Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Interview Cyclopean Retrospective Interview at Gamebanshee

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Crooked Bee, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. Crooked Bee Nyadmin Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2014 MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
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    Tags: Cyclopean; Iron Tower; Scott Jäeger; Team Omega

    Some of you may remember Cyclopean, a Lovecraftian independent RPG project associated with Iron Tower Studio. It even had a subforum on the Iron Tower boards, which got dissolved as soon as the game was officially canceled in 2010. Nothing has been heard about the project since then, until Gamebanshee has recently caught up with Scott Jäeger and talked to him "about the Lovecraft-inspired title, the design goals he had for the game prior to its cancellation, how character development and progression were to be handled, and more." Have a snippet from the resulting interview:

    GB: Why did you ultimately decide to cancel the project? Did Vince have plans to roll more people onto your project as AoD inched closer to completion?

    Scott: Vince, Oscar and Nick all offered their assistance once AoD was published, but as Lead Developer I would still need to find committed artists, programmers, etc. to form a team. I knew Iron Tower would have other projects, presumably a follow-up to AoD, and of course Dead State. These guys can’t clone themselves to work full time on Cyclopean.

    Attempts to recruit artists and programmers over the course of a year-and-a-half were basically a complete bust. Getting someone talented to volunteer their time on such shaky grounds is understandably a very hard sell. Folks like the Iron Tower team and all the talented people who signed up for Dead State on nothing but a promise are 1 in 10,000.

    Vince asked me that rather than cancel the game, I declare a hiatus and maybe come back to it later. Although I had already made up my mind, I let it sit fallow for six months, but I couldn’t in good conscience leave everyone hanging when I had no hope to revive it in the future. At the end of the day what I want is to contribute in the areas I’m talented, not to be lead developer. I wasn’t (and still am not) ready to make that kind of commitment. Writing is my thing, not project management.

    GB: Would you ever consider restarting the project? Or was the cancellation more than a matter of resources?

    Scott: It’s not a matter of financial resources, but human resources. Basically the project had a lead writer (me), but no dedicated artists or programmers, and no lead developer.

    GB: As you were dedicated to the game's writing, what can you tell us about the critical path of the game?

    Scott: Originally, the game was to take place in four key Lovecraft locations: Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth and Kingsport. Later, I consolidated it to a sprawling Arkham and the surrounding area. The player would start with a particular Background, which would determine starting location, items and certain special skills. This Background would also give him a starting quest and perhaps NPC contacts in Arkham.

    I also conceived of a Sanity system where constant and reckless exposure to Mythos entities could, if it didn’t kill him outright, permanently corrupt the player, which would allow him access to certain areas and abilities otherwise hidden. The downside of this is that while the player sees into that other world juxtaposed with our own, its denizens may see him as well.

    Magic was to be an area where characters would start with absolutely nothing, except maybe a predilection for its study. You wouldn’t be buying scrolls at the dry goods store in town. In the player were interested, he would have to seek out and research each spell through the discovery of cursed tomes and strange NPC’s. Actually casting a spell would incur a Sanity cost, but also move the player inexorably towards the state of corruption already mentioned. Basically, there were no “fireballs”. Using magic at all would be a decision to carefully evaluate.

    Rather than have a single main quest, the game was intended to have three main quest branches leading to a major Mythos event, any of which could be followed initially, but only one of which could be taken all the way to the end. In each branch, the player could choose to thwart the plans of the cultists or madmen, or he could choose to join them and help to (for instance) open a gate to one of the Great Old Ones and bring about the end of the world.

    In one of these quest lines, the player must discover which among the various weird secret societies is actually the dangerous (or more accurately, most dangerous) cult in Arkham, figure out what their goal is, identify the High Priest from a selection of Arkham notables, then defeat them, hopefully while hanging on bitterly to some small shred of his humanity.

    These are in addition to many standalone quests investigating hauntings, forgotten tombs, strange experiments and disappearances.​

    Read the full interview here. It's pretty detailed and interesting.

    The Gamebanshee gallery also has some concept art and other images related to the game. Oh, and there's this Flash-based character generator that's supposed to represent what character creation was intended to be like.
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  2. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    So GameBanshee now has to resort to interviews with yesterday's non-crowdfunded losers. What next, the divorced guy from Broken Hourglass?

    My favorite Scott memory is from way back in 2009 I believe; people were posting and making fun of excerpts from David Gaider's first novel, so he got the bright idea of "improving" it by rewriting as the most purple-ish prose you can imagine. Some people ripped it apart, mistakenly thinking he was quoting from the novel itself. It was so bad, Gaider himself de-lurked to make fun of it. Fun times.

    Nothing personal, but offense intended, as always. :)
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  3. Cassidy Arcane

    Cassidy
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    What a shame this ended long before thursday.

    Prisoner of Ice obviously is not a CRPG, and AFAIK, there is no CRPG in this setting.
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  4. Excidium P. banal

    Self-Ejected
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    What could have been. :salute:
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  5. almondblight Arcane

    almondblight
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    I remember that Cyclopean dialogue game showed a lot of promise (and was pretty fun in its own right). I'd be happy to throw money at this if he ever did decide to Kickstart it.
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  6. 4too Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    4too
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    Congenital Issue



    Kickstarter has a navigating menu with a CTHULHU selection.

    One might feverishly sweat and fidget that a Lovecraft themed - anything - would congeal financial support for everyone’s favorite mile high squid dragon.

    Until the revelation creeps in, cleaving the mind like a grain alcohol hang over, there is 'craft' in *Lovecraft*, a serious congenital defect in 21st Century marketing.

    The curse of craft-ing, crafting a liability for other reputed independent Kickstarter Projects, crafting DOA !

    Craft in Lovecraft evokes the reigning mythos.

    Only awesome repetitive action that flagellates the gore / loot per second per second vector to an ejaculating consummation, … , is entitled to see the whining light of fickle funding. :(




    4too
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  7. Cosmic Misogynerd Arbiter Patron

    Cosmic Misogynerd
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    Codex 2013 Divinity: Original Sin
    Links please?
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  8. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,764.msg23190.html#msg23190
    http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,764.msg23350.html#msg23350
    http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,764.msg23355.html#msg23355
    Some people really love those bell similes.
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  9. InspectorRumpole Learned

    InspectorRumpole
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    Was sad when i heard this got cancelled.
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  10. crawlkill Kill all boxed game owners. Kill! Kill!

    crawlkill
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    wasn't there some other Mythos-themed isometric RPG in the works a while back, or am I thinking of long-dead memories of this project? sad to see somebody's work fall through, as ever.
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  11. Cosmic Misogynerd Arbiter Patron

    Cosmic Misogynerd
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    :lol: Wow. And this was the guy behind Cyclopean? And even Gaider made fun of his writing. I'm actually glad that this game got canned.
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  12. Vault Dweller Ubersturmfuhrer

    Vault Dweller
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    A short excerpt from the Cyclopean forums:

    * * *​

    I am- I was a Professor of Mathematics. But soon, I will be so much more.

    During the years I toiled on my graduate thesis, my diligent consumption of the works of Newton and Euler left me wanting. I felt the great minds of Mathematics were somehow hinting –perhaps without realizing it themselves– at a world beyond their power of explanation.

    Dissatisfied with what my mentors could provide, I found my research drifting ever farther into the occult. Perusal of a variety of bizarre and forbidden tomes, such as the fragmentary Book of Eibon, and Remigius’s Daemonolatreia, led me to a highly unorthodox conclusion: that the subjects of any number of queer tales of witchcraft and demon summoning, were in fact mathematicians forced by the ignorance and barbarity of society into the role of outré occultist or sorcerer.

    From careful study of the scraps and fragments, –poor translations most– which passed through my hands, I discovered that the authors of these suppressed works had somehow acquired a profound understanding of an outrageous, non-Euclidean geometry, a mathematical language unknown to formal academies anywhere in the world, even today. To hide this knowledge from the eyes of the puritanical new world inquisition, they obfuscated it with mystical mumbo jumbo. Symbols and formulae which would convey unimaginable power were mixed with nonsense scribbles and fragments of Latin and Old English, rendering all an incomprehensible mish-mash. Fear of these tomes led to them being hidden away first by the church, later by misguided authorities. But the very act of their banishment ensured not only that these writings would survive in jealously guarded libraries and private collections, but that they would be painstakingly copied by those few who understood their true value.

    Fevered pursuit of my theory led me to the verge of deciphering what to myself I termed an absolute mathematics. I am convinced that knowledge of this absolute mathematics would grant me an understanding not just of the physical laws and mechanics of this universe, but of others beyond our comprehension, as well as the means to open a gate to those other, Outside, places at will.

    Even with only partial understanding, I knew the things I could reveal in my doctorate thesis would have turned the staid world of academia fully on its head. By the jumping light of a candle in my poor garret room, I entreated my advisor –one Professor Gimbal– to support me. I swore that I would always properly credit his contribution to my work (though in truth it was nonexistent), no matter to what exalted heights I would be lifted by my fame.

    Even though I dared reveal to his weak and timid mind only a small portion of my work, his hands shook as he gazed upon it. He refused to support me, the imbecile. He insisted at that late date that I write my thesis on another topic entirely, and threatened my entire career if I continued to pursue my vision. As if this weren’t impudence enough for one night, he more than half accused me of being addicted to laudanum! It is true I had become a regular user of that medicine, not because I was an addlepated weakling, but because of the severe mental stresses which my research engendered.

    To satisfy the feebleminded old goat, I agreed to generate the typical mediocre drivel expected of a graduate student of mathematics. Mentally, it was a task far beneath me, but nevertheless consumed precious time. I agreed to this sacrifice trusting that once I had earned my degree at Miskatonic, I would finally have access to the library’s closely guarded Occult Room, which hosts one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of the illicit and misunderstood. Imagine my horror when I was denied –indefinitely– access to that coveted collection of the arcane, precisely because that snake Gimbal advised against it!

    Though passionate in my pursuit of knowledge, I have never been a violent man by disposition. Nevertheless, my fury at that point may well have been homicidal had it not been for the one person who stood by me at this difficult juncture, as she had at all my tribulations before and since, my dear, dear wife Annabel. That poor creature. If I had known how it would turn out– In truth, I have to admit I would have done nothing different.

    I pushed on after the university’s crushing rejection, denying my despair by focusing every iota of my will on continued research. With shaking hands and mumbled incantations, I had hesitantly tried to work my first portal, but my understanding of the angles and their concomitant equations, which described in chalk seem an impossible contradiction, was grossly deficient. My first attempt revealed nothing of any other plane, no haunting voice from the void, nothing.

    From various inferences gleaned from my studies, as well as months of correspondence with like-minded scholars around the world, I came to the conclusion that the black book Unaussprechlichen Kulten, by Friedrich von Junzt, must have the final answers I needed.

    I met the sailor along the fetid, gloom shrouded wharf of Innsmouth Harbour. He was a feral and ill-favoured fellow possessed in my opinion of teeth both too numerous and too sharp. The parcel under his arm frighted him so badly he daren’t expose it in public, even by the guttering light of the Hook and Anchor, the most disreputable public house in New England. What else but the horrid tome I sought could shake the nerve of a pox-scarred sailor of that most cursed port? In an alleyway scarcely broad enough for one to pass, I reviewed the weighty package by the light of a gibbous moon. Confirming it to be the iron-hasped volume I sought, I paid him for it, both dearly and gladly. The seaman cackled brokenly when he passed it to me, not I thought, with joy at his rich reward, but as if he had played me a most cruel trick. I had for an instant an image of some wicked troll in a children’s tale, croaking gleefully that I had taken a terrible burden from its shoulders and on to my own. I shook off these misgivings at once and returned to Arkham.

    My first serious study of the book increased my understanding three-fold! If only I had known its power in the beginning, years could have been saved… In any case, I learned that the quickest road to the knowledge I sought was to speak to an agent from Outside. Such a mentor could reveal more in an instant than would be learned in a lifetime of studying mere human scribbling. There were still obstacles to overcome, but by precisely following von Junzt’s words, I overcame the first: finding a proper location for the gate.

    ~~~~

    Having relocated my wife and myself to a modest camp without the cave, I was faced with the next dilemma, that damnable stone door! I feel a fool that it took me many months of trial and error, but I did find the formula to open it. The sacrifice of a small, living animal is required. A cat or a chicken will suffice. First intone the words:

    phlagn-ngwahr-ngg
    Ia! Ia! Magnus portal!
    Then, cut the throat of the animal and with its blood draw this symbol on the smooth blank square in the center of the door.

    Ỳ​

    Then speak the Latin word for ‘open’: aperio

    There were some unwanted –I shall call them vermin– in the tunnel beyond, but I dispatched these with the practical application of a half-dozen shotgun shells. The chamber below represented the fulfillment of my desires! All was intact. The fine masonry, worked by what long dead artisans I know not, may well have been finished that very morning.

    My faithful wife, like a rock to whom my agonized mind was ever tethered, seconded me during the ritual. Something arose from the pit, something unexpected. I failed that day. I failed and Annabel paid the ultimate price. Her death in that ancient ritual chamber was my first indication that my version of von Junzt’s masterwork was incomplete!

    My wife’s death left me deranged. A manic despair swept over me, and by the time I came to myself my bed was a pile of leaf mulch on the forest floor. A full week had passed and by the gnawing in my gut I sensed I had not eaten in all that time, but roamed the woods like a mindless idiot, until finally a glimmer of hope shone on my brain and brought me back, –more than temporarily, I prayed– to my senses.

    Of course! Fulfilling the ritual would mean unlimited power, even beyond the boundary separating life and death. The transformation engendered by my success would allow me to restore her completely. Looking now for gaps in the book, I found that a single leaf was missing. Out of hundreds of pages, this one oversight had almost cost me everything! I must at all costs get a transcription of page 172 of Unaussprechlichen Kulten. But I cannot stray far from the cave, no farther than I have gone this last long while for my meager sustenance. Someone will come to assist me though, I feel it.

    ~~~~

    It seems long now since I have taken up my task. I have paid no heed to time, but I feel slower of body and mind than I did. No matter. Just as Annabel will be restored, so will my time be restored, for I shall be master of all!

    History is bound to ask: Why should such a visionary, a man ridiculed and scorned by his so-called peers, share his genius with a benighted world? Why, if he is so sure of his future success, does he commit his discoveries to meager words at all?

    I do so because I suspect that I may not return from the journey I will soon make. No, not because my life is in danger. Far from it. But because having traveled beyond our mundane sphere, it is likely I may never wish to return.

    * * *​
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  13. Rake Arcane

    Rake
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    :( Pity it was canceled.
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  14. jagged-jimmy Arbiter

    jagged-jimmy
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    Stop mocking the writing, their flash demo was very intense as i recall. I was immersed.
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  15. villain of the story Unwanted

    Unwanted
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    Amazing writing. Not the most convincing but it was joyful to read.
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  16. Jasede Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Jasede
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    Don't like it; reads like a non-native speaker.
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  17. Gord Arcane

    Gord
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    :M
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  18. Brother None Prestigious Gentleman On the line for InXile

    Brother None
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    I picked up his book since it was only a dollar, and holy hell is it good. Sure he tends a bit to the flowerybut that suits the kind of old-school feel of this kind of Lovecraftian horror. I read through the entire thing in like four days, it's as impressive a debut book as I've read in quite some time. Looking forward to his novel, hope he returns to videogame writing some day.
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  19. EG Nullified

    EG
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    I suppose it's best that he pulled out, since AoD certainly wasn't soon coming back then. :lol:
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  20. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator Patron

    Jaesun
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    MCA Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera
    Every time I hear Cyclopean a part of me dies. :(
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  21. EG Nullified

    EG
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    But is it an RPG?
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