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Following the most recent delay around June 2015, the development team for Mother 4 started posting regular updates regarding the game's development on the official blog, as detailed on this page. The team plans on posting the updates until the game's release.

Attract Mode Update 1 Update 2 Update 3 Update 4 Update 5
Something's Missing Update 6 Update 7 Update 8 Update 9 Update 10
Update 11 Update 12 Update 13 Update 14 Update 15 Update 16
Update 16.5 Update 17 Update 18 Update on the Update 2 Keeping posted! Further Postage Required

"Mother 4's Attract Mode."Edit

This update reveals that Mother 4 has an "attract mode," an automatic demo that plays when the game starts up, showcasing a few of the game's places and locales.[1] Along with the update they released a video of the attract mode.

Mother 4 Attract Mode-001:12

Mother 4 Attract Mode-0

A video of Mother 4's Attract Mode

Shane Mesa, the audio director for the project, released the piece playing in the attract mode, named "Chattering World."[2]

"Update #1: But What About Art?"Edit

In order to address the issues with art development, the team presented their changes in background art.[3]

The team clarified that their tendency to "delete and start over"[4] is not necessarily a rule but instead an asset to improve their work. They released screenshots of the old background art and the new background art to show their changes in color and detail.

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Old and new hotel background

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Old and new cave background

"Update #2: Focus on the Background"Edit

This update focuses on the making of Mother 4's battle backgrounds. It is written by Dave, the lead programmer for the project.[5]

The update details how Dave uses a formula to create the backgrounds. Dave demonstrates the process of creating backgrounds utilizing the formula in different ways. With the formula at their disposal the team is able to create numerous backgrounds suitable for the game.

Dave then shows that he has built a program called "Distortionizer" for the team to use to easily make battle backgrounds.

Distortionizer

He then reveals that the ocean effect shown in the attract mode is a re-purposed battle background.

"Update #3: Enemies from the Ground Up"Edit

This update focuses on the process the project's artists go through for creating and spriting every enemy in the game. It is written by Alec, one of the project's artists.[6]

Alec explains that when creating an enemy, he will try to study the subject in reality first through video footage. He will then draws a rough sketch to nail down the size, shape and proportions of the enemy. He explains that the outline should then be solidly defined for ease of coloring in the following step. The design is then colored to complete the concept of the enemy.

Once the concept art is complete and approved, the artists begin spriting the enemy, starting with the sprite's outline, followed by the sprites basic colors, followed by the final step, shading. It is noted that the final sprite might differ slightly from the finished concept.
To end the update, six new enemies are shown.

"Update #4: Tonight's all Write"Edit

This update goes into detail on the style of Mother 4's script and how it is written. The update is written by Pastel, the creative director and writer for the project.[7] Also posted in the update is a remastering of an old music track called "Hometown Strut" which plays in Belring.[8]

Cow bones cow groans

An example of in-game dialog.

Pastel explains that while he writes the lines of dialog, other team members (Folks like Pik, Matt, Ryan, and Max) actually put it it into the game using a scripting tool. He reveals that the name of their scripting tool is Rufini. The tool is used to set dialog boxes and choreograph game cutscenes, including the game's attract mode.

Rufini

Rufini. To the left are the scripts' names. Some of the attract mode's scripts are seen near the top. Listed after that are scripts for setting Belring NPCs' dialog boxes.

Pastel then explains that James (a writer recently added to the team) sorts the script and edits it to fix grammar errors and other things.

Unsorted dialog

How the dialog looks before it's sorted or put into the scripting tool.

Sorted dialog

How the dialog looks after it's sorted but before it's put in the scripting tool

Lastly, Pastel mentions his rules for writing the game's script:

  • Dialog can't be too long
  • There can't be references to Internet culture
  • No morbid language
  • Dialog must be easy to verbally express
  • There must be dialog easy to interpret in multiple ways
  • Have classical references but also a contemporary tone
  • No rewriting jokes from the official Mother games
  • Make the script "fun" to read

"Update #5: Family Pictures"Edit

This update shows the interior of Travis's house and also focuses on the process for designing the game's maps. It is written by Pastel.[9]

Pastel starts by showing pictures of Travis's home and family.

Pastel then explains that Travis's home is a minor place in the game. However, despite this, he says that the team makes sure that every setting in the game is unique and has "little unique touches," no matter how minor the area is. Pastel goes on to explain the process for creating the game's maps. Most maps are given a rough layout as a starting concept, but other, more important maps have more detailed concepts. After the rough concept is done, the tiles are made by the artists. The tiles are then put through a program built by Dave called "Tilesetter." The program sets collision boxes and animation speeds for the tiles.
M4 Proto map

A rough map. The red rectangle approximates the viewing screen size.

M4 Proto map 2

A rough map for a more important area.

Mother 4 tiles

Various tiles

Pastel then goes back to Travis's family.

Travis family concept art

Concept art of Travis's family.

He notes that Travis's mother works in Belring, but his father works in another city, has to take a train to work, and stays in a hotel often, which makes it difficult for him to eat with his family.

Travis family dinner

Lastly, a GIF is posted of a story event occurring while Travis sleeps.

Travis energy blasts

"Something's Missing"Edit

On Wednesday night, September 2, 2015, lieu of a full update, the team posted an image of an in-game menu (mentioning that something is missing from it normally present in the Mother menus), along with a message that the update would be postponed until that Saturday.[10]

Something's missing

"Update #6: What's on the Menu?"Edit

This update focuses on how the team handled the Pause menu in Mother 4. It is written by Pastel.[11]

Travis Zack lake

In reference to the previous update, the team reveals that an "Equip" window (present in EarthBound and Mother 3) was intentionally left out of the Pause menu. The team explains that weapons will instead be equipped via the Goods window (like in EarthBound Beginnings), the aim being to limit extraneous steps. Weapons will also be able to be equipped during battle.

Travis equips Old Bat

To make it easier to cut unnecessary steps, the team created a flowchart showing the button presses needed to navigate through the Pause menu.

Menu flowchart iterations

The flowchart throughout development. An "Equip" window used to be available via the Inventory menu (AKA, the Goods menu), along with a window labeled "???". Both were scrapped, leaving only Party goods and Key Items. The Status screen also updated to show the party members' Offense, Defense, Speed, Guts, Luck, Vitality, and IQ in addition to their Condition, Level, HP, PP, EXP, and EXP til next Level.

The team clarifies that while a Key Item tab was missing from the Goods menu last update, it is back again. The team then explains how the map system works: Travis will carry a general map of Pleiades (pictured below) labeled "Travis' map" in the Key Items tab in the Goods menu. The map can be accessed by using the map from the Key Items tab, or by simply selecting the "Map" option on the Pause menu.

Pleiades map

To view a map of a particular city/area he's in, he will need to use a map item in his own tab on the Goods menu (the map item here is labeled "Belring Map").

"Update #7: On the mind"Edit

This update centers around PSI, its use in the game's overworld, and PSI effects.[12]

PK Fire α

The team states and demonstrates that they have updated PK Fire's animation since its appearance in the teaser trailer:[13] instead of using multiple sub-objects, the entire effect is animated frame-by-frame. They then state that all PSI effects will be like this, and it is the approach they will be taking for creating all future PSI effects. They then state that Pik (a Mother 4 artist) had recently created the overworld effect for Telepathy.

N9GrJlE

The team reveals that Telepathy can be used to read the minds of non-player characters and enemies at the cost of PP; this allows the player to recover enemy stats and weaknesses, and to gain alternate dialog from NPCs. The team plans to make using Telepathy in the overworld available using a single button press. Telepathy script Telepathy must be scripted through Rufini. Scripting telepathy is purportedly requires less tagging than scripting normal dialog. Around the time of this update, the team focused on improving interface experience, and Ryan (a Mother 4 artist) focused on scripting telepathy for NPCs in houses. Closing out the update, team mentions that making the game "feel good to play" is just as important to them as "making the assets high quality."

"Update #8: Joy of Construction"Edit

This update centers around a motel the team artists were creating at the time.[14]

The team starts by showing the motel's tiles.

La Folia motel tiles

This is an example of disorganized map tiles the team creates in the process of building a game map.

The team then shows the motel's nearly finalized design.

La Folia motel unfinished
La Folia motel inside unfinished

The team explains that while they have multipurpose assets at their disposal to create the game's map, they also must create unique set pieces like the motel. They then state that they plan to update the exterior of Travis's house. Closing off, the team mentions that the next update would be a week early and that Dave completed the game's window.

Mother 4 window

"Update #9: Checking Out Checking In"Edit

This update shows the finalized design of the motel shown in the previous update.[15]

To start off, the team explains that the update is late because an unforeseen malfunction occurred while setting the rest of the tiles, resulting in the accumulation of unwanted colors in the area's tileset. However, Dave managed a solution that took "time and work to implement." The team also slips out that the the area they are working in is La Folia.

Junk colors

Finally, the team shows the very near finalized designs, mentioning that there is still a bit of work to do.

La Folia motel
La Folia motel night
Travis and Floyd in La Folia

"Update #10: Enemies by the Numbers"Edit

This update focuses on the game's enemies.[16]

The team provides statistics on how many enemies there are in the official Mother games, followed by a count of how many enemies they have and have left to do. At the time of this update, they completed one hundred and twenty-five enemies and had roughly half of that number left to complete.

Mother 4 enemies
Mother 4 scary enemies

Lastly, the team announces that they are taking a break for the holidays and would return in 2016.

"Update #11: Update for the Birds"Edit

This post focuses on a scripting test the team has worked on, specifically scripting birds in Pennyburg.[17]

Travis in Pennyburg

Pennyburg

The team then shows what what it looks like without the scripts being passed, and with the scripts being passed.

Pennyburg bird pretest

Scripting test not passed.

Pennyburg birds

Scripting test passed.

The aim is to make the birds behave realistically by responding to the player character's presence.

The team then explains a bit of the process behind making the game. Dave programs game's engine, while much of the rest of the team uses Dave's scripting syntax to create scripts. The scripts are used to create cutscenes, place scene transitions, set non-player character dialog, or do something like as shown in this update. The scripting is, of course, done through Rufini.

Rufini birds

A slightly updated version of Rufini.

Lastly, the team explains the delays. They say that they were excited to show what they had already completed, and it resulted in "bad guesswork" on the game's release. They state that the majority of the assets of the project are complete, but they still have to assemble them into a working build. Their plan is to finish rougly one major game area per month.

"Update 12: Masterful little Update"Edit

This update centers around what the audio team has been working on—remastering the game's music tracks.[18]

M4 Audio Program

A snap shot of the audio team's program

Remastering Happy Days

A snapshot of the track "Happy Days"[19] being remastered.

To start with, the team puts a mastered version of "Chattering World" together with the old version of "Chattering World" for comparison.[20]


The old version of "Chattering World"


The mastered version of "Chattering World"

They then explain that "mastering" refers to a process in audio design where music is made "album ready" by adjusting the audio levels on the instruments, in order to make sure all the tracks fit with one another and make them "easier to listen to." At the time of this update, the team had made over seventy music tracks. They faced challenges in remastering as they lost some of the source files for some tracks.

A few days later, the team made a new track titled "Fighting a Serious Opponent" public.[21]

"Update 13: World of Rumor"Edit

This update focuses on the game's quests, style of writing, and non-player character dialog. It is written by Pastel.[22]

To begin with, Pastel shows a PSI animation he has completed.

Maybe Lifeup

Besides PSI animations, most of what Pastel still does on the project is writing, specifically writing out story-based events, rather than NPC dialog or item descriptions. Pastel has been writing the events/quests in the form of in-game rumors.

Pastel explains that the above images represent some of the problems/quests to be encountered in the game. He then mentions that another thing he has been working on is tallying the things left for the team to do. He estimates that the point in the game's development mirrors the game bosses' development, where the team has finalized eighteen of the total twenty bosses' designs and fourteen of the twenty bosses' sprites. (This would mean that the game is roughly 70-75% complete as of this update.)

"Update 14: A Look at Details"Edit

This update focuses on some minor aspects of the game's overworld programming. It is written by Dave.[23]

Debug party joins

Meant to demonstrate the smooth letterbox effect (the animated black bars at the top and bottom of the screen) as well as the subtle swipe-in the text box does when it appears.

Next, multiple enemies are shown in the game's overworld to demonstrate diversity of enemy animations/behaviors.

Finally, rainy weather is demonstrated.

La Folia crypt rain

"Update 15: Making Room"Edit

This update features the complete process of making a room, more battle backgrounds, and an update on an area. It is written by Pik, with contributions by Pastel and Matt (an artist).[24]

M4 room creation

How rooms in the game look throughout development.

While the team has tiles for generalized and generic areas, the map being presented is an exception. It is a unique map with tiles only present there. This room took a few hours to complete. After the visuals are done, the room is traced over and tiles are made in a program called Tiled. This process changes the visuals of the room minimally, with a few objects moving one or two pixels.

Next, some battle backgrounds that Pastel finished are shown.

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"For fighting something that flies."

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"For fighting something that shouldn't move."

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"For fighting something that isn't human anymore."

Lastly, it is shown that Matt had been working on the Maple Knob area.

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Maple knob area.

"Update #16: Springing into Battle"Edit

This update shows four new enemies.[25]

M4 Spring enemies

The team then says that the next update would be a week early due to the small size of this one.

"Update #16.5: Swirling Into Battle"Edit

This update centers around the game's battle transitions.[26]

The team went through a few rough drafts of the transitions before settling on a final one.

M4 proto battle transition

An early battle transition.

M4 slow battle transition

A near-final version.

Travis engages Not-So-Deer

The final version.

There are different animations for bosses and the final boss.

"Update 17: Working on the Railroad"Edit

This update demonstrates slight edits to the game's map, as well as the game's train system.[27]

Belring spacious edit

The team went through the game's map and edited it. The team (specifically Pik) had also worked on balancing between having spacious maps and having clearly defined boarders with no "negative space." This process is especially important for designing transits for the game's trains, as well as making on-foot paths more efficient.

Belring negative space

The team shows a full transit from Belring to Union City.[1] Trains can be ridden on by getting Deluxe Passes which give the player ten free one-way trips. The team notes that as of this update, three more train stations were left to complete.

"Update 18: Thinking about Emotions"Edit

This update demonstrates a new feature related to Travis's Telepathy ability, among other things.[28]

M4 LIGHTBULB

"Emote bubbles," tiny speech bubbles that appear near a character's head, showing their mood, have been written in the game's code for some time, but the team just recently figured out a way to make them appear. Once they did, they put them to use by using them as a signal to the player that Travis is able to use Telepathy on the non-player character he is speaking to.

Crummy Guy Union City

The team has also begun putting signs and indoor non-player characters in Belring.

Draw some graffiti You're not my Ma

The team then announces that a new team member, Nelward, was added to the team as a music composer. They also reveal a new track, composed by Nelward:

Finally, the team recommends checking on old things in the game:

Graffiti Painted Over

"Update on the Update, 2"Edit

This update is an announcement from the team that updates would be smaller, more frequent, and less scheduled.[29]

Leo at the pub

"Keeping posted!"Edit

In this post, the team shows some game assets related to the game's saving process.[30]

Belring has a post office where the player learns how to save.

Belring post office

To save, one mails a postcard from the saving location. A sprite of the postcard shows up at the file select, showing where the player was when they last saved. The concept artist, With a Hint of Lemon, provides the concept art for the postcards, and they are made into sprites by Pastel.

Belring postcard

Concept art for Belring's postcard

M4 save assets

"Further Postage Required"Edit

The team provides an update on the saving system.[31]

Before discussing the saving system, the team mentions that Max and Pik are working on connecting sections of the game with animated scenes, such as the one shown below.

Travis wakes up

Since the previous update, the team changed the save system of the game, since in reality, postcards don't typically go in envelopes. They also edited the Belring so that the colors are more intense and the image is more detailed.

Belring postcard sprite 2
M4 save animation

With a Hint of Lemon, again, drew the concept art for it.

Belring postcard 2

ReferencesEdit

  1. Attract mode update
  2. "Chattering World" by Shane Mesa on Soundcloud
  3. Update #1
  4. "Mother 4 needs your help." on the Mother 4 blog: "We throw away NPCs. We scrap songs. We redesign the UI until it’s right. We add more content. Work and create, change and edit, toss and delete. Start again."
  5. Update #2
  6. Update #3
  7. Update #4
  8. "Hometown Strut" by Shane Mesa on Soundcloud
  9. Update #5
  10. "Something's Missing"
  11. "Update #6
  12. Update #7
  13. The teaser trailer
  14. Update #8
  15. Update #9
  16. Update #10
  17. Update #11
  18. Update 12
  19. "Happy Days" by Shane Mesa on Soundcloud
  20. "Chattering World" before and after
  21. "Fighting a Serious Opponent" by Shane Mesa on Soundcloud
  22. Update 13
  23. Update 14
  24. Update 15
  25. Update #16
  26. Update #16.5
  27. Update 17
  28. Update 18
  29. Update on the Update, 2
  30. "Keeping posted!"
  31. "Further Postage Required"

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