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We Ask Indies: Chris Chung, creator of Catlateral Damage!

Chris Chung is the guy behind the first-person destructive cat simulator everybody loves. In this Q&A he talks about game jams, pitches, favourite devs and small mammals with soft fur, a short snout, and retractile claws, of course!

Chris Chung is a digital artist, game developer, and lifelong gamer who loves Pokémon, LEGO, robots, and cats. He is also the creator of Catlateral Damage, “a first-person destructive cat simulator where your goal is to knock as many of your owner's possessions onto the ground as possible.” And now he answers our questions!

1. How long have you been making games?

I've been making games in some form or another for about 8 years. I started messing around with GameMaker in high school, mostly just swapping out sprites in existing projects, and learning from there. I then went to Worcester Polytechnic Institute to study Interactive Media & Game Development and Computer Science. And I'm just now figuring out how to make and sell games as an indie!

2. Where do you find ideas for your games? Tell us something about your creative process.

My game ideas come from everywhere, really. Usually I think of things while playing other games or from everyday life experiences. When I have an idea I like, I'm always thinking about the gameplay: how certain mechanics would work, how novel the idea is, what kind of experience it provides players, etc. Then I write it down or sketch it out and try to find an excuse to build some prototypes to test it.

3. The original version of Catlateral Damage was created for last #7DFPS game jam. Where did its idea come from?

The original idea for 7DFPS came from a quick brainstorming session during a long car ride on the first day of the event. My family always had cats when I was growing up, so I guess I just always wanted to see what it would be like to be one of them. My cat growing up, Nippy, provided some good inspiration for the game because he was always causing trouble. I had also never heard of a game where you could play through the eyes of a cat, so I figured I'd make it!

4. What do you think of game jams? Are they important? Any particular story you remember from #7DFPS (weird bug, crazy feedback, etc.)?

I love game jams! Game jams are really sort of a microcosm of game development, where all the key aspects are boiled down and crammed into a short amount of time. It's a great place to become anonymous for a short amount of time, hone your skills or learn some new ones, and meet a bunch of new people you can work with in the future. There was one bug in the initial 7DFPS version where the paw was not working as expected. People were saying that it was hard to knock things around and I didn't know why. It turned out that there were two physics colliders on the one paw for some reason and one was following the camera strangely. When I fixed it the game felt so much better!

5. Catlateral Damage has an awesome pitch: “A first-person destructive cat simulator where your goal is to knock as many of your owner's possessions onto the ground as possible.” Have you considered others? And speaking of games in general, which is the best game pitch you remember?

I've thought about using other games, like "Katamari Damacy meets Mirror's Edge", but people usually understand "first-person cat simulator" immediately. I think some more colorful words might liven up the pitch, but the game's premise is so simple that I'm not sure it needs to be elaborated upon! My favorite pitch for a game has to be Megabyte Punch's: "Described best as a mash-up of SSB, Megaman and Custom Robo. Megabyte Punch is an electro fighting/beat ‘em up game in which you build your own fighter!" I <3 Smash Bros. + customizable robots.

6. The game has some pretty rad Let's Play videos. Which ones do you like the most?

I love the ones where people are totally into the game and laughing hysterically. It makes me so happy to see people enjoying the game so much! I also like when people play over and over again to beat their (or their friend's) high scores even though the game is very limited at the moment. Videos where people give commentary and feedback are also super helpful given how early in development the game is. I don't think anyone's said anything really negative about the game either, which is really great.

7. Catlateral Damage has been Greenlit, congrats on that! So what are your plans now? New modes? Objectives? Lose conditions other than running out of time maybe? We wanna know more!

Thanks! I have a lot of new things planned for the game. Of course, the full version will have more levels and more objects, plus better controls and lots of polish. There are also several new gameplay modes being planned out: a free mode without a goal or time limit, a nighttime stealth mode (called Cat Ops) where you try not to wake your owner, a mission mode where you try to only knock over certain objects or type of objects, and possibly a time trial mode where you try to get a certain score in the fastest time. Customizable cats, controller support, and Oculus Rift support are planned, too!

8. If you have to choose three and only three game developers to follow their work closely, which ones would you choose and why?

The three developers I'd choose to follow are Shigeru Miyamoto, Rami Ismail, and Ichiro Lambe. Miyamoto is a legend and I really admire his design methodology (he was also my first game development role model). Rami gives a lot back to the indie community and following his travels around the world is always fun. Ichiro is one of the wackiest people I know and his ideas are crazy awesome. From these three I can learn how to make interesting and amazing gameplay that the world never knew it wanted.

9. Are you a heavy gamer? What games are you playing now?

I absolutely love playing games. I don't have as much time as I'd like to play, but I try to squeeze in time here and there. Right now I'm still playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf every day as part of my daily routine and I do some Picross E2 puzzles here and there. My girlfriend and I are slowly progressing through Super Mario 3D World, too. Some others I like to play when I can are Team Fortress 2, Starwhal: Just the Tip, Pokémon Y, and Minecraft.

10. One last random question. If you could go one weekend to Las Vegas with any game character out there... which one would you choose and why?

I would take Miles "Tails" Prower with me to Las Vegas. I always used him to fly Sonic around the Casino Night Zone and Carnival Night Zone back in the Sega Genesis days, so I think he'd be a big help in the real-life Zone. I'm sure he also has a lot of experience with playing the slot machines and avoiding dangerous robots that try to steal your money.


*We Ask Indies is an initiative by Beavl, an Argentinian independent game studio putting some teeth into videogames. You can check all the interviews here (caricatures are made by amazing artist Joaquín Aldeguer!).

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