As February winds down, so too does our Game of the Month coverage for My Time at Portia. For an early access release, this little crowdfunded gem has kept most of us enraptured over the past few weeks.
The perfect mix of cheerful life sim and light RPG elements, My Time at Portia is the second title from Pathea Games. We reached out to the dev team to find out more about what the future holds for Portia, as well as what experience they gained working on their previous title, Planet Explorers.
Cliqist: Thanks for taking the time to answer some qustions. First off, what is your name and what do you do at Pathea?
Zifei Wu: My name is Zifei Wu and I’m the president and creative director here at Pathea Games.
What are some problems you encountered in your previous game, Planet Explorers? What have you done to avoid these issues during Portia’s development?
When we started on Planet Explorers, we wanted to do something new. Our goal was to make a fully destructible world in which the player can build almost anything from vehicles to armour to weapons and be able to apply them in the game, on top of that we wanted to add RPG elements. On paper it was great, then we got to actually executing everything.
We’re only a very small team and Planet Explorers was our debut game. We tried to accommodate player requests as much as possible by adding as many into the game – however, it became unoptimized and lost its balance. We learnt a lot and improved our skills vastly during Planet Explorers and have dedicated a lot of time to updating the game to continue to update it.
Fast forward to My Time at Portia, the first big lesson we learned was to not overstretch the game, no matter how good the suggestions or ideas are. If the structure of the game cannot handle it, then don’t add it. This allows us to stay within our team’s technical limitations. Basically, make the best game that our team’s ability can make instead of aiming for something too far beyond. The second lesson was that the gameplay needs to be a cycle of grind and reward, where everything’s related. If something’s in the game for the sake of being in the game, then we shouldn’t make it.
What inspired the post-apocalyptic setting for My Time at Portia? Why not just make another cute farm/life sim?
I think it comes down to our love for the settings in Future Boy Conan, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and Laputa: Castle in the Sky. But beyond that, we thought it’d be interesting to allow the player to take a part in the rebuilding of the world. We call it “the telesis of society” in the game. We thought that would give a tremendous feeling of accomplishment to the player. On the art side, this gave us a lot of leeway on how we want to differentiate our game’s visuals compared to the other games in the genre.
How has Early Access been so far? Do you feel like the community is responding well to the game and has their feedback influenced development in any way?
The Early Access has been great so far, most players really like our game. We have a thriving community on Steam and on Discord. The player’s feedback is very important to us, and we’re actively trying to tweak the game to give them a better experience. We’ve seen players asking for more missions, longer days, more dating events, animal riding, and more marriage events.
What are the team’s priorities in regards to future updates? How often can players expect new content and what’s being addressed first?
We have lots more content planned for My Time at Portia which we’ll be adding in during it’s time in Early Access. Aside from the planned content updates, we are also dedicated to releasing lots of updates that focus on bug fixes and improvements to the game.
What feature or mechanic are you most looking forward to introducing?
I think one of the things we’re really looking forward to is the factory system. It’s the next extension of the workshop where many things get automated so that the player will have more time to explore and socialize. We’re also looking to finish up the main story, which should be fun, it’ll explain more about what happened to the world.
This is mostly for my own curiosity, why don’t Panbats carry syringes anymore? Have there been any other design changes for similar reasons?
We wanted to make a panbat plushie…it was hard to include the syringes, so they had to go. Haha.
Seriously though, we wanted to be as inclusive as we can, and needles might frighten some younger players, so we got rid of them ahead of launching the game into Early Access. Some characters also went through design changes to better reflect their character such as Oaks became more innocent looking while Gale became more…mayor-ly.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about the development of My Time at Portia or what players can look forward to as you continue to work on the game?
We’ll be working hard throughout Early Access to give players as good an experience as possible during their time in Portia. We hope our end result will be worthy of our players’ expectations!