Alchemy & Metallurgy
“Scholars and adepts recognise nine Wisdoms… though they disagree where one Wisdom ends and another begins.”
Remember this from the advent calendar?
It is now a reality! Our very first piece of jewellery – the golden Wisdom Tree necklace – is out now on the Etsy shop. Featuring all the Wisdoms from Birdsong to Skolekosophy, you can now adorn yourself with the occult symbol over which scholars have squabbled for centuries. We’re only making 500 of these as a test run, to see how jewellery sells. Maybe Cultist fans despise vanity! Maybe BOOK OF HOURS players are too busy reading books! Well, if you do want a beautiful gold-plated pendant for your or someone else’s neck, get it while stocks last…
(I especially recommend purchasing now if you intend these as any sort of Valentine’s gift. International shipping takes 3+weeks, so sooner is better!)
While we’re talking merch, we have the Hours notebooks (replacing the long-lost Cultist notebook which ran out a few years ago now), our tarot adult colouring book…
…and the Lucid Tarot itself finally shouldering its way through the world’s skin, like a clawed and ruthless uncle or a headless flapping bear. Hush House cat is on the scene to inspect the latest prototype, featuring for the first time ever our custom velvet tarot bag.
If you’re signed up to the mailing list you’ll get an email any time we launch any of these, so I recommend it! Especially as The Lucid Tarot will initially launch with 500 limited editions including a signed certificate of authenticity, so those might go quickly.
In other actual video game news, AK released a new patch – EHSAN – to beta, containing:
I haven’t heard of anyone finding the ‘well-hidden surprises’ yet – I yelped with surprise and delight the first time I found them – so perhaps they’re too well-hidden. It’ll move to the main branch some time next month now AK’s fixed the bug that removed all unlocking requirements from certain rooms, and the one that seemed to play the shrieking howl of the Wolf-Divided every time you clicked a button.
Over to AK…
The EHSAN e.7 patch is the fifth major patch and the… fortieth? incremental update since launch. I started typing a long preening bit about all the changes we’d put in and then realised that would be interesting mostly to me, so I’ll spare you lot, but if you are interested, the in-game patch notes go all the way back to October, and the TWELVE DISMAYS OF CHRISTMAS post explains the silliest bug of my career. The well-hidden surprises Lottie mentions: apparently one player found one with the assistance of their dog; others may be available to a keen-eyed, or a forward-looking, Librarian. There’ll be more quality-of-life updates eventually, but for now I’m shifting focus to the HOUSE OF LIGHT expansion, so those updates will likely arrive in a free update alongside it.
While I work on HOUSE OF LIGHT I’m also answering dozens of questions from our Chinese, Japanese and Russian translators. Just as with Cultist Simulator, localisation is a trip. We vetted all three teams to make sure they include fans who understand the context, and it’s bloody great to be answering questions this detailed, but it’s hard work. I remember sitting in a hut in Dungeness inventing daft hybrid etymologies and thinking ‘this’ll haunt me if we do Chinese again’; well, now I’m haunted. Some of my recent answers:
- “Both suggest a cross in English. ‘Rood’ is an Old English term for the Christian cross, ‘Cruciate’ is from Latin crucis, cross. ‘Chancel’ has several meanings in English but one is the dividing screen between the more and less holy parts of a church – which is also known as the ‘rood screen’. The terms are as you say all largely equivalent and the general sense of ‘something that separates the profane from the sacred / more sacred from less sacred’ would be good. If in doubt, I’d just use the same term three times.”
- “There’s an obscure adjective, ‘nivean’, from Latin nix/nivis, which means snow-white. I used a variant spelling because ‘Nivea’ is a popular European skin-care brand 🙃”
- “Speculum is Latin for mirror, and later in English was used to mean (a) a particular kind of mirror used in telescopes (b) a scrying-mirror used by seers. So ‘speculist’ implies a mirror-specialist, probably with an occult connection. NB a speculum in modern English refers exclusively to a medical instrument used by gynaecologists! This is definitely _not_ a reference I want to imply here.”
HOUSE OF LIGHT. I want to do three things with this:
- Variety of outcomes from the Visitor stories. I actually loathe the term ‘branching narrative’ because it imprisons us in a 1990s idea of CYOA tree-diagram structures, but ‘stories with variety in outcome’ lacks zing. Whichever term you use, there ain’t any of it in the Visitor stories as they stand. Partly this is just because I wouldn’t have had time to write the things, partly because it’s hard, maybe impossible, to write stories with variant outcomes in a game that explicitly tells you that there are no mistakes and you can’t lock yourself out of anything (ask ten dedicated CRPG players of your acquaintance how many of them don’t look at a wiki nowadays before making a key narrative decision – and then imagine finding you’ve missed out on a decision because the visitor came and went while you were unlocking the Wine Cellar). But obviously people were always going to want more (a) relevant story about (b) known characters with (c) choices that allow self-expression. So releasing that as an expansion neatly addresses both probs: we now have some months we didn’t have before launch, and it’ll be an opt-in for people who’ve played the game once already or who want a bit more variety in their outcome, FOMO be damned.
- Cooking, and social events. There’s a bag of flour and a mixing bowl in the Hush House kitchens, but you can’t bake a cake. This is because we started with art for the kitchens, which we sliced up and turned into manipulable objects, and some fitted more naturally into the crafting system than others. But that’s not relevant to people who just want to bake a cake. Or have vegetables less generic than a sack. Meanwhile I’ve seen a heartening number of players talk about how they in-game RP afternoon tea with Visitors and villagers. And it ties together with more Visitor engagement. Some parts of this point may end up in the game as a free update – I don’t know until I’ve worked through the design – it depends on how easy or not it is to tease apart from the rest.
- A bridge to the next game. Lottie and I have an unusually clear idea about Game Three – though we might change our minds and we won’t be starting on it until at least 2025 – and I want to lay down a few barrels of the good story so it’ll be aged and flavourful by the time it shows up in Three. I’m also planning ahead and trying out some ideas with design, with narrative structure and with UI that – by Three – should ultimately take us beyond windows-and-slots. It’s a good model, it’s brought us a long way, but it does feel sometimes like trying to write through a keyhole.
To establish a skeleton that links all that, I’m going off to spend a week in a quiet place with good light, a very large table and a boxful of cards and coloured pens (and zero cats, so I can go to bed with a tableful of cards and enjoy a morning without regret) – while Lottie tinkers with a prototype for something to do with BOOK OF HOURS’ visuals which will, we hope, make some people fall off their chairs.
‘Til next time…