icon.pngCatlateral Damage is a game made in earnest out of a man's love of cats. Originally prototyped during the 7 Day FPS game jam in 2013, Chris Chung then decided that he wanted to take it from small prototype to market worthy game. In that time, the game went viral. We talk about the trials of taking a small jam game to market when internet culture champions your game.

Download the BigSushi.fm Podcast: Episode #199 (33.1 MB, duration: 1:12:20)

Catlateral Damage blew up across various games press websites around January 2014. It went viral to the point where streamers and youtubers like Pewdiepie and Markiplier both created videos that raised awareness of Chris' small cat loving game. Around this same time is when Goat Simulator also went viral. Chris admits that due to the high profile his game and games like Goat Simulator started to draw amongst the gaming entertainers, that it forced him to change a bit of the direction and plan for the game.

For Chris, the game was supposed to a well polished and traditional game experience. He wanted progression, collectibles, etc. However, Goat Simulator, was a game where it was designed to be a sandbox and buggy, a goofy and enjoyable toy for people to play and have fun with. Chris didn't particularly want to be lumped in with the slew of simulator games that seemed to be catering directly towards gaming personalities. So they did what most rational indie developers do; they went procedural.

The reason to go procedural was two fold. First, Chris originally figured that the best way to extend the games prototype stage was to make similar to a puzzle game with different worlds with several levels. He imagined multiple houses with rooms, and each of those rooms would be a level, and that would form the basis of the games progression. He would hand craft however many levels and when the player completed all the levels they beat it, game over. All of that level generation takes a massive amount of time. Procedural generation helps that problem. Second it helped him focus on just allowing people to play a game that he wanted to make. "I really love cats and wanted to play a game where you played as a cat and did cat stuff."

It was never designed to be a game picked up by Youtubers. However, Chris does admit that he absolutely used all those videos as precious opportunities to get feedback on the game and to see how people were playing it. This, for me, raised an interest problem. When a game that is being designed by a small team, and is going to be a small game, gets a crazy amount of attention, does it become unwieldily to manage expectations of the game?

Catlateral Damage, in its final release form, is a first person cat game, where players will jump around and knock things off ledges. There are some specific levels, but for the most part you are ransacking houses, scoring pickups in a very Bindings of Isaac fashion, with a Katamari Damacay style sticker book of all the things you've knocked to the floor. After playing it for an hour, maxing out your Kitty Speed, Jump, and Swipe, you've seen basically everything. I enjoyed this experience, but I wondered what would the people who ran out and got the game after seeing these larger than life personalities creating these well produced entertainment pieces on what is a rather concise game, think about it?

The lack of a deliberate or explicit 'end game' is something that Chris agrees is what lacks the most in the game. He and I both agree that from what is described as the intention of the game, to be a cat and do cat things, it scores on all marks. And all the added attention to detail on specific cat related paraphinelia would make any cat owner smile. Chris is hopeful to extend the life of the game and perhaps do some more work on it, if the game continues to see success, however he is eager to move onto his next cat related game, and I am excited to see what that may be.

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