JUN #2: MARINELL

Marinell – Sir Marinell, to you – is a knight of the sea whose nervous nymph-mother Cymoent misinterpreted a prophesy that he would be mortally wounded by a maiden. She thus teaches him that LOVE is BAD and he is NOT TO PLAY WITH LADIES. Turns out one maiden does gore him – good ol’ Britomart – but not the one he’s destined to fall in love with – that’s Florimell, beautiful and chaste/chased through the whole of The Faerie Queene. The moral of the story? Never trust a water nymph.

You definitely should trust awards, though! We’re delighted to find out that Cultist was nominated for not one, not two but three mobile games awards by TapTap, one of China’s biggest mobile platforms. We, er, didn’t win any of them but PARTICIPATING IS THE REAL REWARD. Cultist was nominated for Best Gameplay, Best Indie Game and Best Game (😱) in TapTap’s Game Awards 2019. So yesterday we received this ultimate swag bag with a whole book, loads of medals and a beautifully framed award!

Thank you so much, to all our mobile players, to TapTap, and to the unparalleled Playdigious who made such a beautiful mobile port! ♥

Of course, I have no idea what the extracts in the book say. Any Chinese speakers reading this want to help us out? Let us pray it is not ‘Please request Chinese copy from the developers’ or ‘Here is why Cultist Simulator is a rubbish game’.

This sprint I’ve been thinking about merch. We’re going to try something new, and gauge how people like ’em: you lot are a literary, erudite sort, so I figure you all have Kindles and eReaders, right? So behold: our first custom Kindle/eReader cover! Christopher Illopoly, you’re finally real.

I’ll come back with more photos soon – there’s a nice belly band, and it’ll be cloth-finished in real life – as well as specific specs, but the TLDR is that it’ll basically fit any eReader/Kindle you have. Woot!

I’m also working on some suitably culty candles, so you can play Cultist Simulator – and later, BOOK OF HOURS – with an appropriately esoteric ambience. I don’t have any pictures of them yet either but WATCH THIS SPACE. The jury is still out on cultist pair pillows, if only because storing 500 of them under my desk would require some appropriately non-Euclidean geometry.

(Also, imagine 500 Nevilles staring up at you.)

Moving on, I’d like to know your opinions. Alexis and I have lots of cool ideas for what we do next (our next major game) and what we do around that game (side projects, physical stuff, music, whatever). Help us chart our course by letting us know which of the following options intrigue you the most! You can choose multiple options, so go nuts.

Coming Soon
WHICH EXCITE YOU THE MOST?
A D20 TRPG set in the Cultist Simulator universe
An original Alexis Kennedy TRPG set in the Cultist Simulator universe and using the tarot deck
A standalone EXILE game without time pressure
BOOK OF HOURS
A Cultist Simulator DLC or standalone game where you play a Hunter
Cultist Simulator wearables (t-shirst, jumpers, hoodies...)
A Cultist Simulator deck of playing cards

Finally, no Skeleton Songs this sprint but we do have Alexis’s EXILE: Director’s Commentary video, which is not only a good run-through of his designer’s intent but also a window into an ADHD brain. Enjoy!

Anyway. It’s my birthday this weekend, so everyone have a sip of something fancy for me. ‘Til next time!

About Lottie Bevan

One half of Weather Factory. Producer, artist, marketer and mercher. Resident cat-wrangler who sometimes sneaks writing into Weather Factory games when Alexis isn't looking.

30 comments on “JUN #2: MARINELL

  1. I can’t help but want to throw a few cents, on what I’ve glanced over teased future projects, that are being considered. In particular, on projects I haven’t heard of being teased until now.

    Hunter DLC might be interesting. Give or take, a potential “take” on a ‘harder’, or real/true NG+ mode for a ‘detective’ background, to a more “Apostle-lite” run, perchance? Or at an angle, not just dismantling/arresting the key “cult leader”, but having to systematically investigate, and arrest every participant, or associate. Before they end up ascending or performing vile acts that can’t be suppressed.

    As for the tabletop, or TRPG opportunities. A deck of cards is one thing, but a possible manor to roleplay with other people in a similar setting could lead to some interesting scenarios. Either involving occultism, detective work, or even in exile?

  2. The voting is a surprise indeed. Should it be understood as there’s a possibility that Book of Hours won’t be your next game?

    As exciting it is to see Histories universe to expand in a new areas of TRPGs, I think that ultimately videogame content is wanted much more, hands down (besides, there’s number of CS tabletop conversions/homebrews already, so demand in that case is more or less satisfied, even though seeing the official(tm) system would be better, of course).

    As for the exact DLC/standalones, I’ll share my unasked (but hopefully not unwelcomed) opinion:

    Exile standalone:
    We’ve already got an Exile, so there’s a suspicion that getting it for the second time naturally won’t be as exciting. However, Exile’s travel theme looks like it has a lot of untapped potential, and being a direct participant in the dealings of the Invisible World is much more engaging than just reading about them in the books.

    Hunter standalone/DLC:
    This is the least clear choice, since we’ve not given that vaguest idea how that’ll work. It’s usually more appealing to dabble in the forbidden than to be a person who tries to prevent others from doing so, but still there are plenty of good stories about normal people employed in containing supernatural.

    Book of Hours:
    The safest bet from customer’s perspective, since there’s most information about that one, it’s the most familiar and that which we are used to expect (and it’s amasing, of course). It’s the most consistent development of the game universe, since it taps on the book/knowledge/scholarship esthetics which made CS unique in the first place. The only concern that I’ve voiced already is that it appears that Histories have more to gain from the “ground” perspective, from seeing the more day-to-day life in the Invisible World and participating in it, than from getting another treasury of abstract knowledge (which we’ve got awful lot already).

    Anyway, whatever the poll results will be and whatever your next step will be, I’ll be looking forward to it and support you with that little that humble admirer can do.

    • Thanks for your thoughts! You’re not remotely banned from posting comments – they just take a while to filter through our system before showing up. 🙂

  3. A tarot-based TTRPG sounds great! I can recommend one inspiration, but unfortunately it’s only in Italian. The name of the game is “Sine Requie”, by Serpentarium, and it uses both Minor and Major Arcana.

  4. Awesome! Regarding the EXILE: Director’s Commentary video: the music is too loud and starts to cringe after a while.

  5. 1. d20 is one of the worst TRPG mechanics I know. Please, avoid that. d100 ftw!
    2. I have experience with Tabletop games with card-based mechanic and I can only recommend that: see Through the Breach RPG from Wyrd Games.
    3. the Exile is a great DLC, but without a pressure from Reckoners it’s boring.
    4. You’re gonna do that anyway, you have a concept, some art and code. Stick to that.
    5. We already have detective.
    6. Mmm Sun-in-Rags T-shirt.
    7. Nope.

  6. Is there a volume-to-margins question in your sales data? Maybe the physical stock improves customer adherence or trickles down to word-of-mouth, but there is an unacknowledged imperative for indie developers to protect the customer base by expanding the universe in digital.

    I would address that by asking how the fundamental UI loop of play improves or affects the users’ cognition. Maybe BoH could have more short term memory tests with hidden variables- where CultSim had eye-scanning tasks availed by board organization.

  7. Oh, I’m so sorry you had to go through all my mad comment attempts then! I just saw another comment to pop up way after I’ve tried to post mine and thought something was wrong on my side.

  8. Hello! I am a native Chinese speaker and my translation of the texts on those magazine pages:

    Page 1:

    “Cultist Simulator” is a game about the revelation and desire. In this rougelike story-telling card game, you will play as an explorer in the 1920s, who comes into contact with dark, mysterious things. No matter what you seek – knowledge, power, beauty, revenge or the secret colours hidden beneath the skin of the world, you will be changed forever by whatever you find. All the choices you make will not only push the story forward; they are shaping the story itself as well.

    Page 2:

    “Cultist Simulator” has a very unique system. You have to, step by step, figure out how to play the game by yourself, and as for me, it reminds me of that kind of curiosity when one is facing an abyss. I have already played it for a long time, yet I still can’t fully understand it; however, I can’t stop exploring, either.
    (Li Zhe, Developer of “The Incredible Butterfy in Dream”)

    Thank you very much for this lovely game! Wish you all the best! 😀

  9. But.. I want all of those options!

    Also, if the eBook cover will be a success, can we have a faux dust jacket like that too?

  10. I admit, that vote was difficult. I voted original TTRPG because it’s something I’ve wanted for ages, but Hunter DLC and the Book of Hours are both fantastic.

  11. This may change once I muck around with Exile, but I am dying for Book of Hours and have been since the tweet. Release me from your cruel hype train carriage! I want to be a *normal* amount of excited!

  12. Honestly I would like to see an actual physical book of something like Traveling At Night. Maybe a short story or something larger in the cultist universe that I can read and not have to interact with, or worry about being murdered in game and having to start again.

  13. See, the problem with tabletop RPGs is that you have to find someone to play them with. I love them, but only from a distance. (My vote went for the safe choice—Book of Hours.)

  14. I have been vaguely working on a homebrew TRPG based on the CS universe and some existing system (Certainly not d20 ! Probably Storyteller or d100 / CoC) for the last months 🙂 It’s just for my table, I don’t plan on releasing anything, not without permission in any case. I would be delighted by an official adaptation!

  15. Delighted by the options! I think one of the things the fandom (by which I mostly mean me, but also the discord) most look forward to in new instalments is that sweet sweet l o r e.

    So if you do a TRPG, it might be tricky to combine scratching that itch in the traditional enigmatic way with giving DMs a solid lowdown on the world. Not a game designer, but TRPG mechanics seem like they’d cause more problems there than video game mechanics.

  16. If I’m to expand on that comment, there’s one other inspiration I could mention, though it’s a bit vague, and apparently in french. And it’s called “Maléfices”, in particular the Tarot deck associated with the roleplayinig game. The only reason it caught my eye in all honesty, was at the time, how it had subtly differently worded tarot. Such as “The Dark Moon”, or “The Vicar”, even “Adam” and “Eve”.

    That said, it also had some charm, in a sort of early rival, to the cosmic horror genre of Call of Cthulhu.

  17. Although I like some of the voting options above, this is the suggestion I can most get behind as one of the aforementioned literary, erudite sort–an actual book. I adore the lore of the world, but find what lore there is mostly inaccessible thanks to my own lack of skill at the game. And I completely understand the importance of the wonderful tension created by hinting at forbidden knowledge but leaving its actual content to the imagination. But the game itself provides the answer to this–many fragments of lore are described as being dubious or downright intentionally misleading, but with just enough accurate details to act as stepping stones. Making the reader question an unreliable narrator can carry a story quite far, as has been recently pointed out. Perhaps something along the lines of the infamous House of Leaves, as an example of both a modern take on the genre and unreliably authored meta fiction?

  18. So, to clarify, the covers are forthcoming, not sold out? Because you link to Etsy in the steam announcement, and I’m perfectly willing to believe we have another TotH on our hands. We, the literate indie game snobs, will stop at nothing to display our eclectic tastes.

  19. I’d love to see a physical book that’s more of a CYOA in the CS universe. Still the chance of being murdered in game and having to start again though. 😉

  20. I don’t use my kindle that much these days, instead I use my phone for reading eBooks. But I’d love to see Traveling by Night vol.1 turned into one of those phone case wallet things. I’d buy that.

  21. The edit of the Hunter DLC option with “ur nicked” made me chuckle way too hard. I love it. That kindle case looks gorgeous.

  22. I’d die of happiness and then crawl out of my grave to buy it if there’d be original TRPG set into Cultist Simulator’s world.

  23. I think a hunter DLC would work best if the detective was using some magic to combat the cult, or even resisting the dreams would make for some good writing. Seeing the cult leader recruiting Hunters with lore as the villain would be interesting, and all it takes is a lock of hair or a well-placed Lego on the floor.

  24. I have, for a long time, wanted a TRPG based on Kennedy’s worldbuilding–Sunless Sea, Fallen London, Cultist Simulator, and so on. However, the one reason I don’t ever expect to see one is the fact that an RPG works very differently from the sort of games that get designed. In Kennedy’s work, the story becomes the thing you unlock, and you slowly learn more about the world as you progress. But in a TRPG, the GM needs to know all of the secrets of the world *right now*; it’s incredibly frustrating to be trying to understand a game world and plan your own stories only to run into, “Oh, that’s something you learn later.” And my biggest worry would be that a TRPG based on Cultist Simulator wouldn’t be able to tell us all the details of the world because it would renders parts of the video game…less interesting? less relevant? I’m not sure exactly how to describe it, but it’s the same reason I was certain there would never be a Fallen London RPG: people paid good money to discover more about the Fallen London world, and an RPG, by definition, would require the designers to release secrets about the game world that others pay money to learn in the video game. And if your primary source of income are those video game players, you’re not going to upset them to get a niche TRPG off the ground.

    I’m not sure what the priorities would be if it’s a Cultist Simulator RPG, since people are paying for the game in one lump package instead of a subscription model like Fallen London, but the game design of rewarding the player with tidbits of lore works against the necessities of TRPG design. I’d love to see a TRPG game at some point, though.

  25. Listen, listen, listen. I will pay JUST ABOUT ANY PRICE for Book of Hours. I will give you ALL OF MY MONEY. ok maybe not all of it im about to go into college and would like to eat but A WHOLE LOT BORDERING ON MOST OF MY MONEY. thank u good night

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