Cyclopean: The Lovecraft RPG

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.

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