The Lovecraft approach

You might wonder what makes Moons of Madness an actual Lovecraft game. Do we have the right to call it inspired by Lovecraft? By writing a bit about our ideas in regards to this topic, we hope you can be the judge of that:

We’ve been doing quite a bit of research on what makes something Lovecraft and popular themes in his short stories.

First of all, we believe that besides human cultists, it shouldn’t be possible to go up against the higher entities in the Lovecraft universe. They are just way too powerful and that is a theme that we are staying true to. Moons is not Bloodborne or Quake, you wont be fighting hordes of Lovecraftian Monsters. Mostly because to a Lovecraftian Deity, humans are not worth any concern. They are, in most cases, just way too powerful to even acknowledge the existence of something that they mostly perceive as bugs at best. We also feel that IF you are up against a creature it shouldn’t just be Lovecraft by design/creepy art but by its nature and history/story.

Additionally, we are against fighting monsters in the Lovecraft Context. For one, as soon as you manifest something it immediately turns into an object you can challenge. That feeling of being able to go up against an opponent, even if it’s very powerful, empowers the player and takes away from the fear. The feeling (or knowledge) that there might be SOMETHING lurking in the shadows that wants to do you harm is much more powerful than actually seeing your opponent. As soon as we decide to show you a manifestation, lets say, for example, a clown, some people will immediately lose that feeling of dread because they think that clowns are not scary at all (while others might be even more terrified and already way on their way running for the hills). As long as you hold out on showing what it is that is really lurking, everyone can create their own worst fears in their mind. In some cases, that might not even be something that you can fight, ever. Fear of losing your mind, fear of losing a loved one or fear of not having control over your life any more are very strong motivators to be scared. After all, it was Lovecraft who said:

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. - H.P. Lovecraft

That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t see or go up against things. Don’t be too relaxed or relieved about this. It’s not that we won’t show you things or create danger but you’ll be left wondering if there is an even bigger power at work.

Cults are another very strong theme in Lovecraft Lore. Considering the setting and time Moons is set in, this presents quite a bit of a challenge for us. While it’s not one of our main themes or even a very important part of the story, there are influences that will be noticeable.

Sanity and Mental healthon the other side, is a very important aspect in any Lovecraft story. Creating safety nets but also taking them away is going to challenge the main character’s AND the players believe of being able to trust what they see. The struggle with the Mental state and what it means to have it deteriorate, is a very important part of the story telling as well as the mechanics in Moons. The further down you follow the path the heavier you will feel your mental state being influenced. This is however not only a tool for mechanics for us, it’s also directly linked to the story. If you haven’t read our approach to Mental Illness in Moons, check out our blog post we made on that subject here.

On the other hand, not being 100% sane could also be a coping mechanism, right? After all, there might just be things in Moons of Madness that are better not seen or believed..

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. - H.P. Lovecraft

So, this is us, telling our own story. Hopefully we achieve this well by using Lovecraft aspects outside the norm of overusing “disgustingly-amazing-looking-tentacle-monster xy” but still staying true to the essence of the Universe he has built. After all, there is still the story itself that is very much Lovecraft, kinda, maybe..

So, what do you think. Are we on the right way? Feel free to leave comments or feedback. We appreciate it 🙂


7 Replies to "The Lovecraft approach"

  • comment-avatar
    Darth Biomech
    February 18, 2017 (2:26 pm)

    I hope that you won’t end game with some stand-off with the giant final boss or something. Lovecraft is also very much about futility and insignificance of humankind on the universal scale – you can try to fight, but don’t even for a second think that Powers That Be would be even aware of your struggle against them while you are being crushed.

    On the other hand, doing a cathartic, rewarding and satisfying end of story while avoiding typical finale cliches can be very challenging. No indie games trying to avoid them, that I played so far, were able to provide a solid ending, even if all the rest was very good. Most often such ending invoked a response “Wait, what? THAT’S ALL?!”

    • comment-avatar
      February 20, 2017 (10:29 am)

      We very much agree with you an all your points 🙂 We will certainly try our best but it’s probably easier said than done.

    • comment-avatar
      April 18, 2017 (12:53 pm)

      I kinda disagree with the satisfying ending, to a degree.
      Sometimes to really drum in the true fear of Cosmic Horror all your efforts must be futile.

      Lovecraft shows this time and time again, very few of his stories end on a victory.
      It’s a difficult tight rope to balence on but done right it can have a long lasting effect on your audience.
      I imagine you’re quite a way with the development as is, so I doubt I could have much sway.
      But the true Lovecraftian ending is the one which highlights just how fragile humanity is.
      This may mean losing everything you’ve grown attatched to, everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
      All snuffed out without effort by a force of unfathomable potential.
      Either way, I’m excited to see what you guys come up with.

      • comment-avatar
        April 19, 2017 (10:04 am)

        That’s spot on, though and we agree 🙂

  • Our Week at Gamescom 2017 - Rock Pocket GamesRock Pocket Games
    September 15, 2017 (10:16 am)

    […] most important takeaway from Gamescom for us was also the Lovecraft and atmosphere feedback. That is something that we really want to get right. Lovecraft has always […]

  • comment-avatar
    Reza F
    January 3, 2018 (4:13 pm)

    Humm.. so the game’s setting is Mars..
    What are the moons of Mars, again? Phobos and Deimos. Horror/panic/fear and terror/dread.
    Guess in this game those moons were actually sentient cosmic gods?
    (Please don’t answer it yet. I want to wait the finished product to answer it.)
    So my original intent in the past to use those moons as bombs for alien invaders are correct, after all 😄.

    By the way, I really love sci-fi. I really love Lovecraftian horror. So, it’s natural that I expect that this game should satisfy me.
    Good luck, folks. 🤗

    • comment-avatar
      April 20, 2018 (8:57 am)

      I wont spoil anything, but there are some twists 😉

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