My Time At Sandrock Sequel May Surprise Fans, Says Dev

"While we can't officially confirm anything just yet, let's just say that the future successor to My Time Series may have a few surprises in store," says Director.

Story Highlights

  • My Time at Sandrock — Pathea Games‘ most recent entry — was released on November 2, 2023.
  • It started as a DLC to the critically acclaimed My Time at Portia but was later turned into a sequel.
  • We interviewed Xu Zhi, Director of My Time of Sandrock & Portia, to get more insights into the title.

The tale of My Time at Sandrock is rather interesting. It began life as DLC to the first entry, My Time at Portia, but, the expanding vision of Pathea Games and the the many big things it wanted to go forward with turned the project into a full-fledged sequel. The decision was made based on good judgment, as the recent installment has successfully made a name for itself over the course of its release. 

It has not only expanded on the lore but also introduced many characters that are completely different from what we saw in Portia. Lucky for fans, this has opened opportunities for even more potential entries in the My Time series, which, as revealed in this interview, could be surprising to the fans. To get more insights into My Time at Sandrock and get a glimpse at the series’ future, eXputer sat down with Xu Zhi, Director of My Time of Sandrock & Portia, over an email interview.

Read ahead for the full interview comprising Xu Zhi’s complete insights.

My Time at Sandrock
My Time at Sandrock – via Pathea Games.

My Time at Sandrock has been praised by many for offering a great town simulation experience. However, there has been quite a bit of criticism regarding its combat. Is that something the team will try to work on improving?

Xu Zhi: We are grateful for all the praise we have received. As a matter of fact, we intentionally designed the combat so it’s not overly complicated and can be accessible to both casual and simulation audiences. We wanted to make it easy for everyone to gather the necessary resources. However, we have taken note of player feedback and are working on adding a more challenging ruin for those seeking a more intense combat experience. Our current plan is to release this update before Christmas on PC and by January of next year on console platforms.

Similar to Portia, the main character and NPCs have to rebuild society after an apocalyptic event. Although the premise allows the writers to be really creative, were there parts of the game that required extensive research to get right?

Xu Zhi: While both Portia and Sandrock have the common goal of rebuilding a town, the underlying themes of these two games are vastly different. Portia is set in a livable seaside city, while Sandrock is situated in a harsh desert environment with limited access to water. This stark contrast in natural resources also affects the resource-gathering process.

Our team did not live in a city with such a harsh environment, so in order to portray a real desert town, our core members, including story writers, traveled to the northwest desert region of China for over 10 days to gain firsthand knowledge on combating desertification. Through these trips, we observed the behaviors of plants and animals and drew inspiration for in-game stories and functions.

In fact, some of the characters in Sandrock are actually based on real Chinese local farmers who are experts in combating desertification. These farmers are experts in combat desertification, with many years of experience in desert greening, using methods such as the straw grid, which can be found in Sandrock.

By incorporating these real-life techniques into the game, we hope to educate players from all over the world on the issue of desertification and inspire them to hopefully implement these methods of curing the desert in real-life settings. This is the power of video games – they have the potential to bring about real change in people’s lives.

Sandrock started as a DLC for Portia but became its own thing somewhere along the development. When exactly was that decision made? And can fans expect a DLC for My Time at Portia sometime in the future?

Xu Zhi: We decided to make Sandrock a separate title, near the end of Portia development. This is because we wanted to challenge ourselves with a game of different vibes. Compared to Portia’s coziness, Sandrock has its own unique characteristics that can be used to shape a different story and desert-related gameplay. Plus, we wanted to add the much-requested multiplayer feature in Sandrock at the time. The story in Portia has already finished content-wise, and there’s no plan at the moment for future DLCs for the title.

My Time at Sandrock
My Time at Sandrock – via Pathea Games.

After seeing the feedback on the prequel, My Time at Portia, were there any particular aspects that the team wanted to work on?

Xu Zhi: We’ve gathered and evaluated a lot of feedback from Portia fans; here are some examples of things we’ve optimized in Sandrock.

1. In Portia, players could only save at the end of each day, which could be frustrating. In Sandrock, we have made it more convenient by allowing players to save anywhere they want.

2. Many Portia players expressed interest in a co-op game mode, so we have added a multiplayer co-op mode in Sandrock.

3. Crafting in Portia required players to hold crafting parts in their hands, which was a common complaint. In Sandrock, we have optimized the process by allowing the game to access data directly from storage boxes.

4. In Portia, players had to carry items in their bags to submit commissions and orders. In Sandrock, we have simplified this process by allowing the game to read items directly from storage boxes.

These are just a few examples of the improvements we have made. Players of Portia will notice that Sandrock is a significant step up in every aspect.

What were some of the Major challenges or difficulties that the team encountered during development?

Xu Zhi: One of these challenges was crafting the expansive and rich main story, as it involved a complex plot with many twists and turns that we had never attempted before. This required a significant amount of time and energy to ensure that the story was logical and engaging for players.

Another challenge we encountered was porting the game in-house for the first time. This process had many flaws and ultimately resulted in the console version of the game not meeting our expectations upon release, which we are deeply sad about. Moving forward, we are fully committed to optimizing the console version to match a similar level of high quality as the PC version, with updates already underway.

The game has a few DLC items, but none offers more content to explore. Can fans expect a potential DLC for Sandrock, focusing on more content and/or areas to travel to?

Xu Zhi: We plan to release some DLC with exciting content to explore in 2024, but we can’t announce any specific details yet. One will feature new gameplay mechanics, while the other will be related to the storyline. Both DLCs will have a longer production cycle, so they will be released next year.

This would be similar to my previous question, but I'm curious to know what you specifically want to explore in a potential future entry in this series.

Xu Zhi: There is no plan for the next My Time series game before the summer of 2024. Our focus at the moment is on providing free content updates for Sandrock post-launch, addressing bugs, polishing the console version and the production of future DLC content. Our goal is to ensure a satisfying experience for all those who have supported us and own the game.

My Time at Sandrock
My Time at Sandrock – via Pathea Games.

I read in another interview that the NPCs in Sandrock are not as polite as those in Portia due to the harsh environment they live in. I'm curious to know whether any of these NPCs are inspired by other real or fictional characters.

Xu Zhi: Haha, most of the characters are still very friendly. Cooper, for example, may come off as snarky at first, but as players get to know him, they’ll discover that he’s just a simple rancher who’s not afraid to speak his mind. Compared to Portia, we wanted each townsperson in Sandrock to have their own unique personality. In Portia, where the environment and living standards are rich, the NPCs are generally good-natured from the start to the end.

However, in Sandrock, a city on the edge of the desert, the harsh living conditions may have shaped the residents to be more self-protective, giving them a perceived ‘bad’ reputation. Through the main storylines and the players’ impact on the development of the town, we can witness the growth and changes of these character personalities, allowing players to fully immerse themselves in the game world and feel a sense of fulfillment.

As a developer, you must be familiar with every nook and cranny of the game. Is there a secret interaction or situation that players have yet to uncover in My Time at Sandrock?

Xu Zhi: Let’s keep this a secret for now and let players discover it on their own. But I can give you a little hint – There are some exciting Easter eggs and collaborations with Portia in the game, like the small gift from Portia Mayor Gale in the Sandrock city town hall. Some other Portia characters will also visit Sandrock, so explore the game to find it all by yourself!

Are there any hopes for another game in the My Time series? Or is that something that still requires more time?

Xu Zhi: While we can’t officially confirm anything just yet, let’s just say that the future successor to My Time Series may have a few surprises in store. For now, you’ll just have to stay tuned for more updates.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with the audience? Something we haven’t touched upon yet.

Xu Zhi: My Time at Sandrock is a game full of warmth and passion. Whether you’re facing challenges in real life or simply looking for an escape, we hope the game will transport you to the charming My Time world and hopefully make things a little better.

My Time at Sandrock is a simulation management game with a great community-praised story that sets it apart from all the other simulation games on the market. We have poured our hearts into creating a fulfilling narrative packed with exciting, romantic, and touching moments. This is not just My Time; it’s Our Time – a journey that we invite you to embark on and experience the love and dedication we have put into every aspect of this game.

YouTube video

After a rather unfortunate launch of the console versions, Pathea Games is determined to polish it to reflect the PC version. Moreover, it also appears that the developers have at least two DLCs planned for My Time at Sandrock, which should arrive sometime next year. As for Portia, there are no plans for another DLC. The series’ success has also encouraged the team to envision the future entry.

While no specific details were given, Xu Zhi said it might have a few surprises for the fans. For those who have played Portia before moving on to Sandrock, this might be a familiar feeling as the latter improved on many features and had a much different setting. Nevertheless, players can rest assured as the future of the My Time series appears to be full of content.

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i love this series and do hope there is more of my time as in our time to come in 2024

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Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

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