Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 5, 2012.

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An open-ended sandbox RPG that combines immersive fiction and procedurally generated worlds.

Note: If you'd like to watch the video in much crisper 1080p HD, check out this YouTube version.

Note 2: You can download the new tech demo at this link!

FINAL 48-HOUR STRETCH GOAL: Well, everyone, we've smashed through 500% funding and still have 48 hours to go! I've added one last stretch goal - check out the latest project update to see! I think it's something you'll definitely get excited about!

UPDATE 2: There's a new teaser video for the upcoming construction system:

UPDATE: Twenty-five and a half days to go, and we're fully funded. You all rock! If things keep going at this rate, we can hit our stretch goals and really go all-out. Thank you all for your support, and for sharing in this dream with me!

New stretch goals (ACHIEVED!):

* For additional notes, see the FAQ at the bottom of this description.

Artistic credits: All music is by Joe Morgan. Art is by Shook.

What is Cult?

Cult is an open-ended role-playing game set in a user-generated world with a strong focus on storytelling, exploration, and environmental interaction. In simpler terms, it is about exploring a richly fleshed-out fantasy world unique from any other, with procedurally generated stories, myths, legends, civilizations, creatures, gods, and - well, basically everything! Cult is one part role playing game and one part experiment into the possible depth of procedural generation, and one of my goals with this project is to intertwine computer-driven storytelling with random content in a way that appears as seamless as possible to the player.

I drew my inspiration from games like Dwarf Fortress, the Elder Scrolls series, Darklands, and even Crusader Kings. I have also been heavily influenced by games from the 90's like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Evermore and Final Fantasy 3 which relied on a very strong story to draw the player in and keep them hooked. I love playing open-ended games, but I've always wanted a game that combined a randomly generated, complex world with equally complex stories, history, and characters. Since I've never been able to find any games like that, I decided to make one of my own!

Procedural storytelling? How will that work?

Dialogue, the personal stories of the various characters you meet, cultural anecdotes, and even the mythology of each world will be generated from scratch. Conceptually, it's fairly simple - I plan on writing many, many different possibilities for each different thematic element of the game to explore, so that each character, story, and personal exchange you make will seem organically unique. The hard part, as with any well-made procedural engine, is getting all the content accumulated in the first place. I've already started, but I view Cult as a very long-term project for myself, so this is something I'm going to be working on for years, if not decades! Of course, it will be released and playable long before the thematic elements are as polished as I'd like them to be, so it's also important for me to have the game engine stand on its own two legs as a great experience first. Eventually, I want Cult to be something of a combination between playing a game and reading a fantasy novel.

So, what kind of game is this, exactly?

Cult is primarily a role-playing game, but it also draws on elements from other genres, including strategy, simulation, and adventure. In terms of what you'll be able to do in the game, well...

  • Custom-tailor the life story and personality of your adventurer, or let the game randomly create it for you.
  • Explore dungeons and hunt for loot, artifacts, and powerful spells in traditional roguelike fashion.
  • Build a house, a castle, or even a city. For larger projects, you'll need to hire companions (or convert minions).
  • Craft everything from weapons and armor to furniture and food. Use it to outfit your personal entourage or army, or trade it away for riches.
  • Establish yourself as a local power. Eventually, you could become a political player, the leader of a powerful religious sect, or even a king.
  • Wander the world and discover civilizations with vastly different cultures, governments, and traditions. Hunt or tame fantastical creatures that are nothing like anything you've ever seen on Earth!
  • Revive banished gods from their hiding places within ancient ruins and harness their forbidden power for your own purposes.

These are just some of the things I'd like the player to be able to act out in Cult. For more information, please check out the game's Development Blog. There's a lot of additional information there, and some media to explore as well!

What language is Cult written in?

Cult is written entirely in Python, and utilizes the libTCOD roguelike library to make text look purty. Yes, that's correct - Cult so far is only text. Of course, I've done a bit of editing to the font set, but everything is still created using simple monochromatic characters. They're just mashed together in a way that makes them look nicer!

One reason I'm running this Kickstarter is because I'd really love to be able to get a custom tileset drawn up for the game.

This sounds crazy!

It is crazy, and so am I! You'd have to be crazy to want to try and generate an entire random fantasy world with enough literary and thematic depth to allow the player to suspend their disbelief about it.

Oh, did I mention that I'm writing a piece of code that will generate faux-languages, so that each civilization will have its own cultural terminology and lingual references?

Project Goals

All of the base funding will go towards extending and enriching development, and also rewarding the awesome guys who made the music and art for the game and this project page.

Thank you!

Thanks for your interest in the game. At the end of the day, I never would have wanted to create something like this if I didn't think that there are some really awesome people out there in the gaming community that I can make it for. At its heart, Cult is about exploring new territory - both literally and conceptually. I would love for this game to stand out as a new kind of 'interactive fiction', and I can't wait for those of you with an interest in games, rich stories, or both to see what I've got coming.

Note: For the character self-inserts in the rewards, you'll be able to decide gender, skills (within reason; peasants are obviously not going to be master swordsmen), and appearance of the character (though this will vary depending on what species they're generated as, but I'll try to make each one retain some defining characteristics). For some character types, additional traits can be decided (like for the spirits, creatures, and gods). I'll send individual e-mails to all contributors with a form to fill out, and I'll do my best to work with you and get your character as close as possible to what you'd like! 

What -- this? It's just a... completely innocent Christmas tree.
What -- this? It's just a... completely innocent Christmas tree.

FAQ

  • All backers will be able to force their character/civilization to materialize during worldgen by entering a code in the game's options menu, so that you'll always be able to ensure that your character/civ appears in your worlds. You'll also be able to turn off the appearance of any of these 'static' entities if you'd like, by ticking a box in the options (it will be left unticked by default as a courtesy to backers, so that their character/civ inserts appear for everyone unless the player prefers not to have them randomly appear).

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  • Anyone who purchases the alpha version CAN later upgrade to the full version (which will eventually be priced at $20, once the game goes beta) for the difference, not at full price (i.e., $5 more - so you will still receive the discount). No, I won't charge you for the game twice in a row - that would just be lame! The alpha version at $10 is there so you can test it without committing to the next tier, if you can't afford it or just want to see how much you like the game before buying the full version.

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  • Nope! Although donation tier titles are restricted to those who donated at their level, since that only seems fair. But since Cult is a very open-ended game, I don't have any problem with changing your title to something that's not religiously themed. Essentially you'll just get a 'Kickstarter Backer: <title>' format.

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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    28 backers

    Human Sacrifice: You'll appear (randomly) in the game as measly peasant fodder, but don't worry, being a peon isn't all bad. In addition, you'll get a custom title on the Cult forums, and you'll have my eternal gratitude.

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    34 backers

    Acolyte: You'll get the custom forum title, and you'll appear randomly in the game as a merchant or a guard. As an Acolyte level contributor, you'll receive access to all alpha versions of Cult while it's under development, so that you'll have plenty of knowledge accumulated for its beta release.

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    819 backers

    Lector: Forum title, a random appearance in the game as an adventurer, thief, soldier, or mercenary, plus the full version of Cult (you'll also have access to alpha and beta versions, of course). You are an esteemed member of the esoteric order!

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    163 backers

    Exorcist: You'll get the title, and you'll appear randomly in the game as a guard captain, the mayor of a village or city, or the leader of a cult. And you'll get the full game, of course. You'll also get a digital copy of "Jonas Rift", a to-be-released Sci-Fi novel by my marketing manager Alex Poysky. You are the Exorcist, a crusader in the war against heresy!

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    70 backers

    Priest: Everything above, with a random appearance in the game as a powerful spirit, ghost, or creature. In addition, you'll get all of the dark, nostalgic music composed for the game by Joe Morgan. You are the shepherd: use your powers to keep contamination from the flock.

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    38 backers

    Archpriest: Everything above, with a random appearance in the game as a general, mercenary captain, or the monstrous inhabitant of a dungeon. You'll get a special version of Cult with a red title screen candle and an animation that will declare you the owner of the game. Why are Archpriests cooler than normal priests? Because they get bling, of course.

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    7 backers

    Primate: Everything above, plus you'll appear randomly in the game as a king, queen, sultan, or person of equivalent importance. At this donation level, you'll be able to select one of Shook's awesome retro pixel-art images to be turned into a poster (shipping outside of the continental US will require an additional $15). The Primate: an oldie but a goodie.

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    50 backers

    Prelate: Everything above, plus you'll appear randomly in the game as a god. You'll also get a special green title screen candle, and access to any future game expansions or major additions. The Prelate is wise enough to act on the prophecies in advance!

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    44 backers

    Pontiff: Everything above, plus a purple title screen candle. Best of all, you get to design your own randomly-appearing civilization! What will unwary adventurers discover when they stumble into lands peopled by the figments of your imagination? The Pontiff is the head of the church, the mortal conduit of the power of the gods.

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    5 backers Limited (4 left of 9)

    The High Council: Everything above, plus I will hold biweekly IM sessions with anyone who takes this reward to do group brainstorming. You'll also receive a permanent mention on the Cult website in a prominent location. You are a member of the shadowy High Council - all fear your might!

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    6 backers All gone!

    Demi-God: Everything above, but I'll hold weekly IM sessions with you. You'll be a personal advisor, and you'll be informed about all of the gooey, secretive metaplot goodness. In addition, you will be listed on the website and in the game's title credits as an executive producer. You are a demi-god, able to cast down anything that walks upon the surface of the world!

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    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    Idol (New Reward): Everything above, plus you'll receive six pieces of personal, custom art: one digital rendition of a world map, and five creatures (chosen by you from among those generated by the pre-alpha). You are the idol, a graven image of the gods!

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  • Pledge $1,500 or more
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    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    Deity: In addition to everything above (except for the custom art), you will be invited to a Caribbean cruise with myself (and any other backers at this level), where we will engage in several days of sun-basking, debauchery, and intense brainstorming (I will provide tickets; you just have to get to the port of departure)! Your ideas will be incorporated directly into the game, subject to my oversight. You're not just any old deity: you're a sun-god!

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Funding period

- (30 days)