Cultist Simulator: Making Things Out of Other Things
This is devlog zero for Cultist Simulator. It’s not an announcement or anything: it won’t get any press cos everyone’s off at Develop, and, man, I don’t want press on the screenie below anyway. But I should talk out my ideas in public, and this is something to link to next time I need to explain it. I didn’t mean to make a game yet – I have a lot of time booked out – but I don’t know how to stop.
Cultist Simulator is AdVenture Capitalist meets single-player Fallen London meets Doodle God, set in the NOON world that I’m going to build my next game in. You’re a curious soul in a world full of mysteries that willl bite your soul out if you look at the too closely. So obviously the thing to do is wrangle those mysteries, construct a temple, dig relics out of the desert and wreak apocalypse in the name of ultimate eldritch power.
The key mechanic is making things out of other things: narrative crafting. You put things together, use a verb, get another thing and a little snippet of AK rambly prose poetry. So you can put a Cinnabar Amulet and some Tentacle Oil in a box and use the Work verb to convert them into a Wriggling Amulet, or you can put a Shattered Fane and five Desperate Believers in one place and use Speak to make them into one Hardened Disciple, or possibly a Family Connection and a Wistful Dream together and create a Horrible Tragedy.
The reason I picked a crafting mechanic. Proximately, it’s because I was playing Hadean Lands (I know I mentioned it in the last post; I promise I’m not shilling for Plotkin; I’m not sure he entirely approves of me; but he’s probably a genius; play it!), and I was reminded what a strong and versatile metaphor a crafting mechanic is. Ultimately, it’s because I’m interested in experimenting with narrative mechanics that are strongly scripted but leave a lot of room for flexibility, creativity, discoverability, personalisation: as if you grabbed the angles of StoryNexus and moved them a half-metre further apart. And didn’t tie them to a 2009-style db-backed web app (ENTIRELY MY BAD).
oh that screenshot. If you insist. Brace yourself. oh of course you can’t just copy-paste into a WordPress post. hang on, here we go: