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Cvltivation is a first person experience in which you take on the role an entity formed by a mysterious cult. After escaping captivity, you will learn of their ways through observations and sacred texts, feed off their ranks, and find your own way through a dark citadel surrounded by frozen wasteland.

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Hello, and thank you for taking an interest in Cvltivation!

The hardest part of any large task is figuring out where to start. Personally, I am very bad about planning ahead. Motivation seems to come in waves, and as such my first impulse is to throw myself head-first into any particular pursuit that piques my interest. My intuitive way of working is best described as stream-of-conscious.

This does not work for game development.

The negative outcomes of poor planning in this area are manifold: overwhelmingly cluttered assets, inefficient, unstructured, unapproachable code, chaotic mesh geometry, etc. The amount of projects I've scrapped since the day I picked up GameMaker7 (shutout to 2-D Cube, Cactus, Sakis25, and all the other giants of yoyogames from when it still had games) must be close to a hundred. All because it reaches a point where I open up the project, start to chip away at it, and then realize it has become a case study in entropy. Into the trash it goes. This project alone I have six separate project files for various experiments, and I scrapped several months of work for a complete redesign (this began as a sidescrolling multiplayer brawler, I realized the supporting mechanic was far more compelling than the rest of the game).

This time has to be different. I've wanted to be an indie developer my entire life, been working on various learning projects since I was like 10, making point and click games using powerpoint hyperlinks. I'm 22 now, I dropped out of College for this dream, and I'm feeling like it's now or never.

I learned a lot of lessons from studying meditation and various spiritualities. One thing that comes up a lot is that the root of making anything a reality is a statement of intention. My personal view is that the value of an intention is that it creates a sort of directive for your subconscious to follow, allowing you to delegate an idea and allow it to process in the background, then you need only clear your mind and permit the ideas to flow into you. Some call it channeling or manifesting. I won't say they're wrong, because, in the words of David Lamb: "any truth we can conceive is just the surface of its source."

Whatever the origins of originality are, this character began as an interest: a long-abiding fascination with player immersion and AI behavior. The intention: create a world that would exist without the player in it. The result: I spent a great deal of time visualizing, sketching, and writing about the behavior of the cult and the place they inhabit, and determined that the game should operate as a sort of virtual "anthill" into which the player is introduced as a disruptive force. I will write another post going into detail on the AI once it is complete enough for demonstration, for now all that is relevant is that there are several differentiated roles within the cult, all of which are relevant to their (secret) ultimate goal. Their means of achieving this obfuscated objective: to gather corpses and materials from the wasteland surrounding their citadel, and perpetuate their cult by stitching together new members.

The character I'm currently working on has the duty of journeying out into the icy hell and recovering resources. Being born in Alaska, I know a few things about staying warm, and the character's snow shoes are derived from those of the Eskimos. I don't know where the idea of inserting a furnace into the character came from, but I instantly adored it, and it was in line with the other character I had developed- a fellow wearing a Thimble, with a massive needle and industrial-size spool strapped to his back. I began sketching:


(There are a few affirmations in there as well) I took further inspiration from arctic explorers, in particular this image, but I found the big fuzzy hoods somewhat derivative, so I kept the bandages and ditched the rest. I wanted to make sure the character was covered head to toe, as frostbite will devour exposed skin in sub-zero temperatures, so I looked to the animals of the far north, with their heavy furs and general bulkiness. Eventually I ended up with the final result:


From here, I probably should have done a few more detailed sketches, but I was eager to get animating, as I have just discovered the potential of avatar layer masks in Unity. So I booted up blender and blocked out the general geometry in a couple hours, added some bones, and ended up with what I'll call the "action figure" stage of development:


It's not quite accurate to the sketch, but it's serviceable. I'll upload a video of the final character sculpt when I get to it. From here it is loaded into unity to make sure there aren't any issues importing.


looks like he's settled in nicely with his predecessor. Now to animate! I have become quite fond of animation since I picked it up, but I've always hated the bit where you have to go through and add every part of the skeleton to the animator. For those of you who, like me, suffer from this tyranny, I found a quick fix:


And that's all I'm willing to write today, as I have a monstrous headache. Tune in ̶t̶o̶m̶o̶r̶r̶o̶w̶ "soon", when I'll demonstrate the process of animating a character!

-Brandon English

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