Tag: cats of Hong Kong

Stray’s Feline Protagonist Is Picture Perfect

Determined to get inside an apartment, the ginger tabby leaps onto the ledge of an air conditioner unit, then onto the roof, where he drags a piece of debris to the edge, swipes it off and watches it shatter a skylight.

Boom. Kitty door created!

The scene isn’t part of a Youtube video or a documentary about smart cats, it’s a gameplay sequence from the upcoming Stray, a game in which the protagonist is a lost cat who’s been separated from his family and dropped into an eerie, near-future Hong Kong.

The overlap (or Reuleaux triangle) in a Venn diagram of gamers and cat-lovers is pretty sizable, and for that enthusiastic cross-section, there’s no game more highly anticipated than Stray.

Stray
Our hero gets his sustenance from bowls, needs to pause for a scratch every once in a while, and likes to rub against the legs of friendly characters he meets.

Previously we’d seen a short trailer and still screenshots, and now a video from the developers shows off more than four minutes of glorious game footage following the feline protagonist as he explores Hong Kong’s streets, back alleys and noodle shops.

The developers are clearly cat lovers: The kitty hero of Stray moves with the grace, energy and caution of a real domestic feline, and the game forces players to tackle obstacles and challenges the way a cat would. The protagonist cat gains access to a vent shaft, for example, by swiping a coffee mug into fan blades to get them to stop spinning. In another scene, the cat is startled, jumps a full pace back and lands on all fours in a way only cats can.

Everything from gait to reactions is perfectly cat-like. In the opening moments, our kitty hero is clearly injured, nursing one of his back legs as he hobbles down an alley. In a later scene he bats curiously at a drone the way a house cat would with a new toy.

There are no magic abilities or impossible inventories here: As the player, you can only do things a cat can do in real life, although you’re given a boost later on when a friendly character equips you with a harness on which B12, the above-mentioned drone, can dock. B12 can interact with man-made inventions, understand your cat’s intentions and facilitate rudimentary communication.

If, for example, your kitty character is dehydrated and stops to paw at a vending machine, B12 can send a signal to the machine, order it to dispense a beverage, then open it for the adventurous cat. B12 also helps your catagonist fight off enemies. By flashing a purple light at hostile machines, for example, the little drone can render them harmless and deactivate them.

Ultimately, though, the game designers want you to think in cat terms to make your way through the game world, and that means considering feline physiology when encountering obstacles, and feline psychology when trying to solve puzzles.

Stray
“A new toy?!” Stray’s hero cat is curious as he meets B-12 for the first time.

The project’s lead designers are both industry veterans who decided to strike out on their own by forming an independent studio after years of working for UbiSoft, the game industry giant known for game franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Watch_Dogs. Like those games, Stray gives players the opportunity to explore a highly detailed open world.

“Our goal is to create a unique experience playing as a cat. We are inspired everyday by Murtaugh and Riggs, our two cats,” creative director Viv said. “Most of the team are cat owners as well, giving us all a lot of helpful first-hand references. Cats are always so playful, cute and lovingly annoying that it’s an endless stream of gameplay ideas for us.”

Stray_gameplay

For the game’s atmosphere, the creators were inspired by Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City, a former military fortress that became a slum in the days of British-ruled Hong Kong, with Chinese triad gangs serving as de facto authorities in the lawless zone. Today, the former Kowloon Walled City is a park.

“It is also a very unique point of view for an adventure game. Exploring the strange world we are building feels really fresh when you’re sneaking under a car, or walking the rooftops with the inhabitants below unaware of your presence. Or if you want them to be aware, you can just meow endlessly to annoy them.”

Stray was originally slated for a late 2021 release, but it’s looking more likely that we won’t see it until the first quarter of 2022. Given the recent history of highly anticipated and rushed projects like Cyberpunk 2077, few gamers would begrudge a development team taking its time and getting things right rather than going into a months-long crunch period to meet a holiday deadline. Good things come to those who wait, especially in the complex world of game development.

“Stray” Lets Gamers Play As A Cat In Hong Kong

After 2015’s Shelter 2 — in which gamers take on the role of a female Lynx protecting her cubs in the wild — proved there’s a real audience for games from a cat’s perspective, there have been a few feline-centric games coming down the development pipeline.

None of them, however, look as unique and fascinating as Stray, a newly-unveiled title in which players take the role of a cat surviving in a post-human future Hong Kong.

The game’s trailer is spectacular, following an orange tabby cat navigating a neon-lit urban landscape populated only by machines. Details about the narrative haven’t been revealed and it’s not clear what happened to humanity in the game’s universe, but cats are alive and well in Stray, and it looks like they’ve manipulated robots into serving them the same way they had humans wrapped around their little paws.

“I will throw my money at anything that lets me play as a cat,” one Youtube user posted.

“There’d better be a meow button,” another wrote.

Although it’s early yet and we haven’t seen gameplay videos, the cat depicted in the trailer is exceptionally well-modeled and rendered by game artists who clearly love the little furballs. The feline’s gait, movements and vocalizations are spot-on.

Stray will be a PS4/5 exclusive at launch (boo!) but will also have a PC release, presumably at least a few months later. We’ll be watching eagerly for more news about this interesting and unique game, which is slated for a 2021 release.

Stray (game)
The feline player character seen in the trailer sports a backpack which could serve as a player inventory or hide gadgets. We always knew cats were smarter than they let on.

Shelter 2
A mother lynx and her cubs in Shelter 2, which employs heavily stylized visuals to represent animals and their environment.

Peace Island
Peace Island is another game currently in development that will allow players to control cats, who are the protagonists of the game.

 

Greatest Countries, Ranked By Number of Buddy’s Readers

Hello and welcome to our first installment of Greatest Countries™, where we list the Greatest Countries In The World by using a single metric: How many people in those countries read Buddy’s blog.

There are many other measurements of a country’s greatness, but perhaps none is more important than how many of a country’s citizens read Pain In The Bud, perhaps the greatest publication of our generation.

Without further ado, let’s look at the list:

  1. United States, 75 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “Yuge numbers. Those are yuge, tremendous numbers, okay? The best. They really are. Buddy’s blog is the number one publication in the US, believe me. It’s a terrific blog. Naturally most of my readers hail from the US since our blog is written in the American language.”
  2. United Kingdom, 6 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “Why do these people speak like they’re Westerosi from Game of Thrones? Hello! Get an original accent! Nevertheless, readers are increasingly abandoning rubbish — like gossip about Prince Harry and Megan Markle — to read about a true celebrity, Buddy the Cat. A lot of people in the UK speak and read American, so naturally they read my blog.”

    Harry and Meghan
    Harold and Meg, lesser celebrities of the UK.
  3. Canada, 5 percent of Buddy’s readership: Buddy says: “Many people haven’t heard about this obscure vassal state to the US, but Buddy’s growing fanbase in this frozen wasteland is guaranteed to put Canada on the map, eh!”

    canada
    Canadian citizens perform the Dance of Canada.
  4. India, 4 percent of Buddy’s readership: Buddy says: “India is a country founded by the Indians after they fled North America. After finding a suitable home in southeast Asia, the many tribes of India decided totem poles and wigwams were no longer in fashion and spent vast amounts of money building temples to a new religion they called Hinduism, going to great lengths to make the architecture look ancient. They didn’t fool Buddy. Still, India loves Buddy and Buddy loves India.”
  5. Australia, 2.7 percent of Buddy’s readership: Buddy says: “The Republic of Australia is a formerly landlocked European country that was moved to Oceania after it was decided that bordering Germany was not such a good idea. Australia was sparsely populated until the British started sending their prisoners to its first permanent settlement, Vienna. Cities like Sydney, Adelaide and Buddyopolis soon followed.”

    Vienna
    Vienna, the capital of Australia.
  6. South Africa, 1 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “Almost 60 million people live in South Africa. Its capital is Cape Town, which earned its name after becoming the world’s foremost manufacturer and exporter of fashionable capes. South African readers should send some of those sweet capes Buddy’s way. He would look very handsome in them.”
  7. France, 0.7 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “Led by President Emmanuel Jean-Michel Baptiste Claude Durand Jean-Jacques Georges Frédéric Macron, France is known primarily for its outstanding wine and national edict that forbids shaving or bathing more frequently than every four days. France should be treated with skepticism because poodles, not cats, are the most popular animals in that country.”
  8. Singapore, 0.6 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “Home to awesome buildings, pristine streets and really good sandwiches, Singapore is a Greek city-state on its own island in the Aegean. Originally allied with Sparta during the Pelopponesian War, the Singaporites later flourished as a member of the Athenian Bowling League.”
  9. Germany, 0.5 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “This nation of die-hard Star Trek fans settled on Klingon as the official language. Germans are known primarily for their affinity for garden gnomes and their spectacularly efficient warp cores, which are the pride of Starfleet.”

    klingons
    A German coming-of-age ritual known as the Gluk’Thar Karthak das Lederhosen.
  10. Netherlands, 0.3 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “Is this the one where smoking catnip is legal? I don’t like that place. I like illegal catnip. It’s more profitable.”
  11. New Zealand, 0.2 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “Goodaye, mate! New Zealand is a tropical paradise and home of the famed Crocodile Hunter. That’s all I know about this country. Oh! And they also have really funny vampires. What We Do In The Shadows is one of my favorite movies!”
  12. Japan, 0.2 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “A proper country where people love cats. Japan has its priorities straight. Did you know cats are allowed to own and operate their own cafes in Japan? It’s true! Tokyo has many cat cafes.”

    Cat Cafe Japan
    Cats are the proprietors of their own cafes in Japan!
  13. Indonesia, 0.2 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “Indonesia has some really awesome animals, like orangutans, which are like fuzzy humans with red hair. Indonesia also has cats.”
  14. Turkey, 0.2 percent of Buddy’s readership. Buddy says: “A wonderland named after the most delicious food ever! I want to eat turkey in Turkey. Recently we learned that people in Turkey love cats, probably because cats love turkey. A match made in heaven.”

    turkeyflag
    The official flag of Turkey, a wonderful nation.
  15. The rest of the world. Buddy says: “Nigeria, Poland, Brazil, Romania, Switzerland, Greece, Norway, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Belgium. All you guys have a lot of work to do! I want to see more hits from your countries, which will naturally increase your rankings. Except for Hong Kong. You guys take as long as you want, we know you have other priorities right now. We love Hong Kong!”

    Cat in Hong Kong
    Hong Kong!