[size=18px]Every Thing You Always Wanted To Know About Asylum
And Weren’t Afraid To Ask Every Day (FAQ)[/size]
As months go by there’s understandably an increasing mix of worries, curiosity and anxiety about the status of Asylum. I’m not joking when I say that there’s been a constant flow of questions during the past few days, be it on forums, Facebook, Twitter or our YouTube channel. Thus, we have decided to compile this exhaustive list that addresses the most common inquiries and serves as an update for the status of the game.
1) Why is Asylum taking so long?
First, you should keep in mind that we’re doing this project on a shoestring budget, with money coming from our own pocket. We considered at some point to look for investors but in the end we wanted to retain our “liberty” and dedicate as much time as possible to the title. Because of this, the team has remained small with occasional shifts, and therefore properly scheduling the project becomes very difficult.
Second, Asylum is one big game. One of our main goals has always been to accurately reproduce a rundown asylum and, you know, asylums are pretty large buildings. On top of that, the game has a complex story that is intimately connected to the environment, so we have additional requirements to address besides modeling the realistic building. We’re also quite stubborn when it comes to accuracy and we’re making sure that the Hanwell Institute is as “architecturally correct” as possible. Suffice to say, the project scaled way out of proportions. But we’re managing OK.
And third, we’re developing our own game engine. From scratch. Ever hear when developers prefer to stick with pre-made engines instead of developing their own? Well, there’s a good reason for that. Dedicated game engines are extremely demanding projects and we couldn’t possibly tackle all these goals with a strict budget and timeframe. However, there are great benefits with this approach, as you will see.
2) Just how BIG is it?
We’re talking about the game here… Right?
This is a wireframe render of the main building. Take a look at the little human near the entrance:
That would be you and you will explore all the place from that perspective. Now you won’t be visiting every corridor in the left and right wings because a) it would result in a very boring game and b) if we had to do all that we would never finish it. That said, you will have complete freedom to explore the main body as you see fit, all four floors. Furthermore, we aren’t showing the basement (of course there is a basement!) and all the secret areas in this render. All in all, you will be able to explore about 100 rooms, and note we’re counting long corridors and large areas (such as the central courtyard) as rooms.
If you remember Scratches, this is over three times the size of that game, and far more detailed.
3) Are you insane?
Just a little bit.
4) Can you give us more details about the story of the game?
Unfortunately, no. We have given enough clues already and we want to keep everything under wraps. We certainly believe it’s the strongest point of the game and all five people that read the script agree it will be one hell of a ride. Not even potential publishers know it yet. One thing is for sure: expect an aftermath of months discussing with friends its many intricacies and twists.
5) Is it going to be point and click?
Oh yes. We’re attempting to strike a balance between old school and modern. The gameplay will be dynamic with many visual effects, but at its core Asylum will be classic adventuring.
6) What platforms are you planning to support?
Since we’re doing our own engine we have full control over this aspect of the project. At first we will support Windows and Mac. Support for Linux is planned too but either limited or “unofficially” (for example, we might support Ubuntu only). An iPad port is coming down the road, hopefully shortly after the first release. We have been approached about doing ports for consoles as well but nothing is set on stone. We are definitely giving that a shot though.
7) Is it going to be released on Steam, GOG or [insert your favorite digital service here]?
It’s still too early to say but we’re hoping all the major ones will carry Asylum. We’re against exclusives so the idea is to put the game in as many places as possible.
8 ) What about retail? Which countries?
Yes, retail is definitely happening in one way or another. As you can imagine we’re still in the middle of negotiations with publishers so we can’t give you enough details, but expect to see the game in many North-American and European retail stores.
9) Any ideas about the expected system requirements?
It shouldn’t demand much power. As usual, a good video card will be preferred. We’d say a 4 to 5 year old computer will be fine to handle the game. Basically, if you were able to play Scratches Director’s Cut you should be able to play Asylum, though you might have to disable many of the visual effects.
10) What is Dagon?
Dagon is precisely the game engine that we’ve been developing for Asylum. Both projects are strongly connected to each other, and sometimes when we speak about Asylum we’re also speaking about Dagon, and vice-versa. This engine is specifically tailored for adventure games, it’s multi-platform and darned easy to learn. Our philosophy behind it is to ensure Portability, Simplicity and Performance. And indeed, this is a fast engine. Not only you will be surprised by the graphics of Asylum but also the speed at which they are handled.
11) Is Dagon going to be free?
Better than that, it will be open source. We still have to decide some aspects of the project though, mainly if we will offer professional and dedicated support for a fee and if one or two expert features will be released to the public. Whatever we decide you can count on 90% of the engine to be freely available and open sourced, allowing you to create an adventure of similar quality and length of Asylum. Developers who are interested can expect further details soon.
12) What is your favorite color?
Blue. No, yellow!
13) How long is the game going to last?
So far we’ve been estimating between 12 and 15 hours but it’s likely going to be above 15. A healthy length that is ideal for the story we want to tell.
14) Are there going to be downloadable contents (DLC’s)?
Yes, we already have plans for some exciting expansions. One of them will offer a significantly different experience than the original story. At least another will be free, so that your patience is rewarded with a lengthy and enduring game.
15) What about achievements?
At first we didn’t plan to include achievements. After all they are a lame and trendy feature. But, truth is, they can be a cool extra if done unobtrusively that add an incentive to players, yet those who aren’t interested can ignore them altogether. Thus, we have come up with a number of original achievements that are strongly tied to the gameplay and story. They are supposed to reward the curiosity and dedication of players, for example, when they uncover all the easter eggs hidden in the game. We think that you’re going to love them!
16) Are you including many easter eggs?
This question comes up often, possibly because Scratches had many hidden references and small surprises for the good observer. So yes, expect dozens and dozens of such easter eggs in Asylum.
17) What is the secret of Monkey Island?
Wrong game. Next question.
18) When is Asylum coming out?
Ah, THE question. We don’t want to tell you a release date until we’re 100% convinced that we can meet the deadline, but we don’t want to pull an “it’s done when it’s done” either. We have to be honest though and we likely won’t make it in 2012. But 2013 seems to be just the perfect year for Asylum with that 13 and all. The game is in very advanced stages of production (that building above is fully complete for example) but we still have to tackle some important features and put everything together. We can already see the light at the end of the tunnel though.
19) You have been promising a playable teaser but never released it… I hate you!
That’s not even a question.
20) When is the playable teaser coming out?
We’ve always planned a playable teaser in the same tradition as Scratches (which had two of them before a proper demo). This one is taking long because it’s supposed to accurately show you how Asylum is going to look and feel and at the same time offer a robust glimpse into what Dagon has to offer. So it’s going to be one major milestone for us in every sense. At least we can promise the teaser will be released in 2012, possibly well before the end of the year, and it’s going to offer a nice chunk of the game. We won’t call it a demo because the full-blown demo will be downright massive.
So each passing day we’re striving to create a unique and timeless experience, one that will hopefully remain embedded in your mind for years to come. Thank you for being so patient and expect more news soon!