In Indie Game HQ’s latest interview, we had the privilege of speaking with the ever interesting Agustin Cordes again. Agustin discussed his upcoming title Asylum and what fans of Scratches can expect. He explained his reasoning for making the Dagon engine open source, and he gave some advice on the Greenlight process. Best of all, this former Hanwell Mental Institute patient, I mean employee, revealed to us exactly what Argentinian BBQ, or asado, is.
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Asylum is a point-and-click adventure game. It’s quite scary too. No, we’re not making this up: some people were terrified just by reading the script alone, and we’re striving to top it with the most immersive, oppressive, depressive, (and many other words ending with ‘ive’) atmosphere ever seen in an adventure. Don’t be fooled by our excitement or apparent silliness; we’re very serious about making Asylum a disturbing and horrifying game that you won’t easily forget.
Indie Game HQ: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. It is always a pleasure.
Agustin: It’s my pleasure as well! Always glad to be in touch with you, and I’m rather ashamed that my last interview was a bit on the short side. I promise this one will be longer! Without recurring to fillers, that is…
Indie Game HQ: For fans of Scratches, can they expect to see certain aspects appear in Asylum?
Agustin: Yes, they certainly can. Scratches was a game that focused on mood and story, and had a calculated pacing that gradually became more tense, revealing little by little the inner workings of the plot until a climactic conclusion. The same holds true for Asylum, although the initial stages of the game are decidedly better paced than Scratches (which had a painfully slow first act). Still, Asylum will be slow-burning horror for fans of the genre. You shouldn’t expect cheap scares or action sequences; it’s “true” psychological horror and, just like Scratches, its story will surprise you with unexpected twists and a powerful finale.
Indie Game HQ: Last time we spoke, you mentioned a potential console release. Is this still planned?
Agustin: I’m not ruling out the possibility. My approach is simple: I’d like to see Asylum running on as many platforms as possible. The more, the better. Developing for consoles, however, is quite a burden: expensive development kits, prohibitive licenses, and sometimes they require exclusivity which is a big no-no for me. Because of this, we’re certainly eyeing consoles and eventually will give those ports a serious chance, but for now we’re more interested in supporting tablets and probably the OUYA in the short term.
Indie Game HQ: What made you want to make the Dagon engine open-source?
Agustin: I like open source very much and I love working closely with our community, so it was kind of a no-brainer for us. It did cross my mind during very early stages of development to commercialize the engine or perhaps provide professional services, but I quickly decided that shouldn’t be the focus of the company. It’s far more valuable to give something back to the community, see it grow, and create this sort of synergy from which everybody can benefit. I’ve been playing adventures for decades now (and saying this makes me feel like a dinosaur!). I love this genre very much and want to support it in any way I can.
Indie Game HQ: How did it feel when you found out your game was Greenlit by the community?
Agustin: It was a great feeling, a true sense of accomplishment. I saw Greenlight as a test of sorts until now, Asylum had been well received and was popular enough among the adventure game audience, but going to Steam meant a whole new audience with diverse tastes that would judge the game. It was a rough ride, a demanding campaign. I like the idea behind Greenlight but it’s a rather flawed system, and we’re seeing way too many fantastic games being buried under awfully generic ones. I was worried that we would lose momentum ourselves (keep in mind we stuck around four months in Greenlight), but fortunately things turned out well.
Indie Game HQ: For those seeking to be Greenlit what suggestions do you have?
Agustin: It’s crucial that you try to build a community before you head to Greenlight, otherwise your chances are seriously jeopardized. Very few games that go to Greenlight without previous support from a community seem to strive (which I’d say is the biggest problem the platform has right now). So, seize the social networks, promote your game as much as you can first, and then post the project on Greenlight. You have to remain active, make sure you reply to all the questions, encourage discussions, and always ask your community to favorite the game (I believe this is the most invaluable stat). If you don’t have some sort of plan, such as making announcements or keeping the Greenlight page updated, you risk your audience on Steam losing interest.
Indie Game HQ: After the Kickstarter concludes will those awesome T-shirts be sold anywhere?
Agustin: Honestly, I haven’t given it much thought. For the time being, all these goodies we have created are for the Kickstarter itself, with the exception of the soundtrack and boxed version of Asylum which will be sold separately for sure. T-shirts, yes, I guess we can look into that eventually. We actually have more cool designs in mind, and I hope we’re able to show them before the campaign ends!
Indie Game HQ: So how good of a cook are you really? What exactly is Argentinian BBQ?
Agustin: I love cooking. I’m not sure how good of a chef I am, but I can tell you that I’m definitely thorough and very dedicated each time I prepare a dish. I like to take my time (I guess the same could be said for game development!), and I can be cooking for hours, yet I’m never bored and enjoy doing it. What I mean by Argentinian BBQ is that we cook the meat with a different process here. The usual BBQ in North America is done rather quickly and very close to the flame. We Argentinians can take 2-4 hours to cook in a larger and special grill, keeping more distance between coals and meat. In fact, it’s not even accurate to call it “BBQ”. We say “asado”.
Indie Game HQ: Not to reiterate a popular question, but we really want to know. Are you crazy?
Agustin: No! I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested. No, no, no, and a thousand times no! I’m as sane as they come. Yes siree! Woohoo!
Indie Game HQ: So once the game releases and everything begins to wind down, what will you do next?
Agustin: Relax for a short while, I hope. But we’ll still have work to do with Asylum and Dagon as we want to work on the new ports, though this will depend on how much we can over-fund the project. We also have some expansions in mind (note I’m intentionally avoiding calling them DLCs). The idea is to create one or two more stories based on this huge virtual asylum that we have created, though I stress again that these expansions wouldn’t be required to complete the main story of the game.
Indie Game HQ: Thanks again! Is there anything you would like to add for our readers?
Agustin: Only that we appreciate the support (and the eternal patience for waiting Asylum all this time!). To remain independent and focus on our community is our most important goal, so receiving this kind of encouragement and financial support directly from our fans is nothing short of amazing. I believe crowdfunding has the potential to turn the game industry upside down, and it’s great to be part of this!
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