Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

> OPEN BOX

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

“You find… A bundle!”

The whole indie bundle movement exploded about two years ago with the smashing hit Humble Bundle. Since then, this phenomenon has grown to unexpected proportions with roughly one new bundle being offered each month. Indie Royale, Indie Gala, Indie Facekick Bundle (notice a trend?) and others have jumped on the bandwagon with intriguing offerings and a recurring feature: an extremely low entry price which increases over time, combined with a pay-what-you-want model.

BundlakosThere’s a new kid on the block, though, and it’s called Bundle In A Box. With so many (by now) established offerings out there, a newcomer should at least make an effort to differentiate itself from the rest. Well, Bundle In A Box (from now on BIAB) does muc

h more than that. It has FIVE unique features:

1) Price goes down over time. Yup. As of this writing, the current minimum is $1.59, which is nothing short of a steal for all these games.

2) It’s a thematic bundle in a sense all the games share a common trait: in this case, they’re all adventures.

3) For the first time ever, a game is exclusively debutting in a bundle (The Sea Will Claim Everything). Note that BIAB is currently the only way to acquire this game, so it’s definitely exclusive.

4) Also, it marks the first time a piece of Interactive Fiction is featured in a bundle.

5) Finally, it’s the first indie bundle that doesn’t have the “indie” word in its title.

However, bundles live and die by their games and none of the above features would mean anything if the included titles are bad. Fortunately, BIAB does really feel like opening a box full of neat surprises. Let’s see why…

Gemini Rue

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Chances are you heard about Gemini Rue (from now on GR). If you haven’t, then I must beg you to come out from under that rock because there’s a brave new world waiting for you. GR is one of the most remarkable adventures released in the past few years and one that pushed the venerable and highly popular AGS engine to its limits (at least until Resonance is released). Yes, it’s low-res, but mark my words: this is hands down the most atmospheric low-res game ever created. In fact, I bet it would lose its charm in high resolution.

Obviously influenced by Blade Runner and other Sci-Fi stories, GR weaves a complex storyline with excellent puzzles and writing. It deservedly garnered lots of acclaim and, if you’re remotely interested in adventure games, this is a must play. Do the low-res graphics turn you off? Grow up. You can thank me later.

Ben There, Dan That!

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Or BT,DT!. Actually part of a series later continued by Time Gentlemen, Please! (TG,P!). I must confess I hadn’t played these until this bundle arrived, and I owned them on Steam. In a word: WOW. In 112 words: this game is a riot. It never ceases to parody typical quirks of the adventure genre and itself, and because of that this is one of the most self-aware titles that I played in a long time. The story is nuts: it involves aliens, time travel, and talking dinosaurs. Developed by a couple of deranged brits (incidentally, the same ones starring the game), BT,DT! features a very surreal sense of humor that probably won’t appeal everybody and can be quite offensive at times, but who cares, we’re in the XXI century and in the Internet of all places, so you’re probably way over being offended. That is, unless you play…

TG,P!

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I’m not sure what I was expecting (probably anything) but this game is WAY out there. It’s better and more of everything: an even more outrageous story involving Hitler’s obsession with coathangers, clever puzzles that at the same time somehow manage to make you feel like an idiot, witty writing, and the humor… oh, the twisted humor. Sexist, racist jokes and gratuitous violence run aplenty; the writers didn’t shy away of smashing every taboo with the force a sledgehammer. As far as I know, this is the only game that allows you to pick Hitler’s bloody feces with a skeleton arm. And it gets worse. With endlessly quotable lines such as “cheerio, wobbly knockers”, I loved every degenerate moment of this fun adventure. It’s been a while since I laughed so much with a game.

1893: A World’s Fair Mystery

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Or 1:AWFM. Still annoyed by GR‘s low-res graphics? Listen, in my day we used to play with TEXT. You typed and the computer responded with words. The only graphics were imagined in the canyons of your mind, with glial cells like clouds and neurons like electrical storms. Those were good times, long before the device that destroyed adventures was created: the evil mouse.

But I’m digressing: 1:AWFM is a most excellent specimen of this prehistoric genre that still endures thanks to a very hard working community. It’s not for faint of heart, however: even to the most dedicated IF player, this is one very demanding game. Huge setting, exhaustive descriptions, an extremely non-linear experience, and lots of note taking required. An interesting aspect about this adventure is that it’s based after a real fair held in Chicago in 1893. In this sense it’s an educational game since the creator went to great lengths to reproduce the experience of attending this fair, adding a layer of mystery involving a diamond theft on top. In fact, you could ignore the main plot altogether, treat the game as simply a virtual tour of this uniquely historical setting, and it still would be fun. If you’re observant, you’ll notice on that screenshot that there are a few graphics to enhance the atmosphere. 1:AWFM is regularly sold for $20 (you do the math) and boasts dozens of hours of gameplay, if you’re up to the task.

The Sea Will Claim Everything

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Or TSWCE. Jonas Kyratzes broke into the indie scene a decade ago with Last Rose In A Desert Garden, even before the term “indie” was coined in games. Since then he has produced a dozen titles, very unconventional and mostly story based, that have become small treasures among indie adventures. TSWCE is his first commercial one and, as I said before, an exclusive launch in BIAB. This is a game of understated beauty that plays like a strange dream you once had. Again, an experience that demands attention but is very rewarding as you untangle the mysteries, first of Underhome and its quirky inhabitants, then Isle of the Moon and beyond into the Lands of Dreams. I’m not sure what will be the price of TSWCE when BIAB is over, but I would handsomely pay for it, especially when its developer has been giving away free games for so long. Mention apart deserves the soothing and inspired music by Chris Christodoulou. These Greeks really know their stuff. I’ll be damned if they don’t deserve the support.

The Shivah

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Yup, you’ve guessed it: TS. The shortest game in the bundle is a creation by Dave Gilbert of Blackwell saga fame. It might be short, but it’s among the most compelling titles as you take the role of an unlikely protagonist: a Jewish Rabbi! Talk about a first. But this isn’t a cop out premise as you become embroiled in a murder case and its unexpected ramifications. I was amazed by how much story and development Dave managed to effortlessly include into little more than two hours, but he pulled it off with excellent results. By the end of the story you have taken critical moral decisions and know more about the Rabbi than most protagonists in current games. A small gem that deserves recognition.

Metal Dead

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Or Metal Dead. There are two things you should know about this game: it has heavy metal and zombies. In some ways similar to BT,DT!, namely its interface, style, and the fact that two friends are the protagonists, even if one of them is dead, Metal Dead is another zany, fun adventure that is a pleasure to play. Immediately accessible (its story kicks off with a bang as you’re victim in a car crash less than five minutes into the game) and quickly paced, this is the first effort by a small studio and they passed the test with flying colors. With loads of gore and comedy, topped with delightful writing, Metal Dead is the perfect closure to this eclectic, yet remarkable selection of games.

Rounding up the offering are soundtracks and booklets of select titles. I should clarify that the last two games are only available to those that beat the average of $5.58. Considering that any of these games is at the very, VERY least worth $5, you’d be missing out on an incredible offer if you pass. It should be also noted that, as is mostly the case with bundles of the sort, some proceedings go to charity.

Every bundle I’ve seen so far has at least one lousy game no one cares about, but this is not the case with BIAB since each one is a winner. And best of all: they’re adventures which, as we all know, is the best game genre around. It would be a huge oversight from my part if I don’t mention Konstantinos Dimopoulous, known among the interwebs as “Gnome” (of Gnome’s Lair fame no less), who spent many sleepless nights to make this happen.

To recap: BIAB includes GR, BT,DT!, TG,P!, 1:AWFM, TSWCE, TS and Metal Dead. That’s five games for $1.59 if you’re a cheap bastard, and seven for $5.58 if you break the piggy bank.

Be cool. Support those guys:

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Just Passing By…

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Hello. How are you? Today I remembered that I have a blog and this is a post. See? I’m posting.

It’s been a few seriously crazy months, especially when it comes to the development of Asylum, but things are finally looking up and all the pieces are falling into place. I will be sharing many exciting details in the upcoming new installment of the Diary Of A Madman, but today I’ll bring your attention to Darkstar, that mythical game which has been in eternal production for over a decade, second only to the King Of Vaporware, Duke Nukem Forever. Well, it’s no longer vaporware, and neither it’s Darkstar. In fact, it’s here. For real.

Diary Of A Madman #4

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Whew, this has been one crazy week! So many things to discuss… It’s either complete months of silence or one week of grinding news (and there’s still more to come). Of course, the most noteworthy event was the first gameplay video from Asylum. This was raw, unadulterated in-game footage with the exception of a few crossfades. If I have to be honest, I was very nervous about this video; I had a hard time capturing the footage, squeezing an annoying 50fps out of my CPU (and yes, those 10 frames short of the golden 60 make a huge difference). On top of that, the entire footage amounted to 8 gigs so it wasn’t precisely lightweight. Converting those to a more reasonable size was another world of pain.

But my real qualm was the actual video. After watching it a few dozen times, I realized it was lacking. There are tons of things that could have been improved but fans were threatening our lives for some new material, so I said to myself what the heck and pulled the plug. One hour later I was literally floored by the positive reactions: retweets, likes, pluses, mails, forum posts… 99% of people have been equally delighted and scared by this video. Since several hundred folks can’t be lying together at the same time, I guess it was fine after all. And we have many features that didn’t make it and will enhance the atmosphere even more… For example, falling dust. I couldn’t get this to work on Windows in time and it’s a shame because this small addition is very effective. It gives the game a considerably stronger 3D feel. Also, those of you who loved the animated skies in Scratches are in for a treat as we’re working on some groovy and scarifying nighttime scenes.

Speaking of 3D, many people was expectedly disappointed to learn that Asylum is node-based (even though I have repeatedly stated this was the case). Yes, I know that fully 3D is nice and modern but there are several reasons why this wasn’t going to work in Asylum. In truth, there’s only one major reason: it doesn’t need to be in 3D. This isn’t a FPS where the environments are secondary to the gameplay. Those games don’t require players to explore every nook and cranny of a location, or carefully look for hints, for example, on a desk. Therefore, they can get away with repetitive scenes, reused props, and stuff. Players don’t spend so much time on these scenes; they either kill or run and move on.

Things are extremely different in a game like Asylum. Each single room matters and even the bathrooms are brimming with details. Of course we repeat some things, if not we wouldn’t ever finish the game, but the level of detail required is several notches above full 3D games. This is why the exploration part in Asylum will be so lifelike and intriguing. Going realtime 3D is simply out of our league because of budget and time constraints, but even if we had the resources, Asylum doesn’t need it.

Let me also state that the walking in the video was intentionally slow and that you can move much faster in the actual game. There’s also plenty of freedom in choosing your direction; everything is highly non-linear. Finally, as someone stated in our YouTube channel, the discrete movement makes the game feel even scarier. And I definitely agree.

One tiny little thing that also worried me from the video is the breathing effect that can be heard on the background. Not the one when the protagonist is startled but a constant breathing. Apparently this wasn’t very noticeable as nobody mentioned it. We’re still ironing out this detail; one of our goals is to make the central character always very present, and the effect fits. Add to this many thoughtful comments and you have a very fleshed out and intriguing character. That said, the breathing shouldn’t be annoying and I feared the gameplay video would give the wrong impression. This wasn’t the case fortunately, but I’d still love to hear your thoughts.

This is already a lengthy post so I’ll save for the next update comments about the animations (did you catch the ocean through the window in the hallway?) and visuals. In the meantime, because you have been such a great audience, I leave you these renderings of the Asylum in all its raw glory. Yes — you get to explore it. Every nook and cranny of the place.

Diary Of A Madman #3

Friday, July 15th, 2011

In those rare occasions I go out to the streets, people ask me about the status of Asylum. Shady characters in dirty coats most of the time, lurking in the shadows and speaking in whispers. They could be a product of my imagination (after all I can never see their faces, provided they have one) but I always respond them for the sake of politeness. I mean, imaginary people deserve respect too. But I’m going to assume that you’re real and want to know about the status of… What was I was talking about?

Right, Asylum. As you can imagine, it’s been a very busy period for us, and there’s so much to tell that I wouldn’t know where to begin. Perhaps the most important news is that the game has gone semipublic and people had a chance to actually play it. In other words, it exists. More specifically, we featured an early build in a local fair and visitors were able to walk without restrictions around a sizable portion of the first floor of the Hanwell Institute. The reactions were very positive and, even though the mood is kind of lost when you’re in a big room with dozens of people and loud noise, they were all clearly impressed. The game was shown on two big HDTVs and graphics still looked sharp and detailed, so I’m not lying when I say that Asylum really, really is high-definition.

Here, I have a blurry and completely useless picture to prove it:

Asylum @ MICA

Anyway, back to the inner workings, last time I spoke about the video system that was finished, enabling us to populate Hanwell with dozens of lively videos. Since then we have completed the first floor, which is the biggest one and therefore a very important milestone for us. All the doors are now animated as well and, if you’re familiar with Scratches, you’ll know that represents a great deal of work. It’s almost fifty videos of doors opening in the first floor alone, along with beautiful animations of the ocean waving through some windows, faulty lights, moving trees, water in a fountain and inmates inside the cells of a truly sinister corridor. And we’re not even done yet. When put into perspective, the sheer amount of work makes me want to cry.

How do we manage with all this? Well, in the first place, loads of coffee and illegal drugs. It also helps, as I hinted before, that the scripting language of the engine is deceptively simple. I’ve already told you a bit about the process of creating nodes. Now, here’s a quick glimpse of the process to create what we call a “spot”. It’s not a “hotspot” because it may not be interactive:

door = Spot.new(WEST, {64, 424})

This means we create a spot object named “door” on the west face of the cubemap and we give it a set of coordinates, in this case just the origin. The vectors of coordinates can be of any length and shape, so it’s completely freeform (the engine itself makes sure it’s a closed region). And before you ask, we’re working on a tool to easily draw regions directly on the cubemap. But let’s stick to the basics for now. So, why do we give it a single pair of coordinates? Because of this:

door:attach(VIDEO, “vid_door_corridorb_hospital.ogv”)

We attach (and that really is the meaning of this action) a video file to the “door” object. The engine calculates the size of the video and resizes our previously created spot accordingly (with two coordinates, it was a single point). This saves us a bit of work as we only need to worry about placing the video properly. For now we support Theora for videos which is open source, lightweight and very fast. It has proven to be a powerful format (with a sucky API though). Overall, this is a very straightforward process to include videos in our nodes. But wait! Games need audio too… So:

door:attach(AUDIO, “sfx_door_large_open.ogg”)

Which I think speaks for itself. Suppose we want to make that spot interactive as well:

door:attach(CUSTOM, from_corridorb_to_hospital)

This links a custom action to this spot, effectively making it clickable. Now the only task left is to add this spot to one of our nodes. The entire chunk of code would look like this:

door = Spot.new(WEST, {64, 424})

door:attach(VIDEO, “vid_door_corridorb_hospital.ogv”)

door:attach(AUDIO, “sfx_door_large_open.ogg”)

door:attach(CUSTOM, from_corridorb_to_hospital)

corridorb1:addspot(door) — Our previously created node

Easy peasy. And the contents of that custom action (in reality a Lua function) could be as simple as this:

function from_corridorb_to_hospital()

door:play() — This plays both the video and audio attached

switch(hospital1)

end

Do you like the approach? Are you excited? Are you still awake? We think this is an equally intuitive and powerful method, combining many aspects of coding into one single concept: the spot and stuff you can attach to it. We’ll go over a few more options in future episodes of this exciting diary.

What next? We’re preparing a big update to our website in which we will finally reveal the new name of the engine, along with the first gameplay video of Asylum and “official” batch of screenshots. I’m committed to keep a good pace of updates from now on… Yes, I can be that naive.

Diary Of A Madman #2

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

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!

Eclectic Sunday

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

At last we have a sizable update here on the blog! And look at that, I actually kept my word this time (marginally). First we have Creating Rem Lezar, hands down the quirkiest and most politically incorrect musical out there. Whatever you do, you must NOT let your kids anywhere near this movie. Then we have Thexder, a forgotten arcade of the mid-eighties, but a very special one since it may be the game that started it all. Honest. And finally, The Affirmation, arguably the best novel by Christopher Priest, a fascinating book by an extremely talented writer that begs to be read. Talk about eclectic updates!

Hope you enjoy all the articles! There’s more coming, and you won’t have to wait four months to get it. To those of you wondering, the Diary Of The Madman will return tomorrow with more Asylum goodies, so stay tuned!

Diary Of A Madman #1

Monday, April 4th, 2011

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.

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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!

Draft

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.

I Have Returned For The Nth. Time

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

And so it begins… The dawn of a new era at Slightly Deranged! See, I wasn’t kidding with my last post: the update was really coming soon. In fact, I have been tiding up several things here and there for the past couple of days. I hope you like these changes and the new slogan, although I believe there’s more polishing coming up soon; I fear that sidebar is getting too bloated now that I’m adding a new category. That’s right, the very first book in our new section is being covered today, and it’s a great one: J.G. Ballard’s High Rise, just in time before the Vincenzo Natali’s movie adaptation hits the streets. It’s a harrowing read, a very uneasy look into our most darkest emotions, but well worth your time. Additionally, we relive possibly the best platform game that ever appeared on the IBM PC: Zeliard, product of the Sierra On-Line/Game Arts partnership back in the early 90’s. It’s a truly amazing game and it brings back very fond memories.

However, the entree of the day is definitely this long forgotten gem (how many of these exist anyway?) released just a bit after the sad demise of the Hammer Films studio, at least when it came to movie productions: House Of The Long Shadows, the only movie featuring Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and John Carradine. Equally funny and scary, this historical piece is inexplicably unbeknownst to a whole generation of horror movie fans, and it is my duty to tell you all about it.

That’s it for today (heck, did you want more??) and I’m looking into a few more interesting changes and a higher update rate. As always, your support and comments are important so don’t hesitate to chime in if you have anything to say, even if it’s nasty and it could hurt my feelings, although you would have to be really nasty and potentially very graphical to offend me. It’s good to be back, and I hope someone reads the blog on Saturday!

To Sum It Up…

Friday, August 27th, 2010

The week is coming to an end, so let me remind you of these noteworthy updates. First we had a very important movie covered in the blog, the seminal El Topo. It truly is the definition of “cult” (I wonder how many times I said that) and a landmark achievement of underground cinema, so you already know what to watch this weekend. Next, I had a fond look back at Isle Of The Dead, a creative Wolfenstein 3D clone from the early 90’s. However, I realized that the only fond thing about this game were just my memories…

Finally, there’s a lengthy ongoing interview at Adventure-Treff, the great German site about adventures games, that covers past, present and future of Senscape, including revealing new details of Asylum. I did warn those guys that I can get very chatty, but they didn’t listen so the result is a whooping 15-pages article that will be delivered in three parts. You can read the first one right here, and don’t worry because that link is in English. Be sure to read them all!

That’s it for now, hope you have a great weekend and may you watch many horror movies. Take care now, bye bye then!

What Have Boxers, Evil Doctors And Toxic Waste In Common? Why, This Post.

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Curses! I had forgotten about the GDC and Gamescom in Europe this month. Those bloody expos have foiled my plans to deliver more regular updates during August… In case you haven’t heard the news, a man called Daniel Pharos has managed to infiltrate with a powerful computer loaded with a vast selection of Top Secret materials from Asylum, and he’s right now showing these to a legion of publishers craving for a hot new product to license, including major players in the industry. I understand there already talks about movie rights even.

If you apply the reality check to the paragraph before, I’m basically saying that Daniel was very kind to carry a netbook with a bunch of videos from Asylum and he’s introducing the game to maybe a dozen publishers. But the outlook is quite positive and we hope to share more news very soon!

Anyway, back to Slightly Deranged: this one of those major updates that I’ve been meaning to deliver for the past few weeks. Most importantly, we have a feature article about Boxer, the very best front-end I’ve ever got the pleasure to use. It really adds a whole new dimension to DOS emulation. I’m also throwing into the mix the mandatory game and movie. First, The Secret Island Of Dr. Quandary, a very particular educational adventure from the early 90’s, and second, The Toxic Avenger which I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only seen it for the first time very recently. It’s really awesome though and a worthy, suitably deranged entry for this blog!

That’s it for today, and please stop sending me emails every single day asking about the next update, I’m always working on stuff for the blog (that line needs some reality check as well). See you folks soon!