From Dust We Are Come, and Through Rust We Are Returned
As I'm writing this, my team is anxiously awaiting the moment when we know if we will be able to continue development on Through Rust for our final semester at Champlain College. We spent the last two weeks getting everything ready and in place to create both our demo night build and final pitch presentation, which you can view below. We're all confident that we created something to be proud of, and we hope to continue our work in the future. That said, this would also be a good time to go over who Through Rust We Are Returned is for - as developers, we put a lot of thought into what it was that we wanted to work on for our final year. What we came away with is something we believe to be wholly unique from other projects we've seen coming out of Champlain - an intensely narrative-focused tactics game with punchy turn-based combat. While Through Rust was originally designed by looking at what we all wanted to achieve in our final year, we also believe the game now has a clarified audience and market in core gamers who enjoy strategy and tactics games like XCOM and Fire Emblem.
I think the pitch video above does a great job of outlining the basic turn-based combat loop, so here I'll instead write about what Through Rust does to differentiate itself from its peers. Namely, the Thought Process and Memory Map. The Memory Map is our solution to both character and level progression in Through Rust. Each memory in the map gives both a passive and active bonus, called unconscious and conscious effects. To enable these bonuses, memories must be slotted into a character's Thought Process - a set of four slots that each contain a conscious effect. Each turn in combat, the Thought Process progresses through the slotted conscious effects, giving a powerful bonus to specific things during that turn. You might gain a much larger movement range, or perhaps heal a small amount of damage. Additionally, slotting a memory in the Though Process also gains the passive effects of all memories within one link of that memory. Notably, you don't gain the passive effect of the slotted memory itself. This is where the key depth of our game lies - these memories determine the capabilities of your character as well as their overall stats. By slotting different memories, you can enable vastly different playstyles that encourage unique ways of playing the game. We really want this set of systems to appeal to players who enjoy making unique character builds and trying them out in different situations, which in our testing has proven to be the case.
Combat is only one part of Through Rust We Are Returned, however. Narrative also has a large amount of focus in the final build. While I'm sure our Narrative Designer, Griffin, could do a better job of explaining the importance of narrative in Through Rust, I do think it's important for me to highlight how narrative is intertwined with combat. The conscious and unconscious effects of each memory are themed after what that memory is about. Additionally, we intend our final mission structure to be centered around unlocking memories in the memory map. Even in our marketing and pitch, we've tried our best to stay true to our narrative. That trailer at the start of our presentation is from the perspective of an integral character to our overall narrative, Oliver. We hope that the focus we've put on narrative will help expand our audience and encourage players who might not normally gravitate to this type of tactics game to give the game a try. Even if we don't get through this final set of cuts, just remember - from dust we are come, and Through Rust We Are Returned.