How Total Rendition is evolving

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Throughout the iterations (and don’t worry if you don’t know what it means, yet), Total Rendition has always retained its basic vibe, high concept, core gameplay, themes, setting and premise. These altogether constitute the proverbial “dancing bear” of Total Rendition which has yet to be copied.

At some point, large changes will cease. Since Total Rendition in its current form only has a minuscule amount of the environments and plot it is ultimately intended to have, changes are still relatively easy to implement. Better to take advantage of that, to ensure later versions will come its own in the best way possible.

What follows is a relatively brief summary of what had happened and what to expect.

The art of the retcon

First, I should make a clarification on what has been thus far the first (and in most versions, the only) level of Total Rendition, Villa Therese.

If you have been playing the prototypes since the first iteration back in 2019, you may noted a slew of changes since. These changes are retcons. What has disappeared should be presumed to have never happened in Villa Therese.

It is like a painting: A painter may ruin his first few tries. And the environment and narrative designs of earlier versions of Total Rendition were exactly that.

Changes underway

Prior to the Steam Early Access, I already decided to the player character ought to be an anonymous protagonist. That is to say, a player character with no predefined gender, ethnicity, nationality or even name.

This is partially because Total Rendition is inspired by the political situation of the Netherlands, characterised by the covert dominance of the country by its student fraternities, its discontents and its victims. Players should therefore be able to imagine the main character as – for example – a Dutchman if they fancy so.

In the very first design document of Total Rendition, the character who would eventually evolve into Tzipora Herzog was a supporting character, not a player character. For one, I reckon she is more relatable when she appears in second-person. Still, the introduction of the anonymous player character is some departure of the original general design document, which featured a disgraced Dutch Marechaussee veteran and a Chinese spy as main characters instead.

A return to the original spirit

Now, I am probably not going to be doing any further hands on development. That is, not until I have acquired the development budget to develop Total Rendition into the next phase. The next playable version has to be a drastic upgrade in terms of production values compared to earlier versions. However, I may want to make a few alterations in the storyline, as I have done earlier. In some ways, I am going back to the original intentions of the design documents.

I feel have had succumbed too much to political pressure to cut certain plot elements out. Thus, I intend to reverse many decisions I have made since I wrote the first GDD of Total Rendition back in 2018. Being overtly political can of course alienate some players. Then again, as movies, books and stage plays do, narrative-driven games tend to reflect the political biases of their makers to some extent anyway. This is a strength, rather than a drawback.

Ultimately, Total Rendition has undergone many changes. It probably is yet to undergo many changes, until it is completed.

See also

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