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Cradle is an open-world action role-playing game (RPG) in development by Mojo Game Studios.

We're making an all new game which offers a stunning fantasy setting, ripe for exploration, alongside a skillful and intuitive new combat system. We invite you to hit play below and listen to the original soundtrack while you learn more about Cradle.

Cradle tells the story of an exiled traveler caught at the center of a monumental struggle between humanity, nature, and the gods. In addition to an immersive narrative experience set in a breathtaking world to explore, Cradle offers an exciting new type of strategic first-person melee-combat experience. The game features five distinct environments, 5 playable character classes, a system for weapon and armor augments, and much more.

Above all else, Cradle's environments are designed to tell a story. We believe that the most immersive and compelling games arise from a well-designed gameplay system, smoothly integrated with rich environments and compelling lore. In designing and implementing Cradle, player immersion has been a top priority. Allowing the player to move intuitively throughout the world and narrative to create an emotional experience are among our most fundamental goals. This is why at Mojo Games Studios every aspect of traditional RPG gameplay mechanics is re-explored for creative improvement, from augments and medica, to heads up display and story. With diverse ecosystems, dynamic weather, and a rich soundtrack, we've created a living, breathing world we hope the player will enjoy experiencing as much as we've enjoyed creating. In addition, Mojo’s innovative RealFight Combat system and redesigned movement systems will change the way players view first person melee combat.

Basics:

  • Planned platforms: PC, Linux 
  • Release date: Summer 2016 on all platforms 
  • Approximate gameplay time: 15-20 hours (speed run), 30-50 hours (average run)
In-game screenshot: Titanwood shrine exterior
In-game screenshot: Titanwood shrine exterior

Cradle’s environments are designed to tell a story. Its four open worlds exist to push the envelope of the fantasy genre and appeal to the wanderlust of adventurers. We are carefully crafting every detail to create a rich, compelling universe. From ecosystems to dynamic weather, we’re building our environments using inspiration from the raw intricacy of the natural world.

Below is a fly-through of Titanwood, the first experienced and smallest of the five environments. Titanwood is a densely forested area, intense care was given to every single piece of imagery shown, we intend to give this same detail to attention to the entire game. Although only a fraction of what we are going to do, this video showcases the sense of the work we've already put in. We have included several shots with wireframes to reveal some of the underlying work that went into Titanwood.

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Cradle’s combat system is built on making sure that player agency is at the heart of gameplay. Your actions should determine what happens in the game, and we want to capture your intent and translate it as seamlessly as possible into the world of the game.

Cradle provides an engaging new type of fast-paced melee-combat that will force you to rely on your wits. The combat system is driven by your intent and purpose, making your skill, not chance, what determines the outcome of battles.

We intend to give the combat a feeling reminiscent of the fluid firefights of the best first-person shooters with a hint of the first-person melee combat from classic first person-fighting games. Cradle offers a dynamic and responsive game where you forge your own path.

Concept for the tempest sage, an enemy in Cradle
Concept for the tempest sage, an enemy in Cradle

Cradle’s Realfight Combat System is a new way to fight, developed by Mojo Game Studios to bring you an unprecedented level of dynamic control. It is still too early in development to give a full demonstration of the combat in action, so we have tried to give players an idea of what’s to come. Here is an overview of the concepts that make Realfight special.

Deterministic Combat Animations: Where you aim to attack on your opponent determines what attack your character does. In real sword or melee combat, certain attacks make sense for certain places on an opponents body, while others don't. If you aim at the head of an opponent with a sword in Cradle, you are given only the attack options that would make sense for striking at someones head with a sword. The same goes for arms, legs, the left and right torso, or any area other area you care to aim. Because these choices vary by weapon, but are the same from enemy to enemy, this system is easy to learn and intuitive to use. Simply by aiming and clicking the left or right mouse button, you are able to choose in real time where and how you will strike. 

Order Determinism: Where you last struck has an effect on how your next attack will play out. In real sword and melee combat, some strikes flow from one to the next, rather than returning to guard between attacks. We wanted to capture this flow from one blow to the next in our Realfight Combat. In Cradle, if you have a sword and want to do a slash right at the torso of an opponent, followed directly by a slash left, simply aim at the right torso and click the right mouse button, then aim at the left torso and click the left mouse button. The result is a continuous slash to the right and back from the left. This system adds fluidity and responsiveness to our combat.  

Weapons and Weapon Weight: Weapons in Cradle are designed with specific strengths and weaknesses in combat, and each unique to their specific character class. Not all weapons are created equal, and not all attacks can be blocked. A heavy mace couldn't be blocked by a small dagger, and a hit from a short sword would hardly be noticed when blocked by a heavy or large shield. The weight and type of weapon being blocked, as well as weight of the weapon or shield doing the blocking determines how much or little the player blocking or being blocked will be affected. When should I block, and when should I dodge? In Cradle this is a real decision.

Proximity Determinism: When within a certain distance of an opponent, swinging with your weapon becomes unfeasible, not to mention it becomes impossible to accurately aim. This is where proximity determinism comes in. When too close to an opponent to swing their weapon, instead of their normal attack, the player will push off of their opponent and create space so as to become effective again with their weapons. These maneuvers vary in type and effect depending on where the player is aiming and what weapon they have equipped.  

Concept for the Swamp Stalker, another enemy to encounter in Cradle
Concept for the Swamp Stalker, another enemy to encounter in Cradle

In addition, we are implementing dozens of smaller tweaks and concepts that make our combat the intuitive, reactive and satisfying experience you have always wanted out of a game. From UI design to partial sticky targeting, we are doing everything we can to give you an amazing, one of a kind combat experience. Call it our secret sauce.

In-game screenshot: "Combat Island" a small testing area we made for showcasing combat
In-game screenshot: "Combat Island" a small testing area we made for showcasing combat

Weapon augments are an integral part of customizing combat style in Cradle. Each weapon may be augmented 5 times with any of 5 different types of augment- life, light, fire, fluid and stone. By using the same augment on a weapon multiple times, up to three tiers of effects can be had as you tap into the nature of the forces, with every tier’s effects increasing in power and capability. Be careful though, and choose wisely how you wish to upgrade your weapons!

Deep beneath the Icelands, the Druid approaches a lava floe as he readies a cloth to absorb the essence of Aderyn's power. This piece of ancient Aderian tapestry is covered in runes that shift and glow as he lowers it in. After the tapestry is applied, radiant energy courses through the staff as it synergizes with its latest augment.  

Mana is required to imbue these weapons with their powerful augments, but more tiers means higher mana consumption with each use. This means that strategy and planning are required to make the most devastating weapons, allowing each player to customize weapons uniquely suited to their fighting style.

This depicts a sample of the Druid's staff with fire augmentation for three levels, both depleted and with full mana.
This depicts a sample of the Druid's staff with fire augmentation for three levels, both depleted and with full mana.

The story of an outcast who stumbles into the center of an ages-old struggle between humanity, nature, and the gods. Cradle presents you with a striking narrative set in a breathtaking world.

A thousand years ago, the Five Gods of Anora defeated one of their number in a war known as the Soulfire Crisis. Aderyn, the god of free will and creation, was defeated by forces united for the first time in centuries. His followers were routed and his works destroyed. Eventually, Aderyn and his realm, the Cradle, were erased almost entirely from Anora. 

You are an exiled traveler in flight from the wrath of Ostia. Pursued and cursed by the god of hunger for defying its will, you seek refuge in the last of Aderyn’s shrines.

There, you take up arms for Aderyn, and begin a journey to return his Cradle to Anora. This land, once the center of technology and culture for the world, stands empty. Its inhabitants have either perished or become twisted versions of who they once were. Only a few managed to retain some of their sanity.Your victory depends on the advice of these last few survivors and their tenuous grip on reality.  

Fight your way through these ravaged lands, journeying to diverse environments and defeating a wide array of enemies. By uncovering the mysteries of the Cradle you will ensure not only your own survival, but help Aderyn return to the world with his promise to the human race: free will.

Each of the 5 character classes will have a distinctive style, and each weapon will have its own signature feel. With deterministic animations we will provide immersive attack animations that always make sense for the part of your opponent you’re aiming at.

Concepts for three of our five character classes, more coming soon!
Concepts for three of our five character classes, more coming soon!
Each character class can use up to six unique weapons, all exclusive to each class. Weapons are explicitly designed to shine in different types of combat situations and fighting styles. In Cradle, new weapons are rare and powerful items, often heavily guarded and hidden. Finding one is a big deal.

More than just unique weapons, armor and styles of combat, each character class has unique ways of moving throughout and exploring the world. As the Ranger you use your quick reflexes and agility to nimbly traverse otherwise impassible obstacles. These same obstacles could be overcome with the Paladins formidable strength, or the Arcanist's ability to control the world around them. Cradle will feature both male and female payable characters. No matter who you choose to be, you will have to forge your own path as you explore the world of Cradle.

In-game screenshot: A river runs through Titanwood
In-game screenshot: A river runs through Titanwood

In Cradle your skills will determine which areas you can access, but exploration will help you even the odds. In addition to new weapons, the Cradle is also home to Augments, which are ancient Aderian tapestries and garments containing a small amount of Aderyn’s power. By taking the hidden Augment and imbuing it with the essence of one of the five forces of the world you can give your favorite weapon a series of powerful upgrades.

Questing in Cradle is not about crossing off items on a to do list, but embarking on a journey to discover lost secrets or overcome momentous odds. Rather than having a “quest log”, in Cradle you have a journal of information that keeps track of your progress on your various adventures.  

Your main quest, to save yourself from the Wrath of Ostia and restore Aderyn’s lost lands, is only part of your adventure in Cradle. Additional quests are given by the guides or survivors of the Soulfire Crisis, acting as calls to action, not tasks on a to do list. Furthermore, for many “quests” in Cradle, the quest giver will be the world itself or items discovered rather than an NPC. From treasure maps and diagrams of catacombs long forgotten, to lost scrolls detailing battles from a time past, Cradle gives the player vital clues about the world, and leaves it up to them to explore and solve mysteries. In Cradle, you’ll never have to collect 15 boar skins or kill 25 beetles. This is an adventure for you to discover and explore, not a list of chores. 

Imagine coming to an old library at the heart of the Bayou. As you explore the recesses of that forgotten place, you come across a scroll that tells of a great weaponsmith who lived high in the cliffs of the Quarry, with a clue as to the location of his forge. The description of the location along with its context is then recorded in your Journal, for you to refer to in the future. Sometime later you may journey to this place, and discover that this smith had once forged a weapon of great power, specific to your class, located somewhere in the lowlands of the Quarry.

Armor augments are the deciding factor between life and death. As skilled as a warrior may be, no one is invincible.

Choosing how to augment your armor, in addition to what new effects and perks this augment will give is what gives each player their own style and flair. Each new augment enhances the armor you already have, both visually and through its ability to protect the wearer. The visual component of each augment is dependent on which perks and stats you as the player will allocate into, to truly specialize your class to fit your unique fighting style.

Armor augments are among the prizes earned from exploration of the world, revealed through solving puzzles, killing powerful enemies, and finding materials with which the player can physically forge the augments onto their armor.

In-game still: Interior of the Titanwood Shrine
In-game still: Interior of the Titanwood Shrine

Maintaining your health and stamina in Cradle will require exploration. You will need to forage for plants and herbs to make life saving salves. Discovering combinations of ingredients and finding the right recipes is the key to survival. Regenerate your health in the heat of battle, or create poultices to permanently enhance your resilience. Learning your environment will save your life.

The Druid gathers a mushroom, soon to be crafted into a healing salve.
The Druid gathers a mushroom, soon to be crafted into a healing salve.

In Cradle, mana is not just a bar that refills over time or when you chug a potion. It’s a direct connection between you and the environment. As the physical manifestation of the damage done to Aderyn’s realm through its removal from Anora, mana is a powerful resource. Harnessing this energy enhances your defensive and offensive capabilities, but only if you can tap into the magical corruption of the world around you.

Mana is the fuel used to power your weapons and take your fighting to the next level. Collected in crystalline form as it bleeds from the land, the player frequently will use the power of the 5 forces of the world harnessed through the mana they collect to bring them new and mystical effects. Mana is stored in sacred crystals that can be upgraded in capacity the more that mana is used. Whether used to imbue your weapon with a mighty augment, or as the fuel to power these upgrades, managing your mana is critical to success. 

From the highest peaks, to the deepest recesses of the world, players will find themselves in a different kind of combat. Not all opponents can be defeated with steel and skill, some must be fought with keen observation and deep thought. Many secrets are hidden throughout the world, and uncovering them will enable players to fully realize the story they're entwined in. The player will encounter several different types of puzzles as they explore.

Environmental puzzles will encompass the actual gameplay- they will test the player’s mastery of the movement system, as well as their ability to fight enemies while being thrown a curve-ball by the world around them.

The player sees the entrance to a cave high up a steep cliff face, located in the Quarry, with no way to get to it, except by ascending a series of rocks and vines across precarious ledges. One missed jump, or failing to recover from a vine breaking may send the player plummeting to certain death. Upon reaching the cave, the player enters and sees a weapon resting on a dais in the middle of a perfectly clear pool of water. Luckily for the player, the water happens to be extremely pure and can be used as a craftable resource. This can potentially be used for a healing solution to help the player stay alive- as collecting the weapon could awake an enemy.

"Archeology games" are puzzles that test the player's ability to piece together the lore they uncover, and find out what really happened during the Soulfire Crisis, what came after, and why the world is the way it is today. Some even reveal hints to the location of weapons and augments hidden throughout the world.    

The player might be traipsing through the forest, and come upon a rubble strewn clearing. Within a ruined building is a tapestry, depicting a great battle from before the Soulfire Crisis- with several sections missing. In the immediate vicinity, pieces of the tapestry can be found and collected by the player, to make it whole once more. The player must place the pieces in the order in which the events took place. Once the scene has been properly recreated, the tapestry falls, and reveals lore describing the battle chiseled into the wall of the ruins, as well as hinting towards the location of an armor augment hidden elsewhere within the region.

In-game still: A waterfall found at the beginning of Titanwood
In-game still: A waterfall found at the beginning of Titanwood
  • Four open worlds, each with their own rich ecosystems, appeal to the wanderlust of the adventurer in each of us.

  • Non-linear story with a compelling message that allows you to build your own gameplay experience.

  • No leveling. Progress your character instead through exploration and the unlocking of Anora's powerful secrets.

  • Puzzles encourage exploration of Cradle's world and back-story. Environmental puzzles test and hone the player's mastery of combat and movement, while lore puzzles test the player's ability to piece together Anora's history.

  • Quests beckon the player towards lost treasures or powerful secrets in the lore of the world, as it's passed on to you from books and non-playable characters. Rather than having a “Quest log”, in Cradle, you have a journal of information that keeps track of your progress in various adventures. You will face a range of obstacles, from hidden foes to momentous forces of nature.

  • Mana exists in different types representing the Five Forces of Anora and is used to fuel weapon augments

  • Medica link combat and exploration, allowing for regeneration of health and stamina in the midst of battle.

  • Five playable classes are each a fresh take on traditional RPG character types. Each class enjoys a unique set of tactics for interacting with environments.

  • Weapon augments let the player customize the way damage is dealt in combat. The system balances the power of attacks with the mana required to enact them.

  • Armor augments let you customize the fighting style of your character.

  • Fluid movement system lets the player enjoy precise and intuitive movement without the use of a joystick.

  • Groundbreaking Realfight combat system players can choose how and where to land attacks depending on the anatomy of their targets and other real-time variables.

 
 

Mojo Games Studios was founded by gamers at Carnegie Mellon University, with the goal of taking video games to the next level. Starting with a few programmers, artists, and a vision, the team has built a company infrastructure and expanded to include talent from around the globe. With each milestone achieved, more talent joins the team to live the dream.

Special thanks to our friend Josh Eiten for his incredible work as Lead Concept Artist. He's responsible for the imaginative paintings and design ideas that define the vibrant universe behind Cradle!

For those interested in a deeper look into Cradle and the thought process behind what makes it different, check out this interview with our project lead.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Cradle is an ambitious project. Mojo Game Studios is a team of talented, passionate, driven people, but we are faced with some challenges to overcome in realizing our dream. A lot of what gives us a fresh perspective on crafting games comes from the fact we are an interdisciplinary team of artists, engineers, designers, and programmers from around the world who are bringing together their strengths to make the most enthralling adventure possible.

To create the game we want, in the time we want, we need the resources to acquire cutting-edge tools and grow our talented team. Achieving this dream requires licensing Tech/Middleware, building the computer resources to efficiently render assets, hire specialists, and provide physical and cyber spaces for work.

We want to make Cradle a reality, and have already covered a portion of these costs on our own. We are giving our all to release this game, but your support is vital to make Cradle everything it can be.

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