RMVXA Cat Story (Animal Survival Horror)

Discussion in 'Ideas and Prototypes' started by Chicken Fetus, Sep 3, 2018.

?

Which direction should I go with

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

    2 vote(s)
    40.0%
  2. Many fictional animal (or animal-like) species, diverse gameplay (E.g something like "The Mist")

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
  3. A combination of both real and fictional (please comment how you'd prefer this)

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
  4. Other (please comment)

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Chicken Fetus

    Chicken Fetus Villager Member

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    *Warning: Some violent, morbid and creepy content. This is not a child friendly game despite the cute kittens.
    Even if you're not interested, voting in the poll would be a major help.
    Or you could tell me what would make this project more interesting or attractable to you.


    Cat Story
    A Survival Horror About Animals

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    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 a crazy territorial calico, 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 and photomanipulation
    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.
    ---------------------------------
    I didn't bother adding a download link to the game since I assumed no one would be interested in actually playing the prototype (especially given how bad it is) but if for some reason someone is interested in playing it then just let me know.

    I would like opinions on my sprites and mechanics, but more importantly, what would make this project more appealing to you

    I'd also like to know if you'd like me to continue with direction I'm going in or if I should take this project in a different direction (see bottom of post for more info).

    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 part 1, 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 1


    Part 4


    All Cutscenes (plus hidden extras)


    The Zoo

    Sprites
    Although the prototype uses many placeholder assets, I added many of my own sprites (owl, deer, snake, humans and most monsters). Although I did not add any original environmental assets to the prototype, I have been practicing on making pixel buildings and foliage. I would appreciate your thoughts on them.
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    While the above sprites are all original assets I made myself, for the prototype itself I made many of the animals through modified VX Ace and XP sprites (Note that I own VX Ace and XP, also this picture is a screenshot of gimp to avoid legal issues)
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    SCREENSHOTS FROM PROTOTYPE
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    Concept Art
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    I would like input on which direction to go regarding playable animals (please vote in the poll)



    This prototype was made with RPG Maker VX Ace (although I did also use XP assets, I own both. Plus I purchased several dlcs during a steam sale). However, I'll probably switch to something else for the final project. The plot of this game was taken from a story I wanted to write as either a novel or webcomic, but never found the motivation to do. Although, I have been considering dropping the plot in favor of a more something more generic and less linear.
    However regardless if I keep the story or not, I do intend to add other playable animals. Mama Kat's story basically being the "campaign mode" so to speak.


    As mentioned before, I considered dropping the story aspect (although I still do want to continue Mama Kat's story somehow in the future). I find making linear storied games, and cutscenes, to be less enjoyable to make than more procedural worlds and stories without cutscenes.

    I've also considered doing fictional animals instead of real ones (this does not include monsters which I intend to be separate from animals).

    While I imagine people would prefer real species, this would come with many difficulties that would severely limit gameplay and species amount. People (including myself) have much higher expectations for real animals, and making sure the design and gameplay adheres to the real thing can be a challenge (for example, finding specific sound effects for specific kinds of animals can be a difficult, sometimes almost impossible.).

    The challenge with real animals would also mean the overall species diversity would be FAR lower than if I did fictional ones.


    Several directions I'm considering for fictional animals are...

    • Continue current direction with real animals. It's important to note that this direction would have FAR FEWER species and much more limited gameplay.
    • Fictional species that have fantasy powers (I always toyed with the idea of a game that's based on Steven King's The Mist where people play as the alien creatures). This would probably allow far greater freedom gameplay wise and allow for a much much higher species diversity. Design influences would be Half Life, Metroid and Wayne Barlowe's Expedition.
    Something to note is even if I go with more of "The Mist" direction, I'd still probably have small things such as rats and bugs. It's also possible for me to continue with mama cat's story. Except instead of an ecosystem of real animals, it's an ecosystem of alien creatures.

    • A combination of real and fictional animals. Not sure how that'd work though. Possibly include some abnormal animals (e.g resident evil, rainworld, stalker, the isle)
    If you want idea of possible ways animal-like creatures would look, I posted an art gallery here of various animal and monster designs I've made in the past unrelated to this project. https://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?threads/chickens-art.99650/


    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 require different playstyles having different dangers and prey sources. 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.
    • Animal combat is more than just smacking each other around till one party dies. In real life predators try to restrain prey while attacking. Prey try to keep enemies at bay (e.g running away, threatening if cornered or striking if caught). So I gave mother cat the ability to grab prey and bite. However caught prey (especially rabbits and rats) will try to strike at her and make her let go. Mother cat can use her claws to keep predators away if she's cornered.
    In the past predators in Cat Story could grab mother cat as well and she would have to use her claws to keep escape. But because of bugs I removed it. The basic mechanic of predators grabbing the player and the player having to thrash or attack is still something I want to do in the future.
    • Conversely, among rival predators that are evenly matched there's often more display and intimidation than actual combat (aside from biting exposed rears). Although there's no actual npc vs npc group fighting, there are cutscenes and events involving groups of animals fighting. Most came out bad, unrealistic and not how I wanted (I still loathe the cutscene with the grey dog being killed for how unrealistic and corny it came out). But I thought the dogs challenging the creatures over the deer carcass in part 5, and the dog pack surrounding the wolf (part 2 at 2:40) were okay and conveyed what I envisioned in my head. They were both inspired by videos I saw of groups of wild animals fighting (grey wolves vs bears or domestic dogs, african wild dogs vs hyenas, hyenas vs lions). Although I probably should have added more rear biting that was common in those videos.
    • 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.
    ---
    All resources were either made by me, 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.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
    #1
  2. Marquise*

    Marquise* Veteran Veteran

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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. ^^
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
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  3. Chicken Fetus

    Chicken Fetus Villager Member

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    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.
     
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  4. Marquise*

    Marquise* Veteran Veteran

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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!
     
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  5. Chicken Fetus

    Chicken Fetus Villager Member

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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?
     
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  6. Marquise*

    Marquise* Veteran Veteran

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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!
     
    #6
  7. Chicken Fetus

    Chicken Fetus Villager Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
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  8. Sauteed_Onion

    Sauteed_Onion Mmm Tasty Veteran

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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.
     
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  9. Marquise*

    Marquise* Veteran Veteran

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  10. Caitlin

    Caitlin \(=^o^=)/ Kitten shall rule the world!!! Veteran

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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:
     
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  11. Chicken Fetus

    Chicken Fetus Villager Member

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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.

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    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).
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    Along with this, I also now have some concept art
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    Thank You :)

    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.
     
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