Interview: Agustín Cordes – H.P. Lovecraft: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

Earlier this year, Senscape, the developers behind the upcoming Asylum and founded by the mind behind Scratches, Agustín Cordes, launched a Kickstarter Campaign for the Lovecraftian Adventure Horror game, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

A few months ago, I contacted Agustín for a small interview about the game. Here are his replies. Enjoy!

First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

It’s my pleasure, thanks for having me!

In your announcement of the game, you mentioned this would be the first official H.P. Lovecraft game. Could you tell us more about that?

Yes, this is the first game that would use both the name H. P. Lovecraft and the title of one of his stories. Up until now we have seen lose adaptations or spin-offs, but never a straight translation of his work to a videogame. For example, Shadow of the Comet and Dark Corners of the Earth are very loosely based on The Shadow Over Innsmouth. What we did is negotiate a license with the Lovecraft Estate established in Providence, the same organization that has been maintaining original manuscripts, letters and photographs from Lovecraft for decades. This is how dedicated we are to bringing a exceptionally faithful adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward to video games.

Can you tell us what made you choose this The Case of Charles Dexter Ward as the Lovecraft work to adapt?

While it wasn’t our first choice, it was a solid second option. It’s a wonderful story to be turned into an adventure game, full of fascinating aspects of investigation, exploration, and intrigue. And of course, lots of horror. It was almost natural the way in which the story became a game.

Charles Dexter Ward & Joseph Curwen

How much of the original novel are you adapting and how much is original content?

We’re retaining as much as possible from the original novel, and the changes being introduced are minimal. In fact, when it comes to the storyline, little has been changed — rather, we introduced slight modifications to the ordering of sequences or pacing for best effect as an interactive game, all while retaining the spirit of Lovecraft’s timeless story.

Following up on the previous question: What are the challenges of adapting a novel into a game?

It depends on the novel being adapted, of course, and in this case the transition has been quite smooth. Pacing is the major challenge, as Lovecraft was very slow-paced and descriptive, which can be a deal breaker in games these days. The general idea is to detect which parts of the story can be turned into interactive elements, such as an adventure game puzzle, and fortunately Charles Dexter Ward has plenty of them.

With the impending release of Asylum, how are you dividing work between the two titles?

It’s important to note that the Kickstarter campaign didn’t succeed, so our current team is 100% focused on Asylum. With the proper budget, we could have divided the work between two different teams.

The John Hay Library at Brown University!

Speaking of Asylum, as a Kickstarter veteran, do you have any advice for indie developers thinking of crowdfunding? What do you think is the most important thing they should have before doing it?

Crowdfunding can be deceiving and Kickstarter has become very unpredictable, even if you invest lots of effort in the campaign. My advice would be to build a strong community before tackling fundraising, otherwise your campaign may not receive enough attention.

Will The Case of Charles Dexter Ward be a First Person Adventure game, much like Scratches and Asylum? If so, will players be able to move with the keyboard or will all movement be using the mouse?

No, we’re planning the game as a third-person adventure, very much like games such as Broken Sword, Gabriel Knight or many LucasArts classics.

On a more technical level: how are you developing the game, what engine are you using for it?

We’ve recently switched to Unity for our productions, and we’re happy enough with it. What we’re using is a sort of hybrid between Unity and features from our in-house engine called Dagon. It’s working out pretty well.

On which component of Charles Dexter Ward are you currently working on?

Nothing for now, I’m afraid, as we don’t have funds to produce the game. We’ll see what 2015 brings!

Is there anything you’d like to tell our readers that we haven’t covered in the previous questions? (Say as much as you’d like)

I’d simply like to thank you all for the support and patience throughout these years. Even if our Kickstarter campaign for Charles Dexter Ward failed, we still managed to raise $110.000, which is no small feast these days. We’re still hard at work on Asylum, ensuring it fulfills its promise of an engrossing horror experience, and then hopefully tackle our new projects.


I’d like to once more thank Agustín for taking the time out of his busy schedule to respond for this interview.

This will also probably the last article published on The Mental Attic for 2014. See you next year!

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I love everything readable, writeable, playable and of course, edible! I search for happiness, or Pizza, because it's pretty much the same thing! I write and ramble on The Mental Attic and broadcast on my Twitch channel, TheLawfulGeek

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