Diary Of A Madman #1

Believe it or not, I was trying hard to find a proper title for this post… When I finally found the words, I slapped myself repeatedly. Duh. Of course, this is none other than the Asylum Developer’s Diary: Unrated! that I mentioned a few moons ago, but that’s too long and definitely not SEO-friendly. So, Diary Of A Madman is.

To tell the truth, I was planning to launch this diary after a bunch of upcoming announcements since I feared there wouldn’t be enough interest at this point. I was very wrong. Just yesterday we had our 666th. (human) fan on Facebook and to welcome him we posted a screenshot of Asylum… that was previously available here on the blog! The reaction was pretty strong and within a couple of hours the page exploded: a dozen more fans, 22 likes and many, many comments… on Sunday, folks. Sunday! It’s our most popular post by now with a whooping 33 likes (a definitely strong impression in Facebook terms).

If this is the reaction towards a dark and murky screenshot, I can’t imagine what’s gonna happen when you see what we have in store here. Anyway, the burning question of course was: what the bloody heck is going on with the game? Hence the reason why I’m launching this diary today after many uneventful months with no announcements or new materials whatsoever. Hopefully you will find this diary mildly exciting, although I’m sure that friend developers will be very interested in what I have to say.

Actually, to be fair there was a further glimpse of Asylum during an interview I did with Matt Barton a month ago, more precisely brief in-game footage. Matt is a great guy and he runs what is hands down one of the best channels in all of YouTube. Make sure you check out his amazing work.

Logo large

Perhaps one of the more interesting bits of that interview was the shocking revelation that the engine behind Asylum is no longer called Kinesis. I won’t tell its new name yet but you can see the suggestive logo right here. The approach is different: Kinesis was too technical for my taste and reminiscent of Microsoft’s Kinect too, and I really want to set this engine apart as much as possible. In fact, it’s so friendly that I’m hoping users won’t even think of it as an engine but a very simple interface to develop adventures. Why I’m telling you all this? Because it will be made publicly available and free to use. No strings attached. We are positively out of our minds, yes, but this is in reality part of a much bigger and cunning plan. At the moment there are about a dozen developers assisting us in the project, suggesting features and improvements. It’s all very exciting and is gaining a lot of momentum. For instance, the engine currently supports node-based games. Now, this is how you connect the nodes:

foyer5:link({ E = foyer4, W = waiting1, S = foyer2 })

foyer6:link({ E = visiting1, W = foyer4 })

foyer7:link({ S = foyer3 })

That is, we use a neat feature of Lua – tables – to tell each node how it should connect with other nodes in the cardinal directions. This translates into an interactive spot that, when clicked by the player, performs the transition. Of course, the script allows creation of any number of spots, anywhere you want, and of any size and shape. More on that later. For now, you can see how easy it would be to create a very quick prototype of the entire playable areas. And creating the actual nodes is even easier!


Another aspect that is taking us considerable time is the music. If Scratches was any indication, you know that I take music very seriously. This time we are fortunate to work with Daniel Pharos and his Knights Of Soundtrack, a guy who is equally cool and scary. He’s the leader of Beyond The Void and WORSHIP, Gothic Rock and Doom Metal bands respectively, so I’m sure you know what I mean. We have devised with Daniel a very interesting approach to the music in Asylum. You see, the building where the game takes place – the Hanwell Institute – is very large and open, and players have the ability to move around it at will from the first minute. We don’t have a clear distinction between areas other than the separate floors (four counting the basements), which demands a more sensible approach to the music. It should be organic and dynamically shift as players explore Hanwell.

A great example of this is the hospital and cells area which are reached after a long corridor. To enter the cells you must first cross the hospital, and we’re talking about some very sinister rooms here. So, the short walk through the hospital should somehow anticipate the horror that awaits you at the cells in terms of mood, including the music. To achieve this, we’re dealing with a multilayered soundtrack. Each track contains at least three layers which, combined in a determined way, create three instances of similar music: mild, tense and horrifying. You listen to the mild instance as you walk through the long corridor, then tense when you enter the hospital, and finally it’s horrifying when you are in the cells.

Asylum screenshot2

It’s very effective, trust me, especially because you won’t know for sure when the music is really changing (that is, except for this particular occasion I’m giving away to illustrate the example). Thus, this organic approach to the music is bound to mess with your head. It’s tricky though because we must make sure that all the layers are always in sync and the shifts are smooth (for instance, to avoid a poor effect when annoying players enter and leave the hospital repeatedly).

I believe this how the old iMuse system from LucasArts worked, which is pretty neat. As far as I know, nothing like this has been implemented in adventures for quite a while.


That’s all for now and quite a big update for our first installment! What’s next? You can expect rather soon-ish* a new gameplay video, the first batch of official HD screenshots, and finally, the announcement of the engine along with a playable teaser of Asylum. Also coming up next week, it’s back to our regular revisiting of cult movies, games and books here at Slightly Deranged. And there was much rejoice!


*DISCLAIMER: My definition of “soon-ish” is very ample.


12 Responses to “Diary Of A Madman #1”

  1. Tansel says:

    I’m looking forward to play that demo. Also nice screenshot.

    I wonder what people will create with the engine!

  2. gnome says:

    This does sound so mouth-watering dear Agustin, that I frankly can’t wait to -at least- see the game’s demo. Also, seeing that you’ve been wise enough to come up with such an easy-to-use engine, well, that does feel very interesting and thought-provoking. Excellent news, excellent piece and keep ‘em coming!

  3. Agustín says:

    Thanks guys! I can’t wait until we unleash this, I think you will be all very surprised :)

  4. Nuxly says:

    Awesome, looking forward to the next posts :D

  5. Archtron says:

    Van a lanzar el engine junto con un demo de Asylum? Que bien! ya quisiera que lo lancen, el engine realmente promete, ya quiero probar todo lo que ofrece y el juego parece que va a ser muy inmersivo.
    Que bueno que cambian el nombre. Como he estado muy interesado lo busco en google y me salen resultados mezclados con los juegos Batman Asylum o Dead Space que tiene un modulo llamado Kinesis.

    Will release the engine along with a demo of Asylum? Nice! and wanted to test it, the engine really promises, and I want to try everything offered and the game looks to be very immersive.
    I’m glad you changed the name. As I have been very interested I search on google and I get mixed results with the games Batman Asylum and Dead Space has a module called Kinesis.

  6. Agustín says:

    Hehe… What an ethnic post! :P

    That’s also true about Dead Space, adds more to the confusion. I’m not sure if the new name will be *that* search friendly, but I believe it will fare much better than Kinesis alright :)

  7. Areala says:

    Now I’m not trying to leak anything here, but I have to say that while the name ‘Kinesis’ might return confusing results in a Google search, surely there was a better second name you could have picked than “Chainsaw Holocaust”? You don’t want to know what the Google searches for that pick up. ;)


  8. James Wilson says:

    Damn it, Areala, you’ve leaked it! Now Agustin will swoop down a fell rage and take us all to Castle Senscape where we will become expeiremental subjects for new radish pickling techniques!
    Alas, I enjoyed my freedom.

  9. Aaron says:

    So the new engine is called “DNA” or “Chromosome” or something like that? It looks like a dna strand :P

  10. Agustín says:

    Hehe… If you ask me, that’s rather Lovecraft-ian ;)

  11. Aaron says:

    What? Really?! Oh man… this is all making me go…. slightly….. ever so…. deranged…

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m actually just as excited by the prospect of getting my hands on the toolset as I am getting Asylum!

  12. Agustín says:

    Yay! I’m sure you’re going to be surprised. The engine is performing very well and it’s deceptively easy to use… Stay tuned ;)