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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Iron Tower Studio - Cyclopean Revealed

Default Iron Tower Studio - Cyclopean Revealed

September 12th, 2008, 03:12
Iron Tower Studio has revealed a new title in early pre-production, to be created by a second team. The new game is Cyclopean, a Lovecraftian, isometric, turn-based CRPG lead by Scott Hamm, who posts on our forums as screeg and is an experienced 3D modeler - we've seen his work on the screens from the ToEE conversion Keep on the Borderlands. Here's the initial post:
Cyclopean is the working title for a turn-based RPG project currently in the design phase. The game is inspired by, and to a large extent based on, the stories and mythos of Howard Phillips Lovecraft http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._P._Lovecraft, and takes place in 1923 Western Massachusetts. Based on the strength of the concept and some samples of the writing, Vince has offered me the lead designer position for this second team of Iron Tower Studio. I’m calling this second team “Team Omega”.

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.

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 NPC’s with abandonment issues, elves, giant rats, sewers, black and red hellscapes, and Monty Python references.
…and keep a watch on the official forum. We'll try to catch up with Iron Tower on this as soon as practical.
Thanks, KazikluBey!
More information.
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September 12th, 2008, 03:12
Very cool news indeed!

Thanks for the heads up, I remember reading my 1st Lovecraft story(book) in High School "The Festival" and the following stories blew me away with their originality and vividness.

Can't wait to see how the game turns out!

Will definitely be wishing the project the very best of luck

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September 12th, 2008, 03:52
I've always thought the Lovecraftian universe was an excellent setting for a cRPG. Very cool and best wishes to screeg. Looking forward to it.

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September 12th, 2008, 08:52
It's a great universe atmospherically, but also a difficult one to tell a RPG story in, since ultimatley the heros of the stories in the Lvoecraftian universe are vastly outmatched by the "unspeakable horrors" it contains and either die or go mad . The Call of Cthulhu P&P game created that into a game mechanic, but remained one of the harder to play P&P games, partly because of the above problem, partly becasue because the structure of Lovecraftian adventures is somewhat predictable. And for a CRPG there is the additional difficulty that visually representing the lovecraftian horros tends to rob them of their power. It CAN be done I believe, but it is a significant challenge. At least I have no doubt we have people at work with a genuine love of both the subject matter and RPG's. Best of luck, team Omega.
I assume Lovecrafts Universe is not protected (like in the case of the Tolkien estate for LOTR)?
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September 12th, 2008, 10:33
I'm looking forward to this! I have a character in a P&P Call of Cthulhu game - while certainly not traditional I'd love to explore a cRPG set in this milieu. I do think it will be challenging as GhanBuriGahn noted - but for me the great thing in CoC was that the stakes were always so high - nothing was ever humdrum or predictable (in the hack and slash sense - and in our case we did occasionally defeat some - weaker ;-) - minions). If they could recreate that tension (without just butchering PC's) then I'd be very happy. And the whole spell-casting system is just brilliant - the question always being is the sanity/health costs wort the risk? I'm salivating in anticipation (ok, not really - I don't have such huge saliva reserves - I'm not a great old one after all ;-) )
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September 12th, 2008, 10:55
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
I assume Lovecrafts Universe is not protected (like in the case of the Tolkien estate for LOTR)?
Tolkien died quite recently in copyright terms. They still have some 35 years left in the EU, 60 in the USA. All Lovecraft's works on the other hand became undisputedly public domain in the EU this past January 1 (due to 70 years having passed since the author's death). Much of Lovecraft's works are now public domain in the US as well, but the status of his later works aren't quite so clear cut, as there is dispute over whether or not the copyrights were renewed along with the new copyright act in the seventies, but the general consensus, among fans at least, seems to be that they were not renewed, i.e. they're in the public domain.
These were the links Vince referred to on the subject:
http://phantasmal.sourceforge.net/In…Copyright.html
http://www.aetherial.net/lovecraft-copyright.php

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September 12th, 2008, 11:06
This *rules.* CoC is my favorite game system ever; it's a beast to gamemaster, though, because of the level of familiarity we have with the setting, and it's hard to get the details right, or even believable. Characters are also usually somewhat disposable. There's yet to be a really good computer game adaptation of this; DCotE wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either.

I fondly remember the CoC campaign I set in the South Pacific during World War II. My players were crewing a B-17 bomber, when they suddenly saw a weird flash of light and all their engines unaccountably cut, and they had to crash-land on a remote island inhabited by strangely malformed natives and curiously repulsive descendants of Portuguese colonists from centuries past…
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September 12th, 2008, 11:11
Fantastic news and best of luck to the team - great to see more life in the indie space and some different settings.

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September 12th, 2008, 12:29
I am not familiar with the Lovecraft’s books but from what I read what the game should give, it sounds very interesting so I am curious

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September 12th, 2008, 13:54
I would like to know a couple things such as who went after who? Did you pitch to VD or was VD looking to add a team to IT? Are you using game assets from AoD? If you were to leave IT who would own what asset of this game? What’s the sales model? I’m guessing you have full creative control but what about business decision control (i.e. distribution, pricing, etc)?

And since I’m too lazy to figure out where I should officially post other questions, I’ll ask them all here:

What is your exit plan if there does happen to be an injunction placed on the game due to copyright issues? Is that the end of development or will you leave a way to gut the Lovecraft and still release a decent game?

What is your favorite crpg and why? Pnp rpg and why?

Do you believe crpgs should try and capture the pnp experience or can they be a completely separate and unrelated entity from rpgs and why?

How much weight will this game put into the following rpg elements? Character creation, character advancement, combat, npc interaction, choices and consequence, and story?

Will you follow the VD release plan and burn through 3 engines, 24 years of development, a focus on superficial aesthetic nonsense, and catering to graphic-whorish folk in some insane attempt at having a horrible business plan that increases the barriers to entry into the indie crpg market for other would-be crpg devs all to feel a little warmer and fuzzier in the insane-o make-believe world of magical happy-happy hippy-love you live in your mind?

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September 12th, 2008, 14:21
Great news, seems like it's gonna be a game that's so scarce these days: one with atmosphere and depth. Can't wait to hear more.

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September 12th, 2008, 14:51
Originally Posted by titus View Post
I am not familiar with the Lovecraft’s books but from what I read what the game should give, it sounds very interesting so I am curious
Really? Wow. Then I strongly suggest you go pick one up. Most of 'em are pretty heavy on the squamous, gibbering, antediluvian adjectives, but the conception of the universe is pretty unusual and exciting.

My personal favorite by far is At The Mountains Of Madness. I still think that it has the best depiction of an alien species in the history of science fiction.

Some of the Arkham/New England ones are pretty good too — The Shadow over Innsmouth, The Color out of Space, and the one with the Shining Trapezohedron (although the ending is unintentionally hilarious). I don't much care for his Dunsanian stuff, though — Lord Dunsany did that better.
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September 12th, 2008, 15:27
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Characters are also usually somewhat disposable.
QUite manageable if they just have NPCs dying on you regularly while the main character just about muddles through psychically scarred and shaken.

Originally Posted by booboo View Post
but for me the great thing in CoC was that the stakes were always so high - nothing was ever humdrum or predictable (in the hack and slash sense - and in our case we did occasionally defeat some - weaker ;-) - minions). If they could recreate that tension (without just butchering PC's) then I'd be very happy.
That'd be a nice change, boss battles that really were proper boss battles where you had to prepare and the tension was built up and up for ages and you didn't all make it out alive or intact.
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September 12th, 2008, 17:17
Originally Posted by Roqua1 View Post
And since I’m too lazy to figure out where I should officially post other questions, I’ll ask them all here:
Is it so hard to click a link posted above … ?

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September 12th, 2008, 17:25
Originally Posted by Roqua1 View Post
Will you follow the VD release plan and burn through 3 engines, 24 years of development, a focus on superficial aesthetic nonsense, and catering to graphic-whorish folk in some insane attempt at having a horrible business plan that increases the barriers to entry into the indie crpg market for other would-be crpg devs all to feel a little warmer and fuzzier in the insane-o make-believe world of magical happy-happy hippy-love you live in your mind?
I'll just answer this last one here: yes.

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September 12th, 2008, 17:35
Well, that settles that, I'd say. Good to know there's still a little hippy love out there!

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September 12th, 2008, 17:45
So when does Age of Decadence Forever come out?

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September 12th, 2008, 17:55
If you take but a minute to check out a few of the newsbit here about AoD, or in IT website you'll see that AoD is coming along nicely now … (There are some pretty good threads on their forum, worth checking really if you're interested by the game)

As for Roqua, I've never answered on any post you've made before and it usually is my rule of thumb not to 'feed the troll'…But from just about every single post i've seen of you there's always such negativity, it just brings something unpleasant to good news threads such as this one. There are other people here who can be a little…'abrasive?' or a little too direct, but they usually do bring valid arguments and such. In your case its usually bordering on insults and just flat out being negative about everything that doesnt go your way. With that said, my comment here doesnt help much in term of being positive .

But really im quite happy to hear about this new project, just like everyone mentioned here, it'll be quite a challenge and im really looking forward to hearing more about it as it develops. Im sure the watch will keep an eye on it .
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September 12th, 2008, 18:47
Call of Cthulhu is a classic PnP role-playing game partly because it fits any age which can be associated with human madness overshadowing their reason such as Poe, dark Sherlockian and Eco Medieval settings. There are some films and games tried to realize Lovecraft works but I think they may be better to be presented in letters rather than visual materials. So, the not-so graphical high standard engine may not bad for this. Of course, even in this case, consistent art direction would help.
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September 13th, 2008, 12:29
Sounds good, but better not get too enthusiastic yet. The Lovecraftian ethos will be difficult to get working well in a CRPG.
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