Tag: good boy

Stray: A Lost, Lonely Cat Gets A Buddy

There’s been so much buzz about Stray, so many news stories, memes and people talking about it, that I’m probably not alone in feeling like I’m watching a TV series an episode at a time while most people binged it in a day or two.

But that’s not how I play, and it’s not how most game developers want players to experience their stories. Modern games, especially games like Stray with their bespoke environments and unique encounters, are built to immerse players in their worlds. The entire point of video games is the interactivity, the choices and agency of the players. They’re designed so when you choose to wander off the beaten path or take a few moments to linger over something visually impressive, the experience is rewarding.

Maybe you’ll find a rare item, a compelling vista, a secret passage or a funny sign. The point is, there’s incentive to look deeper. It gives games a feeling of possibility and the thrill of the undiscovered.

20220723074255_1
Standing on a keyboard, just like the good old days!

These stories are not meant to be passive experiences, nor are they meant to be devoured. I won’t be speed running through this mysterious alternate future version of Hong Kong. The journey is the entire point.

Picking up where we left off, the Good Boy (that’s what I’m calling him, for now at least) must learn to navigate this new and potentially dangerous urban environment, and he must do so with a feline’s skill set.

There are no opposable thumbs here. If our hero needs to move an object, he’s got to carry it in his mouth like a mom cat does with her kittens. If he needs to move a barrel, he’s got to get inside and run like a hamster in a wheel to propel it forward. If he needs to stop a fan’s blades from spinning so he can get through a window, he’s got to drop or swipe something into the blades to jam them up.

Appropriately, one of the main mechanisms for making new routes is knocking things over. Knock over a piece of plywood and Good Boy has a bridge. Knock over a can or a box at just the right angle to flip a switch and so on.

20220723075459_1
Protagonist cat can navigate the city in different ways and at different heights. Moving above street level means he’s less vulnerable and gives him a nice ambush angle should he encounter anyone who needs a good startling.

Good Boy meanders through a seemingly abandoned Kowloon City, padding through quiet streets and taking shortcuts through empty flats. There’s power, the city is illuminated by incandescent lights, neon and the glow of TV sets indoors, so someone must be around.

Our feline hero soon learns new tenants have moved in, and they’re not friendly. I’m not sure what they’re called, and the game doesn’t name them, but Kowloon is now home to swarming, artificial tribble-like creatures that attack Good Boy on sight and can take him down if he doesn’t run and shake off any enemies who manage to latch onto him. (Side note: I do not like dying in this game. What did Good Boy ever do to deserve being attacked?)

The first encounter with these enemies turns into a twisting chase through dimly-lit alleys, crumbling staircases and tight streets. Good Boy manages to evade the evil robot tribbles and finds sanctuary in a secure flat.

Once he attends to his needs, which include some carpet scratching and rehydrating, he’s contacted by a machine who uses TVs, computer monitors and other electronics in the apartment to communicate with the tabby.

The machine directs the cat through a few simple tasks necessary to free him, then meets Good Boy in the flesh.

The bot, a palm-size drone named B-12, is damaged and his memory is corrupted. He’s as lost and confused as Good Boy is, and he proposes a partnership. Good Boy, who sees the value in a drone who can open locks, translate signs and communicate with others, agrees. B-12 outfits his new feline friend with a harness that allows him to dock on the kitty’s back, then he saddles up and the new teammates venture forth.

For the first time, the protagonist is able to glean real information about his environment and has a sense of direction. He also gets to travel by makeshift ziplines, hopping into buckets hanging from the city’s ubiquitous wires.

Next episode: Our duo fights back! Same cat time, same cat channel.

Buddy’s A Good Sport, While I’m A Yuge Hypocrite!

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about people dressing their cats up in elaborate outfits for Instagram, and how it’s exploitive of the kitties. At other random times I’ve opined that most cats want nothing to do with clothes or accessories, and it’s cruel to treat them like dolls and play dress up with them.

My opinion on the subject hasn’t changed, but now I’m a hypocrite.

While my family was exchanging Christmas gifts, I was handed a small present while my brother and his wife explained that the gift was from my 8-year-old niece, who had found it and picked it out herself.

I opened it, revealing a pair of tiny “cat sunglasses,” with the packaging in Russian and a photo of a cat rocking the shades. (My brother works for the State Department and has been living in a former Soviet bloc country for the past year and a half. It’s a downgrade from Tokyo, but hey, you can’t get amazing assignments every time.)

“They’re for Buddy,” my niece said, beaming.

At the time I was thinking there’s no way in hell Bud would wear them, and I wasn’t going to try…but I knew my niece would expect to see a photo of him rocking the shades.

And so, after a bit of negotiation and the promise of tasty treats as a reward, Buddy agreed to wear the glasses just long enough for me to snap a few photos. I didn’t press my luck.

Here’s the glorious result:

Buddy In Shades
“I look too awesome in these, human, which is why I can’t wear them for more than 10 seconds. Any longer and I would generate a vortex of awesomeness from which nothing could escape.”

Credit to the little guy for posing and being a good sport. I wouldn’t have forced him to wear the glasses if he freaked out, and he didn’t seem to mind. He was curious and interested in biting the glasses more than anything.

Bud was rewarded handsomely in moist chicken cat treats and gobbled them down happily. A short while later he climbed up onto me, laid his head on my chest and started purring, so I’m as sure as I can be that he wasn’t traumatized by his brief fashion show.

So there you have it. I’m a hypocrite.

As for my niece, she loved the photo. Her and her younger sister are very fond of Buddy, and he’s started to warm to them as well, even if he remains cautious and well aware that they are young humans who haven’t totally developed fine motor control.

Besides, they have incentive to be extra nice to Bud. LOL Dolls are all the rage among young kids now, and I’ve told my nieces that Buddy’s got a huge collection of them, as well as a vast assortment of Pokemon. If they’re good to Buddy, he just might let them play with his toys…

Seven Thousand And One!

The streak continues!

Buddy's House
“I make the rules, human!”

Buddy had to wait an extra day for my return from the Outer Banks due to the snowstorm, which made a mess of the roads, led to canceled flights and would have been miserable — and impossible — to drive through. My SiL’s brother tried to drive through it and gave up after 13 hours, getting as far as just north of Washington, D.C., before booking a hotel room and driving the rest of the way to New York the next day.

As expected, little dude tried to play it cool at first. He couldn’t stop himself from getting up and going to the door, but he played it off like “Hey, you’re home. That’s cool, I guess.” Then he nonchalantly padded away.

The indifferent act lasted for about 15 minutes, as usual, before Bud forgot he was supposed to be mad at me. He hopped up to the couch and started nuzzling and scent-rubbing on me, happily purring.

However, it took him longer than usual to act like his normal self, and he’s been particularly clingy since then. At one point I put on my coat and shoes to get a bag I’d left in the car, and Bud started nervously pacing, loudly vocalizing and sat down in front of the door as if to say “No! Big Buddy stays here!”

I think he does okay if someone’s here with him, but having a cat sitter stop by once a day probably doesn’t cut it anymore. Partly that’s Bud’s fault for attacking her last time, because she won’t play with him anymore, but I’ll have to think about alternatives next time I’m away for more than two days or so.

I took some photos of OBX and will post them this week after I’ve had time to sort them. We were very fortunate, with 65-degree days for the entire stretch, and even in winter there’s lots of interesting history to see on the islands where two Americans first achieved powered flight, colonies disappeared and notorious pirates stashed their treasure.

buddydoor

Bud Celebrates 7,000th Frantic Meowing At Bathroom Door

NEW YORK — Buddy the Cat celebrated a historic milestone on Wednesday, marking the 7,000th time he’s meowed frantically outside the bathroom door as his human, Big Buddy, used the facilities.

“Over the years I’ve really perfected my routine, yowling like a mad cat and scratching at the bathroom door with such urgency that you’d think there was a murderous psychopath walking menacingly toward me and sharpening his blades,” Buddy told reporters. “I’ve been blessed and honored to carry on this fine tradition since kittenhood, and to make sure my Big Buddy has not a moment of peace inside the human litterbox unless I’m in there too  In which case he doesn’t get peace anyway because, well, it’s fun to annoy him.”

The silver tabby explained that meowing outside a bathroom “is more of an art form than a science,” and claimed that not just any cat could meow as pitifully and frantically as he’s able to do.

“It takes a lot more practice and skill than you’d think,” he said. “You can’t just yowl and expect results. Sometimes you have to reach under the door frame so your human sees your little paws searching for reassurance as you cry. Sometimes you have to start your meows soft and build to a yowling crescendo. It’s powerful emotional manipulation and should be part of every cat’s repertoire.”

According to the Bureau of Buddy Statistics, the silver tabby spends approximately 48 seconds inside the bathroom, on average, before meowing to be let out again. In 37 percent of cases, he’s meowed his way into and out of the bathroom at least twice during a single session.

After a frustrating stretch of almost six days in which his human was away, Buddy was able to reach his milestone on Wednesday with the return of Big Buddy.

“I’d like to thank my human,” Buddy said. “Without him, none of this would be possible. Yeeeeeooooowwww!”

I Smell Treason In The Air!

A special message from Buddy:

There is treason in the air, dear readers! I can smell it, just as surely as I can smell an open tin of catnip from three rooms away.

There has been increased laundry activity, hushed talk of a place called North Carolina, and the suspiciously early decommissioning of the Christmas tree.

My food has been inventoried and a portion of it set aside. I am not very good at math, but it appears to be at least four or fivedays’ worth of perfect portions wet food in addition to kibble.

The Great Cabinet of Yums

Most distressing of all, Big Buddy has changed into the same shirt three nights in a row: The very shirt he leaves on the bed when he goes away, believing his scent will comfort me. (Perhaps it does for less sophisticated creatures like dogs. Oh, to be so simple-minded!)

I know based on past experience that someone will enter my realm daily to feed me and give me fresh water. I also know it’s likely going to be the nice lady who used to play with me after feeding me…until I attacked her the last time she was my cat sitter.

It seemed like the right move at the time, but I regret it now. She will probably feed me and run out. 😦

What I’d like to know is: What did I do to deserve this betrayal? Shouldn’t I go with Big Buddy to this mysterious place called the Outer Banks? And what makes the Outer Banks so special, anyway? The low interest rates? The free checking accounts? A cool vault with one of those big, heavy doors you see in movies?

I guess it’s not all bad. I’ve only been sleeping 13 hours a night lately, so some down time will allow me to catch up on my beauty rest.

Also, the entire place could do with a thorough scent-marking, and not having a human around means there won’t be any complaining about it.

But who will I sleep on? Who will give me snacks when I meow for them? Who will tell me I’m a good boy and scratch my head?