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).

I’m building a Javascript prototype to get feedback and try out the ideas. If it looks promising, I’ll probably do a Kickstarter and port it to Unity to put it on mobile and/or PC. Anyway the alpha will be a free demo thing, and the signup link is here: http://visitnoon.com/signup

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:

 

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About Alexis Kennedy

One half of Weather Factory. Writer, designer, coder and general man about town. He's the one who comes up with all the big ideas, which Lottie has to Deal With.

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