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Interview with Bryan Steel on Delaware St. John:
Asylum of The Lost
Developer:Big Time Games
Release Date:October 2014
Article Posted:December 2013

I met Delaware St. John for the first time in February 2006, when I played The Curse of Midnight Manor. I immediately liked the young detective who investigated paranormal activities. Delaware was brave, resourceful, and quick-witted. Throughout the adventure, Delaware also had an excellent dynamic with his partner Kelly Bradford. The Curse of Midnight Manor was designed as the first episode in a series of ten games featuring Delaware. Each episode was intended to have two unique stories with an overarching core storyline tying the games together.

By the time I finished The Curse of Midnight Manor, I was a fan of the series. The story and the atmosphere were captivating. The game made good use of Delaware's unique abilities and nicely developed the relationship between Delaware and Kelly. The horror themese were nicely mixed with a sense of humor that delivered memorable and enjoyable experience.

The Curse of Midnight Manor was followed by The Town with No Name, inviting players to explore a different setting. The third chapter, The Seacliff Tragedy, was released in 2007. The third episode ended with a great twist, leaving players wondering where the series would be headed next.

However, after the release of The Seacliff Tragedy, Delaware St. John disappeared from the adventure gaming scene for several years. The developer Bryan Wiegele, now Bryan Steel, had plans for all ten chapters of the series. However, the fourth episode was delayed due to a lack of funding. Several months ago, Bryan launched a Kickstarter project to finance the development of episode 4 or Asylum of The Lost. The campaign had very ambitious goals of redesigning the game engine and offering a longer gaming experience. Unfortunately, the original Kickstarter campaign failed to meet its funding goal.

Now, Mr. Steel is once again trying to fund the development of Asylum of the Lost through a Kickstarter campaign. This time, the campaign has a humble budget and already reached over half of its funding goal by the time we contacted Mr. Steel for an interview. He kindly agreed to give us information about the most recent campaign and the status of Delaware St. John episode 4.

[Adventure Lantern]: It's been several months since we discussed the first Kickstarter campaign to bring back the Delaware St. John series. Can you tell us a little about what happened in the interim?

[Bryan Steel]: This is our third campaign to get Asylum of The Lost in production. The goals of the first campaign were huge. We wanted to create a full-scale real-time 3D adventure game and the budget reflected that. The fans spoke up, we listened and adjusted the campaign for a second run. During the second run I had to make a tough decision and ended up closing the campaign prematurely. For the third try we’ve scaled the game back as far as we could while retaining the level of quality established by the previous games.

[AL]: What did you learn from the previous campaigns?

[Bryan]: I think the biggest thing we learned was keep things simple. This is why for the third try we’ve cut out all fluff and plan to deliver a quality game experience for as low a development cost as possible.

[AL]: This time the Kickstarter campaign has a much smaller budget. Can you tell us how this will impact the game?

[Bryan]: We’ve established that the base $10,000 goal will allow us to create a high-quality 6-hour game experience. We’ve established stretch goals to allow for a game up to 10 hours if we’re able to hit those. Other than game length, everything will be similar to the previous games in the series.

[AL]: How will Asylum of the Lost compare to the previous Delaware St. John titles?

[Bryan]: The story took a big twist in The Seacliff Tragedy. Asylum of The Lost opens on a darker tone and will keep that feel throughout the game. There’s also a tie-in to the first game, The Curse of Midnight Manor, which I think fans will really appreciate. It’s going to be a very emotional game and even creepier than the previous games.

[AL]: What can you tell us about the story? Did you make any changes since the first Kickstarter campaign?

[Bryan]: I actually have the base storyline for all 10 Delaware games planned out from the initial work I did in 2004 when starting the series. The story for Asylum of The Lost is still the same as it was for the previous campaigns. The only changes I would make is scaling the story to fit whatever game size we ultimately are funded for. I don’t think the player would ever notice this, it’s something that would happen in the background.

As with the previous games, there are two main stories. For Asylum of The Lost, the focus is on two young lovers unlucky to meet in the hospital. The second story will focus more on the main history of the building, digging deeper into the past events that ultimately led to the hospital’s closure. I don’t want to say too much because, as I said before, there are twists and relationships to previous events I want the player to experience first-hand.

[AL]: What about the setting? What kind of environments can players expect to explore?

[Bryan]: The hospital we’ve built is broken up in a way that exposes the player initially to a creepy environment but as the story progresses, the player gets deeper and deeper into progressively more horrifying environments. While playing as Delaware, he finds himself shifting from current day into the past when the hospital was still operational. We plan on using these environment shifts to play with the player’s sense of security.

[AL]: What kind of puzzles can we expect to tackle?

[Bryan]: I keep a notebook with sketches and basic ideas for puzzles but it’s not until the game is in development when they become fully realized. I don’t want to give too much away but I can say expect the puzzles and overall mystery to increase for this game.

[AL]: Are the voice actors from the previous games on board for the new project?

[Bryan]: We are truly blessed to have such an amazing team behind the series. We’re very happy to say the actors are all excited and on board for the latest adventure!

[AL]: When can we expect to play the game?

[Bryan]: With our current development schedule we will have a beta build ready around August, 2014. The final game would be released in October, 2014.

[AL]: What are some of the incentives available through the Kickstarter campaign?

[Bryan]: We’ve really been listening to everyone and think we’ve developed some really cool rewards. We offer backers the chance to have their likeness featured as a character in the game. We offer DRM-Free copies of all three previous Delaware games. We even have a tier called “Fan for Life” which means backers will get a copy of every future game in the series! We’re always taking suggestions for more rewards so we encourage everyone to speak up and contact us!

[AL]: How can Delaware fans support the project?

[Bryan]: Fans can show support by either directly pledging to the Kickstarter campaign or helping us spread the word. As of now we’re only 38% away from achieving our base goal so word of mouth is critical for us to close that final gap!

You can get the latest info about the game from our Facebook page here.

Adventure Lantern thanks Mr. Steel for taking the time to answer our questions. Judging from the information provided, the current iteration of Asylum of the Lost could be a great way for the series to return to its roots while continuing to build on the story that started in The Curse of Midnight Manor. While the project now has a different scope, with the help of the adventure-gaming community, the fourth episode of Delaware St. John could become a reality and still deliver a very satisfying horror adventure experience.

If you tried and enjoyed any of the previous games in the series, contributing to the campaign for Asylum of the Lost could be worthwhile. To find out more about the project and make a pledge to contribute, please click here.

Disclaimer: While I will personally donate to the project, Adventure Lantern has no financial interest in the Delaware St. John series or the upcoming fourth episode. This interview was solely posted to increase awareness about the fundraising effort.