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How it Started: Behind ‘Kick The Kitties’
by Matthew Burns on 06/27/13 02:21:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

The following article is the combination of two blog entries (6/10/13 and 6/18/13) that were posted on my company's website.

I have been asked by people how I came up with the idea and design for my upcoming game 'Kick The Kitties.' Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to write how one game designer, myself, formulated the basic nucleus of his video game...so here goes.

Upon the creation of my company in 2011 I developed four characters; Choo Parr (the main character), Guy D'Feet, Dean Susie and Theodora. These four unique individuals were to be the basis of my web animation, vlogs and of course my first iOS game 'Goats R Delicious.'

For this, my second iOS game, I turned to my twenty-six inch rodent, Guy D'Feet. Guy belongs to a proud but inept race of Rodents whose sole mission is the eradication of the human race and the re-establishment of their supremacy (well in their minds anyway). You know, the typical background story one finds among the put-out non-human species.

The beginnings of Dr. Guy D'Feet

1)  Actualize the background and history of your character's "race" and what their views toward life and the world in general. 

First, I had to find a place for these Rodents to live; where they could dwell among humans but be completely hidden. I naturally thought of the Parisian sewer system. Yes, I did say "naturally." (Actually, I have read a lot about the Second French Empire.)

Secondly, I visualized these Rodents were inept and whose efforts (every effort) to eradicate humanity ultimately fail (the Black Plague only killed 50% to 75% of the European population and therefore it was a failure.) Hence, I would make them resigned to failure, but determined to soldier on with their mission.

Thirdly, with this in mind, I envisioned them as almost like a monastic order, a holy order if you will. Thus, an organization called The Failed Society of Holy Rodents developed and to be a little cruel, I named it FIZZLE to be short.

Fourthly, my odd but fruitful mind came up with this:

                          THE FAILED SOCIETY OF HOLY RODENTS (FIZZLE)


 Goals of The Failed Society of Holy Rodents (FIZZLE):

  • To wipe out humanity with the plague or other forms of diseases, poisons, violence or miscellaneously devious deeds.
  • Restore the rightful supremacy of the Holy Rodents.
  • Establish a world government governed by FIZZLE.
  • Recruit the most intelligent, courageous, humblest, versatile and intelligent of Holy Rodents.
  • Despite any failure any member of FIZZLE may incur (and they will), every member of The Failed Society of Holy Rodents must optimistically continue in their endeavors.
  • Establishment of a colossal space program enabling FIZZLE to establish a colony on the moon in order to mine delicious "Moon Cheese."
  • Eliminate all felines.

Membership for The Failed Society of Holy Rodents:

  • A Holy Rodent must have reached the age of 52 years upon his/her initiation.
  • Must have undertaken 119 attempts of assassination against the human species.
  • Ancestral linage, gender, or place of residence will have no factor upon whether or not an applicant is qualified.
  • Having all appendages or a tail will have no factor upon whether or not an applicant is qualified.
  • Must have a great desire to eliminate the human species.
  • Must be willing to die in the quest of the elimination of the human species.
  • Must believe Holy Rodents are superior to the human species.
  • Must have at least a rabid fixation and reverence for the plague.
  • Must be able to play Bridge.
  • Must have made funeral arrangements for his/her demise.

 

Yes, I know this looks stupid and childish, but let your imagination go and have fun. It is all part of game design. After all, you are the creator...aren't you?

2)  Create a detailed and fun background for your character:

Guy D'Feet is a 26 inch tall Rodent who is currently a professor of history at Openly Aggressive University. His field of expertise is the History of Biological Diseases and Chemical Warfare Against the Human Species. He has tenure. Dr. D'Feet's goal, like his fellow Holy Rodents, is to eradicate the scourge known as "the humans" and re-establish the supremacy of the Rattus. After all, humans achieved their supremacy due to some evolutionary mistake (called 'The Great Fluke') dating back to the primordial ooze. Unfortunately, Holy Rodents are incredibly inept at carrying out their various schemes. The ingenuity is there, the execution is not (or could one say common sense). He is, alas, like all of his kind, resigned to failure, but eternally optimistic with a with a deep seeded genetic belief his newest scheme will work.

As part of his long incompetent and convoluted plan for the demise of the humans, the well educated Dr. D'Feet has managed to get himself hired by the extremely liberal Openly Aggressive University. Here, in the epicenter of political correctness, Dr. D'Feet is able to hide openly for the humans would not dare to ask if he was a Rodent.

Guy D'Feet was born on March 21, 1928 in the Holy Rodent City of Constantine under the human city of Paris, France. He is a direct descendant of Saint Guillaume D'Feet Le Gran who died of grief after the failure of the Black Plague. He has been a member of The Failed Society of Holy Rodents (FIZZLE) since his awakening in 1971.

3) The character has been "developed." On to game design.

I began to mull this over and over in my mind of exactly who this large Rodent was, how he moved (monkish), how he viewed everything and what his goals where. Of course I knew he wanted to get rid of humans, but that sound ordinary and an already used premise within our industry. No, it had to be something unique. It had to bounce off the wall of absurdity and hit the player in such a way to compel him/her to play the game.

a) Weaponry

The answer to my question kept appearing in the organization I created for Guy and his Rodent kin, The Failed Society of Holy Rodents (or FIZZLE). One of their goals was to "(E)liminate all felines..." How lovely! Why not make a kitty or kitties the weapon(s)? Guy hates cats and he has the correct build/height. Why not have a game where an actual kicked kitty becomes a weapon? In my mind it seemed logical. In fact, I took it a step further, the only weapons available for Guy should be some sort of "kicked kitty." Imagine all the different types of kitties you could have and what their destructive persona could entail? Sounds challenging! Actually, it sounded hilarious...and it has turned out to be much more. Way more!

b)  Setting

Now logically, a good game designer would not have come up with the weapons to be used before he/she actually knew the basic background/story or even setting of the game. But, sigh, I am not normal. Once again I turned to my trusty little bullet pointed background of the Holy Rodents and remembered they inhabit the sewer system in Paris. I do not know about you, but damn, if you give a game designer like myself a blank slate with just the words "takes place in the Parisian sewer system" on it, the possibilities are endless. The things available to you are immense; darkness, depth, water, decay, toxic ooze and the basic "unknown." Just think of the beasts or monsters that could emanate out of such a setting. My mind began to race with ideas, but I had to slam on my brakes. I did not have a story or meaning. I only had a series of images, conceptual ideas and actions that had no ultimate purpose. What was this game going to be about?

c)  Story

One day I was reading about the aftermath of World War I. Whaaa? Let me clarify, if you have not guess yet, I have my degree in history and, well, it is one of my true loves. Anyway I was reflecting on how the end of this horrible war saw the downfall of many types of governments and societies. I began re-reading about the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (you see at one time it was the Holy Roman Empire and I created a group of Holy Rodents...I hope you see the very thin connection. I am just trying to be honest and sincere on how these ideas came to me). Then it dawned on me, The Failed Society of Holy Rodents has to have a way (an avenue) of operating, inducting its members or appointing its leader(s). It is an ancient society and must have a lot of traditions and idiosyncrasies. Remember 'Fiddler on the Roof?' "Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof!"

What if a Rodent had to go through some sort of physical test or combat an advisory to be worthy? In fact, I decided to add to this mystery by changing the organization's name to The Secret Society of Holy Rodents. Hence, a new hidden and secretive sensation is added to this society. Yes! it should be some sort of a personal test within the depths of the sewer system...something fun, totally absurd, challenging and with kicked kitties hurling through the air!

'Kick The Kitties' gameplay

Now I had the very nucleus of the game, the spring board if you will and from this point on, the doors toward the development of the game where flung wide open.

Sorry, I am afraid that is all I will divulge right now. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope this will encourage people to take whatever idea they have and run.


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