News for February 2021

Individual Game Sketch

Individual Game Sketch

Cat Castle: A Ghost Story

(personal interactive game)

This game is dedicated to my dearest boys – Virgil and Valentine.

 I have always had this random worry: what will happen to my cats if, for some reason, I can’t take care of them anymore? Although this is probably an overly pessimistic and unrealistic thought, I know for a fact that there are lots of homeless cats suffering in this world. Therefore, I wanted to create this utopian universe for cats and cat lovers like myself. In this universe, cats left alone in this world will be brought into the Cat Castle. Anyone who loves cats (whether had cats before or not) will come here to look after the cats when they become a ghost. However, ghosts won’t stay at the castle forever. Eventually, they will go to heaven… It’s a story both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I have combined this story with my personal experience of taking care of my own cats – Virgil and Valentine. As I was outlining the mechanics and dynamics of this game, I realized that cats really don’t ask for much; being able to spend quality time together is the most precious thing for my cats and me.

 

Storyline

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  • I accidentally died for some mysterious reason and left my cats, Virgil and Valentine, alone in the world
  • I wake up as a ghost in front of a castle with a cat sitting in front of me.
  • The cat is trying to lead me into the castle. As I still look confused, the cat starts talking to me… The one talking to me right now is Nemo, the housekeeper of the castle. Only Nemo has the ability to communicate with me.
  • I follow the cat into the castle and saw lots of cats. Awww… they are all so cute. Among the cats, I see Virgil and Valentine (the number/name of the pet(s) was set by the player before the game starts)! I can’t believe that I get to see them again… but it seems that they can’t see me since I’m a ghost…
  • According to Nemo, in order to get to heaven, I need to stay temporarily in the cat castle and look after the cats. These cats are all here because they are left alone in the world for some reason. As I am taking care of the cats, I could gain tokens by completing various tasks. As soon as I have gained enough tokens, I will leave the castle and go to heaven. The next ghost will take my place and look after the cats.

 

4 Main Tasks

Note: To simplify the tasks, the player will not perform most of the tasks for each cat in the room (except for Task#4). Instead, the cat will perform as one (i.e., the hunger level indicates the overall hunger level of all cats). Thus, the player is feeding all the cats each time she/he/they fills the cat bowl with food. The same rule applies to Task#1,2,3.

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Task#1: Feed the cats.

Cat food is available for purchase in the shop.

Simply place cat food in the bowl and feed. Pay attention to the ‘Hunger’ bar to see how hungry the cats are. It is suggested to feed them when the bar turns orange or red. Tap (for mobile users) /click (for pc users) the cat bowl to fill it with cat food. Each tap/click fills the bowl with 1 portion of cat food. Be aware that the bowl cannot hold more than 2 portions of cat food.

 

3 Stages of Hunger

Green – full and happy, no need to feed

Orange – a little hungry. Needs 1 portion of cat food for the bar to turn green. (orange –> green, the player gains 5 tokens)

Red – extremely hungry. Needs 2 portions of cat food for the bar to turn green. If the bar stays red for more than 1 day, the player will lose ­­­3 tokens every day after the first day until the bar turns yellow or green again. (red –> orange, the player gains 5 tokens; red–>green, the player gains 10 tokens)

 

 

Task#2: Let the cats play.

The player can purchase cat furniture/toys from the shop. Each toy/furniture can only be used once per day. The room can have a maximum of 3 toys/pieces of furniture at the same time. Each interaction will add 5-10 tokens, depending on the item. The player can add/remove the toy/furniture by accessing the ‘Storage’. Every item has a life span of 7 days and will be automatically removed from the Storage by then. The player thus will have to repurchase items from the shop.

 

 

Task#3: Clean out cat litter.

Use the ‘shovel’ to clean the littler. Keep an eye on the litter. If the litter stays dirty for more than 1 day, the player will lose 5 tokens every day after the first day until the litter becomes clean again.

 

Task#4: Keep the cats warm.

Simply put a blanket over the sleeping cat by tapping/clicking on the sleeping cat (no purchase needed). This task does not affect the ‘Token to Heaven’ bar. The player will perform this task purely out of her/his/their will.

 

Catnip Planting

(Catnip is an uncountable noun. Here the number of Catnip is only used to indicate quantity.)

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In this game, money is not the currency; in Cat Castle, the player will plant and harvest catnip in the Catnip Garden and will be able to exchange catnip for other items in the shop. The supply of catnip seeds is unlimited. There are 16 slots available for planting the seeds. The player will only need to water the plant once. After 2 hours, the watered catnip will be ready for harvest. Without water, the catnip will take 4 hours to mature. The player can plant and harvest as much catnip as they like. There is no quantity limitation. 

 

Objective: Fill up the ‘Token to Heaven’ Bar and ascend to heaven (reach 10,000 tokens in total), as the next ghost (also a cat lover) will take your place. At the time, your own cat/cats will finally see you, and you will have the chance to say goodbye …

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Aesthetics

Cat Castle: A Ghost Story engages several aesthetics of game design, including sensation, fantasy and challenge. This game is designed for people who want to experience taking care of cats. The storyline is specifically designed to emphasize the player’s sense of engagement – making the player believe that they are the ‘ghost’ who are emotionally attached to and responsible for the cats. Even though there is one objective for this game: gaining enough tokens to heaven. However, not every task is tied with token gain/loss, for example, task#4 is completely optional, the player only performs this task if they want to. For those who want to spend more time with the cats, it is possible to slow down the token-gaining process by performing token-losing tasks intentionally. Rather than encouraging the player to complete the ultimate goal as soon as possible, this game aims to provide realistic, heart-warming and therapeutic interactions between the player and the cats.

Game-Developing Engine

From my previous game-engine-learning experience, I believe GameMaker Studio2 (GMS2) is a proper tool for developing my sketch of Cat Castle: A Ghost Story into a playable version. While I am a beginner in game design and have never learned to code before, GMS2 should be fairly easy for me as it provides the ‘Drag-N-Drop’ option that involves minimum coding. Comparing to the other engine that I learned about – Twine – GMS2 offers more flexibility in visual design. For this game, graphic design is a significant part, for it makes the game visually appealing to the players; consequently, players are more likely to become emotionally attached to the game. I will be able to design my assets in pixel-style.  If this game ever progresses beyond a sketch, I will have to develop a detailed design of the ‘Shop’ by asking ‘what furniture/ toys are to be sold there?’, ‘How much catnip does each cost?’, ‘How many tokens to be earned from interacting with each item?’, etc. Also, I’d like to explore more on creating movements of the cat figures/sprites so that the game plays more realistic. For an interactive game like this, audio effects are also essential for making it sense-pleasant. I would like to challenge myself to create original theme music for this game.

Posted: February 3rd, 2021
Categories: Uncategorized
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