An interview with the developer of Morels
Mossbark Games is a brand new company who has just released their first title, Morels, to iOS and Android.
Mossbark showed up on Twitter recently with a cool video preview of Morels, so we thought we’d see if they wanted to talk to us. Brian runs the company and he was kind enough to answer a handful of questions for us, which we have below. He also passed along some questions to the game designer, Brent Povis. We'd like to thank them both for taking the time to answer a few questions, we find it fascinating to get some information on how digital ports come to be and a little bit of what going into making them, and Brian and Brent were kind enough to provide some great information in our interview. Brian goes into some detail on how he started making the app and some of the game modifiers which will spice things up in the digital adaptation.
I’ve personally not played Morels, but have done a little research on it and it looks to fit into the mold of some of the classic two player card games out there, Lost Cities and Battle Line come to mind. In the game from Two Lanterns Games, players attempt to cook sets of mushrooms they grab from a common acquisition row. There are of course many twists on the basic premise to spice things up. It looks like a light, fun two player game and I’m excited to see it hit mobile devices. The feature list is impressive for a first time developer, crossing off a lot of key boxes including asynchronous online play and a host of achievements to earn.
Morels is out now, here is the feature list from Mossbark:
The official digital adaptation of the beloved card game Morels.
The woods are old-growth, dappled with sunlight. Delicious mushrooms beckon from every grove and hollow with many tasty varieties awaiting the savvy collector. Forage, sautée with butter over the fire, and cook your way to victory!
- Elegant digital conversion of the card game by Brent Povis
- Online asynchronous 2 player games
- Local pass & play
- Solo play against 3 AI difficulty levels
- Game modifiers: try a new way to play!
- 36 achievements to earn
- Interactive tutorial
- In-app rulebook
- Translated into: English, German, French, Italian and Spanish
- No ads or microtransations
Awards & Honors for Morels:
- 2014 International Gamers Award - General Strategy: Two-players Nominee
- 2014 Games Magazine Best New Card Game Winner
- 2014 Fairplay A la carte Winner
- 2012 Golden Geek Best Card Game Nominee
- 2012 Golden Geek Best 2-Player Board Game Nominee
You can purchase Morels for Android or iOS from the following links:
Without further ado, here is our interview with Brian from Mossbark, with Brent's questions at the end:
Pixelated Cardboard [PC]: Tell us a little about Mossbark Games. How did you get started? What's your experience in the field?
Brian Laager [BL]: Before starting this project, I'd been a software developer in the games industry for 8 years. Some of the games I've worked on include 1 vs 100, Halo 4, and Age of Empires: Castle Siege. I loved working on all those titles, but it's always been a dream of mine to work on something independently.
[PC]: Are you a big board game fan? Do you play digital games, physical games, or both?
[BL]: I am! I try to play physical games a couple times a month but as time goes by it's harder to find large chunks of time when everyone's available. AI and online play in digital tabletop games provide opponents who are always there. There are some games I know I'll never play in person, so a digital version allows me to experience those games too. I also love how they streamline play: I can be on the bus or standing in line somewhere and knock out a few games that would have normally taken hours.
[PC]: How did you developing Morels as your first title come about? What goes into getting a publisher to agree to make a digital adaptation?
[BL]: My girlfriend and I got into mushroom foraging a few years ago. We love the combination of being outside in the forest and finding tasty mushrooms! I happened to find Morels while looking for a 2-player game and instantly bought it because of the theme. It was an instant hit! It's so easy to learn and plays quickly, but there are strong tactical and strategic decisions to make. I started working on a digital version we could take and play anywhere, mainly just for personal use. Once I had the pass-and-play game fully working (but very ugly) I liked it enough to approach Two Lanterns Games and gauge their interest in partnering on the digital version. After some discussion they were interested, and here we are!
[PC]: What engine are you using to write the game?
[BL]: I used Unity to create Morels. I had a bit of professional experience using the engine and am most comfortable using C# so it was an obvious choice.
[PC]: Looking at the press release, the app has an impressive list of features, including async online play, achievements, three AI levels, etc… but one that really stood out was a note about game modifiers, could you explain these a little bit?
[BL]: Basically, these are different deck compositions you can play with. The concepts for the game modifiers all came from Brent Povis, the designer of the Morels card game. Some are simple tweaks that force you to alter your strategy in some way: like a deck with no baskets. Baskets increase your hand limit, so having no baskets in the deck makes you much more aware of the way you manage your hand. There’s a Tournament modifier that transforms a bit of the randomness from the Night Deck into the predictability of the Day Deck, making for some cutthroat games. Morel Frenzy makes the highest value card much more common, leading to some high scores!
[PC]: Is the online play cross-platform?
[BL]: Yes! The game uses its own backend server to manage online games, so Android and iOS users can play each other. It has a simple matchmaking system to find opponents, but also has a friend system you can use to play custom games against an opponent of your choice.
[PC]: Is there anything else about the game you’d like to highlight?
[BL]: I had the most fun creating the game's AI. I hadn't ever created a turn-based game AI before, so I spent a lot of time reading theory that I could apply to the game. I'm happy with how it turned out: the hard AI is a pretty consistent challenge!
[PC]: What is your favorite board game?
[BL]: Eldritch Horror! Some friends don't like competitive games so it's my go-to co-op game. I enjoy the adventurous globe-trotting theme and it stands out amongst all of the Lovecraft-themed games out there now.
[PC]: What is your favorite app game?
[BL]: Ascension. I have played too many games to count and I have all of the expansions. It works so well digitally, and games take just the right amount of time.
[PC]: What is one board game you’d love to see get a mobile port?
[BL]: I'd say Eldritch Horror. Aside from being my favorite board game, an app controlling all the fiddly bits would be amazing.
[PC]: Were you excited to see your game getting ported to the digital space?
Brent Povis - Game Designer [BP]: Very much so, even if purely for the personal reasons. From the beginning, I've envisioned how fun it would be to play anytime against players around the world or against a really strong AI (there are three difficulty levels available, and the "hard" lives up to its name). I'd say 90% of my play so far has been in classic mode, but the opportunity to release variations on gameplay (modes altering basket and night card availability, increasing numbers of certain cards in the deck, etc) was also a big plus as they give players the option to change the texture of the game in delicious ways.
[PC]: Do you like the way Morels translates to app form?
[BP]: I do, I've been impressed at every turn with Brian's vision and have had a ton of fun testing the Beta through its iterations, especially since even the first port felt really well done. Given the game's mechanic of a "moveable feast", the digital management of game flow makes for a really smooth player experience. Combined with sound effects, music, in-game score and hand monitors, online play, a very user-friendly tutorial, and long-term stats and achievements, it has exceeded my greatest hopes for this new path in the forest.