Cult of the Abyss // Christoph Kaplan
Based in Berlin, Germany
started development in Summer, 2017
Press / Business contact:
'Alice in Wonderland' meets 'Night of the Living Dead' Cult Of The Abyss is a cute-horror-survival-sandbox that lands you in a broken world ruled by a dark apocalyptic cult. A whimsical journey takes place in which you play the character of a boy called “Quest” and his best friend “Dippy” - his dog. You both need to search for loot, explore and survive while you try to find a way home. You build your own hideouts, protect and defend them to not get overrun by the eerie creatures that hunt you at nighttime.
Hi, my name is Chris! I'm a Berlin based freelance artist and solo indie developer. I worked in the Entertainment/Games Industry since around 2011 when I finally decided to take up the challenge and develop my own game.Why
I never called myself a “gamer” but computer games have definitely been a big part of my life. It all started with Dune 2 from Westwood, anything from Nintendo console to Age of Empires, Duke3D and StarCraft. I remember spending entire nights at LAN parties using null modem cable trying to make it work. Today I like to play games like Rimworld, 7 Days to Die and Hearthstone. All of these games carry a certain experimental and sandbox angle. The urge to creating is a big driver for me and has lead me to all kinds of different areas. At the age of 16 I started learning basic coding at IT school and continued to study graphic design at uni. I made electronic/hip hop music and for many years and used to be a graffiti writer as well. While working in the industry as a Concept Artist, I played around with Unity3d and understood that I could combine all these learnings to create my own game. I was hooked on the idea to make a game that I would play myself and for which I could define every aspect autonomously. I don't use any fancy tools, everything I do is made from scratch. I paint every graphic, stroke by stroke, I write the code line by line and I compose all the music note by note.What kind of Game? (Gameplay/World)
When I was little I remember wondering why nobody made a game where you could “do anything you want”. Later open-world sandbox type games appeared filling this gap. I wanted to develop something close to genres that inspired me but adding my own twist. Since I had a lot of fun with survival games I chose this game model as a base idea. When thinking of the type of game it lead me to the question about how to shape the setting of the world. Most survival games have a classical zombie setting in a contemporary world with military aspects. But I knew that my game had to be a whimsical, magical - and in parts even bizarre world - with a little bit of humor. I like dark fantastic worlds and “new weird” fiction. The Lovecraftian universe is an Influence as well and I thought that I will try to mix things up: use ideas of zombie-world and combine it with magical and dreamy aspects. An overall anachronistic composition gives me the freedom to not get stuck with rational patterns and helped me to create the world of “Cult of the Abyss”.State of Development
Currently I am working on an alpha-version. I am aiming to publish the early access release by jan 2021.
Game Mechanics V.003
- Over time every character will develop different needs. States like hunger, thirst, stress, headache, bleeding, exhaustion, the need to take a dump, intoxication and more.
- Based on these needs and the current environment, every character gets into situations like “I’m hungry”, “enemy in range”, “companion in fight” or “blocked path” and others.
- Characters are able to plan how to solve the situation and try to execute the plan made.
- You can build relationships between characters (it's pretty basic atm like i.e. taming)
- Ghouls search for totems they can pray to so they can elevate their mood
- At nighttime ghouls seek to come up from the underground to seek for food, during the day they want to go back down
- At “witching hour” ghouls sense exactly where you are and hunt you down
- There are fairies looking for friendly/neutral characters to heal them
- As a player you can get the stat “missing Dippy” which will drain your mood
- The Cult's ghouls will form hordes that get bigger over time
- If you open the gateway, the Abyss will do anything to not let you go! Companion and Character Interaction
- I'm thinking about friendly intelligent NPCs the player can interact with. There are the so called "Loomies" which are natural inhabitants of the world but were killed by the Cult. I'm planning to create Loomie survivor characters you can encounter
- I'm also still playing with the idea of having imaginary friends that appear and help you i.e. building your base or chucking trees and defending your base
- I want to work on the city and underground-dungeon generation
- I’d like to add water-life and the possibility to go fishing
- Re-enforcing the cult aspect in the world by having specific cultist's biomes and bases/dungeons would be great to add as well
- Cultists should have a bigger range of behavior i.e. form black masses or rituals
- Totems need a system. i.e. standing too long next to a totem will drain the player's mood and spawn something evil or maybe reveal your position
- Poison plants or slime growing over tiles
- Improvement of the controls
*Note: Ideas might change through developmentOpen World / Sandbox
Explore a vast, procedurally generated, endless terrain with different biomes and a spooky world underneath. Decide where to build and what to do – be creative! You can change the entire environment by dismantling, destroying, digging, building and repairing. It's all up to you!Day/Night Cycle
Pay attention to the time of day: at night the Cult’s ghouls form hordes and appear from subways and dungeons. They search for prey and pray to the totems.Underground
Find an eerie world below the magical world. Roam through dark subway stations and tunnel systems. How about building an outpost there? Find loot in the bony catacombs and explore. But beware of the creepy creatures that live here!World and Character Systems
I'm a fan of systemic design and emergent game play so would like to explore much more in this direction.
Keep an eye out for your companion. He is depending on you and you need to take care of him. At the moment the interaction with NPCs includes feeding, cuddling, you can shoo and call them. I am planning to add more Tamagotchi-like interaction especially for relationship between player and companion „Dippy“.Crafting / Produce
Harvest, chuck, pick and loot the items you need to craft things with and which are needed for your survival. Build “furniture” like workbench or fireplace to unlock more specific recipes.Base Building
Craft or find different types of blocks and objects to build a hideout for you and your companion to survive the night. Protect your base with spikes, magical plants and other tower defense mechanisms. Settle and rebuild a broken house in the city area.Loot Items
Find all kinds of items in different spots like shelves, cupboards, cars, dead bodies and more. You should also look for magic weapons and items to cast spells with.Biomes Plants Farming
Seed and harvest plants to eat and grow. Plants will grow over time at different speeds on different biomes.Tower Defence
You can build “Thaumatech"-towers to protect your base as well as spikes and traps. Thaumaturgy is the special source of magical energy in the world of Cult of the Abyss and Thaumatech is the technology that can use it. I'd like to add magical plants that help you to defend your base and protect against attacks of big hordes.Game Over
You need to find a way back home and once you do you solved the game. If your character dies you can decide if you want to re-spawn. If you do so you must find your belongings and your companion Dippy. If you are without your companion for too long your mood-level shrinks and you might fall into depression. If you or your companion die there is also a resurrection spell to call him/yourself back to life.Future Ideas
I have a ton of ideas I would like to trial and implement.
And of course there are so many more enemy characters I’d like to add, more items, more biomes and building the environment in general… endless possibilities.
Cult of the Abyss: Trailer #1 (2019) [HD] YouTube
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History of Development and Ideas
*You can also refer to these below in my history video09.09.16
I always had the idea of “boy and his imaginary companions” type of setting mixed up with a survival type of game. I thought about a dreamy world, building hideouts. So very early on, when I learned to work with Unity, I built a very rough piece but then never moved on with it. Later on, I tried a side scroller version, which was cool, but didn’t represent the visual concept I imagined. Back then I was also not ready to really commit to making a game.14.06.17
Hunter in mystical snow world - when the actual project started, I tried to create an isometric world. I wanted to understand how my idea would come across. First attempts developed further.22.08.17
scifi-survival setting, stranded on a planet (Martian-ish but with more fictional elements). I was focused on “random generation” and I thought there is nothing cooler to explore than a far away place, random gen planets with also random gen creatures.12.12.17
fantasy / scifi (star wars-ish), I liked the sci-fi setting but I was missing the “magic and wonders”. Also the connection to things in our world was missing. Of course I had stranded spaceships with stuff from our world but I felt that this wasn’t enough. So I thought I’d go down a rather “everything goes” kind of route and created a new character, that could pass through star gates and discover old ruins of an ancient world.16.01.18
Later I had doubts, thinking all this too random or to the contrary not random enough? I was torn and the idea of the “bizarrocalypse” world with really weird things came to mind. Picture a mad scientist who couldn't stand not knowing the absolute truth and during an experiment he mixed up the whole world – resulting into Bizarrocalypse.Mid 2018
I was intrigued by contemporary/urban fantasy with great backstories. Ideas about the world changing into a magical world by reactivating an ancient aether that was banned centuries ago. Through the return of magic into our world, totalitarian ideologies emerged and wars began. Mankind was not ready to deal with the power of magic in a responsible way. Bloodshed and carnage became reality once again in human history… all this sounded way too serious for what I wanted to do, too realistic. Still “Cult of the Abyss” was born here.Now
Now “Alice in Wonderland” meets “Night of the living Dead”. This is finally the idea I wanted to keep as a draw in.With this concoction, I believe I can achieve the coolest fairytale/magical feeling with bits of humor and bizarre mix-ups including the dark survival-horror/zombie aspects.
Christoph Kaplan Art Portfolio
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Team & Repeating Collaborator
wearing all hats ;)