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'Cultist Simulator': Designing an Experimental Game for Commercial Success

Alexis Kennedy (Creative Director, Weather Factory)

Location: Room 2016, West Hall

Date: Friday, March 22

Time: 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Conference - Get your pass now!

Topic: Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

'Cultist Simulator' was an experimental project which used consciously unusual design decisions to create an unconventional and even divisive game. It hit #1 on Steam and sold more than 50K copies in the first month - a lot of that was luck, a lot of it was marketing, but some of it was also the result of conscious design decisions. Furthermore, 'Cultist Simulator' was a relatively low-budget game with its total production costs being less than $200K USD, and total production time was less than a year. This imposed specific challenges and constrained the design in fundamental ways. This talk will discuss the challenges and the advantages of the decisions the Weather Factory team made, how they steered a straight course, and what they'd do differently next time.

Takeaway

Attendees will hear how Weather Factory balanced the constraints of vision and commerce on a very restricted budget, with particular reference to the crossover of system and narrative design.