Children of Morta: Designing a Game with a Family at its Core
Children of Morta, an upcoming story-driven action RPG coming to Xbox One on October 15, tells a story of a family struggle and uses its main theme as a foothold in the design process.
In the initial design stage, we decided to stick to the rogue-lite genre because of high replay value that it offers to players. But we quickly realized that we also wanted to tell rich stories and those are not very common in this genre. We were fatigued by standard fantasy tropes about brave warriors and overpowered wizards, so we figured out the tale of a family would be compelling and original. After all – whole families, that serve as heroes, are a real rarity in games.
Children of Morta is set in a distant land but touches the subjects close to the hearts of all of us. The Bergson family looked after Mount Morta and its surroundings for generations. Their story is tangled (as family stories usually are) but it’s also a story of plain, straightforward emotions that we all recognize: hope, courage, love, and eventually sacrifice and grief. But family can overcome all obstacles by staying together and loving each other, right? That’s a theme that echoes throughout the whole game.
Every family member serves as a different class. John, the father, would do anything to protect the ones he loves so he bears a shield and is a sturdy tank character. His son Kevin, on the other hand, is more cautious and withdrawn, so we decided he would work best as a stealthy character who uses invisibility to avoid the enemies. His sister Lucy is young and bursts with energy, so she is a cute but very dynamic and deadly fire mage. Also, players will control elder daughter Linda, a ranged character with a bow, and the cousins, Mark and Joey. Every character has its unique play style and we did our best for all of them to feel well-balanced and fun to play.
We use two methods that should encourage players to use different characters. One is the fatigue system. The Bergsons stand against the ancient Corruption that is slowly devouring the land and the heroes themselves. So, from time to time, your characters must rest if you’re using them frequently. This forces you to pick another family member and test their skills in battle. Also, we got family traits. While gaining experience you’re not only leveling-up given character but also unlocking the skills that are applying to the whole family. This way we made sure that no character feels useless in the endgame and the player stays incentivized to try out different heroes.
The last thing is we’ve tried our best to ensure that the players didn’t feel like the family narrative is fading away while they descend into dungeons. So even if you’re playing single-player mode, other members are there for you to support you during random encounters and events. That builds a great feeling of belonging to the family throughout the whole adventure.
Children of Morta is coming to Xbox One October 15. Stay tuned to Xbox Wire for new updates.