JAN #1: ACRASIA

Happy 2020, everyone! I have a number of juicy announcements for you.

CULTIST SIMULATOR MOBILE DLC

We’ve revealed our first release date for mobile DLC! The Dancer DLC is coming to the App Store and Google Play on Wednesday 22nd January, along with all the latest PC updates and Russian localisation. It’ll cost £1.99 / $1.99 and we expect to release the Priest and Ghoul DLCs simultaneously in the not-too-distant future.

Everyone will get Russian loc and PC base game updates automatically, for free. More info over on the mobile FAQ!

BOOK OF HOURS

I’m also delighted to confirm that our melancholy, peaceful RPG about managing a magic library is BACK IN BUSINESS. We’re officially prototyping an updated variant of BOOK OF HOURS and will be moving into proper pre-production next month.

This is not only wonderful because I love everything about this game so far, but also because we can start doing proper open development again: posting early alphas, concept art, design thoughts, the dawn chorus of precipitate work that chirrups in the early hours of a new game’s day.

We’re most likely to post this as and when on our Twitters (@alexiskennedy and @tronbevan), but I’ll include round-ups in our sprint updates. If you’ve resolved to be an excellent person this year, wishlist the game on Steam while you’re waiting!

No promises at this stage, but I’m expecting BOOK OF HOURS to be a Cultist-sized game developed in ~12-18 months. So we still expect to release in 2021. More on that later.

A BOOK, BY ALEXIS KENNEDY

Something which is not a game?! Sacrilege, I know. But Alexis has been in the industry for over a decade, through two companies, three significant indie successes and some Down and Out-esque nadirs along the way. Indie games, in short, be cray, and he’s writing a book on how cray indeed they are. Expect a professional memoir about indie game development: the good, the bad, and the

More info as and when!

“SKELETON SONGS” + NEW VIDEO SERIES

I’d like to try something a little different this year. So we’re going to start a podcast and some new vid series on YouTube. Follow us on YouTube if you’re interested, and I’ll shout about our podcast channels as and when I am remotely informed about how that whole system works. 😅

The podcast, tentatively titled Skeleton Songs, is a series devoted to obscure narratives, forgotten tales and unlikely stories we want to talk about for half an hour.

Our new videos will vary between quick-fire video bites about anything and everything to do with games (tropes, techniques, themes, and possibly other things that begin with ‘t’) and deep-dives into particular design elements in Alexis’s games.

The current plan is to alternate between podcast and video each sprint, but we’ll see how well they go down – and how much fun we have making them – and make a call later down the line!

ROADMAP

The long-lost golem of my producerly clay is now alive again! It’ll get particularly interesting once we have a full feature list ready for BOOK OF HOURS, but you can already follow our upcoming activity and releases here. I’ll update this every sprint.

ENIGMATIC DATA

Fiiiiiiinally, along with all of the above, we expect to revamp the current Enigma, as well as publishing a bunch of useful DATA about Cultist‘s localisation and the studio’s State of the Factory: Year 2. Check out our mobile data dump and the original State of the Factory for an idea of what to expect.

If you don’t know what Enigma is…………………. YOU WILL. 🌓

DEC #2: YELLOW, a.k.a. Detective-Ostiary Pender

Happy advent, Believers. It’s been a helluva year. We have a bunch of announcements coming up in 2020, ranging from Mobile DLC to Other Cultist Stuff to New Stuff to Stuff That Isn’t A Game At All. We’ll also be able to reinstate our production roadmap, to give you all a much clearer idea of what you can expect and when. But more on that after I’ve eaten my body weight in pigs-in-blankets.

For now, a tarot update! I have learned a great deal about DIE CUTTING (goth) and BLACK CARD (goth) and 350GSM ZANTA GAME BOARD (………………post-goth). The short version is our test deck showed me I needed to pay more for a black-card deck, lest the edges of our glorious set look like they’ve been nibbled by Worms when they’re still brand new.

Stupid die cutting.

I can at least start confirming some of the correct guesses I’ve seen about our suits and face cards. I’ve only seen two correct guesses so far, so if you think you can work out any of the below, leave a comment and I’ll update the chart!

Updated 19/12/2019… Wands ain’t Knock, or Edge, or Winter. WHAT COULD IT BE

Finally, a pre-Christmas treat for the last production update of 2019. Some of you may remember a certain Serena Blackwood from the last letter to cross my path from Hush House. Well, an official missive from Serena herself has come to light. Read the original below, or a transcript at the bottom of this update. Click for larger versions.

Thank you to everyone who’s been supportive over these last few months. I can’t tell you how much it’s appreciated. Take care, Beloveds, and see you on the other side. ♥

***

OFFICE OF THE CURIA
Hush House, Brancrug
June 22nd, 1924

Detective-Ostiary Pender –

Thank you for your time last week, and for your patience. I’ve reviewed your requests for limitation. Most are acceptable to the Curia. Some are not. In this letter, I’ve outlined our objections. I hope that we can find common ground, and an acceptable compromise.

Nix Abolix. You marked as ‘Suppress’. No arguments here. Quite frankly, I don’t know how it ever made it to the main collection. We don’t need any more Worms in the world. I mention this only to say that we do, despite our differences, appreciate the Bureau’s efforts and contributions.

On the other hand, My Most Violent Enterprise. You marked as ‘Restrict’. That’s a little extreme. I really don’t think it even merits an ‘Advise’. The contents are certainly pretty despicable, but if Enterprise is limited, we are going to have to revise classification for a great many other equally despicable items. The function of Hush House is not to protect, but to preserve.

The Almanac of Entrances. You marked as ‘Suppress’. I can see the risks, but I don’t believe suppression is merited. We’ll agree to ‘Restrict’.

OGHKOR OGHKOR TISSILAK OGHKOR. You marked as ‘Restrict’. I understand your concerns, but the author has not been witnessed abroad in the world for at least two centuries, and can reasonably be considered defunct. I’ll allow ‘Advise’, and we’ll revise to ‘Restrict’ if the author is ever verifiably reported active again.

A Child’s Treasury of Golden Afternoons. You marked as ‘Expunge’. This is a proposal we would consider only in the most extreme circumstances. The text is already categorised ‘Contain’. I’ve discussed with the Librarian and we are confident that the theoplasmic contamination – which is, I grant, quite advanced – can be purged. If it can’t, then we will consider the ‘Expunge’.

Codex Acephali. You marked as ‘Contain’. I agree that this is a reasonable request, and once again, I wanted to thank you for drawing it to our attention. As a matter of fact, the contamination has also reached the neighbouring texts (The Radical Measure and In the Malleary) and we’re going to mark those ‘Contain’ too, pending review.

The History of Inks. You marked as ‘Suppress’. Now this is not the first nor indeed the second time that the Suppression Bureau has taken issue with this book, and I do see your point, some of the inks are extremely significant, but with all due respect, Hush House has its purpose, as you must know, and the Suppression Bureau’s place is not to question that purpose. Your Suppression request is denied. My patience is wearing thin. If I see another such request for the History in future years, I’ll take up the matter with our patrons.

The Kerisham Portolan. ‘Suppress’. I don’t think so.

Blackwood’s Magazine, January 1922. ‘Restrict’. I assume this is some sort of joke. I must assure you that no-one in the Curia is laughing.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Serena Blackwood, D.D., O.F.S.B.

“Got your book. Pretty good condition, too. Bit blurred round the edges, but the little fellow’s taken good care of it…” (January 15th-ish, 1906)

Yes! This should really be called ‘NOV #1: WESTENRA’, but this producer is Off The Rails. You can’t stop me. I’m naming this sprint update after the rather curious case of D and The History of Inks, written to a Dr. Serena Blackwood at the Office of the Curia.

Click to read photographs of the original letter, long now lost to a fire. Or if you struggle to read D’s handwriting – well, she should have delegated to Propsy, now, shouldn’t she? You can scroll down to the bottom of this post for a transcription in plain text, anyway.

This sprint I’ve also been hard at work with some new merch. I announced what that was to the select few of you who follow me on Twitter: a 78-card, full-colour, totally illicit TAROT OF THE HOURS.

(The dark background detail on the card backs / box are quite hard to see if your monitor isn’t set to ‘Mental Artist’, so if all you see are white lines on black, TRUST ME THERE’S MORE THERE.)

I’m waiting to receive a test print of the whole thing, to check all the art looks nice. Then it’s a matter of buying a tonne and making a new listing on the Church of Merch.

The question in the meantime is: who are the Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings of each suit? And which Principles correspond to Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles? Try your luck in the comments below, and I’ll reveal any of the correct cards in next sprint’s update…

The rest of this sprint was devoted to, oh, you know, launching our Russian beta on Steam and participating in this year’s Singles’ Day, which you probably all know is a manufactured celebration of both being single and being in a relationship which Alibaba co-opted to sell stuff, but hey, it’s 2019, and it makes me feel all Blade Runner-y to put Chinese text on my designs.

Any Russian speakers waiting until the beta’s complete have only another WEEK to wait until Russian’s live in the main game on Steam, GOG and Humble: that update’s coming on Monday 25th November. So yay, my drugis, which is the only pseudo-Russian I know from reading A Clockwork Orange when I was sixteen.

Enjoy your weekends, Believers.

VIENNA
January 15th-ish, 1906

Dear Serena –

Got your book. Pretty good condition, too. Bit blurred round the edges, but the little fellow’s taken good care of it. Not what I expected, though, rum business all round. Tell you how it was.

Trail in Venice long cold, obviously. They still tell stories about old Hokobald, say the place is cursed now, but it’s mostly cursed with rising damp. Don’t know how anyone lives there. Anyway, no trace, so I thought, all right, D., my girl, get your head down, get seventy-seven winks, see if the Sage-Knight’s entertaining, he’ll know what’s what.

You’re reading this and thinking, come on, D., you know better than that, Sage-Knight’s a bit high in the Mansus to be talking to Raw Prophets, what? But here’s the thing, Sage-Knight knows the odd Ivory, Ivories know the odd Thirstly, Thirstlies know Raw Prophets. So I’ll put the word out.

Sage-Knight’s in a helpful sort of mood, so we both have a cup of that wine of his and then another cup and then another cup and we get to gossiping. He’s all right for a Name. Shame he doesn’t keep proper port, even dream-port, but he’s all right for a Name. And I wake up and I pop out for a dawn smoke and a bit of the old practice and when I get back inside there’s an address written on the mirror. Not bad for a Name at all.

Address is in Vienna. Now you know how I feel about Vienna, never quite comfy there since all that with the Club, but I think, Serena’s a good sort, owe her a favour or two, not so far on the train. Off I pop.

Vienna, two days on. Find the address, have a snout about, you know, see what’s what. Nasty little den, full of the wrong sort of the wrong sort, and they’ve got their own little shrine for the Raw Prophet. (Sage-Knight gave me its name, I tried to write its name, won’t fit in this alphabet. Let’s call him Propsy.) Little cult for Propsy. Now you know me, Serena, live and let live, all sorts, but a shrine to something like Propsy, I always thought it’s like building a shrine to a lamb chop. You’ve seen Prophets, haven’t you? They look like a horse stepped on a starfish. But bigger.

But, dashed odd thing… Propsy’s not a bad sort. Can’t talk, of course, but the little feller can write. And I don’t just mean write like I’m writing this letter, express itself, put its point of view, sort of thing. I mean it’s a calligrapher. Dashed good calligrapher. Every one of those little tentacle things, good as a Japanese paint-brush. Where does it get the ink, you’re wondering, aren’t you, Serena? Be glad I’m not telling you.

Long story short, Propsy reckons it wrote the ‘History of Inks’, reckons it was stolen, reckons all sorts of the worst about H.H. (Sorry, Serena.) So we had a good old chat, and I did knock it about a little bit, but we agreed in the end, and it gave me the book back, but it wanted paying. Seemed fair enough. And I’ve added a line to my bill for that. Bit of a sum, I’m afraid, try not to kick. Sure you won’t, know you’re a good sort.

So here you go, bill, book, all we’re missing is a candle, ha ha! I’ll be by again for the Equinox. Could use your help on a thing with the Mausoleum. And the Club, actually. Bit of a business, there.

Pip pip
D.

PS! Propsy wants proper attribution. Name in the catalogue. Course, can’t write its name here. Won’t fit in this alphabet. Hope you can sort that out. Might cause a bit of a stink if not. Leave it with you. Best of luck. D.

SEPT #3: THEODORE

“Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all,” said Ernest Shackleton, somewhere between Antarctic triumph and dying in South Georgia of an alcohol-induced heart attack. I wonder which end of that spectrum I’ll end up on?

I’ve always had a thing for cold, heroic exploration. Whether it’s a first-hand account of Scott’s final expedition to the South Pole in The Worst Journey in the World or the inescapable paranoia of John Carpenter’s The Thing, there’s something about the mad, unnecessary heroism of humans conquering the impossible that really gets me where it hurts.

I wouldn’t last five minutes in the Antarctic, but I do think Shackleton’s worth listening to. I like seeing problems as a challenge, though I should admit I’m a pathological fixer. I have actually practised the scene in Parks and Recreation where Chris Traeger, another pathological fixer, learns two very important words:

When your life’s been shredded, I hear, one way to deal with it is to look up at all the pieces floating down on you and actively decide which bits to catch. So here’s what AK and I plan to do next.

We’re going to do More Stuff with Cultist Simulator. It’s a great, flawed game that we can improve upon and shout about, proudly, to a lot more people than we have already. So you can expect more from that quarter over the next six to twelve months.

We’re working on a previously unannounced title, which we were working on before all this happened, and which goes back to Weather Factory’s specifically experimental roots. If it works, it’ll solve a really interesting creative problem AK’s been working on for years. If it doesn’t, we will understand why nobody’s managed to solve this problem yet and look a bit sheepish. It’ll also allow us to try a bunch of experimental developmental and marketing stuff, which is good when you’re personae non gratae outside the golden glow of the communal campfire. Us and the trash pandas. And Shackleton, if he likes.

We’re no longer able to work on multiple titles at once, but once this unannounced experimental game’s up and running, we’ll most likely return to BOOK OF HOURS. It’ll be a smaller beast than it was, comparable in size and imperfection to Cultist Simulator, but just as hygge and friendly. I’m too disappointed right now – in people, and the internet – to totally get on board with a kind, satisfying game about organising a magic library, but in twelve months’ time, I’ll be ready.

In the meantime, our “State of the Factory: Year 2” should make for interesting reading, if you’re into the business ramifications of pretty much the worst PR a small indie studio could have. AK may turn his hand to some non-game-specific writing, but again, we’ll see what happens.

I don’t think we’re what Jon Ronson called ‘the brutal nadir’. But I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject, from Cybersmile to the UK government’s advice on workplace bullying to Crash Override. So I’m slowly beginning to understand what happened here, and can start making plans for the future again. Weather Factory’s road leads on, and if it isn’t the same golden path it used to be, there are still a few mad-eyed birbs in the underbrush which keep it worth the walking.

BOOK OF HOURS UPDATE

Hey everyone. AK’s in a bad place right now and taking some time away from work. As such, BOOK OF HOURS is on pause and the Kickstarter won’t go live today.

I’ll keep you all updated with news as and when I have it. <3