Get the Update from itch.io right here! Remember, this link always has only the most recent version, so if you’re seeing this in the future, you won’t necessarily get Demo 1.3. Remember: the password is “cat”.
Android version has taken a significant performance hit in this version. Suggest a desktop may be better for now.
This Saturday, we showcased our game at an excellent local event put on by the MacEwan Game Development Club called Press A To Start. Thus… Press A To Cat (don’t actually Press A, the game’s still entirely mouse/touch controls).
Given that, uh, we were absolutely swamped with interest — we barely had a few minutes at a time without someone trying the game! — we thought this would be perfect time to release a new demo. So, if you didn’t get a chance to play, or you just want more, or you’re just some random from the internet, here is Demo 1.3. It’s what we had on display at the event, plus some critical bug fixes for issues we encountered on the day.
And it was an incredible day. It’s been more than a year since we’ve shown the game off publicly. And we haven’t at all since Demo 1.0: the point at which I consider development to have pivoted. We released that May 31 2019, so it’s also gratifying that this works the fourth demo release in a year after a long period of no releases.
But honestly, I think the most gratifying thing of all was just seeing people play it. A year ago, most of this stuff existed as ideas, but through consistent work and development, they’re now actively being enjoyed. Some people even remembered us from our very first showcase in 2016 — a single scene with a couple of cats to talk to and nothing else. Showing them how far it’s come was particularly exciting.
Now, as for what’s new this time?
- Every existing attack has an animation
- Most attacks have sound effects
- Combat has been balanced generally
- Mewgic moves have been distributed among equipment
- Elevation now exists!
- We have a logo!
- Title screen has been made more interesting
- More music and sound effects have been added
- Night has been improved
Attack Animations and Sounds
I wasn’t sure about doing attack animations. About six weeks ago, I thought, “let’s see how Bite, Scratch, and Pounce” could work.
I was hesitant about animations because I didn’t really want to deal with animating the characters. Each character GameObject is made up of many different parts and that sounded like a headache.
Instead, I simply animated what the attacks feel like to me. A set of claws, some teeth, impact effects. This seemed alright… So I kept going. I animated every attack currently in the game. It took a long time, but I think it’s worth it. With the sound in for most of them too, and the damage display timing, and the exposure shown via a bar? I’d actually say I had… fun.
We’ve also been working on the combat balancing. It’s not final, as we have several new enemies still to add, and they plus all current enemies and attacks will have to be nicely distributed across the various areas. But still, if you know what you’re doing, it should feel more or less right.
That said, we’re still lacking easy in-game explanation. The moves do display their descriptions and stats, and icons have been added to a lot of stuff to help make things feel familiar at a glance. There’s also an extensive in-battle reference option. And the exposure bar now visually represents your exposure progress.
But we do lack explanation that the player would pick up just by playing. We know this area is lacking, and we watched carefully how people interacted with the combat. Addressing this will be a priority moving forward.
Something was missing from the level design. We think that something was walls and elevation.
This was an interesting challenge to implement efficiently, but we now have multiple layers of elevation available, with a way to jump to traverse them. Building it into our existing levels was a bit of a pain, but it is done. You’ll see some walls now helping to divide the first Whisker Woods area. If you make it to the second, you’ll also be able to jump,
Logo and Title Screen!
This has been a long time coming! We now have a logo, as you can tell, and I’ve also made the title screen a little more interesting by building a couple of small scenes it flips between. It’s just more interesting than a plain colour.
More Music! Better Nights!
We have new title screen music, and special music for night. It sounds great. Also, you’ll be able to activate night from the nap station anytime rather than after the first two quests.
Okay, So When Is This Done?
I’ve been careful not to publicly announce any final release dates, because it always turns out there’s so much more to do then I thought. I’ve had private dates, like “end of 2017”. But then I wanted to redo basically… everything.
This time though, I think we’re finally getting there. The rest of the story is written and in and I’ve been through a full speed run. A couple of side quests also work. All stages exist in broad strokes. The remaining tasks generally fall into a small number of categories:
- Finalize level design, with final art assets
- Enemy placement in accordance with player progression
- Final enemy types
- Final enemy moves and logic
I’ve always wanted to pay a lot of attention to polish, because I’m a big believer in small things adding up. So I intend for that stage to be significant. But I’m also a big believer in letting go — that “perfect” and “done” are generally not both possible. And even though there’s a big difference in pre-winter-2017 and post-winter-2017 development, I’ve been working on this thing for four years. “Done” is looking pretty attractive.
The point is? I think end of summer 2019 is doable enough to post about. That’s the plan, and I think we can do it.
After that? Well, that will depend on how Catlandia is received.