S.C.R.A.P. takes place in a post-apocalyptic science-fiction setting: the players take the role of industrial and commercial support machines who were abandoned on a planet after its populace was evacuated during a nameless war. Much like in a mechanized version of Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road‘, resources in the world of S.C.R.A.P. are few and far between, and sometimes taking from others is the only way to ensure one’s own survival.

The Quest for Sentience

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Relays, Scrappers, and a Recycler mine 3 Scrap deposits early in a S.C.R.A.P. match. See the Generator and a Data Conduit in the bottom middle of the image.

In this game, players are concerned with 3 resources: Scrap metal, Energy, and Data. Scrap metal is the game’s primary resource, and the most plentiful. Most units, structures, and research cost Scrap and only Scrap – some cost Energy from the unit that summons them, as well. Energy serves as ammunition for some units’ weapons and abilities. Energy is effectively a force multiplier: units that need Energy perform better with it. They do more damage, attack faster, et cetera as long as they have Energy stored up.

And finally, there’s Data: the game’s victory resource. Data represents these machines’ quest for sentience, the drive to not just survive in the brutal world of the game, but thrive in it. To achieve the ability to be more than just one predator among many. The Data threshold in S.C.R.A.P. represents these machines getting access to enough information and computing power to Deep Blue their way out of their current predicament: either to become the apex predator, or to escape the dead-end planet on which they’re confined.

The Path to Victory

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The red crystal structure is a Dendrite faction generator, called an Axon. the circular glowing structures are Power Nodes, and the blue structure south of the Axon is a Data Conduit.

So, Acquiring Data is the key to winning a match in S.C.R.A.P. Like rats scrabbling over each other to escape a sinking ship, these semi-sentient machines (controlled by the players) are pulling one another down to death in the hopes that they will make it to safety. Of course, the other way to win is to grind your opponent into the dust.

To acquire Data, players must build Generators on Generator Wrecks. Each Generator Wreck is located near a connection point to the planetary network, and building a Generator powers up that Data Conduit. Generators also power up Power Nodes, which are the game’s source of Energy for units and serve as the build point for most structures.

Therefore, the game really centers around acquiring as many Generators as possible. More Generators means more tech, more Energy, and more Data. Simultaneously to capturing and defending their Generators, they must also go out into the map to acquire Scrap to fund their war machine. Scrap, somewhat like Tiberium in the Command and Conquer games, is not located in handy, defensible corners of the map. Players have to keep moving to mine Scrap deposits, in a large part because these deposits are quickly exhausted.

Balancing and prioritizing the acquisition and expenditure of Scrap and Energy is key to performing well in S.C.R.A.P., as is keeping one’s opponent harried and out-of-balance. Forcing an opponent out of position to destroy one or more of their Generators, causing them to waste Energy, or just damaging their units forcing them to spend more Scrap repairing them (or to spend time recycling and replacing them) – all of these are tools players will need to exercise in order to eke out a victory.

Breaking Their Toys

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A large army of Dendrite Currents (blue glowing units) attacks a Creep Camp while a flying Reclaimer (top right) harvests Scrap metal.

I am a firm believer that games should provide multiple viable paths to victory, dependent on different skill-sets. This is vital to ensuring an optimal experience for players, and serves to keep gameplay fresh. In S.C.R.A.P. it is equally as viable to attempt to straight-out destroy one’s opponent as it is to attempt to wait them out while controlling more territory. One victory is positional, one is tactical.

Data generates relatively slowly. For each Data Conduit a player owns, their Data rate is increased slightly. Holding only one Data Conduit, it would take a player over an hour to accumulate enough to win a match. Even holding 3 Conduits, it takes a player around 20 minutes to hit the critical threshold. This allows plenty of time for players to duke it out, harass their foe, and attempt a traditional RTS Annihilation-style victory.

So far in playtesting, both victory conditions have been met organically – the Data victory has saved my bacon a time or two, while Annihilation has saved a couple of matches from dragging on indefinitely. Future testing post-launch will allow me to more finely balance the win conditions against each other.

Lastly, S.C.R.A.P. has a new trailer to get information out about the impending Public Alpha! check it out:

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