After writing numerous posts on the development process, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve yet to declare exactly what inspired me to make this game. Sure, I’ve said that a gentle nudge from George Clingerman and Michael Neel helped me get started with the actual learning process, but for the creative aspects and theme behind the game….well that’s a whole different story. Like the band Stereophonics once said, “You gotta to go there to come back,” so I’ll bring you on a brief journey back to, I don’t know, 2005 or something.
You gotta go there to come back
When driving home from work each day I would find this small, malnourished cat beneath one of the other vehicles parked in front of my house, and as I made my way towards the door he prance onto the lawn and let loose a little howl. At least I believe that was what he was trying to do, but the poor guy could barely push out a “meee-“even if he tried. He was always playful and would roll onto his back, thereby exposing his belly for me to rub in addition to swirling incessantly between my legs.
This carried on for months until the winter when my family soon realized that it would be too cold for him to remain outdoors. He was a street cat, as far as we could tell, and the monstrous sabertooth-like teeth hanging from either side of his mouth supported that claim. Originally my brother and his friends had named him Bussy, as he would hang out on the street corner with the kids and wave them off to school each morning as the bus arrived, but his fangs soon brought too much attention to the guy for us NOT to name him Fang. Therefore, it stuck. Oh yeah, he only has one now, because the other fell out a few weeks ago (seriously).
There was a crazy cat lady who lived down the block (doesn’t every neighborhood have one of those?) whose lawn I used to mow, and she was a bit of a cheap ass, so she only had me come by once a month when I was a kid. Naturally the grass would be up to my knees at this point, and out would come dozens of cats the moment I started up the mower. Looking back, one of those cats were probably my cat’s parents.
Anyway, my mother, being the animal lover that she is, decided it was best if we took him in, but first we needed to make sure that he wouldn’t get the rest of our animals sick. I think we had another cat at the time and maybe a gerbil or something. We brought him to the vet, who initially believed him to be a pregnant girl because of the size of his stomach. Months later discovered that it was just gases and malnutrition that lined his stomach and that’s what caused him to look emaciated while still having quite the beer belly. Oh and that he was a dude.
He received all of the right shots, and the vet told us that he would only have a few months to live, believing he had the cat equivalent of SARS, which wasn’t contagious to humans. He told us to make him as comfortable as possible and just ride it out. Well needless to say, he’s still alive now, and whatever he had then isn’t there anymore. 8 lives to go.
The college years
I went away to college for two years and decided it was a wise idea to bring him on board. Living with 5 girls and 2 guys is no easy task, but when you throw in a cat and an overweight beagle (Charlie, who two of my roommates adopted) you have a whole different ball game. He never seemed to mind, and even dressed up for the occasion when necessary, like the red cape he donned during Halloween. Fang survived 2 years of college, which is more than we can say for most undergrads at SUNY Oneonta.
Now that I’ve been back home for several years I decided it was time to honor the creature who has been there for every step of the way along my journey. We’ve had some great times, me and him. I brought him snowboarding once (well, padded his cat-carrier with blankets and hand warmers while I snowboarded), and even let him live with my cousin and her two dogs, a pitbull and American bulldog for several months. Having survived the harsh outdoors for so long , the themed keg parties we threw in our college years must have been a breeze, as he eagerly dodged one drunk student after the other. Those must have been some interesting times.
Therefore, I’ve begun designing Pong With Cats. I have no idea where I am taking this just yet, but I think I know where I’m headed. I just kind of sling some code at the screen and next thing I know there are particles blowing up when balls collide, pixel shaders distorting color on screen, and powerups casing the game to run at 1/8 speed. But I digress, this post has little to nothing to do with game development, but simply served as a vehicle to present my inspiration.
Now I want to know, what inspires YOU to make games?
*Note: All of these pictures are from my college days. He has since calmed down, and now keeps a clean house.
Parts 1-4 can be found below: