July 18, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

How Rusted Moss developers came together to create physics-based hook action – PlayStation.Blog.

Rusted Moss is an action-exploration game developed by solo individuals (not part of any development studio) that revolves around its unusual method of traversal: an absurdly bouncy grappling hook. We're not going to lie: physics-based fighting will bring you both pain and great joy. But the triumph once you master it: you'll practically fly through the game while attacking enemies with your arsenal of weapons when Rusted Moss arrives on PS5 on June 20.

In this melancholy world, humans prepare for an invasion by wayward fairies from another realm. You play as Fern, a changeling determined to end the war. As you discover the history behind the world, you will eventually choose a side: fae or human?

With the launch of PS5, we will also be adding seven to eight hours of additional content, roughly as much content as the base game itself. This includes new zones (ranging from moderate to very difficult), a boss race, and an additional playable character.

A unique grappling hook

During a showcase with independent developers, Emlise (the lead developer) showed off a grappling hook that worked like a bungee cord or elastic band. She performed incredible, crazy maneuvers that made traditional platform game skills like double jumping and running seem so limited. She's never seen anything like it: grappling hooks in most games simply pull you to the anchor point or swing the player in static arcs.

It looked so polished that I was sure I would develop it into a full game. But she had no plans to do so. She saw it as a programming exercise to learn about Verlet integration (a numerical equation used to calculate trajectories).

“The players would find it too difficult. It takes some getting used to,” says Emlise.

Then each of us did our duty as friends and pushed her to continue her development. My sister and I also joined her, forming our 3-person development team. It was strange because we had no intention of making a game together before that moment.

Rusted Moss was created to bring this mechanic to life, not for the purpose of creating a game or doing full-time independent development (my sister and I work outside of the games industry).

I think its origin gave purity to the foundation of Rusted Moss because there was no question about what kind of game it could become. Everything would revolve around a single central mechanic: the grappling hook.

Please break our game

The synergy with the grappling hook became the focus of Rusted Moss' game design. Every skill you gain improves physics-based travel, whether it's a charge jump that lets you fall further or the recoil of your weapons.

This maximizes the opportunity for player expression and creativity. Progression is not based on a simple lock-and-key solution, which is a design pattern often found in other action-exploration games.

With these synergistic abilities, we've seen the same platforming challenge solved in five different ways. If a player is creative, determined and skilled enough, he can “break” our game and show us moves that we didn't even consider during the development of Rusted Moss.

We took this philosophy to the extreme during our QA testing period. One tester found a bug that gave them an involuntary movement ability. Instead of fixing it, we added a visual effect when that ability is active. We love seeing our players discover this “secret skill” in the game.

unusual children

The main character, Fern, has a sharp and acidic personality. He often puts pressure on women to be kind and think about what “nice” means to the people who interact with them. Based on our experiences as an all-female development team, Fern is a power fantasy that bucks that narrative, sometimes to a fault. She says what she thinks, which is often quite obnoxious and, honestly, hilarious!

This aligns with her identity as a changeling: a fairy who has replaced a stolen baby. In folk tales, children who acted strangely were identified as changelings and treated cruelly. Today we might consider them neurodivergent or otherwise unusual. We wanted to explore topics related to children that turn out to be something parents didn't want or expect.

Get ready to learn all the tricks at Fern's disposal and maybe discover some new ones when Rusted Moss launches on PS5 on June 20.

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