My Lovely Daughter tasks players with reviving their daughter, and the only way to do that is to raise small, child-like homunculi, helping them grow with the right items and kind conversations, then brutally slaughtering them for their soul energy.
Siliconera spoke with Riris Marpaung, Producer at GameChanger Studio, to learn about the origins of this chilling game, as well as how they worked to create a game where players would develop a bond with something they would have to murder in cold blood.
My Lovely Daughter has players raising homunculi, then sacrificing them to save their own child. What brought about this premise in your mind?
Riris Marpaung, Producer at GameChanger Studio: The game is a result of our small internal gamejam that we held last year. The theme that we used on the game jam was simply called "F*cked Up". The origin of the game comes from one of our developers’ experience with having a very tough and strict parent. The developer thought that a very strict parent with specific expectation for their child might as well just kill the child and give birth to another. That basic premise is what brings the team to My Lovely Daughter. There are more things to tell about the background of the game, but we wanted the player to experience those themselves since it will create a major spoiler.
What drew you to have the players build up a relationship with their homunculi to power them up? Why have them build a connection with something they mean to sacrifice?
This is something that comes naturally as we develop the game. We tested our game on our friends and have a discussion with our publisher to try a lot of approaches on how we raise the homunculi. In the end, we think that the combination of raising and simulation is the best way to do it.
As you might know, the best beef meat in the world is Wagyu Kobe’s beef, and the way the cow is bred is by pampering them. The same thing occurs in this game. We need to make sure that player has the right tools to grow the homunculus with love. We do not stop there, as we also make sure that the homunculus has an interaction with the player whenever the player is trying to do something with them.
What do you feel this bond does to the player’s emotions? Especially when they have built a bond with the homunculi themselves, but may have little connection to their in-game daughter beyond the narrative?
The crazy thing is… killing a homunculus is one of the first things that they need to do in the game. We never actually thought that player would be disturbed when they killed a homunculus, but this was something that we figured out early in the prototype, even when they were very few interactions between the homunculus and the player. This aspect is growing to be something bigger than we thought.
Why create a game around this kind of moral dilemma? What thoughts went into turning this dilemma into a game?
This kind of things really happens, but not literally. For example, parents killing their kid’s dream and making them fulfill their perspective of what is a good life for their kids. Another example is when a soon-to-be husband has no choice but to get rid of his pet because his fiancee is allergic to them. It just that we bring it to the most extreme level.
Hopefully players can relate to the game to that extent – understanding why certain individuals might want to do it from the story point of view and experience of making the choice themselves when killing the homunculus.
Are players eventually forced to end their homunculi’s lives? Can they choose not to save their daughter, going down a different path in the game? Why or why not?
Eventually, you will have to do a sacrifice. Despite having to deal with a lot of Homunculi, the daughter is still the center stage of the game. You even must make sure that your daughter’s body is ready for the soul infusion. The story starts with a lot of mystery, and eventually, it will unravel slowly throughout the game. The strategy you used to sacrifice the homunculus will affect the narration differently to the daughter.
What challenges do you face in having players work through such a dark subject? In making it so they can stomach a game with such a cruel idea behind it?
So far, the players who played our game respond differently with the subject. We are optimistic that the mystery of Faust’s daughter’s death, what’s happening around Faust, and what will happen throughout the game will hook the player keep. As we mentioned before, these things happens in our life. It’s just that, in the game, we’ve stripped down the beast inside our society to its purest form. The players will glimpse in to it and experience it themselves.