playing it (because you DID play it, right?) and this is all you need to know about Asylum for now. The script remains locked inside a vault and no more than five people will have it read completely before the game is released. Yes, I’m so evil.
What we are going to reveal soon is the cast of the game, and oh we have many surprises here. There are old friends from the Scratches cast coming back and a new celebrity doing a wonderful work as the main character. Hint: the first game that he worked on has been mentioned in this blog.
So no new materials released this time but I do hope to share something in the next update, where I’ll be further discussing the new engine and its programming language. Since my last post we have concluded the implementation of the dynamic music (and boy it’s dynamic, you can never tell when the tracks are really changing) and the video system. Videos were sorely missing in Scratches (other than fullscreen cutscenes, that is) so it’s truly neat that we have them in Asylum. Basically, this means that we can “populate” the nodes with an indefinite number of small animations here and there, which makes the locations look more lively. Anything, even drapes being moved by the wind can make a huge difference in terms of mood. And it’s as simple as loading a file and positioning the video on a texture. Nothing else — no obscure calculations or invocation of elder gods is required. Stay tuned for all the nitty gritty details!