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TC: That Which Sleeps Kickstarter interview

TC: That Which Sleeps Kickstarter interview

Interview - posted by Whisky on Sat 4 October 2014, 18:52:32

Tags: King Dinosaur Games; Tacticular Cancer Interview; That Which Sleeps


The Kickstarter for That Which Sleeps has been active for two weeks now and they've managed to gain quite a bit of exposure for their Lovecraftian god game including on our own forum. We decided to ask King Dinosaur Games a few questions about their game and the Kickstarter.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. For our readers who aren't familiar with That Which Sleeps, could you please tell us a little about it?

That Which Sleeps is a turn based strategy game where the player takes on the role of an immensely powerful evil figure from the world's past who has been sealed away for so long that your name has been forgotten. You begin the game in a weakened state, vulnerable to the heroes and nations of the world who would crush you if they suspected your return. This leads you to recruiting a variety of unique Agents who you send throughout the world, gathering unwitting allies while also sowing chaos to prepare the way for your return. As this shadow war unfolds you will also find yourself making use of conventional warfare with a robust military system that may see you waging bloody wars of attrition or leveraging elite units to cut enemy armies out of supply.

The most interesting part of the game is the living world itself. The nations, leaders, and heroes of the world pursue their own particular agendas, often to your benefit. Expect kingdoms to feud with their neighbors, orc tribes to raid fertile lands, and foreign powers to launch devastating wars of conquest - all without your interference. Of course, many of the heroes of the world will seek to end the threat of hostile creatures and bring peace to warring nations. Distracting, defeating, or corrupting them will make your job much easier. Don't take too strong a stance however, each challenge you undertake will leave clues that heroes can investigate to lead them to the truth of your return.

Aside from the obvious Lovecraftian horror themes, what would you say is your biggest influence on That Which Sleeps?

We have a variety of influences, That Which Sleeps will be very reminiscent of the Europa series or Crusader Kings to someone that has poured a ton of hours into them. I'd like to think our events system takes some of the best parts from oldies like King of Dragon Pass, or even (really old one here) Castles 2 Siege and Conquest, and layers in some really dynamic and memorable events to add a more direct roleplaying element to the game.

Our mechanics are also inspired by board gaming, especially modern strategy and war games. Thematically we've taken more inspiration from Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time and leaned towards High Fantasy instead of Lovecraft, despite the abundance of tentacles you'll find scattered throughout the game. Since our game is such a unique take on villainy we managed to dip our hands into a lot of sources for inspiration without watering down the content.


Could you tell us about the multiple paths to victory? How will these be balanced
and made equally viable?

There's no escaping your nature - we won't be having a cultural victory where you hold hands with your neighbors and rejoice in mutual understanding. Victory requires the brutal, unyielding subjugation of the world, however your path to that end can take many different turns. Each demon plays differently, has different strengths and weaknesses, and unique powers that alter the way the game is played. Play as the Fallen Orc Spirit of War and your world will be filled with burning villages, fleeing refugees, and the desperate formation of alliances by the nations of the world. Choose the more devious Belial and turns friends into enemies, drive kings to madness, and spread your influence beneath a crumbling world order.

The game also features a narrative pull towards a final conflict to decide the fate of the world, how well you plan your strategy will decide if that crisis involves the world uniting together in a vast crusade to seal you away or a last futile whimper of the huddling masses as you rise triumphant. We create this through the use of prophecy that leads to a Chosen One who is foretold to defeat you, taking the form of a particularly powerful hero. Depending on his class, he may seek to unite the nations against you or even find other powerful allies and try to sneak into your base and send you back to slumber.

It's mentioned on the Kickstarter page that the first thing you do is customize your slumbering abomination such as its origins. How many options will there be for the players to choose from? Got any interesting ones you can tell us about?

The choices during Scenario Generation are actually specific to the Scenario, allowing the designer to alter the world and the player's experience based on thematic decisions. In the Scenarios we have made you generally encounter between 5 - 7 questions with 4 answers each. The effects of which can range from changing the layout of the map to altering the nations and cultures of the world or even changing the Agents you can recruit.

There are so many that we love, one of the ones that is deceptively simple sounding actually creates my favorite potential repercussion. One of the first choices you encounter in the North Burns is "Who sealed you away?" and you can choose from a solitary hero, another Old One, an alliance of forces, or the Elder Races.

Choosing the Elder Races thematically establishes that the Elves and Dwarves took over as the new rulers, which creates lasting enmity between the races when the game starts but also grants the Elder Races powerful bonuses reflecting their Golden Age. Out of this a possible event chain emerges beginning with "The Elven Ascension" where they can be gently pushed into believing the world should again fall under their domain - and if you give them some justification they can launch "The Elven Crusades." This can go off in so many directions, leading to a scenario where the elves enslave the human kingdoms to a feint where you lure out their armies and then burn their homeland to the ground. I never get tired of watching the Elves go full on berserker.

We're glad to hear that there have already been hundreds of events created for the game. Is there any one in particular you think is the most memorable?

Two kinds of events are memorable, and for entirely different reasons. The first category are the mundane events that aren't particularly interesting themselves but how you can interact with them brings it to a whole new level. Every time I see heroes getting married I compulsively send an agent to ruin it, either with something subtle like bad weather or to storming it with minions to try and capture one member of the lucky couple. Probably a terrible strategic choice on my part, but it's simply too much fun to pass up.

On the other other hand you have the more dramatic events, such as after excavating a ruin that dates back to your Age you find a sealed tomb. Deciphering the runes will take time, or you can simply pop it open and see what comes out. Sure, it may be a demon driven mad by its imprisonment that leaves your Agent horribly wounded, but it will then fly loose into the world - and if there's anything you enjoy as an Old One bent on sowing discord it's random demons wandering around doing their thing.


The idea of you playing as a god that interacts with the world indirectly through Agents is interesting. How many Agents will you be able to control at once and how many planned Agents will there be in the final game?

This depends on the Old One, you will see on selection a value indicating the Agents you can control when the game begins. This number increases as you wake, maxing out between 7 and 10 at this time. These numbers are constantly in flux, as the number of agents you control is the single most important point of balance.

We have 16 Agents for the initial release ranging from simple corrupted humans from the dregs of society to otherworldly abominations. In addition to those 16 Agents you can also corrupt heroes and bring them to your cause. Doing this leaves them in a "passive" state where they act as sleeper agents, informing you of other heroes activities and lowering their success rates. You can activate him or her as a Corrupted Hero and use him as an Agent, which counts against your limit.

What kind of interactions will there be between rival Old Ones? Is there a possibility of an Unholy Alliance?

1) True Old Ones - these relative peers of yours will compete with you for Agents and Influence in the world. Each will have their own agenda, which may correlate roughly to your own or express their bizarre otherworldly nature. These Old Ones will be investigated much like heroes, and may themselves be confronted by The Chosen One and the Alliance. Perhaps his overwhelming threat will draw you in as a temporary ally of humanity, or you could side with the Old One and bring down the Alliance, before the inevitable betrayal of course.

2) Lesser Evils - relics from your time that are loosed again in the world. These take on the role of independent Agents - sometimes working for you, sometimes working against you, and absolutely never to be trusted. They have personality traits and agendas like heroes, but their goals are much more nefarious. You may encounter a Lesser Evil intent on driving a wedge between the Old Ones, or another that wants to usurp your power and become an Old One itself.

3) Those That Remained - these are powerful beings who have reigned immortal since you were sealed away. Scenarios will need to be specifically designed with these new government and leader types in order for them to appear, greatly shifting the balance of power on the map. Those That Remained function differently in regards to clues and awareness than other leaders, possibly hiding clues as they emerge in order to make best use of the knowledge of your return. Each was once loyal to a different Old One. Those loyalties may remain strong or their resolve may have softened with untold centuries of ruling as absolute kings.

8. When people think of Lovecraftian horrors, generally they assume a near-modern day setting. We're interested to know why you decided to do a medieval spin on it.

The Lovecraft mythos has some of the coolest and most insidious demons and rituals and just an evil "feel" involved with it, so you'll be able to see the inspiration there, but we wanted the world itself to feel more traditional fantasy. Our primary influence for mechanics was not Cthulhu, even if he has the theme of the game gripped firmly in his tentacles, but the more traditional manipulators of fantasy literature like Sauron or The Dark One from the Wheel of Time series.

9. How has your experience with Kickstarter been?

Kickstarter in general has been super positive for us, though its been pretty much a full time job since we launched our campaign. We were a bit too optimistic entering into the KS campaign, thinking we could still handle development tasks while also marketing and responding to the community. This has absolutely not been the case - Kickstarter is your life for the month it is running.

I think crowdsourcing in general is great for indie developers but I think it comes with a large amount of responsibility too.

We made sure we had some very clearly defined goals and intention for the money we were trying to raise. We asked for a relatively modest amount, and we've been as transparent and responsive as possible to our backers and potential backers.

We'd like to thank King Dinosaur Games once again for taking the time to answer our questions. They have already reached their initial goal for the Kickstarter, but they've got stretchgoals, the most interesting of which is a procedurally generated scenario. You can check out their Kickstarter here.

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