For this update on Through Rust We Are Returned, I want to talk about the various revisions and updates I've worked on based on user feedback and critique. For context, my primary role on the team is systems design - mostly focused around the main combat loop and overall game feel. Originally, our priorities for combat were having multiple party members facing waves of simplistic enemies that would almost work like puzzle pieces, each encouraging a different approach to "solving" how to defeat them. While that seemed good on paper, in reality we found that it was way too static in practice. After feedback from various presentations and lengthy discussions, we decided that a better approach would be to rework enemy design and AI to be a bit more varied.
One of the main systems the player has is the thought process - a rotating buff that changes each turn in combat and can be set up via the menu to fit the player's preferred play style. In order to create more varied enemy behavior, we decided to extend that system to also work for enemies, with one key difference. Players can choose if they want to use an ability boosted by a thought process, or if they would rather do something more strategically appropriate. Enemies, however, will always do the action that is currently present in their thought process. This allows enemies to have varied behaviors, and extends a system that we already have. Additionally, it gives us the opportunity to cut down on the unique abilities needed for each enemy, as we can now have separate enemies and behaviors and pair them according to the current encounter we're designing. We can also create player abilities in that same pool, allowing certain enemies to use the same abilities that we already have designed without needing to implement them twice.
This change has been very well received, and the feedback we've gotten is that it will encourage more varied play. It also helps us plan for the future, as programmatically enemies and player characters can now pull from the same set of abilities behind the scene, which gives us some great opportunities for being able to craft unique enemies from ability and stat sets that we have. It also sets up a pipeline for future abilities and stat blocks in a way that's easily accessible by both designers and programmers, which will be a large asset if we pass midmortems and gain additional team members that need to be onboarded quickly.