Alterium Shift Interview
Drattzy Games’s turn-based RPG Alterium Shift is now available on Steam Early Access for PC, Mac, and Linux. Inspired by inspired by classic JRPGs and expected to fully launch in either late 2023 or in 2024, with console versions also in development, the game follows three heroes-in-training as they undertake a final test before going off on a mission to save the world of Alteria from the Dark Elves. RPGamer was given the opportunity to interview its two-man development team and find out more about the game and its creation.
Alex Fuller (RPGamer): Can you explain some of the main ideas and inspirations behind Alterium Shift?
DrassRay and Mottzy (Drattzy Games): We were heavily inspired by classic SNES and PS1 era JRPGs, like Chrono Trigger, the Mana series, Final Fantasy VI, and the Breath of Fire series. Having been kids of that era we both loved the idea of making a modern retro-styled JRPG that still retained the classic feel.
RPGamer: Can you give a quick overview of the game’s premise and world?
Drattzy Games: Alterium Shift is based in the world of Alteria, composed mostly of animal type monsters and humans. There was a great war between the humans and the dark elves a short 50 years prior to where the game takes place. You choose between three characters to start your journey, each with their own branching story path. They start out as heroes in training at a school founded by the great General Dolion, a war hero turned teacher. Dolion is training his students in the arts of Alterium Essence, and teaching them to harness their natural abilities in order to help protect the world from danger. Not everything is as it seems and early on you learn there’s a lot more to the world than meets the eye.
RPGamer: How long has the project been in existence?
Drattzy Games: The project originated with DrassRay’s initial concept in January 2021, which consisted of a character exploring a map. The concept was later presented to Mottzy and, following a successful collaboration, evolved into the game we know today. We released the first demo in April of the same year, which was well received as a proof of concept.
RPGamer: How did you end up partnering with Gravity Game Arise and how have they helped bring the game along?
Drattzy Games: Our journey with Gravity Game Arise began after exploring various potential publishers. As a small team of two, we needed additional resources to keep the game’s progress on track. Gravity Game Arise stepped in after we pitched the game to them, and they helped expand our reach through online and offline events and press releases. This allowed us to focus more on actual development, enabling DrassRay to become the full-time Art Director and expedite asset creation.
RPGamer: How does the three playable character structure work? Do their stories intertwine together?
Drattzy Games: Without revealing too much, each character embarks on their own unique journey that unfolds from their perspective. At the beginning of the game, these narratives are distinctly different, but as the game progresses, they begin to align more, yet still retaining unique aspects based on the chosen hero. As you proceed, you’ll notice that their paths intertwine, revealing a deeper connection especially if you decide to play all three.
RPGamer: What made you decide to go with three different paths?
Drattzy Games: The original demo featured all characters on a single path, with slightly varying dialogues tailored to each character’s personality. This approach made the game more linear and manageable. However, after receiving feedback from players, we decided that unique story paths would add more depth and intrigue to the gameplay. This realization, coupled with the inclusion of branching dialogue, prompted us to re-imagine the game’s scope, adding value to the overall experience.
RPGamer: Can you explain how some of the branching narrative and freedom of choice elements work?
Drattzy Games: We wanted players to feel like their choices matter. We’ve included options that could deviate from the character’s inherent nature, providing unique gameplay experiences. However, the general journey and end goals remain the same. Certain characters can make drastically different choices, like Sage’s ability to sleep an entire day. These choices carry minor consequences and rewards, but nothing that will significantly alter the gameplay. We believe these features, along with the core mechanics of the game, offer a high replayability value.
RPGamer: What have you done to try and make Alterium Shift’s combat stand out?
Drattzy Games: Our goal with combat was not to revolutionize but to create a fun, snappy, and engaging system. As a narrative-driven game, we didn’t want complex combat mechanics to detract from the story. We’re planning to add more features during Early Access to keep the combat exciting. We also want to introduce an ARPG-like system where players can use their abilities to gain an upper hand outside of battles, including the option to avoid confrontations.
We do plan to add more features, including combo attacks, visible health bars and monster strengths/weaknesses, enhanced burst mechanics, and other quality of life improvements.
RPGamer: How have you managed to combine modern graphic effects with the retro style of the game?
Drattzy Games: We aimed for a look reminiscent of 2D SNES games at first glance, using the 3D environment to add depth without detracting from the retro vibe. This effect was achieved through a combination of pixel art by Seliel the Shaper and DrassRay’s implementation of these assets into a 3D environment. We carefully customized and combined these elements to achieve the desired look, employing modern shaders, particles, and post-processing effects from the Unity engine to enhance the visuals.
RPGamer: What made you decide to go down the Early Access route and what do you hope to be able to gain from it?
Drattzy Games: Early Access was a decision born from our experience with player feedback. We believe the insights we’ve gained from our community have played a significant role in shaping the game. Through Early Access, we aim to strengthen this partnership and learn more about how to improve the game. Although we have considered Kickstarter, we decided that we would rather invest our time directly into the game, with Early Access serving as our means of funding and community engagement.
RPGamer: How much side content is there for players? Are there rewards for players going out of their way to explore and interact with the world?
Drattzy Games: There’s a wealth of side content awaiting players. To this day, no one has discovered everything, and we have some secrets yet to be found. Basic gameplay and exploration take about four-to-six hours per character. Additionally, we’ve sprinkled rewards throughout the game, from gold to special equipment, to encourage exploration. There are also hidden chests and character-specific secrets, adding even more depth to the world of Alterium Shift.
RPGamer: Are there any things you’re particularly proud of about the game and are looking forward to players checking out in the Early Access period?
Drattzy Games: Among many things, we take pride in the diverse experiences offered by our different characters. We’ve worked hard to keep character interactions and plot branching cohesive and logical, and we’re eager for players to enjoy this intricate design. We also want to highlight our unique persistent save feature through “Echo Shift Nodes”. These nodes let players switch between saves and see the changes made by their interactions, offering a fresh experience every time. We’re even contemplating designing entire side dungeons based around this feature.
RPGamer would like to extend our deepest thanks to DrassRay and Mottzy for answering our questions and to Michael Prefontaine and Gravity Game Arise for setting up the interview. Alterium Shift is out now on Steam Early Access for $19.99, with a 20% launch discount available until July 12, 2023.