14 min read

Behind the Scenes with Moirai Myths

Here's our Behind the Scenes Interview with Moirai Myths, a small studio that's working on their first title The Good People (Na Daoine Maithe). Read about their upcoming game, how the team works, and what myths inspired the game!
Behind the Scenes with Moirai Myths

Moirai Myths is a small Canada-based studio formed back in 2019. The studio is currently working on their first title, The Good People (Na Daoine Maithe). NDM is a romance adventure that's inspired by different mythoses, most heavily Irish mythology. Today, we sat down with some of the members of Moirai Myths to talk about their upcoming game, how their team works together, and the myths that inspired the game!

Can you tell us a bit about who you all are and how you got into game development?

Clotho: I’m a creative writing and publishing graduate from Canada that currently works in the book-publishing world. I’ve always had a passion for storytelling and aspirations to become a fantasy-novelist, but after dabbling in game writing during college, I found myself drawn to the unique style of non-linear, multi-pathed writing that video games allow for. In a way, getting involved in visual novel writing isn’t all that far removed from my original goals, but it was certainly unexpected! If you want to follow me personally on social media, my Twitter’s @FatefulClotho.

Lachesis: I’m a philosophy student who lives in the United States. I play dating sims in my spare time, so I met everyone through a fandom we shared. I didn’t come to game development on purpose; Clotho and I just had an idea that we really loved and decided to try and make it a reality. You can find me on Twitter at @FatefulLachesis.

Atropos: I’m an IT graduate who is also currently working in the field. My full-time job is not entirely game developing specific, but programming has always been one of my passions. Becoming an indie dev actually works out better for me since it allows me to have more freedom and control over my projects in terms of creativity and inclusiveness. And memes. Which you can occasionally find on my Twitter, @FatefulAtropos! (Sometimes, I also sneak "leaks" in—but ssshshh, please don't tell anyone that.)

Melinoe: I’ve been working towards becoming an environment artist and concept artist primarily in the video game industry for a while. I’ve known the main three devs for years now and figured it would be a good place to start and help build up my portfolio.

Khaos (@shrimp1y), our character designer, and Erato (@MsCriAlot), our UI designer, were unavailable to comment.

How did you all come together to form Moirai Myths?

Clotho: Lachesis, Atropos, and I were all friends before we decided to make a game together in early 2019. Over the next two subsequent years, we recruited more of our mutual friends to the artist team and generally spent our time brainstorming broad plot content, world-building, and creating an outline for NDM’s eventual demo. We were kind of in limbo during this era of development—picking away at the story, characters, and world in between our day to day lives, but unable to pin down when the time would be right to start working on the more concrete stuff, like the script, art and design, programming, etc. But, in the summer of 2021, that moment to properly begin fashioning together a demo for NDM arrived.

In summary, I was in my last year of college and needed to acquire an internship credit in order to graduate. Ordinarily, this would entail me working for an existing enterprise that contributes to the publishing world in some fashion, or at least involves a lot of writing, but that just got me thinking…what if I pitched developing NDM as my internship? To my surprise, my program head actually said yes, and I subsequently got sorted into an entrepreneurial variation of the internship program, wherein Moirai Myths – the company – would begin to be officially formed. Over the fall, the six of us developed our first iteration of the demo, and continued to polish it into early 2022 before releasing it publicly last August.

Your team is composed of six talented individuals. How is everything managed?

Lachesis: Clotho, Atropos, and I are the primary organizers of the game. Clotho and I are the writers, Atropos programs, and Melinoe, Khaos, and Erato are our environment, character, and UI designers respectively.

Image via Moirai Myths

Where does collaboration come into play?

Clotho: Basically everywhere. Lachesis and I collaborate on the writing, the entire team gives input on the art and design elements, and Robin is constantly meddling in Atropos’ programming efforts.

Currently, you all are working on The Good People (Na Daoine Maithe). This visual novel is inspired by Irish mythology where you play as a young Irish farmer during the mid-19th century during the Great Famine. On your way to try and get money for your starving family, you’re instead whisked away to Tír na nÓg; a world full of mystery, magic, shapeshifters, fairies, kingdoms, etc. How did you come up with the story for this game?

Clotho: NDM started with Lachesis and I throwing little concepts back-and-forth in a casual, purely hypothetical conversation about what we thought a visual novel featuring fairies might look like, beginning with the opening premise: You play as a human who gets lured into the fairy-world, and meet and romance characters like a fairy queen, a goblin king (of the David Bowie variety, of course), and a shapeshifting trickster. Then we moved on to big-narrative plot twists and world-building things: What if the player gets trapped in this place? Maybe there’s some kind of conflict going on, too, and that’s partly why the player can’t leave. Say! What if there was a war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts? That fits nicely, and allows us to create two distinct factions for our ROs.

Eventually, by this point, we’d developed the basic framework for NDM and got invested in our little hypothetical, so we got more serious about making it a real story. We asked Atropos, a mutual friend, whether they would be interested in helping us make a visual novel on the programming side of things, and then spent a solid three weeks feverishly researching fairy mythos, until settling predominantly on Irish mythology.

Image via Moirai Myths

What made you settle on Irish mythology? Was there any other mythos you guys thought about during the brainstorming phase, or was it always Irish mythology?

Clotho: Technically, NDM is not exclusively inspired from Irish mythology. For instance, the Seelie, Unseelie, and creatures like the broonie are actually Scottish in origin, but Irish myths (e.g. Tír na nÓg, the Tuatha Dé Danann) definitely make up the majority of NDM’s inspiration. This is for several reasons, but the main one is that it’s shockingly underutilized! There’s several cycles of myths, all brimming with creative potential, but short of a handful of popular figures like the Morrígan, you don’t really see a lot of Irish-variety mythos in popular culture. Likewise, when we settled on Irish myths as our predominant inspiration point, we also began researching more into Ireland itself: Its history, culture, and in particular its experience with English imperialism and cultural erasure…which, too, became an integral part of the story we’re telling, both directly and through metaphors/parallels. If you’re curious, that’s why we include so much translatable Gaeilge in the demo, too.

Lachesis: We decided we wanted to draw attention to as much of Irish mythology and culture as is possible considering how little information is available, so we never really had a need to brainstorm over other mythologies too much. Our focus was more on creating a consistent cosmos that reconciles conflicts in the literature we do have available.

When it came to adapting the different mythoses and cultures (Irish, a dash of Scottish, etc) into your game, what kind of research did everyone on the team do? Did any of you take any creative liberties with anything, especially given the limited information out there?

Clotho: A lot of the preliminary research we did wasn’t especially fancy. YouTube series, wiki-dives, etc. Enough to get us acquainted with the core tenets of the mythology—or rather mythologies, as Irish myths are divided into cycles. We pretty quickly ran into problems, though, because a lot of the “newbie-friendly” content floating around online contradicted each other or contained misinformation perpetrated around the 19th century or by pagan revivalists. As such, we took to the CELT database [https://celt.ucc.ie/publishd.html] and an Internet Archive upload of Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of Invasions) for a lot of our later research, in order to corroborate information we found elsewhere and generally familiarize ourselves with the core texts of Irish mythology, or at least those our game pulls from. It’s a healthy stack of documents, folks. Our research efforts will no doubt continue all throughout our game’s development.

That all said, while our goal is to be as faithful to these source materials as possible, creative liberties are a necessity for several reasons. Irish myths are not as well preserved as other mythologies, so there are gaps and biases inherent to the text. We don’t have access to sources written by the people who held these beliefs sincerely; the vast majority of the texts available to modern readers were transcribed by monks, who were behooved to…adapt the stories, shall we say, to work within Christian framing. As a result, we cannot be entirely certain about the reliability of these texts, but short of some historical speculation, they’re the best we’ve got to work with.

While we’re on the topic of the “brainstorming phase,'' the game’s demo is incredibly polished! Tell us, were there any aspects of the game that either got left on the cutting room floor (i.e. an old character design) or are being saved for the full release?

Clotho: There was a really stupid funny bit that Atropos and I wanted to do after the credits or in the menu somewhere, wherein the player would get dragged off by Robin to an RPG-esque storefront with a sign labeled “Robin’s Identity Distribution Centre”, which would function as the in-game way in which all of Tír na nÓg would learn the player’s actual pronouns, instead of defaulting to Daonna’s (they/them). The idea was that, since Robin can teleport, they’d zip around the entire island and let everyone know that you’d actually prefer to use she/her, he/him, or custom neopronouns, so the next time you interacted with anyone in-game, they’d already know you’re not using they/them anymore. Sadly, we ran out of time to do this, and it wouldn’t have served much utility in the demo anyway, so we’ll end up giving the player a way of correcting the record re: name and pronouns in the full game.

Lachesis: Maeve’s character design has changed dramatically over development. She initially was much more femme, but as we fleshed out her character and backstory, we realized it didn’t work for her. Overall I’d say Shae has changed the most. They initially had more of a dual personality—reflecting the broonie-boggart connection more than they do now. They were also initially a lot more…pantless. As we filled the main story out, we realized the ideas we had for them just didn’t work with the historical and cultural contexts we wanted to bring in. The characters were initially less human looking, so once we refined how we wanted to present the Tuatha Dé Danann, we realized we had to change some things about Shae in particular.

Clotho, again: (On that note, Flannán’s shirt was originally designed to be sleeveless. We apologize profusely for this change, but alas…it’s cold in Murias.)

Atropos: Legend has it that as a punishment for programmers—who are never sleeping and thus never dreaming—Morpheus, God of Dreams, has decided to bestow his curse onto every single one of them so that their minds are always overflowing with new ideas. However, because of that, they will also never finish any of their projects. I, too, was unfortunately not immune to coming up with endless features even during the early development phase. Without going into the spoiler territory, some of the features that didn't make it into the demo were: Robin’s Identity Distribution Centre (as Clotho mentioned), MC personality quiz, customized MC sprites, music room, interactive/point-n-click backgrounds, as well as various other minigames. Some of them are not entirely scrapped per se, however, due to the time and resource constraints, we have decided that it's best to save them for the full release.

Image via Moirai Myths

The cast is very diverse. The romance features six romance options with different genders (two women, two male, and two nonbinary, agender and genderfluid specifically) and sexual orientations (pansexual, asexual/panromantic, and bisexual). To you all, how important was it to make yourselves and/or the player feel represented in The Good People?

Clotho: Ultimately, from a creative philosophy standpoint, we don’t want to put out “more of the same” just because it’s tried and true and profitable. We want to create something meaningful—not just to us, but to our audience. We want all our current and potential players to be able to take away something personal from our game, whether that be a particular story, character, or idea. Having a diverse cast is a part of that. Hell, making our game about Irish myths and culture is a part of that, given how fundamentally underrepresented both are. In fact, we had a message sent to us on Tumblr a little while ago that touched on both of these things: Basically, an anonymous player of ours told us they were looking forward to being able share our game with their little sister one day, because said sister, who is biracial (black Irish) and shares the name Maeve, is obsessed with fairies, warrior women, and loves the design of our Maeve, who is also dark-skinned. It was a really touching moment for our team, and exactly the reason why we’re making this game the way we’re making it.

Lachesis: As a multiracial woman who grew up in a black family, diversity seemed only natural to me. Monoracialized media has always seemed more unnatural than including a diverse cast of characters. Our real world is filled with an endless variety of people, our stories should also reflect that.

Atropos: As an agender aromantic asexual, the inclusion of aspec characters is actually quite personal to me. Too often I've seen people say that aspec representation would probably be boring because of the idea that aspec characters wouldn’t have interesting stories to tell. And on that, I fully disagree. Aspec experience is not monolithic and not everyone shares the same feelings on gender, romance, sex, and even friendship. Many of us have a complicated/unique relationship with the topic that's worth exploring and sharing. Being fairly active in the aspec community, it has come to my attention that quite a lot of our members also enjoy romance/relationships as a concept, and yet it's a shame that there are rarely any visual novels ever taking them into consideration. Even then, a relationship of an arospec or an acespec will likely not be the same as that of an alloallo. I'm quite glad that aside from Shae, who is panromantic asexual, we also have Keagan and Robin as arospec pan/bisexual reps, whose identities are usually much less visible in the aspec community. While I doubt that we will be able to include every aspec experience, I still hope that, via NDM, I can get a message out there that I see them and I'm working hard on getting everyone to see them as well.

On your Tumblr, you allow your players to ask questions to your characters. Who is in charge of answering those and how fun are those questions while in character?

Clotho: Lachesis and I collaborate to answer questions, both in-character and out! Typically, I answer for Flannán, Aífe, and Robin, while Lachesis answers for Keagan, Maeve, and Shae—since these are the characters whose routes we’ll be respectively leading on when we move on to that stage of development. It is very fun to answer folks’ questions, and in some cases it’s actually inadvertently helped us with world-building, since it gives us an opportunity to discuss and flesh out aspects of the setting we haven’t needed to talk about yet (example: marriage customs). Admittedly, though, after the Kickstarter concludes we probably won’t be able to sustain the same level of engagement as we are currently, since answering five questions daily can be pretty time-consuming—so if you want to ask us or our cast a question, best do it now!

Lachesis: Answering the asks in-character helps us understand what people like about each character and what they are most curious about. We love reading theories about the characters or the story, and the asks give us insight into what people want to know. We also get the opportunity to explore things not available in canon, like what the characters would be doing in the modern era.  I think the most fun for me personally is when we get to do the really unlikely scenarios, like the characters having a board game night. Those always give us a chance to play with character dynamics.

Image via Moirai Myths

Who is everyone’s favorite character and why is it the main character’s horse?

Melinoe (environmental artist): It is Darby (the horse), and it’s because I pushed Clotho to include her in the full demo. You're welcome.

Clotho: For context, Darby wasn’t originally going to end up in the Otherworld—the thief was just going to steal your saddlebag and run off into the woods on foot. I wrote the first chapter, so Melinoe bullied me into bringing the horse into Tír na nÓg, so yes, you can thank her for that. Anyway, I don’t really have a singular favourite character, but I’m probably a bit biased in favour of Flannán, Aífe, and Robin—but that’s just ‘cause I’m leading their routes!

Lachesis: While I’m slightly biased in favor of the characters I lead, I’m very fond of all the animals or creatures that you see throughout the demo. Darby is definitely up there, but Shae’s “roommate” and the wisps are also very dear to me. Maeve’s crows really act as more of a single entity than individual animals, but I still want to feed them boiled eggs and peanuts and hang out with them. Of course you can’t forget the pups!

Atropos: I actually adore them all for various reasons. Clotho and Lachesis have done quite a dedicated job on crafting each and every single character, regardless of them being minor or major. All six ROs and even our reclusive doppelganger, Daonna, have their own charm and intrigue. You cannot help but wonder what secrets they are keeping behind their façades. That being said, if I must pick one, it would probably be Robin, purely because I can use them as an excuse to include more in-game horse shenanigans.

Khaos (@shrimp1y) and Erato (@MsCriAlot) were unavailable to comment.

By the time this interview goes up, there'll be a Kickstarter running for The Good People! If players were to pledge to your project, what could they expect to see in the full release of your game?

Lots! While we go much more in-depth on the Kickstarter page itself, here are the highlights:

● All six routes can be played either romantically or platonically! If you’re not into romance, or only want to woo a few members of our cast, you’ll still be able to enjoy the other characters’ stories from a non-romantic perspective. Love comes in many forms, after all!

● …The routes will have bad endings, too. ;)

● The full game will feature partial voice acting for the ROs! We’ll also have a stretch goal to expand the voice acting, allowing for more full-scenes of spoken dialogue.

● There’s going to be a lot more art! More backgrounds, more sprite expressions, and the inclusion of fully illustrated CGs! We’ll have a stretch goal for more outfits for the ROs, too.

● On top of the six character routes and their endings, we’re going to include a secret, story-oriented route that takes place after the events of all of the character routes, acting as the collective continuation and final conclusion for the full game. This way, no one route will be considered “more canon” than the other! You’ll get to decide which RO you’re involved with in this ending.

● These are all predicated on meeting certain stretch goals, but: We’ll also potentially be adding side stories in-between route releases, sprite customization for MC and Daonna, and mini-games that expand on NDM’s magic system!

If you wish to follow Moirai Myths and keep up to date with NDM's development, you can find the team on both Twitter and Tumblr. If you wish to support Moirai Myths financially, they have a Ko-fi page where you can donate money to them. Lastly, if you have yet to check out NDM, you can download the free demo over on itch.io and Steam. If the game interests you, you can support the project on Kickstarter!