Mother 4 is a fan-made freeware game based on the role-playing game series Mother. It was intended to emulate an official new installment to the series, but is currently in the process of rebranding. It does not have a set release date and is currently under development, but upon its release, will be playable on PC, Mac, and Linux. The project began development around 2008, and the current version of the game began development around late 2012 to early 2013.
Mother 4 is a role-playing game. The gameplay borrows primarily from the official Mother games (EarthBound Beginnings, EarthBound, and Mother 3) with a few tweaks and new features. Like the official games, it features a party of combatants that traverses a wide, contemporary world—frequently engaging enemies in turn-based combat, healing in hotels, talking to non-player characters, taking mundane modes of transportation (such as trains and motorcycles), and using items gotten in convenience stores. In battle, the characters will fight until they or their opponent(s) run out of Hit Points (a loss and a win, respectively). The characters also use psychic abilities that produce various effects in battle at the cost of Psychic Points. Like in Mother 3, the game features a combo system in its battles.
A unique feature in the game is a day/night system. When the player characters stay at a hotel, the player can choose to stay until the next morning or the evening. The time of day affects the non-player characters in the overworld, the tasks that can be done, and the enemies in the overworld. Another unique feature is the capability of gaining an extra turn in battle. Each player character has a meter that fills in combat, which when filled all the way, activates the turn. Another deviation from the official games is that characters often cannot easily stack their buffs and debuffs when facing boss enemies (like in Mother 3), many of which can neutralize the effects.
The game is set in the year 197X and follows the adventures of Travis, an ordinary boy with an interest in baseball and a propensity for daydreaming, yet extraordinary psychic powers; Meryl, a headstrong, eager, and rather reckless girl with psychic powers; Floyd, a street-smart and self-confident boy with a charismatic nature; and Leo, a taciturn psychic and leader of a biker gang. Their goal is to thwart the evil intentions of the mysterious group known as the Modern Men—the cause of many strange and dangerous happenings throughout the country of Pleiades.
The current version of the game was made and programmed using a custom engine modeled in C#. The game's scripting, maps, and battle backgrounds were done/made using private programs. The game's sprite art was made using Microsoft Paint.
Development of the game started in 2008 with the use of RPG Maker XP. The former creator, Chase "Chaisu" Garretta, and his brother Zack started the project, and they posted the idea to the Starmen.net forums. They opted to make the art style of the game similar to Mother 3's and wanted to make something indistinguishable from an official Mother game.
Realizing the program's limitations, Chaisu moved the game's engine from RPG Maker XP to GameMaker. Chaisu then recruited Dave (now lead programmer for the project) and Zephys (now a writer and concept artist for the project) to help with the game, around late 2008. There were many other recruits as well (close friends of Chaisu's) including a logo artist known as Leo the Professional (who Leo is named after and based on). On this team, Chaisu served as a director, composer, writer, scripter, and many other jobs. Eventually, the team also came across limitations with using GameMaker, so the game's engine was made from scratch using a custom SDL based engine written in C++. Around this time, other members of the current core team began to join, such as Pik (now the lead artist), Gabe (now a spriter), Dani, and Shane (music composers). The art style of the game began evolving quickly, and it no longer took after Mother 3's art style. The team began posting sporadic updates on the project on a (now defunct) blog at the URL http://mother4.andonuts.net.
Around 2012, the team began facing great challenges in developing the game, not being able to work on the project on free time alone. Chase and a few others left the project, and Zephys took over. It was around this time that Pastel (now creative director for the project) and Zane (now the community manager for the project) were introduced to the team. Other members of the current core team introduced around this time were Ryan (an artist), IMP (an artist), With a Hint of Lemon (concept artist), and Max (a character spriter).
Just before 2013, Zephys could not commit as much time to lead the project, so Pastel led in his stead. As leader, he scrapped most of the past assets for the game and started from near scratch in C#. The current version of the game began development here. To aid in communication with the fans, the official Mother 4 site went live on August 13, 2013.
When the site went live, the team for the first time posted footage of the game in motion with a teaser trailer. The game was set for release in December 2014; however, it was postponed until some time in 2015. At this time, they hired another developer named Boris. A bit later on, they released a gameplay trailer, estimated a June release, and added a new writer named James. On June 3, 2015, the team announced that they would not be able to meet the June deadline due to "significant development challenges." Because of this, they hired new spriters and developers to help finish the game. The team also agreed to make updates every other week centering around the game's development. At this time, the team decided to set no public deadlines for the game's release. On March 1st, 2017, the Mother 4 team announced that the game was in the process of rebranding. As of June, 2017, the devs are in the process of removing/replacing any sprites, music, text, story, and features that are trademarked/patented by Nintendo. No replacement title has been announced as of yet.
- For more information, see Mother 4/Updates
Following the major delay in June 2015, to aid in transparency, the development team decided to post regularly scheduled updates providing an in-depth look at the game's development and what a particular team member is working on at the time. The first update was posted on June 11, 2015 with the team posting footage of the game's attract mode; the updates then continued being posted roughly every two weeks around Wednesday. The team took a break for the holidays around November 2015 and paused the updates. The updates then resumed on February 14, 2016, to be posted every other Sunday. On June 21, 2016, the team decided to thereafter post nonscheduled, more frequent updates to aid in accountability.
The game features a mostly original soundtrack composed by Shane Mesa and Dani Person. A new composer named Nick Elward ("Nelward") joined around May 2016, but announced he would be leaving the team around July 2017. Some of the tracks are arrangements of music from the official Mother games or other media (though any Mother related tracks are to be remove). All of the music (except for Nelward's) was made in Logic Pro X. As of October 15th 2017, musican Shane Mesa is on indefinite leave from the project, Nelward has left the project, and Dani Person is on indefinite leave due to a focus on his musical career.
- Former lead developer Chase Anast created the promotional artwork for LISA: The Painful RPG
- Leadership on Mother 4 has shifted from Chasu to Zephys to Pastel (in order).
- A few guest tracks have been made or considered throughout development. The following are a few tracks considered or used:
- A track by Keviiin composer for Megaman Legends (fanmade track).
- A battle track by Grant Kirkope. This track remains to be released as of October 15th 2017.
- A track by Widdly2Diddly discussed briefly in Shane Mesa's Discord. No further detail has been given on the track if it exists.
- The Modern Mind track was created by "a guest composer". Their identity remains a mystery.
- Nelward's contributions, as he departed the team due to payment troubles.
- ↑ The official Mother 4 website
- ↑ "About" section of the Mother 4 website
- ↑ Page 206. Pastel (creative director of Mother 4) in a 4chan post: "One thing I didn't like about Mother 3 is how you could basically use Offense/Defense Up constantly and win the fight by default. In Mother 4 there are debuff skills like in Shin Megami Tensei where half the bosses have Dekunda and Dekaja."
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 FAQ on the Mother 4 website
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Page 53. Stated by Zephys, writer/concept artist for Mother 4
- ↑ Page 6. Original 2008 staff
- ↑ "Welcome New Staff" from the old blog on andonuts.net
- ↑ Full staff on the old blog on andonuts.net
- ↑ From the official Mother 4 blog: "Mother 4, in its current form, has only existed for about two years."
- ↑ The old Mother 4 blog on andonuts.net
- ↑ The Mother 4 teaser trailer
- ↑ "Mother 4 Available in 2015." on the Mother 4 blog
- ↑ The Mother 4 gameplay trailer
- ↑ "Mother 4 needs your help." on the Mother 4 blog
- ↑ "Mother 4's Attract Mode." on the Mother 4 blog
- ↑ Mother 4's attract mode
- ↑ Update #11 on the Mother 4 blog
- ↑ "Update on the Update, 2" on the Mother 4 blog