MAR #3: GUYONfeatured

Hey, Believers! Hope you’re all doing okay in lockdown. It’s not fun, is it?

Lancing this cloud of gloom like a wafer through ice-cream are the Priest and Ghoul DLCs, which launched on mobile yesterday. They’re available as £1.99 IAPs, and Cultist Simulator is 50% off for a week on the App Store and Google Play Store to celebrate turning one. 🎂

Mathilda, Communication Manager at Playdigious, wrote a piece for Pocket Gamer about our first year on sale from a porting and sales perspective. I wrote a companion Gamasutra piece sharing all the data we have: sales figures, ratings, features, etc. If you’re in a pondering, number-crunchy mood, give ’em both a read.

Now, an Exile update. Cultist is a deceptively big game, and writing DLC for it had got really difficult. Alexis needed to find interesting mechanics each time, and those mechanics needed to interlock meaningfully with the mechanics that were out there. It’s even harder now that we’ve localised the whole game, because it’s very difficult for Alexis to go back and change existing content.

Then he watched a couple of seasons of Ozark. The protagonist is burdened with an extraordinary sum of extremely illegally obtained money that they need to dispose of quickly and safely. It was the total opposite of the usual Cultist Funds tension. What if, in Cultist, you had as much money as you needed, but you were in constant danger and had to think hard about how you could safely spend it and stay ahead of your pursuers?

Half of Alexis’s sentences for the last month have begun with something like ‘did you know that, actually, in 1925, Morocco -‘ his family have been admirably patient

It didn’t sound practical as a DLC theme, because it would mean completely re-inventing half the game. If you were on the run, you couldn’t send out expeditions or built up books in the same way. The Suspicion mechanics would have to work very differently. You probably wouldn’t even have a cult.

Then it occurred to Alexis that this was also an opportunity. If he blew up all the mechanics the player was used to, then he wouldn’t have to integrate all my new systems with them, and they’d have the fun of rediscovering how everything works from scratch. It might just take too long to build, but it might also take less time starting over without worrying about fitting everything that already existed.

Reckoners like hats

He spent a week prototyping. He got enough working to be confident that it would be a big chunk of work, but not a crazy big chunk of work. The core loop was this: you’d land in a city, you’d set up capers and operations with your contacts, you’d convert the stolen goods into cash, and then you’d pick your moment to run. Run too early, and you’d lose opportunities. Run too late, and your pursuers might catch up with you. He had an idea for the stolen goods and the pursuers, too, something he’d wanted to get into the game for a while: the reckoner mobs, the illicit dealers in years who existed uneasily alongside the taxonomy of Know and Long.

Your final goal would be to disappear, with as much luxury as you could arrange for a comfortable retirement. Your other final goal would be an Edge ascension – something our players had long hungered for – but that would come in an unexpected way. Exile’s got seven different shades of the victory conditions at the moment.

It’s a big one – right now, it looks like it might be as big as the Dancer, Priest and Ghoul DLCs put together. (😱) Let’s hope it works out! At least – and he didn’t expect this at all when he started in January – after a couple of months of lockdown, people might be more in the mood for a dramatic flight across Europe and beyond.

‘Lottie, relax, I don’t think we’ll need unique art for all of them’

The closed, secret beta will start next week, so this is your last chance to register for a potential invite! Help us make Exile exilent. 😎

Meanwhile, this was my life.

FOR BASICALLY A WEEK STRAIGHT. This means I have no new Exile art to show you, but all tarot decks (and various other merch orders) are now on their way to their respective owners, who were very patient and didn’t get too cross with someone trying to send out a zillion parcels in the middle of a global pandemic.

For those who missed out on the lightning-quick limited edition, we have another 1,000 decks coming in a couple of weeks. They won’t be numbered, but otherwise they’ll be exactly the same. Check the Church of Merch in mid-April-ish, or watch this space for an announcement that they’re back up and buyable again. 🙂

Finally! We were too busy this week to record another Skeleton Songs, so episode five’ll be out next sprint instead. We are able to make our first donation to coronavirus-y charities, though! This month, you helped us raise…

Thank you! This’ll go to the National Emergencies Trust. Next month we’ll donate to Médecins Sans Frontières, and the month after that it’ll go to the Trussell Trust. Spread the word if you can, and keep safe! ♥

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