Cirque - Game Design

Game Design

Tarl Telford

Working Title: Cirque du Nocte: Circus of the Night

Background Concept: There is a world hidden by the veil of dream that most people cannot see. The only dreamers that come to this world are those full of wonder and imagination – those who want to come here. The world is full of mystery and adventure, magic and danger.

The beings here are dreamers from around the universe. This is a common dreamland to them all. Some say this is the central dreamlands for this universe. Each dreamer carries with them their innermost traits and beliefs. Indeed, in the world of dream, one cannot help but be completely honest. People are who and what they appear to be. There is no deception here.

The world is governed by magistrates on several levels. These magistrates have the power to bestow wondrous gifts on those individuals or groups that please them. They are protected by levels of bureaucracy in their palaces high above the towns. They are unreachable by the vast majority of average people.

Like everyone else in this world, magistrates like to be entertained. It takes courage, skill, and unconquerable will to reach these individual magistrates. One must go through the necessary trials to be granted an audience.

The world is vast, encompassing many populated regions. The locales are widely separated, reachable only by caravan or powerful transports. However, the only way to ascend to various levels is through magical gates. These can only be opened with the key given by the magistrate of that level.

The various regions of this world are: desert, mountain, tropical island, cloud, undersea, underground volcano, and stars. Each has their own challenges and dangers, and each has their own magical wonders. There are races native to each region that can help or hinder your quest.

There is good and evil in this world. There are creation-minded lightsiders and depraved darksiders. Each has their own merits and their own strengths. Many have banded together in various factions to accomplish their goals and dreams.

The villains of Cirque du Nocte are those dark minds that delight in chaos and depravity. Theirs is an audience which howls for carnage and freakish showcases.

The heroes are those who entertain and inspire. They are part of traveling circuses whose job it is to bring wonder and amazement to the powerful dreamers of the universe. These have gathered from across the cosmos to unite in a coalition that will bring about Synchronicity – the ultimate performance.

Idea Origins: Cirque du Soliel meets The Sims meets Myst.

Other sources for information:


· HP Lovecraft

· Harry Potter

· C.S. Lewis (especially the Chronicles of Narnia)

· “Support Your Local Wizard” by ???

· Redwall Series

· Whitley Streiber books (Communion, Transformation, Breakthrough, The Secret School, etc.)

· Fairy Tales, Mythology

· Neil Gaiman (Sandman)


· The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

· Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

· Spirited Away

· Princess Mononoke

· The Dark Crystal

· Labyrinth

· Mirrormask


· X-Files

· Xena: Warrior Princess

· Farscape


· Planescape

Genre: Steampunk Fantasy / Adventure Multi-Player Role-Playing Game

Concepts the Designers will want to research:

Dreams, Astral Projection, Alien Worlds, Aboriginal Mythology, Steampunk, Steam Technology, Steam Engines, Victorian Era, Baroque Art, Gothic Architecture, Gothic Art, Art Deco, Art Noveau, Pre-Raphaelites,

· Baroque Art: Baroque art was meant to evoke emotion and passion instead of the calm rationality that had been prized during the Renaissance.

· Baroque art is characterized by great drama, rich deep color, and intense light and dark shadows. As opposed to Renaissance art, which usually showed the moment before an event took place, Baroque artists chose the most dramatic point, the moment when the action was occurring

· Gothic art told a narrative story through pictures, both Christian and secular.

· Gothic sculpture evolved from the early stiff and elongated style, still partly Romanesque, into a spatial and naturalistic feel in the late 12th and early 13th century. Influences from surviving ancient Greek and Roman sculptures were incorporated into the treatment of drapery, facial expression and pose.

Designers must decide and answer the following:

Do you like the working title, or do you want to change it?

How “Dark” is the game? What is the game rating? Does the game have silly parts to it?

What sort of music will accompany the game? Metal? Goth? Instrumental Styled? A combination? Other ideas? Create a musical reference library.

What sorts of monsters will the players face as foes?

What sorts of NPC’s will the players face as foes / competition?

What character classes can you play in the game? Which classes provide which skills?

Level advancement? How many levels? Advance along 1,2,3 … or novice, juggler, wrangler, etc. (level-based vs. skill-based)

Is it possible to play different races?

Designers must create the following conceptual art images:

  1. 7 character classes, each in 4 poses (front, profile, back, and 1 action)
  1. Create a list of skills and abilities that each class has.

  1. 1 frontal drawing, in color, of a typical member of each of 10 non-human species in this dreamland. (suggestions: Avian, Saurian, Teuthite, Amphiboans …)

  1. Create symbols for the three primary charters: Cirque du Nocte (circus of the night), Cirque del Fuego (circus of the fire), Cirque Algol (circus of the ghoul)

  1. 5 monsters / foes, each in two action poses. Each foe must be unique and different. These foes are not player character races and can be fought / encountered by anyone. Monsters / foes must be in color.

  1. Create weapons / tools:

  1. A world map showing the regions and the major landmarks and cities in each area.

Designers must also write down and submit a present an overview of the game (what the game is about, its history, background information, etc.) A list of 20 skills, and what each skill represents, available in the game.

Create a description of each of the 7 character class and what they possess, and what abilities they can perform.

Create a description of each of the 10 races, complete with skills and abilities, tools / weapons available to each, and the appearance native to each.

Describe a typical quest performed by a lone character.

Describe a typical quest performed by a group of the same charter.

What music should accompany the game?

What would be the key feature that you would like to focus on to make this a “must have” game?


Work with what you know. Translate the topic directly into a current game and break it down.

Work smaller to bigger.

Don’t fall in love (or commit) to the first idea.

Remember the theme: Steampunk Fantasy Quest.

Designers must create the following conceptual art images:

Keep a strict Victorian / Steampunk / Dreamlike flavor to the game.