Perspective and Design: Through Rust We Are Returned
Two weeks ago, I posted and update on what Chaos Crew and I are currently hard at work on. Today, I can want to take a quick dive into the importance of perspective when developing our concepts, as well as the fact that our project now has a working title: Through Rust We Are Returned (hereafter referred to as Through Rust). There's been a lot of progress and changes between last week and now, most of which were decided on when we decided to take a step back and view our project from the perspective of a potential consumer.
For a brief overview, Through Rust is planned to be a tactical RPG with a heavy focus on intertwining narrative with gameplay mechanics. The game is set in an alternate future version of the Manchester-Liverpool district of the UK, with a thematic focus on Victorian occultism and robots. We used to refer to the game as a mix of Cyberpunk and Victorian themes and aesthetics, but after taking a look at what we wanted to do and what the terms implied we decided to drop the Cyberpunk label, as we've somewhat shifted away from the things that cyberpunk implies. While we are still taking some aesthetic cues from the foggy neon-lit streets common in Cyberpunk media, we realized that the term 'Cyberpunk' tends to carry a lot of additional thematic and aesthetic implications that we don't plan to follow, which would likely disappoint audience members looking specifically for a Cyberpunk fix.
We've also decided to rework a few of the ideas we had about who would be interested in the game to begin with. Originally we were selling the game as a mix of roguelite and tactics, but that quickly shifted as we put more focus on narrative and a progression system that would quickly feel out of place in a roguelite. We also decided that in order to allow for more focus on the narrative and how it is weaved into the gameplay we would need to cut some things from out original concept. So, we removed gear and levels from our RPG. Now, stats are inherently tied to the memories of the AI-controlled party members that make up your party of characters. Over time, these AI can gain (and lose) memories, which allow them to use unique abilities and gain stat boosts through finding out more about their mysterious pasts. Additionally, characters will be able to implant false memories -- giving different advantages, but at what cost?
These changes have helped us to further cement our audience, as we're now confidently aiming for fans of tactics games who enjoy character-focused narratives. Moving away from the Cyberpunk and RPG labels lets us experiment more heavily with the narrative and progression systems of the game while keeping our audience wide.