Cyclopean: The Lovecraft RPG

By Alec Meer on October 15th, 2008 at 11:20 pm.

From Love to Lovecraft… ‘Scott’, mysteriously surnameless lead developer at the newly-formed ‘Team Omega’ over at Iron Tower Studio, kindly drops us a line to let us know he’s working on a turn-based cRPG based on the works of HP Lovecraft. Cthulhu and chums are forever a source of excitement for Men Like Us, so interest = piqued.

Iron Tower Studio, should the name ring no bells, is the peculiarly passionate indie-RPG outfit headed up by one Vince D. Weller. You may remember him. So far, Scott hasn’t demonstrated any of Vince’s great rage, but there’s every chance that someone whinging about turn-based combat will awaken the beast within, so don’t judge it until you’ve seen it, eh? (Me, I’m all about the turn-based at the moment – King’s Bounty continues to occupy my almost every waking hour).

It’s still very early, pre-production doors for the project, to be known as Cyclopean (quoth Scott, “I chose the name Cyclopean because it was arguably Lovecraft’s favourite adjective, meaning “big” in the context of his stories, not “one-eyed”. I like the way it sounds and I don’t want to call the game “Shadow Over Arkham”, “Look Out, It’s Cthulhu!” or something else entirely predictable and lame.“).

Hence, no Great Old One screenshots for you as yet, but what there is is a very long discussion thread over at ITS’ forums, in which Scott’s being remarkably open about his intentions for and behind the game. There’s also some concept art over yonder and yonder. Which looks jolly nice, though without some eyes-on in-game imagery or video (or, indeed, without a release of Age of Decadence to get a real sense of what Iron Tower are capable of) it’s very hard to make any meaningful judgements whatsoever about this, but conceptually it’s certainly appealing.

Go have a read, perhaps ask a question or two, and hopefully we’ll have more details and a Soggoth or two to point your eyes at in the not-too-distant. To start you off, here’s Scott’s initial summary, but there’s far more still – including writing samples and design briefs – over in the official forum.

The player starts out in Lovecraft’s most famous fictional town, Arkham. Over the course of the game the player will travel to several other locations in and under the State of Massachusetts, and come in contact with cultists, law enforcement, hapless citizens, shadowy organizations, criminals, otherworldly creatures, and if he’s lucky, horrors beyond imagining. The game will concentrate on dense, quality writing in Lovecraft’s style, thrilling dialogue, and stimulating turn-based combat versus people and other things. Emphasis will be placed on quests with many possible solutions and outcomes. Players will not be restricted to fighting evil, but may ally themselves with those who wish to bring back the Great Old Ones, as well as various other organizations. Details to follow. The player will be able to pick up autonomous NPC support, a la Fallout, during the game. Influence over ally’s basic AI will be available, but equipment changes will be limited.

A concern already raised is that Lovecraft’s canon does not suit itself to a computer game. I think the locations, creatures and atmosphere established by Lovecraft are entirely adaptable, not just as a colourful background to the same tired old RPG themes, but as an entire game experience. Any established body of work translated to a computer game, or any other form of media, will have to be bent somewhat to accommodate its new form. It is my belief that a more faithful translation of Lovecraft’s world can be implemented as a fun and worthwhile CRPG.

Finally, here are a few things which will not be in Cyclopean: immortal and chatty NPCs with abandonment issues, elves, giant rats, sewers, black and red hellscapes, and Monty Python references.

*Image not from the game. It’s a GNU free thingy from Wikicommons.

__________________

« | »

, , .

62 Comments »

  1. Orange says:

    Lovecraft RPG = Want

    Iron Tower sound like they have their hearts in the right place when it comes to RPGs. Not bothered how long they take to make them, I enjoy reading about the development and I’m sure they’ll be worth the wait.

  2. M. P. says:

    Hey, racists are people too! Just because we don’t invite them to social gatherings doesn’t mean we can’t read their fiction! :p

  3. Nick says:

    Besides, most people usually love their pets and treat them with more affection than other humans, so calling it what it was called can’t be a hate based thing. I don’t think anyone is trying to say it was cool to do it, but condeming everyone in the (insert era here) as being a vile racist because of language that was in common usage is a bit reactionary. It’s not condoning it, but understanding its motivations beyond the blacl & white (pun not intended but somewhat apt).

  4. Acosta says:

    It’s not the first time the work of a man is bigger and better than himself, it won’t be the last time.

    Love the idea of this game, Cthulhu knows we need more videogames based on this.

  5. Malagate says:

    To quote Maximum Fish, which later posts share the same sentiments:
    “I don’t share the worldview of the creators of the overwhelming majority of the books i read, movies i watch, games i play, whatever. Do i have to? Am i only to expose myself to the works of those who agree with me on everything, whom i can assure myself are ‘morally righteous’ by my own standards?”

    I don’t think anyone was actually saying to NOT read his works, they were either merely describing the kind of person he was and so how his works came about or they were expressing surprise to learn that little extra something about an author that interests them. Nor do I think that anyone is being “morally superior” and deriding his work, it seems that the moment someone mentions “racism” that the natural assumption is to shun everything about it, but I haven’t seen anyone actually talk about that so it seems to me that the likes of Maximum fish are over-reacting.

    No one is saying it was cool, but equally no one was saying it should be condemned.

    I find it interesting that you could see some foreshadowing by Lovecraft for the horrors of the internet. Whilst Deep Ones may be motivated by his disgust it also draws upon beastiality and that makes me think of Furries. I understand anti-furryism is quite prevailent, and it is certainly a concept that horrifies me, but perhaps later generations will be more horrified that people were anti-furry at the time? Not that it matters, it still only ever adds more interest to Lovecraft’s works, to help us better understand the fear and motivations. Maybe there is some enlightened future people who can tolerate free love between men, men dressed as animals and the animals themselves, I however will still read lovecraft and shudder not for the terror of the abyss but for the horror of The Great Yiff.

  6. phil says:

    @GliderRecon:

    “Your new-caught sullen peoples,
    Half devil and half child.”
    - The White Man’s Burden

    So, yes, patronising, paterneralistic and horribly smug,
    though also an talented writer, as your technique of randomly quoting his work out of context proves, clearly.

    @Nick

    If it was just about what he called his cat, then yes, this would be a silly discussion. And no one is condemning eras, it’s more about Lovecraft being a special case within this own.

    I brought up Kipling percisely because his life and work is a facinating example of how people who would heartly describe themselves as racist ( ie those who discrimate on the grounds of race) could also be, at certain times, a reformer, crusader and sympathetic poet for various groups of colonial subjects. Kipling loves India, though he thinks English public school boys should be in charge of it, Lovecraft would prefer New York to fall into the sea, that’s the difference.

    Lovecraft, as the Houellebecq piece described, was always a strange, narrow minded soul, who when faced with an actual example of teeming, multi-cultural New York, lasted till his wife moved away, then freaked the F@*K out, a process which fed into the brilliantly twisted mental landscapes I’m sure we’ve all enjoyed wandering through.

    @Malagate: what you said.

  7. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    And one can enjoy Kieron’s writing despite the fact he’s a sex-pest.

    I enjoy Keiron’s sex-pesting notwithstanding his writing.

  8. Michael America says:

    You’re all a bunch of horrible webcestuous deviants.
    …which is probably why I keep coming back.

    I’m looking forward to this game, but I’m still apprehensive. I don’t see any visual medium possibly doing Dread Cthulhu justice. I’d like to see a Lovecraft game that literally shatters your mind, boiling away your lucidity like blood on a griddle, leaving naught but a burned out husk.

  9. pkt-zer0 says:

    Encounters with the Old Ones will be handled through text adventures with some additional artwork. Not any more visual than a book with a bunch of illustrations, really.

  10. Elwro says:

    If someone’s interested, we have an interview about this game:

    http://rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=175

  11. Nihohit says:

    OMG ITS SPELLED SHOGGOTH YOU GUYS SOCK!