The Game

So what are we making? Well, its a card game about rising to power. And you do this by founding a cult, gaining influence, and attracting followers. I confess we haven’t settled on a name yet. We have ideas floating around, but for the time being, let’s give it the code name “Cult Leader”. I had been toying with the idea of calling it “The Good News”, but aside from it being unwieldy it has another major flaw.

It’s too focused on religious cults. While our game does lean toward cults of a religious nature. I don’t really think a deity is required. There are plenty interesting ideas for cults to form around, such as UFOs, cryptozoology, Nostradamus, ancient cultures, and conspiracy theories. Cults are really just like any other tribe. There are leaders, followers, and a shared idea. The only thing that separates a cult from a tribe is reality.

The tendency of people to come together and become champions of a belief is something I find fascinating. Now there are many versions of this that are completely benign and even helpful. However, our game focuses on the more harmful variety.

In the game you take on the role of a sinister cult leader. Your main goal is to have the most Power when the game ends. Spending Influence allows you to acquire Shrines and Relics, attract Followers, and execute Ideas. Doing so will give you Power, abilities, Influence, and other benefits. Your opponents will be doing the same and you can spend your Influence on actions that weaken their cult.

So that’s the basic idea of what we’re building. I’ll be digging into the various mechanics in more detail in posts to come. For now, I’d like to talk about two of our design considerations.

First and foremost, we wanted this game to be firmly based in reality. This one has been tough. It is far easier to dream up card ideas than it is to come up with a realistic justification for them. It is important to us that we adhere to this rule, because we want our game to be about a realistic phenomenon. It wont due for us to lazily insert supernatural powers. If we did, our theme would suffer.

Second, we wanted to make this a pure card game. There are a lot of benefits to doing this. It makes the game more portable. The time it takes to set up the game is reduced. It gives us more publishing options. And most importantly, it makes the game cheaper to produce. If we keep the price low the purchase becomes less risky for the consumer, which make them more likely to pick it up.

We want you to play our game. I think we have something interesting and fun, and it keeps getting better.

Welcome to CRAM Games

It has been about a year and a half since Cindy and I first got it in our heads to make a game. We had just finished listening to a talk by Sarah Mayhew in July of 2011. Sarah talked about how she was using her passion for manga and fantasy to have a positive impact on the world. Cindy and I talked afterwards about what skills we had, and what we could do with them.

This thought festered in me for a long time after the conference. I started working on a variety of board and card games. Cindy and I would occasionally chat about some of the ideas. But on November 21, 2011 we had the idea that would go on to become our Cult Leader game.

Truth be told, it was Cindy’s idea. I know because I just reviewed the Gtalk conversation that we had the good sense to save. Both of us were interested in cults from an academic perspective, and I had been working on a game where you combat the spread of infectious and dangerous ideas. However, none of these games were really capturing the core idea that we wanted to get across. Cindy had the bright idea to flip the whole thing on its head and have the player take on the role of the cult leader. In this way we would be delivering our idea through role play, rather than a more ham-handed good vs. evil approach.

That was when development of our game began in earnest. It’s been a long road since then and the game has changed quite a bit. We also added Jesus to our team a few months ago to help us with the theme. We’ve learned a whole lot during this process, and I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more as we progress to the completion of this game and future games to come.

In light of that, I thought it would be fun to catalog our journey. The plan is for all of us at CRAM Games to occasionally come on here and talk about our progress, both on the game and within our skill sets. Our wish is that our readers glean some small amount of inspiration and wisdom from our efforts.

Thanks for taking an interest in us, we hope you like watching our project grow.