Rochard for PS3: Enter the Astro Miner

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Hello Internet, meet John Rochard. John, this is the internet. John is an astro miner, a regular Joe drilling for Turbinium (don’t ask) in deep space. Unfortunately he’s about to have the worst day of his career, and as luck would have it, we’ve made a platformer about it. Expect gravity puzzles, low-g combat and dubious one-liners. Today, I thought I’d share some history of how we came to build the game we did.

The thing is – it’s strange to think that just over a year ago John was a generic human character on screen. His hastily built model had a slightly twisted neck that made him look like a space Quasimodo. Oh, and he had a laser gun. I think the only interesting thing about him was that he moved in total zero-G by using recoil. We figured it’s the name of the company, so it must make for an awesome mechanic, right?

Rochard for PS3 (PSN)Rochard for PS3 (PSN)

Turns out it’s tedious. Like, seriously tedious. At that point we were getting pretty frustrated. There was an expo coming up and we wanted to show something unique to publishers, but it couldn’t be what we had. We realized our recoil movement was unique, but mostly because it was so unbelievably annoying to play. We tried various other unique mechanics, until we decided that maybe by combining some existing but uncommon mechanics we’d find something for our rubbernecked protagonist to do.

Rochard for PS3 (PSN)

We had already decided to make a platformer that is three-dimensional graphics-wise, but two-dimensional gameplay-wise. We ended up giving John a G-Lifter, which is our version of a gravity gun. While that was already fun by itself, the core gameplay only came together when we decided that the player should be able to control local gravity. In low-G mode, awesome jumps are possible and heavy objects can be thrown great distances. After all, astro miners need to move those heavy rocks somehow, don’t they?

After these key elements were nailed, the rest of the game came together fast. Because John is not a space marine (there are enough of those around already), we wanted him to use his mining tools as much as possible. We put a small force bubble around the objects you pick up, and that made a perfect shield. Since we had both human enemies on the ground and turrets in ceilings, the ricochets from enemy fire ended up causing friendly fire. We wasted no time making that appropriately fatal.

Rochard for PS3 (PSN)

John still had his gun, or the Rock Blaster, as we call it (miners have to… blast, don’t they?), but with that came the concern that the combat would be too generic. Fortunately, that’s when we started playtesting it with outside folks who hadn’t met us and didn’t feel the pressure to say good things to the developers hovering behind their shoulders, chewing their fingernails anxiously with worried expressions. And that’s when we realized people were actually picking crates up and using those to kill the enemies – not because it’s more efficient, but because it’s a lot of fun.

Rochard for PS3 (PSN)

So we concentrated on the G-Lifter. We still had a huge list of untested brainstormed ideas, vague concepts of gameplay mechanics that we had to decide whether to prototype or scrap. In the end, we ended up writing over a hundred Post-Its with ideas and posting them on our huge whitetable (a whiteboard that serves as a table so we can draw ideas really fast). We drew a diagram of dependencies, which told us how the various game mechanics were connected to other game mechanics. Then we threw out everything that didn’t need the G-Lifter. Problem solved.

With the core game mechanics down, we started designing the levels, and it wasn’t until then that we really started finding the best ideas. But seeing as how my plane to GDC leaves in a few hours, I’ll go into that a bit later…

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  • Wow. This looks great! Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

  • For some reason this reminds me of Evil Genious for PC lol.

  • Go_Buddie_Go

    Keep the PSN titles coming. So far this year is looking great for PSN, We got Stacking, Explodemon, About a Blob, Pixeljunk Shooter 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog! Looking forward to this and more bite sized games throughout the year.

  • Excellent environments. Also really like the look of that VR arrow pointing the box direction.

  • A demo on release would be nice for a game with unique gameplay, but it’s definitely looking like a purchase so far.

    • Kalle Kaivola
      Kalle Kaivola

      We’re definitely trying our best to get a demo out. So far, looking good.

  • Very cool looking, can’t wait to see a video of it in action, possibly with commentary to explain what its all about.

  • @Go_Buddie_Go Don’t forget Echochrome 2!

  • looks cool but will hope their is a demo.

  • Looks sweet. I hope it’s $9.99 most PSN games over that price are just tough to justify buying.

  • Why was this post it today but it has yesterday date on it?

  • joetherugger

    I immediately through… fortress graphics on a 2D platformer with a gravity gun!?

    I also thought…..looks fun guys! Cant wait to try it!

  • The environments look similar to Ratchet and Clank ACiT. Which is a good thing, that game was great. Sounds good so far, a demo would be greatly appreciated.

  • Wow. That actually looks pretty good.

  • looks interesting… demo’s ?

  • I’m interested, this sounds fun!

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