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ASYLUM is an upcoming supernatural horror adventure and the spiritual successor to cult classic Scratches set in a massive, decaying mental institute.

Funded on Kickstarter back in 2013 where they managed to get $119K in funding, and it's still one of the most successful campaigns to come from Argentina. As they continue hacking away at the code to bring it to release, they've given another big update on how it's doing - in short: very well.

One problem they've had during development is how Unreal Engine works with Linux builds, notably it's lack of video support with Linux. Senscape hacked around this initially, using some crazy black-magic to produce a series of JPGs that moved just like a traditional video - it wasn't perfect but it worked enough for the demos. Linux wasn't the only platform causing problems though, as they mentioned that even on Windows and macOS their videos looked different. So what did they do? Instead of just complaining or dropping platforms, they took the time to actually go and fully fix it.

They took the outdated VLC Player plugin for Unreal, spent some time learning how it works and reading up on the MP4 format for why there's platform differences mentioning they've "seen things you people wouldn't believe" (nice Blade Runner reference there).

As a result of their work they can have proper video support without major differences across Linux, macOS and Windows in Unreal Engine - something they said other developers have paid big sums for. For Linux gamers, the news here is that the "Linux port is now 100% on par with Windows/Mac in terms of features and performance" and that "Linux fans will be very pleased when they play it".

If that's not enough for you, they also mentioned on the Steam discussion for the announcement that "We are definitely uploading our changes and improvements soon, and possibility becoming maintainers of the plugin after that." — so other developers will be able to freely benefit from this too. Awesome.

You can follow ASYLUM on GOG and Steam if you're interested.

If you missed it, here's our preview of the older demo on Linux - it was great!

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12 comments
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Pit 2 Oct
This has to be supported. Real dedication, and available on GOG, too. It's not 100% my type of game, but goes on the wish list for sure.
Ehvis 2 Oct
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This is what happens when developers solve the problem instead of management. Good to see that this can still happen. Although I highly doubt that performance will be equal (UE4 has never managed that), it should be enough. Looking forward to this one!
kokoko3k 2 Oct
Quoting: Ehvis[..]I highly doubt that performance will be equal (UE4 has never managed that), it should be enough. Looking forward to this one!
There is no much 3d in the game; from what i see, it seems almost all pre-rendered.


Last edited by kokoko3k on 2 October 2020 at 11:08 am UTC
bingus 2 Oct
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After so much Linux disappointment on Kickstarter, I'm really impressed with these guys. They've gone above and beyond with their support... I'm sure others would have just pulled the plug on us.
Eike 2 Oct
I actually wanted to pass on this after a look into the demo. Warping from place to place in 3D just doesn't cut it anymore for me. I'm about to reconsider.

QuoteI’m working on a more technical article with all the nitty-gritty for those of you interested

If you stumble upon this, Liam (or anybody else reading here), I would love to get a pointer.
Because this is a true indie game...
In big games the technical decisions are made by economists and not by the developers.
Weird that Unreal Engine does not have decent multiplatform video support in the first place.

Great that the devs managed to fix the plugin , so that they did not have to resort to some commercial third party solution (RAD Bink for example appears to charge a license fee for each platform... so I can see that it would really eat into profits from Linux and Mac releases).

I can imagine that it is unexpected issues like these that make developers give up on releasing on Linux.

Anyway planning to support them with a day 1 purchase
DrMcCoy 3 Oct
If they've read the full MPEG4 specs, yeah, there's lot of weird things in there. Most of which were never implemented. MPEG-4 Structured Audio is fully Turing-complete (it's essentially bytecode that generates audio samples live), there's full support for sprites (yes!) in the specs, face detection, 3d mesh objects with textures, etc.

I'm still waiting on their full write-up of the issue, but I guess the bug in question on macOS was "just" glitchy color space conversions. Well, and making the plugin compile on Linux.

As for "something they said other developers have paid big sums for", well, since it's a VLC plugin, they are already getting more than their money's worth just from the VLC devs. And probably the ffmpeg devs as well, since it doesn't sound like they're using an official MPEG decoder implementation.

Depending on how the plugin works and how it's licensed, they're also probably obligated to publish their changes. libvlc is LGPLv2, after after all.
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Quoting: bingusAfter so much Linux disappointment on Kickstarter, I'm really impressed with these guys. They've gone above and beyond with their support... I'm sure others would have just pulled the plug on us.
Yeah, I am still miffed that Tower57 got even an Amiga OS4 that they outsourced, but the Linux version was dropped.
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Quoting: AwesamLinuxWeird that Unreal Engine does not have decent multiplatform video support in the first place.

Great that the devs managed to fix the plugin , so that they did not have to resort to some commercial third party solution (RAD Bink for example appears to charge a license fee for each platform... so I can see that it would really eat into profits from Linux and Mac releases).

I can imagine that it is unexpected issues like these that make developers give up on releasing on Linux.

Anyway planning to support them with a day 1 purchase
This does explain that while UE4 has fine Linux support, we don't get many UE4 based ports. If the devs have to normally pay to fix some shit version of their plugin for it to play videos on Linux, it is most likely deemed not worth it for releasing a Linux port...

Maybe now that these guys have fixed this for Epic, they will grace us with their one game that is so popular right now (not that it is my cup of tea as I don't tend to play multiplayer games with people I can't laugh directly in the face of when I axe them to pieces. Man, that was a fun Quake DM...)
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