This '80s Indie RPG Believes Every Conspiracy Is True

Epiphany Games CEO Morgan Lean reveals Majestic Nights' influences, and his belief in the truth behind conspiracy theories.

Epiphany Games recently announced episodic role-playing game Majestic Nights, which draws it's subject matter from the conspiracy theories of the 1980's and treats them as reality. In it, players step into the role of male intelligence operative Cardholder and female private investigator Cal. The characters work to uncover clues surrounding various conspiracy theories and reveal the truth behind them. Epiphany Games CEO Morgan Lean shared five intriguing reasons to explore the game.

Travel Back To The Neon Glow Of The '80s

Despite being set in an alternate version of the '80s, Lean stated that knowledge of the era is not necessary to understand it, although familiarity with the subject matter would be beneficial.

"You don't need to know the '80s to get it, but it's definitely an advantage to know some of the pop culture of the era. We wanted to be able to contrast the bright, colorful and lively '80s with some of the darkest cover-ups and conspiracies of the last 50 years - there really was no other decade that could do it!" he said.

It's Like A Mash-Up Of The X-Files, Airwolf, And Indiana Jones

"The X-Files definitely was a huge influence along with Knight Rider, Airwolf, Miami Vice and Dark Skies. For movies we had Indiana Jones, Big Trouble in Little China and Back to the Future." Lean said.

Real-life conspiracy theories also had a significant influence on the game, with Lean citing inspirations from the moon landing hoax and Project MKUltra, a secret US government program investigating the possibilities of mind control, which launched in the 1950s. The project was eventually brought to light in the 1970s.

"I was investigating conspiracies and afterwards, I worked out that some were true, and I wondered 'How could we make a game that shows people the reality?'" he said.

It Could Come To Consoles

Epiphany Games is familiar with developing for the PC, Mac, and mobile platforms, with real-time strategy game Frozen Hearth having launched for PC in September last year. With a background in developing games for such platforms, releasing Majestic Nights for these made "the most sense."

Lean did not entirely rule out the possibility of a console launch though, having said that the developer "absolutely [wanted] Majestic Nights on consoles, and plan to do that as soon as we can. For launch, though, we're going with what we know and are good at."

Play As Both Male And Female Protagonists

When asked whether the decision to include both sexes stemmed from the recent Ubisoft controversy, Lean said the playable protagonists were "just the characters we wrote... as a small indie studio we have the creative freedom and flexibility to be able to make the characters we want to make,"

Speaking specifically about Ubisoft's recent comments about creating female characters in its games, Lean said, "people like to latch on to conflict… we wrote the character almost a year ago now, so none of the controversy from Ubisoft or anyone else really factored into the decision. Their all-male cast is their decision - doesn't matter to us. There is definitely an under-representation of women in games - that's totally true. I suppose because we have no publisher, we can just do what we like."

Its Episodes Could Be Standalone Stories

Speaking on the choice of releasing the game in episodes, Lean said the studio "wanted to be able to create sets of stories in advance that were quite diverse, and to be able to have a natural way to switch between players."

According to him, the desire to have multiple writers also suited the chosen format. "Each chapter will really feel different, and in the same way comic books can go in different directions based on which author is penning them. [Majestic Nights] has that same flexibility."

To take on the task of creating episodic content, Epiphany Games has two content teams who "leapfrog" the chapters to work on the game. According to Lean, Majestic Nights is targeted at gamers who sport a love of stories and the role-playing genre. If the idea of investigating conspiracy theories sounds appealing, the prologue for Majestic Nights is scheduled to launch in September this year as a free download. A total of six episodes are planned, with one released each subsequent month. The game will launch for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android tablets.

Zorine Te is an associate editor at GameSpot, and you can follow her on Twitter @ztharli
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Zorine “harli” Te is a long time Australian competitive gamer and also an Associate Editor at GameSpot.

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Discussion

45 comments
ekhtsasy
ekhtsasy
Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Ah... I noticed that the first episode of the game would be free.

It would have been deliciously ironic if the game actually comes with a price tag, e.g. it would be exploiting conspiracy theorist sentiments for moolah.

I do wonder if the later episodes would be free though - if they aren't, those tin-foil hats who would buy licenses for the game deserve to be called "sheep" too.

Zloth2
Zloth2

Yeah, this is what Secret World said, too.  Then they gave us something more Lovecraft'ish instead.  Still quite a good game but honestly I'm skeptical that anyone has the guts to make a conspiracy theory game along the lines of the Illuminati books.  Especially on a game targeting mobiles where players typically only play for a few minutes at a time.

It would be great if I turn out to be wrong but...

DrKill09
DrKill09

Certainly a breath of fresh air.

pork7
pork7

I almost forgot....I hope they do an episode about Sandy Hoax!

All those ''dead'' children were on National TV months later singing in front of the Superbowl audience. Watch the video proof on Youtube and see hi-def video proof for yourself.

pork7
pork7

Sheeple HATE intelligent people who don't do whatever their TV tells them to do.

Unfortunately, dumb people outnumber smart people 10 to 1. The endless herds of sheeple are winning.

Get your rear over to infowars(dot)com

smooth77
smooth77

f*** yeah finally a video game Alex Jones can play if you don't believe in some conspiracies then you are a sheeple.  I guarantee no one making these tin foil hat comments has ever actually read "none dare call it a conspiracy"  but the fact of the matter is many conspiracies from the 60's and 70's have been declassified and proven to be true.  it was recently declassified that the gulf of Tonkin incident was a false flag and was completely made up for those who don't know that was our number one justification for the war in Vietnam I challenge anyone who wants to make stupid tin foil hat comments to watch muammar gaddafi exposes the nwo on youtube it's about an hour long and it shows the true intentions and lies of the u.s. government.  but I warn you once you take the red pill there is no telling how far down the rabbit hole you will go the more you uncover the worse it gets.

oflow
oflow

lol I came for the tinfoil hats comments.  I wasnt disappointed.

JustWingin_IT
JustWingin_IT

This is an excellent subject for the basis of a game. Conspiracies have played their part in the human struggle for far too long and the facts are so evident at this time in history that theory no longer exists in most of them. I see that even the Bohemian Grove is going to get some attention according to that trailer. Fantastic, I'll buy this simply to support this kind of attention to the realities of the subject even if the game isn't good as long as the game isn't making light of the truth or being misleading...

homey_d_clown
homey_d_clown

I'm intrigued, but the episodes part is sh1ty.

I'm just wondering how deep this will go, or will it be all fluff!

mkeezay22
mkeezay22

I love the conspiracy theory themed story, many conspiracy theories aren't theories though, when there is evidence like with MKUltra or Rex84, it is just a conspiracy, the theory part is gone once proof is provided.

I hope the game dives into some of the recent conspiracies though, not just old ones from the 70s and 80s, the government has many projects like HAARP, Project Monarch, and maybe even flight 370 which landed at Diego Garcia US airforce base, and happened to have 20 employees of Freescale Semiconductor aboard, 4 of which were patent holders for a new cloaking technology and a new kind of CPU which had it's patent approved the day after the plane went missing, the sole patent holder now that 4 of the 5 are dead... Jacob Rothschild who owns Freescale.

Then again I highly doubt his life would be to pleasant if he made a game that exposed the current conspirators who will stop at nothing to maintain control of the population and profit from tragedy and war.

Pewbert
Pewbert

Episodic? WOOHOOO.

Nope.

warriors30
warriors30

"It's Like A Mash-Up Of The X-FilesAirwolf, And Indiana Jones"

Say no more, sir. Here, take my wallet!

"Its Episodes Could Be Standalone Stories"Eh...Episodes you say? Actually..Can I have my wallet back, please? (Sorry, I'm so DONE with the episodic release model. You can thank Telltale for that.)

deg22
deg22

release on phone/tablet severely limits the options for the pc.  An rpg has lots of buttons see Divinity: Original Sin for how its done. Releasing on phones also makes me fear the payment model. Why are none of these questions addressed? They seem to be far more relevant than the protagonist gender. 

How about this conspiracy theory; since the real questions are carefully avoided, expect a simplistic point & click adventure with a 10 quid price per episode that you can run through in 5 minutes. 

bernard978
bernard978

Just how controversial do these conspiracies go, because I can think of some which might not be in there.

saturatedbutter
saturatedbutter

Didn't Deus Ex also have a lot of conspiracy theories being true?

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Someone asked him a completely pointless question about protagonist gender?  FFS.


Also any game that is being developed simultaneously for mobile is immediately suspect.  Capabilities and controls will be downgraded to fit the lowest denominator platform after all.


Though more RPGs are always welcome...is it an RPG or an adventure game?  Episodic content seems to indicate the latter, though from the screenshots you can't tell.

reter121
reter121

Looks like I better bring out the tin foil hat. 

hystavito
hystavito

@Zloth2 Well hopefully they just did mobile as a what the heck maybe it'll sell well kinda deal :).  If they actually designed for mobile, then yeah we're in a whole different world.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@DrKill09 @pork7 

I don't think so. There had been games which tried to exploit conspiracy theories, such as Majestic.

This is not new.

Maybe you consider this refreshing because it happens to be tapping into the niche which you happen to be in - and I do know that you are a stickler for conspiracy theories, DrKill09.

Xmus942
Xmus942

@pork7

Ohhh, he used the word "sheeple." This guys is one edgy trendsetter. What a unique little snowflake. 

pork7
pork7

@smooth77 Ain't that the truth. Have you seen the documentary about the Denver Airport? Holy Sh1t!!!!

pork7
pork7

@JustWingin_IT Sad to think the US government is a bunch of satan worshippers. The documentary is pretty messed up. Video proof for all the sheeple to cry about.

pork7
pork7

@mkeezay22 Sheeple simply do not want to hear about Agenda 21. They would rather hide their heads in the sand.

infowars(dot)com    If you have not been there, it will open your eyes a lot!

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@mkeezay22 Considering the game is set in the 80s, it'll be awfully hard for them to work in how the government faked the Sandy Hook shooting!


I do hope D.B. Cooper shows up though.

ggregd
ggregd

@mkeezay22 You're mixing up three different conspiracy theories.  The patent was for a semiconductor manufacturing process, the stealth technology is a different claim.  The patent theory has the plane crashing and killing the men.  It's bunk because it's standard practice for a company to own anything employees develop anyway, and if the men did somehow have personal ownership, it would pass to their heirs like any other property, not to the company.  

The stealth technology theory is one of the reasons it's said the plane went to Diego Garcia - to force it out of the employees.  Except they're supposedly employees of the same American company in the patent theory.

jemoedr
jemoedr

@warriors30 You could always choose to wait until all episodes are out and steam releases the whole package with a major discount...

blitzinD
blitzinD

@reter121  No, no, don't do that!!!!!


Some guys at MIT did a study and found tin foil hats actually amplify certain frequencies used by the government!

JachAnen
JachAnen

 @pork7 It's not new thats true. But is the market overflowing with it? Is there a lot to choose from? Or is there just a few others? Seems to be the last one is true, ergo it is refreshing to see someone develop a game different than the most games in development or soon to be released.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Xmus942 

Indeed. Conspiracy theorists like to pat themselves in the back for being the only "smart" people around even though they are not even coming up with solutions to the problems which they are seeing.

ggregd
ggregd

@Glen_Runciter @mkeezay22 Well, it's a well known fact, Sonny Jim, that there's a secret society of the five wealthiest people in the world, known as the Pentavirate, who run everything in the world, including the newspapers, and meet tri-annually at a secret country mansion in Colorado, known as The Meadows. So who's in this Pentavirate? The Queen, the Vatican, the Gettys, the Rothschilds,andColonel Sanders before he went teats-up. Oh, I hated the Colonel with is weebeadyeyes! And that smug look on his face, "Oh, you're gonna buy my chicken! Ohhhhh!"

warriors30
warriors30

@jemoedr @warriors30 You're right, I just don't know if I have the patience for that. Waiting for the new TWD episodes is painful enough already. I'm just not a fan of the "let's chop a 14 hour long game into tiny little pieces and release one 90 minute long episode every 3 months" strategy, not anymore.

No, I didn't crunch the numbers but that's basically what Telltale does, and I hope it won't be the same with Epiphany Games. I'm just tired of it. 

hystavito
hystavito

@Gelugon_baat @Xmus942 Yup, most people like to think they are the "smart" people, even outside conspiracy theorist communities.


Your last part about not coming up with solutions, I don't blame them for that.  For some it's just a hobby.


I used to joke about that actually with a coworker, I'd always say well why don't you get out there and do something about it :).  He'd always admit that he was just in it for the intellectual side I guess you could call it, he didn't really care.  It was just something to study, when he spoke about the conspiracies it was without passion, not like the stereotypes you might see on the news or in a documentary :).


I'm more of the passionate type I guess, though I don't spend a lot of time on it really, and I also do nothing about it :).

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

@saturatedbutter 

So those conspiracies are true, ey? Did you hear the one about tin foil killing brain cells? I think it's obviously true, don't need a game to tell me that.