Into the Breach (opens in new tab), our game of the year for 2018 (opens in new tab), is a masterpiece of simplicity. But it wasn't always that way: it initially had city building, a tech tree and unit damage that persisted between missions, developer Subset Games has revealed.
In an interview with Kotaku (opens in new tab), Subset co-founders Matthew Davis and Justin Ma said that the "closest thing to our eureka moment" was when the team cut out 60% of what they had planned. "We had city-building. We had multiple squads. All that sort of junk," Ma said. "So maybe 60 percent of the game, we just dropped it all and [said], 'Okay, it’s just a bunch of missions in a row. Screw it.'"
Davis added that the team initially envisaged the game being more like XCOM, where "you have lots of missions popping up with times and alerts, and your people get hurt, and you have to devote resources and time to fixing them or healing them".
"We had huge research trees, repairing the cities," he said. "There is an element of just an intuition that this doesn’t feel right."
Davis and Ma talked about just how much they struggled during development—the pair were "very close to giving up on the game", they said.
"It was literally years of just banging our head against the wall, trying to get something to work and be fun," said Ma. "I hope our next project won’t be that, because it’s a little hard after maybe three or four times throwing out six months of work to still feel like, 'There's still something good here'...I think if we’d had to do that one more time, I would’ve been close to giving up."
And how glad we are that they didn't. The game made the top 5 of our top 100 greatest PC games (opens in new tab), and I have a feeling it'll be high on that list for many years to come.