WHERE’S MY CAT GAME?

Still building it! The good news is that we’re probably close to being done with all the major aspects besides the content. There will be one more big look at the combat, but the framework is getting pretty settled. It does what a 2D RPG should do. You can walk around. You can talk to characters. You can fight enemies, pick up items, and complete quests. It’s taken a lot of work to get there, and I’m sure it could have gone faster, but what can I say? This is my first video game (if you don’t count a weird Twine thing I made about a local election), and there’s a lot I didn’t know.

There’s a lot I still don’t know, but that’s beside the point. There will no doubt be plenty of more functional things I have to build as as I work through implementing the content and the story, but I think we’re solidly in “nice to have” territory for most of it. Like, it’d be “nice” if holding a tap on an NPC made them meow differently, but we can get the game done without it.

SO WHAT HAVE YOU DONE

Taking stock in the new year, I realize we haven’t released anything since a demo almost a year ago, and the last time we showed anything publicly was July. The last post here was… May. There’s kind of a lot that’s changed. Plenty of minor things, like adding some movement to the camera in battles, getting footstep sounds in, adding character names in the field. Then there’s the bigger stuff.

It works on Android

Yup, that was a big one. There’s some work to do with the controls, but it’s fully playable on phones. Now I can show the thing to people I meet IRL. This has actually been a big help, as I can get immediate feedback.

I redid the menus

The menus until a month or so ago were dull brown rectangles. They’re still rectangles, but they’re now at exciting angles, and I’ve got a nicer colour scheme of purple and pink. I’ll probably change up the text a little to look better on it, but we’re pretty much there. Oh yeah, I animated them all too, and they’re a lot more interesting to look at spinning in from all over the screen than they were just sliding in from the side all at once. I blame for Persona 5 for inspiring all this, by the way, because those menus are… unparalleled. I ended up going back to my NG+ game and finishing up all those pesky confidants, and yeah, I realized I had to do something.

Customization rework

Related to the menus, I took a better look at the customization options. It should be a lot more intuitive now. Previously, the menu took up half the screen, and you picked a body part from a drop down. Then you choose a pattern or a shape for the part, and used sliders to change the colours along a spectrum.

Now, you tap the body part on the cat, and the menus pop up around it. A switch button controls whether you’re colouring the background or the pattern, and the colour selection is via a pallet rather than sliders. Sure, you can no longer pick any colour under the sun, but you can pick from a selection of common cat colours, and most importantly, can clearly and obviously coordinate the same colours over the entire cat. Much better. Also, you can colour the ears separate from the face.

Hats

We added support for headwear. It’s just a unicorn horn for now, but there’ll be more to come!

Dialogue rewrite

After some thought, I decided that all of Nugget’s lines will be player’s choice, and that individual conversations should tend toward being shorter. Until now, dialogue choices were mostly for asking questions, and otherwise would run relatively long stretches without meaningful player choice. Part of the fun of a cat roleplaying game should involve crafting your cat’s personality. Are you super excitable? Or are you aloof and snooty? I wrote Nugget as aloof and snooty, and I realize that’s not gonna work for everyone. So now you’ll be able to pick wacky reactions, and if that’s all you ever pick, that’s your right dammit!

FMOD Integration

Sound guy other-Ryan told me all about the benefits of FMOD. So, we integrated FMOD. This gives him a lot more control over how the music and sound plays. For instance, the end-battle fanfare now loops correctly! This was a major headache to deal with in Unity alone, and after a lot of work it still wasn’t quite right. Now? Smooth as hell.

What’s next?

I have various things to clean up in the above categories, but after that, my next immediate task is gonna be the combat. We’ve heard a lot about how it’s confusing, and everyone’s right: it is. We’re gonna scale back on some of the depth and simplify. Through a menu rework alone, I think I’ll be able to make it a lot more obvious what you’re supposed to do. There will also be a lil’ box you can open up that tells you more about your options.

We also had this confusing thing where you earned Ability Orbs via combat, and the amount of orbs was supposed to be an indicator that you’re picking the most effective attack against an enemy type. You’d then use these orbs to buy abilities afterward, and it kinda makes some sense, right? Like you’re getting better by being a more effective fighter.

But it’s just one more thing to keep track of during battle. What I’ve already done is work in an Effort regeneration cycle, where the most effective move gives you a good jolt of Effort back, as a more immediate way of showing the benefit of the effective attack. The idea here is the cat feels encouraged by using the optimal strategy, and it should also encourage ability use, because you can just regen your Effort.

To finish this off, the Ability Orb and Ability purchase system feels redundant now. So I’ll remove that and instead you’ll manage your abilities by the equipment you wear. The idea here is wearing a Unicorn Horn would let you use that horn to poke during battle, wearing a Lion Mane might give you the ability to intimidate your enemies.

COOL WHEN DO I GET TO PLAY ALL THIS

Yeah, so, when we released the last demo, the plan was totally to release more demos as we incrementally improved things. But all-too-often, an incremental improvement in one place affected another, or I got into that mindset of “just one more…”

Here’s the plan. I’m gonna finish polishing up the stuff that’s currently in the air, and that combat rework. Then, we’re gonna release a new demo. This demo should represent approximately the full set of major features we want to be present in the game. Then, we’re gonna hunker down and fill out the level and the quests. Prologue will not be a long game. Pretty much a single-dungeon affair with a short quest line. This is because, you know, been working on this for two years, and I want more than anything to be able to say, “this, here, this one hour of gameplay is it. It’s done, and I can set it down and work on the next.”

I’ve got my internal deadlines, but I won’t be sharing anything publicly until I know I can hit whatever I say. But I can say that I’ll know what I can promise within a couple of weeks, so see you then!