RMVXA Cat Story (Animal Survival Horror)

Which direction should I go with

  • Very few real animal species (does not include non-animal creatures), limited gameplay

    Votes: 2 25.0%
  • Many fictional animal (or animal-like) species, diverse gameplay (E.g something like "The Mist")

    Votes: 1 12.5%
  • A combination of both real and fictional (please comment how you'd prefer this)

    Votes: 4 50.0%
  • Other (please comment)

    Votes: 1 12.5%

  • Total voters
    8

Chicken Fetus

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*Warning: Some violent, morbid and creepy content. This is not a child friendly game despite the cute kittens.
If your not interested in this project but can think of something that could make the concept more interesting to you, please let me know.

Xerhoul's Creatures: A Cat's Story
A Survival Horror About Animals








*gifs are not of sprites in the prototype (which mostly has placeholder assets), but to demonstrate what direction I'd go for of sprites I'd utilize in a completed game.


Mama Kat used to live a peaceful life family: her owner and her owner's other pets. She had everything she needed, and the only thing she had to worry about was her brother and the family dog annoying her. Now the humans are gone and the town pets are either dead or want Mama Kat dead. All that remains of her family are her three young kittens. To keep what's left of her family alive, she must hunt and avoid being hunted. But feral dogs, and territorial and cannibal rival cats, are not the only creatures she has to fear. In absence of man, strange and terrifying beasts have begun to arrive. Some from the cold forests of the north, others from the dark ruins to the south. These deadly creatures now fight to claim rulership of this land, with Mama Kat's family caught in between.
This is a prototype for a game concept I've wanted to make for a long time: A post apocalyptic open world survival horror game about animals trying to raise families in a savage land where man has left behind ruins... and nightmares.
  • A strong emphasis on creature interactions in a dynamic ecosystem where the player is small and not special to the world. Each creature has it's own ways to hunt or avoid being hunted (the prototype has 32 different species of creatures, 12 of which prey animal for the player)
  • Many creatures are individuals with unique personalities.
  • Various habitats and regions that require different playstyles having different dangers and prey sources.
  • The animals, especially the player, can use foliage and their environment to their advantage. Such as hiding in the grass or using trees to escape predators.
  • A combination of artstyles such as pixel, photomanipulation, skeletal and hand drawn animation.
Some Influences: Shelter 2, Call of The Wild, Raptor Red, Rainworld, Tokyo Jungle, White Fang, Warrior Cats,
Silent Hill, SCP Containment Breach, S.T.A.L.K.E.R, Resident Evil, Isolation (a 2005 Irish film), various flash horror games such as Exmortis and Vorago, and various rpg maker horror such as Snow Drift.
---------------------------------

Here's a download link to the prototype. I should warn though it's VERY buggy and the controls are terrible. If you'd rather not play this mess (which I honestly wouldn't blame you) then please at least look at one of the videos.The prototype was created more as a concept test than to be a game in of itself.


http://www.mediafire.com/file/799dr6bgfl3puly/Cat+Story.exe

I would like opinions on concepts, but more importantly, what would make this project more appealing to you

-----------------


Here's some WIP sprites to give an idea of what sort of art a proper game would have whereas the art used in the prototype is mostly placeholders.





Some of the sprites in the below images were not originally made for RPG Maker (or this project) but they do give an idea of what art direction I intend to go with (and some could be repurposed for rpg maker). Ignore the dinosaurs in the image, they're not relevant to this project.


Sprites From The Prototype
Although the prototype uses many placeholder assets, I added many of my own sprites (owl, deer, snake, humans and most monsters).


SCREENSHOTS FROM PROTOTYPE





Concept Art





This next pic is no longer "canon" to this game's story but does demonstrate the general direction I would go with humanoid monsters.

GAMEPLAY MECHANICS AND CONCEPTS
(This is rather wordy, see above for basic synopsis)
  • A dynamic ecosystem where the player is neither special nor important. Each creature tries to hunt or avoid being hunted. For example, at 6:20 in Part 4 of the playthrough, an owl catches a mouse that mama kat was stalking. Although in the prototype, rats and snakes will also hunt mice while dogs and wolves hunt rabbits. There are also occasions where player can find dogs and wolves chasing animals such as deer and foxes (although these are preset events, I want in the future for it to be more procedural). There are also cutscenes, and preset events, of animals fighting for food and territory but again I plan for that to be be more procedural with actual combat between npcs.
  • Many of the animals are individuals with personalities. Among mama's kittens: the white is often the first to greet her, the black loves to play chase. Both black and white kittens sleep on a cat bed. The tabby kitten is a lazy bum who sleeps wherever it's standing. Among the dogs: the brown is the slowest yet most powerful, the white is fastest, the husky sees farthest and the black/grey dogs can track mama's scent even if they haven't seen her.
  • Each prey animal has a means of escape other than just fleeing and none (except bugs and certain abominations) are helpless to predators. Rodents can run into holes, birds fly off, squirrels can climb trees and buildings, bullfrogs swim away and etc. Rats will bite when cornered and rabbits can deliver powerful kicks if caught.
  • Most games have ambient noises that are not made by ai, but rather are simply background noise. But Cat Story has birds and frogs that let out calls both for atmosphere and to notify player that prey is in the area.
  • Strange objects and edible non-animal creatures that can do things for player that ordinary wildlife cannot (e.g regenerate health, increase stats and etc.)
  • Various habitats and regions that, having different dangers and prey sources, require different playstyles. Players will have to decide which areas are safer and offer the best food. Prey and dangers vary upon time of day as well.
  • The animals, especially the player, can use foliage and their environment to their advantage. In the game mother cat and other animals can use tall grass and bushes to hide from prey and predators. She (and owls) can hide in trees as well. To escape many predators, mother cat can climb trees while squirrels can also climb buildings.
However, I'm not very happy with how tree climbing came out in Cat Story. But I'm not sure how else to set that mechanic in a 2d overhead setting.
  • A combination of artsyles. For example the prototype, aside from traditional pixel art it also contains photomanipulation. When I was younger I played a lot of flash horror, many of which utilized photo-manipulation (especially Exmortis). But I also really loved Omega Flowey from Undertale. So I decided to try photomanipulation for a game myself. The image I used was of uncooked mutton being sold at a market. While I like how it came out, I'm not sure I'll do it again in the future. I'm not sure how to utilize photo-manipulation in a 2d overhead game without getting repetitive. Plus, even if I do photo-manip again, I don't think I'll use meat again for a source image for various reasons.

Playthrough and Videos
I made a playthrough video series (as well as videos of cutscenes and bonus content). Since the playthrough was kind of long, the spoiler below only has parts 4 and 5 (and the extras). They were shorter while showing off more atmosphere and gameplay. The rest of the playthrough series is on my youtube channel and demonstrates other mechanics and atmosphere. Credits for resources used to make the prototype are in part 7.

Part 5

Part 4

All Cutscenes (plus hidden extras)

The Zoo
---
All resources were either made by myself, RTP from VX Ace and XP (I own both), purchased DLC or resources free for non-commercial usage (mainly scripts, music and animal sound effects). No animals were hurt in the making of this prototype. The sound effects came from various sources online, none of which stated animals being harmed (for example, the dog death howl was actually just a slowed down puppy tantrum). If you know otherwise, please let me know so I can remove it. The photo-manipulation was made using an image from Flickr of mutton being sold at a market from human consumption.
 
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Marquise*

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You will get some tears here and there from gamers. But if you have a profound respect for felines, this will be a beautiful game. ^^
 
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Chicken Fetus

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You will get some tears here and there from gasmers. But if you have a profound respect for felines, this will be a beautiful game. ^^
Thank you. And I have much respect for cats since they are my favorite animal :).

However I should mention that in the actual game, I will include other playable species (exactly what I have yet to decide). Mother Cat's story, if I continue it, would be more like the game's "campaign mode" whereas other animals would be more of an rpg-ish sandbox without a story to go with them.

Also it's funny, I originally envisioned the story just something super creepy and brutal, but it really did end up being rather sad as well.
 

Marquise*

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I lost a Mommy Cat in previous bedbug extermination. :( She was poisoned and ... well she died in my arms after a 2 week fight. Me and Daughter Cat still feel her at home sometimes. I surprised many times Mr Cat -adopted from SPCA after her death- licking the card box holding the cedar box holding the bag of her ashes a few times.

You can understand how I just stopped by your title. Shhh... My Mommy Cat was just about to get 15. Grrr... Her health challenged daughter is now past 15!
 

Chicken Fetus

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I'm sorry for your loss and I'm happy the protagonist was relatable in such a way.

However I should warn that cats do die in this game. This isn't out of disrespect for them, but the nature of the game's setting. Even setting aside the horror elements, all the animals in this game are living in the wild where predation, and other animals wishing to eliminate of competition for resources, are constant threats.

By the way, do you have any suggestions or criticisms for how I could make the game more appealing or stand out?
 

Marquise*

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I saw Watership down as a kid. I do understand! Maybe this might gives you ideas as well. I don't think you should show your kids thought (unless under parent guidance) It might be inspiring how to handle a few situations. It is far from Disney and I think worst that might had got to kids without traumas was Secret of Nihm.

Your prologue I couldn't read a lot (too fast) I think and part 5 your human in the warehouse looks a wee bit invisible on the side.

I like the climbing tree immunity. :) @Sauteed_Onion would had a blast with your game!
 

Chicken Fetus

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edit: A mediafire download link has been added to the original post. The version in the mediafire download is more up to date and has some bug-fixes.
------------------
The text was fast because it was mostly just instructions on how to play, which wasn't really relevant for anyone watching the videos. The videos were simply to demonstrate the prototype's concepts since I thought no one would be interested in playing the prototype.

Although if your friend wanted to try it then I can upload it onto mediafire. Although I won't be able to upload tonight or tomorrow. However, I did post it in on steam workshop if your friend own's VX ACE on steam. But it is a bit buggy (although the only game breaking one I know if is a rare one at night that causes the game to crash).

As for the "invisible human," I assume you're not referring to the woman in the cutscene but the thing around 3:00 in the video? That creature isn't human and it's supposed to be partially invisible. Although it hides even more when it senses the player and tries to stalk it.


I'm glad you liked the tree climbing mechanic (although rival cats and owls cans also use trees). Although I feel it could be better since climbing in the game is basically just walking onto the tree tiles. But I'm not certain how else to set it up in 2d overhead.
 
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Sauteed_Onion

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Wow, that is so atmospheric and broody at times. I love the weirdness vibe too, going into the "dark realm" kind of randomly. Please continue what ever it is you're going for here.
 

Caitlin

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:LZSexcite: OH ... MY ... YES, a survival horror with cats, so excited, because I always thought that seeing from the view point of animals in that sort of game was a great idea. *Marks topic as one to watch* :LZScheeze:
 

Chicken Fetus

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So October is here, the best month for black cats, creepy places and monsters.

I'm starting work in moving on from the prototype to the actual game. I'm still working on a proper title (Cat Story is the prototype name). I'm considering Zerusohl's Creatures (exactly what "Zerusohl" is I don't want to say yet).

For this I've been working on sprites. In the prototype the environmental sprites were either RTP or purchased, while most of the animals were modified RTP. For the proper game I want to have my own sprites, including remaking the animals from the game. However I've also begun making new kinds of creatures.



Some new prey I've been working on include grasshoppers and shrews (shrews function similar to mice but their vision and meat isn't as good).
In the prototype the only birds were pigeons and mourning doves (since RM RTP had a white dove I could make into other kinds of pigeons). Now I've begun making passerines such as sparrows and starlings. I've also added variants to certain prey, such as for the rats (normal, infernal, abyssal and feral domestic).

I also have new enemies as well, such as freakish worm creatures (inspired heavily by silent hill). And what's a horror game without some giant crawliers, such as an oversized spider. They come in two variants: smaller males and much larger female. Males probably aren't too dangerous to the player, in fact they are prey to cats. The females however are deadly enemies to be feared.

When I have more to show I might start a separate thread on another website (I'm not certain where but I want to start a devlog).
---
Along with this, I also now have some concept art



Wow, that is so atmospheric and broody at times. I love the weirdness vibe too, going into the "dark realm" kind of randomly. Please continue what ever it is you're going for here.
Thank You :)

:LZSexcite: OH ... MY ... YES, a survival horror with cats, so excited, because I always thought that seeing from the view point of animals in that sort of game was a great idea. *Marks topic as one to watch* :LZScheeze:
Thank You. I've too really wanted to see a survival horror (or even a decent horror movie) from the pov of animals, but since it didn't seem like something anyone else was making, I decided to try making it myself.
 

Chicken Fetus

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Sorry I haven't posted anything in almost half a year (I didn't realize it had even been that long since I last posted).

I finally got around to making a downloadable version of the prototype without steam, this version is actually more updated than the steam version (steam workshop isn't letting me update the game for some reason). While there's still plenty of bugs and clunky/confusing controls, this version fixed some major bugs. I still recommend the videos over playing the prototype since the prototype is so clunky, buggy and hard to get used to.

http://www.mediafire.com/file/el0ax103saq0mci/Cat+Story.exe

Here's also a preview of some assets I've made to utilize in a proper future game. The prototype mostly uses placeholder sprites, these sprites will give an idea of what final sprites would look like for the actual game.


(The deer sprite in this image is outdated)


Ignore the dinosaurs in this picture, they are not for this project. The environmental sprites were originally designed for a different engine but could be repurposed for rpg maker


Now that I've gotten goodies out of the way, onto the downer stuff...

The reason I went so long without posting is partly because of IRL issues, partly due to worrying about not having enough people interested in this project to justify it being a video game (instead of a webcomic or written novel as I had originally planned), partly due to trouble deciding what direction to go with this project (especially since this concept involves a semi-linear story whereas I find it much easier to make non-linear simulation games), and partly because I had been working on another project (an ecosystem sim in unity engine that will use many of the same sprites).

Now I want to make it clear that I do not intend to abandon this project, it's far too precious to me. But if I were to continue this project as a game though, the gameplay and overall scope would likely be far simpler and different than I originally wanted.

For example, the plans for a complex combat system would likely be dropped in favor of a system similar to Shelter2 were touching prey causes it to be instantly caught and killed, whereas being touched by larger predators (e.g wolves and zombies) results in instant death.

I was also considering making the setting winter-like so that the environments could be a lot simpler, instead of the rich forests and fields. If I were to keep the setting in summer, I would have to repurpose the art for my ecosystem sim to be suitable for rpg maker. The complex ecological system would also likely be downplayed for this game (most of those concepts utilized instead in the unity project). I'm also still toying with idea of having the setting be more like the mist with greater emphasis on monsters than normal wildlife (although ordinary animals besides mama cat, and her family, will still be a thing).

Worst case scenario, I'll likely return to the plan of having this project be a webcomic, or even a writing a novel, should making this into a game prove unfeasible.
 
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Rabbitheart

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An interesting idea. Animal survival games really get my attention.

I played the prototype. I haven't finished it yet, but there are some of my thoughts.
- Should the hunger matter, or is this a prototype thing? Some days I didn't catch anything, but I could nurse the kittens and after the sleep I was full.
- Is there reason why the kittens are in the second floor? I think it would be better to skip the first floor if there's no reason. It may be annoying in the long run, if you have to always walk through it.
- The music has very low volume, when the other voices were loud.
- Maybe some hp-bar to the enemies? Or at least to normal animals? I tried to fight against rival cat, but I could't say how the fight was going because I couldn't see its hp. Also, I almost lost the mouse because of this: I thought one slash would be enough, and then it run and I had to slash until it really was dead.
- I really liked the idea about tree climbing.
- It was pretty creepy when I got chased some human-monster thing. It was the first time and it got me surprised. Good thing!

I hope you can do this project to the end.
 

Chicken Fetus

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So I'm posting a new download link because I've made some changes to the prototype (mostly that I fixed a bug that was causing stats to reset in a certain room.

http://www.mediafire.com/file/7aha8n2mhe8vjq4/Cat+Story.exe
edit: I fixed the link, original link was broken, sorry about that.

Also I have another sprite preview, this time the return of a deadly predator.

For comparison, here's the canids (dogs and wolves) sprites from the prototype (modified rtp)
-------------------------

An interesting idea. Animal survival games really get my attention.

I played the prototype. I haven't finished it yet, but there are some of my thoughts.
- Should the hunger matter, or is this a prototype thing? Some days I didn't catch anything, but I could nurse the kittens and after the sleep I was full.
- Is there reason why the kittens are in the second floor? I think it would be better to skip the first floor if there's no reason. It may be annoying in the long run, if you have to always walk through it.
- The music has very low volume, when the other voices were loud.
- Maybe some hp-bar to the enemies? Or at least to normal animals? I tried to fight against rival cat, but I could't say how the fight was going because I couldn't see its hp. Also, I almost lost the mouse because of this: I thought one slash would be enough, and then it run and I had to slash until it really was dead.
- I really liked the idea about tree climbing.
- It was pretty creepy when I got chased some human-monster thing. It was the first time and it got me surprised. Good thing!

I hope you can do this project to the end.
Thank You for your feedback, and sorry I didn't reply sooner

- Hunger is supposed to matter, but for some reason I never noticed an event for debugging was still set to be active, until you said something. It would reset all stats each time the player entered the room with the kittens.

Thank you for notifying me of this, I've since fixed it.

I should mention though that technically your hunger doesn't need to be full in order to feed your kittens, it just can't be too low (although I think the tutorial may have been misleading and implied you had to be at full hunger). There are also certain supernatural things that will reset the players stats that when encountered. However those supernatural things can only be accessed by being in very dangerous and creepy areas where unholy entities will likely kill the cat so it's not usually worth the risk, so I don't think that's what was happening with you.

- You're probably right. When I first started making the game I thought the extra room would add a bit to the atmosphere and mystery, but in hindsight it didn't really add much. Also the extra room was originally planned to have a role(s) in the story that were eventually scrapped. While I'm not sure it's worth removing from prototype for several reasons, if I do make a full game then I'll be certain to keep this in mind and make going outside the den more straight forward.

- I turned up much of the music volume in the prototype.

- The whole reply is a bit long but for a TL;DR version - I agree the prototypes combat is frustrating, and the combat mechanics I originally wanted are likely not feasible. But for several reasons I don't want healthbars. For a full game, prey will likely not have "health" (either they die or they escape) and rival cats may not be a thing.

In the meantime I've reduced the health of all creatures that can be fought. All prey, except rats and rabbits, can now be killed with a single claw attack.

Full Response
I wanted to go for minimal ui and more naturalistic feel to animal interactions( the ui and the combat system was mostly the result of trying to heavily modify a free ABS script I downloaded online for the prototype. That's why it feels so wonky and hacky). Giving the enemies health bars feels like it would take away from the animal-survival aspects, as well as the horror element. Plus I worry it would imply mother cat is supposed to be a fighter when she's a flighty creature that's preys only on weak things (mice, rats, little birds, bunnys) and is a prey animal herself.

My original plan for the full game was for player (and other predators) to restrain prey while causing damage (like what a real predators do). But I've since decided to go with an approach more like that of Shelter 2.

Touching prey will instantly kill it (or at least smaller prey items like mice and birds) will cause Mama Cat to instantly kill them and hold them in her mouth, while touching predators (or at least larger ones such as big dogs, wolves and zombies) will result in mama cat being instantly killed.
I'm still a little uncertain how combat for similar sized creatures (rabbits and small predators) will go. Maybe a touching either will trigger a button-mash mechanic and if you fail your injured/killed (or in the case of the rabbit, the rabbit escapes).
Technically no enemy creature will be killable (except maybe very small monsters since small monsters are less survival oriented than small animals). This is also true for the prototype (licker skulls not counting since they're are more like aggressive prey than proper enemies). At best some can be chased off: owl, fox* and rival cat. Although the former only flees for short distances and will attack again, whereas the latter will never attack again, if injured enough, unless cornered. In the newest version of the prototype, foxes combine aspects of both (can be chased short distances but will still attack, but if you injure it enough then it will never attack again unless cornered). However fighting anything other than prey is supposed to be dangerous, since the cat isn't supposed to be a fighter. She's meant more to avoid danger than fight it.

As far as rival cats go, I think that might be more trouble than it's worth. Aside from realistic cat combat not really being feasible
Aside from Tom's fighting for breeding access, fighting in cats is mostly just about defending a specific area, especially if food is limited. A cat's territory is not the same as it's homerange. Often homeranges overlap, especially in areas such as convenient paths and areas with water. Cats are more likely tolerate each other outside the core territory, especially in shared areas and if they are already familiar with each other. Also since queens usually have smaller territories, and aren't fighting for mates, queens don't fight as much as toms.

Cat fights themselves tend be highly ritualistic with lots of posturing and noises. Oftentimes fights are avoided through intimidation alone, but when they do occur it tends to involve lots of grabbing, biting and kicking. Smacking with front paws is more of a threat to back off, rather than an actual attack.

I tried to replicate some aspects of this in the prototype, but it just felt awkward and didn't make sense.
I'm not certain what rival cats actually offer besides having an excuse to include other cat npcs (I thought it would feel odd if mama cat was the only cat npc in the game besides her family members).

- I'm glad you liked the climbing mechanic, although to me it felt a bit awkward and too easy.

- I'm really happy to hear you found that creepy, and that it surprised you the first time! That means I did something right at least:)
However I'm wondering, were you indoors when you encountered the monster, or were you outside?
I ask because there are three buildings that can be entered through giant cracks in the wall. The buildings have many monsters (But also have lots of mice and rats, as well miscellaneous secrets that can alter gameplay). Entering a building can also be a means to escape outdoor predators, especially dogs. However I was worried I made it too hard to find the entrances to these buildings.

Only a few monsters can be found outdoors (albeit only after a day and night), most are trapped in the buildings.

- I hope so to. But even if a game proves unfeasible in the long run, I have other things I could use the basic premise for.
 
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