MAY #2: KING ARTHUR

Happy forbidden birthday, Believers! This Sunday marks two years since Cultist‘s launch. It’s been a hell of a trip, and we really couldn’t have done it without you: Kickstarter backers, launch-week buyers, community members, merch owners, streamers, fan artists, social media cheerleaders, the lot. Thank you for being a bunch of total mensches.

Now, onto the GOOD DEALS.

Cultist is currently free to play until 6PM GMT on Monday 1st June, and it’s also half price. The Dancer, Priest, Ghoul and soundtrack are also 33% off, meaning the Anthology Edition – which now includes EXILE, natch – is a ridiculously good value proposition. If you’ve not yet given Cultist a go or have friends trembling on the fence about whether this game is terrible or brilliant, now’s the perfect time to see!

EXILE’s launch went well. It ranked #1 in New and Trending while Cultist reached #32 in Global Top Sellers. Systemchalk – our Canadian streamer-friend with a penchant for numbers and not dying in-game – saw over 3,500 concurrent people watching his Steam broadcast, too. So that was most excellent! Thank you if you watched, if you played, if you bought, if you shared.

Alexis is happy with the DLC, though it has been predictably divisive…

If you like it, leave us a review on the Steam page and help get us out of the dreaded orange ‘Mixed’! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

There was a bug at launch which meant some art didn’t show up, which should be finally resolved today. There’s also a bit of a stir about Traces, though these are functioning as intended. EXILE is meant to recreate the feeling of being on the run, never able to stay still and put down roots. Traces will probably cause people the most annoyance if they’re trying to use their usual Cultist Simulator tactics on the DLC. EXILE is designed with different rules and different pressure points. Lean in, and you’ll find the way!

Because it’s a signficant departure from Cultist‘s usual gameplay, AK’s currently working on a ‘director’s commentary’ playthrough. He’ll talk through some of his design thinking and probably get battered by the Foe. So the wheel turns.

Now that EXILE’s out the door, we have a bit of a lacuna before us in the manuscript. We’ll spend it strategising, working on some things that were on the back-burner while the DLC was in progress. Some of that will be new merch:

(PS: more tarot goes live today! Sign up to the tarot mailing list for a ping, and good luck. I’m working on a solution that means we can sell the tarot normally in future – watch this space.)

Some will be more Skeleton Songs. Some will be new, interesting secret Cultist Simulator plans, and most importantly, some will be what we decide to do next. It is almost certainly going to be BOOK OF HOURS.

I leave you with Chi, inspiration for Weakness: Fear of Cats. Happy Friday, everyone. Thank you so, so much.

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.

12 comments on “MAY #2: KING ARTHUR

  1. Your game is art, both in its whole and at the sum of its parts. Itโ€™s an immersive narrative experience that only requires a bit of nuance and patience to decipher and enjoy. But historically, some of the best pieces of art tend to be polarising, precisely because they are challenging the norm. And indeed the game is challenging, both the norm and the player, but thatโ€™s what makes the Victories all the sweeter.

  2. “Thereโ€™s also a bit of a stir about Traces, though these are functioning as intended.”

    Just because something is functioning as designed, does not imply that that design is a good design. The level of complaints about the as-designed risk of trace generation when scouting cities, and the fact that the first mod for EXILE was one that changes that risk to minimal, both suggest that while EXILE successfully creates the feeling of being on the run, for a large number of people, it fails to make that experience fun.

  3. Hi and congrats on the release!

    I like what you’ve done with Exile so far, and I suppose I can see both sides of the debate on the Trace mechanic. I loved the original CS for its setting; but the reason it eventually felt grindy was that the best strategy was always to hunker down and let Notoriety/Evidence completely evaporate while you gradually grind through shop inventories and hire/promote every cultist available. In Exile, I can appreciate you’ve changed the pace and gone for a more roguelike-like FTL sort of feel.

    So I do like the tighter more roguelike gameplay and the feeling when it’s “time to move on” from each city; but can also symptathise with the player complaints about Traces due to a decreased sense of player agency (resulting from Traces being largely random, with no ways to recover other than fleeing). The only way I’ve managed to win (or come close) is through substantial save-scumming with the Reconnoiter verb – once you get 2-3 Traces or draw a long run of opportunities you already have or don’t need, the urge to save/reload or restart is strong & contributes to the feeling of being low agency or RNG-driven. I don’t know if the solution is to make Traces slightly less frequent overall, make them somewhat less RNG-driven (using a RNG seed or other approach to make them slightly less random, or an optional ironman mode to avoid save scumming), or maybe just add a few more ways to remove traces or delay pursuers.

    I like that Wounds are a real threat but have at least some potential ways to recover (having a very long timer making you feel there’s some chance to recover if you can really manage to lay low for long enough, plus the ability to burn a Vitality if you get one). I get why you wouldn’t want Traces to expire too easily; perhaps a few more potential ways to remove them could help add more feeling of player agency.

    The only current way to remove a Trace (burning 2 Connections) is a nice option to have for the Obscurity but doesn’t seem that workable as a way to fight back, since you’ll very likely accumulate more than 1 Trace in trying to get them Reconnoitering. It could help a lot to add a few more interesting potential ways to remove a Trace (making these not common or reliable enough to eliminate the threat, but helping players feel they could still have at least some potential options to hide/forestall pursuers after getting that first fateful Trace).

    E.g. some Artifacts or Locations could be able to use one of the rarer Influences that don’t seem to have many diverse applications in game (Erudition, Glimmering, Dread, Dawn/Sunset/Night, Shadow of the Horned Axe, etc) to have a chance of eliminating one Trace, or to do something else useful like creating a new Distraction, a specific connection opportunity, or a Ligean Presence. Think of a Moth artifact which lets you burn a Glimmering to cloud your pursuer’s mind, etc. Some special opportunities to produce one Funds or Obscurity could also be welcome. The 60sec timer for quickly raising a Funds by selling a Year seems a bit long for when you need Funds in a hurry (but getting a Trace for this fits well).

    Sorry for the long post, but I’m enjoying the game & hope this could be helpful feedback to think through! Still planning on getting this on iOS too when it comes out.

  4. Interesting post, and I can see what they’re saying about the potential for finding/exploring targeted outcomes becoming too improbable if Reconnoiter is left entirely random.

    Thinking along these lines, one easy potential tweak to try out might be to let Reconnoiter show two Opportunities and the player select one. Or even present these as two categories to investigate: “a new Connection?” vs “a new Location?”, similar to how FTL lets players choose from among several possible paths to explore without giving everything away. This could help players feel they can be more goal-directed and reduce frustration from repeatedly drawing opportunities that are not useful or already obtained.

    If the chance of a new Trace is currently totally random, you might consider scaling it by the number of Reconnoiter draws since the last Trace occurred (that number squared as a percentage, or something similar)? This could give at least a few turns of respite to catch one’s breath and put plans in motion on arriving in a new city, and make Trace risk into more of a “push-your-luck” mechanic than something players might feel as too arbitrary.

    Just some thoughts to consider, and keep on keepin on!

  5. ‘insightful comment’

    ‘That means churning through the Recon deck for two more specific cards and then sticking around long enough to be able to do this cool unique thing. This is never going to happen. Nobody is ever going to do this, because Reckoners will crawl up your ass before you get the lucky draws you need out of the deck.’

    dude needs to learn more about probability

  6. I was actually enjoying Exile more than vanilla, but both times I tried to save and quit it did neither, crashed my computer and corrupted all my saves. It was a pity.

  7. I’ve just finished Exile (got a mediocre ending), and I think that it strikes the right balance of prose and mechanics — just as the main game does. I constantly felt the enormous pressure of having to decide whether to cut and run, or to pursue opportunities; this made the final boss battle feel incredibly epic.

    I don’t think that relaxing restrictions or allowing more targeted play would enhance the game; quite the opposite. This feeling of being on the run, always on the edge (yes, and the Edge), balanced between victory and defeat, praying for one more shred of luck — that’s what truly makes the game great, IMO.

  8. Speaking of missed opportunities and living on the Edge: I signed up for the Tarot notification list, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Is there any realistic way for me to get the Tarot at this point ?

  9. Oh, please tell us more sticky stories about Mountain Mother. Only to her I shall offer my homage with my oblation, and my blood, and my body, and my unborn sons and daughters,

Comments are closed.