It’s no secret that for some time was an active member in the Mother Forever circle of sub-communities inside what I like to call the “Mother bubble”. A collective of fans dedicated to fan-made creations celebrating the RPGs series by the magnificent Shigesato Itoi.
During that, even if I was quiet in the community, I was working on countless fangames. Most failed as one would expect from these kinds of projects since pulling off (and sustaining) that kind of project meeting the usual Mother standards can be quite complicated.
For instance, I ascended from a battle background artist/programmer to the lead developer of EarthBound Rhapsody, to which I later resigned because it is a darn task I could not take for the sake of my mental health. Should’ve suspected something like that since the last lead dev was so eager to leave… Oh well too late!
So trust me when I say that I mean it when I say I’ve seen glory and potential, and also disaster and chaos.
In December 2020, I became a member of Mother² as a spriter. I was eager to join as a composer before, but they already had one. Nonetheless, I got the overworld sprite artist position and I was proud of it.
For years, everything was smooth sailing. Until it wasn’t a walk in the park.
This article is made for people who already follow me and like my art. If you got here because a peer of yours was sharing this page all willy-nilly:
#1 Refrain from sharing this any further, and this is probably a good spot to stop reading.
#2 If your friend ignored this part, maybe ensure their reading capabilities are alright.
And finally, this article is intended to show the work I created during my stay with the Mother² team, and my thoughts on how the team operates, now that I’m a former member. It’s not all rainbows and sparkles, so maybe skip this one if you’re not into that.
And finally, this is not intended to be a drama-starting article.
During my years of work, we followed a simple model. Every month every member had a specific task (except for Christmas vacations and some spring breaks).
For example, during one of the months, I’d be asked to do the sprites of 3 different NPCs. For the most part, it worked flawlessly. Everyone had a short-term goal that added up to a final goal. In my years of working on different projects, I’d never seen something like this, and it’s probably the reason behind the project’s success.
However, if for some reason you couldn’t work for the month, as long as you let the leads know in advance, they’ll probably reschedule your tasks so you can do them next month.
I was initially an NPC sprite artist, but eventually also gained the positions of overworld tile art, and even doing all of the unique Mother²-specific PSI animations. Although not for the game, I was also in charge of recruiting new members for the project, in a more organized way than the recruitment campaign that let me in.
Alongside Mother², I was also working on my own game, which was scheduled to be revealed during the 2023 Mother Direct, an event dedicated to showcasing Mother-adjacent fan projects.
I was still doing school work, as I was very close to finishing my school year, and in addition, I also had plenty of IRL projects.
In addition, my mental health has been on a downward spiral. Not willing to self-diagnose, but it’s obvious something’s wrong in my noggin.
This all piled up when in early 2023 I was ill with COVID-19.
There was a steady increment in my disposition, which led the devs to decide to kick me out of the team. Not only was I expected to create complex animations I was getting tired of, but I was also demanded to find bugs in the alpha build most members were handed. I could not keep the demand and so they cut me from the team.
To prevent me from speaking about what I had seen and done inside the team, most of the lead developers spoke to other relevant members of the community with the intention to blacklist me from the entire community. They did so successfully, screwing me further with my own project included.
Before I believed we were a family, but now I see I was no more than a replaceable cog in a cold machine. One breaks down and gets changed so the clock keeps ticking.
While that is cold, I would’ve accepted it with a notice, and if my work was kept and credited, as they weren’t willing to credit one of the former members that had left during my stay.
But I’ve caught word that my work is to be replaced and my name scrubbed from the credits.
This is an insult to my years of loyalty and hard work, probably working on this project before even finishing homework, and staying up late until I had stuff done. All, for nothing.
Should’ve suspected this earlier, as I am not the first one to “suddenly disappear”. And in hindsight, I should’ve noticed the oddly constant need for more artists.
That is why, I’ve taken to myself to share the few bits of my stuff I keep from the project. Usually, I would refrain from doing this, but since my stuff isn’t staying, who cares what I post?
Now to be sure, this is stuff I am 100% sure it’s not staying, and for the most part, I’ve avoided stuff I worked on in collaboration with others.
Typography is something I'm not an expert, but an enjoyer for sure. I wanted to make every sign I could gorgeous.
Each area sign had a different and unique font completely different from the last, to make the world feel larger, which I believe is the point of Mother 2's world.
I made these for Onett, to make the town itself unique. Now that we didn't have tile restrictions, were able to create cooler signs.
For some reason though, they decided to keep the older versions of these signs.
One of the new unique PSI animations.
Sometimes they'd let me compose music. This was not one of those times and they opted to use the usual composer's iteration.
While mine is more accurate, the final one is more in style with the rest of the game.
Since they wouldn't use it, I didn't mind uploading it that winter.
This time around, I was asked to arrange this song. Much like the previous one, I used the source instruments, also inspired on the MOTHER 1+2 Album version. However, it was later modified further by another arranger, and then a completely new version was made.
Never finished this one, at least the side sprites. But I think she's pretty.
One of my favorites. I adore the way she looks!
Before I joined, they had a couple of these NPCs done, and this is one of them. However I didn't feel that it matched what the OG game had.
A funny thing that's keeping this game from releasing any time soon is that they keep updating the artstyle of the NPCs and the player sprites unsynchronized. So I took the chance to replace the old sprite while they were updating the NPCs to create something more faithful but still unique.
While the design is inspired by the original, I wanted her to have a very happy personality. The kind of person that would be happy with their job and talk to you about it.
I guess that's who I wanted to be...
In contrast, she's pissed. She wants to go home ASAP.
This NPC uses the same body as the blue-clothed one, so I guessed I could do the same in the remake.
Kinda reminds me of what would a PG-13 version of Madame President from Golden Boy would be like.
In one of the aforementioned sprite updates, I was tasked to improve her older sprite. It is such a glow-up I think sharing the previous version would be like mocking the artist. I genuinely believe knocked it out of the park with this one.
Since she looks like Venus, I decided I would give her a similar pose, though in a more flirty way.
She's not the only NPC to wear a bikini, so I used them as a reference, though using shading in a way to make her look thinner, since she's a zombie, and zombies are walking corpses. The palette for NPCs was too pink-ish for a zombie, so I also made an unique palette for her to better sell the idea that she's dead, and maybe evel filthy.
This would be the last thing I made for the project.
Was this petty? Probably yes. But it is my way to cope after getting sent to the shadow realm.
I must make clear this was a decision taken by a few of the leads, not even all of them supported this. Yet they stupidly decided to trash me and my work, at a point vital to development, and during a time where I was down.
Should you play Mother²? Absolutely! But if you do, do it in honor of every member that worked to bring this project to you, including those who aren't named in the credits.
For now, I'll go back to working on my own projects. If you wanna see that stick around, I guarantee you'll like it. But now I feel better, now that I let go of my past.
I can't deny it or hide it. I should embrace it. But I also walk forward if I want to recover.
Thanks for reading.