The Cutting Room Floor - Through Rust We Are Returned
Last time I gave an update on Through Rust, I wrote about how features change to accommodate feedback. Now, I want to talk about one of the core aspects of game development that everyone always dreads - leaving features on the cutting room floor. It's an inevitable aspect of any project that scope and feature creep will seep into portions of the game. We definitely ran into that problem, and now I'm going to talk a bit about how we've dealt with it.
First of all, I want to go over a portion of our risk analysis. For the most part, none of the design is particularly high-risk in and of itself - Griffin and I are confident in the content, systems, and narrative we've made, but at this point everything comes down to time and resources. We have around a week left before we plan to have our completed minimum viable product for our pitch, and we know that many of our designed systems won't be implementable in time. Luckily, we're still confident that we have more than enough functioning to pitch our game. AI, turn-based combat, multiple player characters, the memory system, and a bit of fun game feel stuff are all in the build and functional, but we still need to implement the narrative and merge it with the combat loop.
In order to finish our MVP, we had to cut down on one key thing - enemy thought processes and predictability. Right now, enemies work and have multiple actions and types, but do not have visible intents that show what actions they'll prioritize on the next turn. It's something we really want to have, but the reality is that programming won't be able to implement that and bug fix the prototype prior to demo night, and bug fixing is higher priority right now. We also had to make a change to how our animations are going to work - instead of fully animated characters, we're going to go with single frame animations with VFX and sounds for game feel instead, inspired by Darkest Dungeon's combat.
There have been some fun things that we were able to get in that we think will make a big difference as well. Over the last few weeks, we carved out time for Griffin to make a combat track and ambient music track, which will definitely help our game stand out. Additionally, I was able to put a lot of time into some camerawork to really enhance the feel of the game and change the perspective up a bit. Players can now use the scroll wheel to change perspective - fully zoomed in, the camera will focus on the active character in combat and be a lot more like a traditional side-view game. When scrolling out, the perspective will shift to a tactical overview of combat so players can get an overview of the whole battlefield. We think small details like that which enhance game feel will really help make the turn-based combat feel juicy even at this early stage of development.