Susurrus: Season of Tides is a massively multiplayer work of interactive fiction set in an urban fantasy environment. A player selects one of three starting species (mage, werewolf, or vampire), and later selects one of ten factions, each of which specializes in two out of five spheres of influence around the city (magic, government, criminal, corporate, or intelligence). Individually, a player will be able to level up stats, acquire equipment, and meet new party companions with rich plotlines and possibilities for romance. In teams, players will compete in the spheres of influence to affect the state of the city, which changes according to which influences are ascendant. Depending on the city’s state and your faction’s spheres of influence, the available playable content will change. Further, we intend to introduce plot arcs, which will unfold over the course of a season (~one year). The outcome of those plotlines will depend on the actions of the players.
Inspirations for the setting include The Secret World (for the “everything is true” conspiracy aspect, with a dash of horror) and the Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher (for the mages/vampires/werewolves style of urban fantasy).
As for the whole concept, some of the inspiration came while playing a game of Arkham Horror (a story-driven board game). In that game, the players encounter and deal with small vignettes, but there aren’t any story consequences or development as a result. For example, the player could encounter a cursed mirror and resolve the encounter by smashing the mirror, which results in releasing a demon into the world. However, that demon has no consequences and is never heard from again. We wanted a world with consequences -- where that demon would haunt the player as a result of their choices.
Tory Root – Lead Writer
Andrew Menard – Lead Engineer
Edwin Karat – Lead Designer
Duncan Eagleson – Art Director
Rickland Powell – CEO
Kamela Dolinova - Communications Manager
Caelyn Sandel- Writer
Pat Bobell -QA Lead
Phoebe Roberts - Writer
Meg Eckles - Editor
George Li - Front-End Developer
Susurrus: Season of Tides began with a desire to create a video game that incorporated the aspects of LARPs that have been so far largely absent from the video game space. While video games that focus on story and character development are on the rise, there are still few that do it as deeply as LARPs can. Part of this is due to the (perceived) limitations of the form. But there is also a strong inertial pull in the video game market, which rewards games that prioritize violent action, hyper-realistic graphics, and familiar narrative tropes.
Our goal is a video game where the player can create a character with multiple axes of possible development: the three starting classes are further complicated by ten different faction choices, and there are multiple possibilities for cultivating relationships with a wide variety of NPCs. We want a game where players must collaborate, as they would in a LARP, to solve conflicts in a variety of ways aside from violence. We also are striving for a game world where story is paramount, but is not on rails: while it looks like a visual novel, what the player does will affect how the story unfolds - not just for them, but for other players as well.
It is also important to us to build a world that reflects and amplifies the diversity of our modern world. We want players to be able to see themselves in our game, as well as see people entirely unlike them. At the same time, the complex hierarchies of the world of Susurrus also reflect the unfortunate realities of our world: the higher up in the power structure you go, the more white men you see. But in the course of a normal game session, players will encounter people of widely varying races, ethnic backgrounds, gender presentations, abilities, and ages.