The Cutting Room Floor

posted by Joel on 28 Jul 2010

As I mentioned in my last post, Sanctuary 17 underwent a lot of changes on the way to becoming a finished product.  As you might expect, that also means that a lot of things that were once in the design ended up bowing out along the way.  I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the elements that just didn’t make the final cut, because I’m the kind of person who would find that fun.

Development Points: I touched on these briefly in the previous post, but one of the original concepts had the player bringing back energy to the central bunker to help improve the lives of the survivors.  Every time the player would bring back a full haul of energy, a certain number of hidden “development points” would be added, and as different point thresholds were hit, improvements would take place to the bunker.  Many of these consisted of the playing being given new equipment, which was the only way to acquire it at the time.  But as things got better and better for the survivors, they would actually start to expand into the surrounding maze, securing areas for you to create zones of safe passage.

The problem here, as I said before, was that this encouraged an awful lot of energy grinding, and anchored the player too closely with the bunker.  Plus, as the story evolved as well, it just didn’t fit thematically.

The MCP: There was, at one point, an additional ending to the current three.  In this branch of the storyline, the player is able to locate the robot “nest” in their area, and tackles the robots at their source.  Facing down with the Master Control Program (as we called it), if the player is able to destroy it and its army of robot defenders, then the humans are free to continue living underground, unharassed.

Unfortunately, the whole sequence felt out of step with the rest of the game; it was far more action intensive, and just didn’t feel quite like it jived.  Thus… cut.

The Conversion Gun: This is perhaps the element that hung around the longest before being dropped, and would have had a very large impact on gameplay.  In addition to the basic pistol and railgun that made it to the final release, there was a third weapon called the conversion gun.  Unlike the other two, the conversion gun didn’t destroy robots; it (as you probably guessed) turned them into allies.  With a very short range, and requiring three hits to fully convert a target, it was a tricky weapon to use.  Once converted, however, friendly robots would roam the maze, targeting enemy robots and creatures and just generally absorbing bullets for you.

While the conversion gun was certainly a lot of fun, it was not without problems.  First and foremost, there were the requisite technical issues; more importantly, though, was how it effected gameplay.  A skilled player armed with the conversion gun could have a literal army of robots roaming around the maze, blasting everything in sight (including, occasionally, the player).  In the end, in just proved to be too unbalancing both in energy usage and usefulness to the player, and thus it made a graceful exit.