State of Matterless #9

This week we are talking about designing moods, some concept art of the principal character Alice, sound design, and insights gained from having a bunch of active beta testers. But first, a reasonable complaint.

Designing a mood system

Turns out designing a comprehensive mood system is really hard! I want to complain about why!

  1. It needs to convey mood in a way that is believable, emotionally connective, and give animals a sense of agency
  2. It needs to promote healthy gameplay behaviors, without being exploitative or guilt-driven.
  3. It needs to be easy to understand how your actions directly influence the companion’s mood.
  4. It needs to accommodate for the unique personality traits that each companion will have.

After many many weeks, I think we have designed a suitable system that is flexible, simple, and modular so we can continue to add to it over time. Once the system framework is built, we will migrate the existing hunger and social moods to the system, and layer in more functionality step by step.

Design Insights from the Beta

  1. Getting Karma feels a little underwhelming. Getting the animal’s mood to maximum should be an achievement, so we’re thinking of giving a big burst of karma when you fill-up the mood, and the burst will go on cooldown, probably until the next day.
  2. Social takes too long to fill. It’s also weird that hunger is handled outside of AR while social is inside of AR. The real problem isn’t actually the length of time, but that there's not much to do. We need more interesting things to do in AR. We’re working on that, starting with harvesting food and feeding your pet inside of AR which will make the timing less annoying. Also, we will tune up the numbers.
  3. It is really demotivating to open the app after a while and the whole mood is on empty. Jason has been spending a ton of time designing a new mood system, which will help to address this point.

Concept art

Here are a few shots of Alice, one of our lead characters. Alice is the inventor of the Looking Glass Protocol, the software that brought Matterless life forms to the physical world. She’s also a coding prodigy with a strong ecological worldview.


The audio engine has been rebuilt using FM and granular audio generators for the second time. This serves as a blueprint for future experiments in which samplers containing vocal phrases are synchronized with the synthesizer.

0.3 Progress

Our devs are integrating the inventory code and UI, integrating new sounds, and the Thai language support is working. We also have updated the camera to be able to take photos along with videos. Good progress so far!

See you all next week!

-Jason, product owner at Matterless Studios



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