Developer interview: Rustler

Coming to Steam’s Early Access program very soon is Rustler, also known as Grand Theft Horse. We previewed the game about a year ago so we thought we’d reach out to the studio behind the game to see what’s changed since then. Here’s our talk with Bartek Gajewski, CEO of developer Games Operators.

What can you tell us about the team that’s been working on Rustler?

We’re a team of 10 very devoted developers, but at the moment we’re also very tired ones now that we are a few weeks before the release of Rustler πŸ™‚

Speaking of Rustler – how has development progressed between our preview and the Early Access launch next month?

What you saw must have been an alpha or even pre-alpha footage, and most of the core mechanics have been improved since then. We added an option to block and parry the attacks, we added a feature to roll off, we debuffed the guards greatly (making AI more stupid is sometimes actually more difficult than making it smarter). We’ve also put in loads of small jokes and references here and there. But what’s most important is that we made the maps about 3x bigger and now have over 40 quests (with about 10 more still to go).

rustler

What are some good examples of changes and new features based on player feedback?

We’ve asked the betatesters and all our kickstarter backers which features they missed. Apparently what they missed the most was a minimap (even though there is a map in game), so we are going to add that soon. Players also pointed out that the game is a bit too difficult so we made horse riding easier, as well as making the guards more ‘killable’ πŸ™‚ In addition, we are also going to add a few more weapons and horses.

Rustler is launching into Early Access in a fairly complete state. What can players expect from the campaign in terms of length and gameplay diversity?

We’re trying to make sure that each quest is interesting in terms of both story and gameplay. Most of the times they require the player to do something unique, many times utilising new mechanics or another minigame (like a martial-arts area, jousting, races, plowing or… body collecting or… herding people to a mass, etc). There are over 40 quests that take about 6 hours on average to complete, and then you have a whole load of other stuff left to explore as well.

rustler3

The game was (in part) modeled after the old top-down GTA games from DMA Design. What do you see as the biggest differences between those titles and your approach to it?

First of all, horses are not ‘autos’. They have to act and react, they can rotate in place, and they can die… Second of all, GTA is firearms-based, while Rustler utilises mostly melee weapons – which changes the gameplay drastically. Story wise, GTA could also use a mobile phone or a pager, but we need a character to speak every sentence and force the player to go and meet the NPC in person.

Rustler will feature plenty of comedic touches and references – is that interwoven with the core campaign, or something you’ll run into when exploring?

Oh (un)fortunately that’s all interwoven, as it would be hard to omit them. Actually the whole city is filled with smaller or larger references, so we warn the players that this is a historically INACCURATE game. If historically accurate is what you’re aiming for, then you would find more fun playing Kingdom Come.

You could always skip the dialogs, but most of the testers seemed to really enjoy the humor so we hope everyone else is going to like it too πŸ™‚

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