Pathea Games has announced My Time at Sandrock, a sequel to the January 2019-released simulation RPG My Time at Portia. It will launch in Early Access for PC via Steam in March 2021, followed by a full release for PC via Steam, GOG, the Epic Games Store, and other storefronts in spring 2022, and PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch in summer 2022.
A Kickstarter campaign seeking $100,000 in funding launched alongside the announcement. According to the developer, “there are a couple of features that we really want to do well this time around, and any extra funding would go a long way to ensure that.” Those include a multiplayer mode and self-publishing.
Here is an overview of the game, via its Kickstarter page:
When we started working on Sandrock, it was supposed to be a downloadable addition to My Time at Portia. But as we delved deeper into game production, we realized that in order to fully express the tale of Sandrock, we needed to start from scratch. We required better graphics, better optimization, more story, and more satisfying gameplay systems: basically, we needed better production values across the board. On top of that, we really wanted to include a form of multiplayer that would really meet expectations for our players, and My Time at Portia’s programming structure just didn’t support that.
So, we set a few goals. First, Sandrock will have a similar pathos to My Time at Portia, but offer a completely new experience with new types of gameplay. We’re still aiming for a Miyazaki-inspired kind of world, but with a few other surprises thrown in… Second, we wanted to have the overall story arc be more satisfying, but also with more focus on each individual NPC. Third, we’re going to have a dedicated single-player RPG and a special mode where friends or strangers can play together. Fourth, optimize it and make it as bug-free as possible (we learned a lot of lessons from Portia). Fifth, make sure the sound and voice-acting in this game are up to standard. Finally, we’re going to self-port to the consoles so that we can make sure all the content is consistent across all platforms.
Recruited to Sandrock to be a Builder, you’ll arrive to find the town in a sad state. Shops are run down, buildings are empty, and people are looking to leave. It’ll be up to you to use your wits and skills to unite the townsfolk and rebuild the city into a beacon of prosperity.
My Time at Sandrock will maintain the simulation versus RPG balance that My Time at Portia had, with more depth for both. We are aiming to give the player a truly satisfying feeling when the game “ends.” We’re also working to give you a beautiful open world to gather materials, explore, and maintain a homestead. There will be mesas, deep canyons, vast deserts, endless salt plains, breathtaking ruins, and more!
Returning Portia players will find plenty of familiarities, but still just as many new things we think will only add to the workshop building experience. We’ve added enough gameplay tweaks in to keep things fresh, and also reworked some of the things players didn’t like about Portia. This is not a simple reskin and rewrite of Portia with new NPCs.
Chronologically, this game takes place around the same time as My Time at Portia; returning players will be able to enjoy seeing certain events that influenced Portia’s development from a new perspective.
The World of Sandrock
Sandrock is a city-state located in the Eufaula Desert within the Alliance of Free Cities. It was founded beside Martle’s Oasis on top of an ancient metropolis. At first, the city attracted many prospectors interested in an extensive supply of relics hidden beneath the desert, but, as time went on, the oasis dried up, leaving the city unable to sustain a large population. Many people left, leaving the place in its vagarious state found today.
Water is a premium in Sandrock, with the only source being from Martle’s Oasis. Wood is also a rare resource, as not many trees grow in the area. Most of the trees around the oasis were cut by the original settlers: nowadays, you’ll have to find alternatives. The good news is that there are vast amounts of relics around these parts, some of them even hidden in plain sight!
The People of Sandrock
There are numerous unique characters for you to discover in Sandrock, all with complex personalities and intricate backstories. Many of them can be romanced, and almost all of them can be befriended to unlock quests that will reveal their hopes, dreams, and personal goals, or maybe just a fun storyline to achieve something together with that character. We’ve written a new AI system for this game so that the characters will behave more “alive” than in My Time at Portia. For example, we’re planning to have the NPCs interact with each other more instead of keep to themselves like they do in Portia.
Speaking of Portia! Being that Sandrock and Portia are neighboring cities, it seems more than likely a few familiar faces will be stopping in, though we can’t exactly confirm who that will be yet…
- Storyline – Just as in Portia, Sandrock will offer a deep and open narrative. There will be villains and heroes, comedy and tragedy. We also try to expand upon the lore first explored in My Time at Portia to give players deeper insight as to what the world of the Free Cities is like. The themes of the new storyline are similar to Portia’s: that people can overcome any adversity when they work together.
- Multiplayer – We’ve heard you, and we are aiming to have a specific game mode for multiplayer, without interfering with our development of single-player. Much is still on the drawing board or in the design phase, but the aim is to support at least 4 players in an open world map, separate from the single-player map. Players will be able to work, fight, and dungeon dive together. We’re also looking to create multiplayer specific missions and storylines. Much of this is dependent on your support!
- Workshop – You’re still in the role of a Builder in Sandrock, so the workshop is still the central focus of gameplay. You’ll need to gather materials and relics from all over the map to support your workshop and finish commissions from local townspeople and government. There will be lots of new upgrades for the machines in the workshop, as well as some customization features involving the homestead and furniture, i.e., drawing your own designs for things. Being the number one workshop in the region will still be something for players to shoot for, but it may be hard to pull off without first attracting some industry to the town.
- Farming – You’ll still be using planter boxes for farming in Sandrock, but with some new elements. We realize that in Portia we had a problem where almost the only thing players could get out of farming was a little extra money through selling crops. We’ll try to remedy that in Sandrock by making sure that there are multiple ways to utilize the harvest.
- Relationships – All characters in the game will be more interactive than before: almost all of them will have character-specific questlines and have much more dialogue. Initially, fewer NPCs will be romanceable, but we are working to make each romanceable character unique and memorable with several personalized quests for each, in addition to giving them their own unique behaviors. The relationships are, once again, more than just something extra to do in the game; they’re tied together with the overall game loop: if you have a good relationship with a specific character, you’ll unlock perks such as new missions, stat boosts, cheaper goods, or a more willing hand to help out when you need it. Going the romance route will allow you to go on dates with the NPC, and eventually you’ll be able to marry the character and have kids.
- Battle – The battle system is still relatively simple, but it feels and plays much better than in Portia. We’re looking to add more depth to this battle system before release, as well. You will fight an assortment of enemies: monsters, robots, bandits, and more. Enemies will behave more intelligently, and their attacks will be more coordinated, allowing for better counterplay. Larger enemies can collide with the player, and even send you flying with a strong enough hit!
- Skills – There is leveling in the game, like most RPGs, but rather than gaining flat experience points for completing tasks, specific skill points will be earned by doing those activities (i.e. mining gives you points for mining skills, fighting gives you points for combat skills, etc.). These points can be distributed to give custom enhancements to your abilities.
- Dungeons – There will be three types of dungeons in Sandrock. The Abandoned Ruins are dungeons without enemies, and you can dig safely through voxel terrain to find minerals and relics. The Hazardous Ruins are dungeons that are still classified as dangerous; they’re filled with enemies leftover from an earlier age, as well as some platforming challenges. Finally, we have the all-new Half-Explored Ruins, where there are spots to dig through as well as enemies to fight.
- Mini-Games – We’re trying to add in as many different mini-games as possible. They will include sand racing, sand fishing, sparring, gun fighting, and more.
- Holidays – There are several holidays and events that happen throughout the year in the game, some returning from Portia with a fresh take, some all new and unique to Sandrock! From the Day of the Bright Sun, which is celebrated all over; to the Day of Warmth, where people dance around a bonfire; to First Rain, where people celebrate the first rainfall of the year; each holiday will make for a fun and immersive experience that keeps the passage of time meaningful.
- Weather – The game has four seasons as well as a full day-night cycle. Rain doesn’t come very often; but do watch out for the sandstorms!
- Cooking – The game will have an elaborate setup for cooking. The player will be able to make many different recipes found throughout the world. The food can be sold, given as gifts, or eaten by the player to gain stats.
- Animals – There are many different animals in the game world. Depending on the time of day, weather, and season, different animals will appear. Some of them can be captured and domesticated. We will have animal husbandry involving a multitude of farm and ranch animals with a fuzzy cow creature unique to Sandrock, the Yakmel, being the most prominent.
Watch the announcement trailer below. View the first screenshots at the gallery.