We spoke for long minutes with Swann Martin-Raget, the producer of the video game straywhich features a cute cat.
stray is a much talked about video game. It must be said that he comes forward with an unstoppable argument to set the internet ablaze: we play a cute cat, lost in a cyberpunk city. We know how felines are stars of the web, thanks to this incredible ability to captivate people.
As the editorial staff of Numerama is crazy about cats (and animals in general), we wanted to know more about stray. We therefore spoke for a good twenty minutes with Swann Martin-Raget, producer at BlueTwelve Studio (located in Montpellier). What to get out of it nine secrets, anecdotes and other details on this atypical project.
stray will be available on July 19, 2022 on PS4, PS5 and PC.
The secrets of straythe cutest video game of 2022
1. The origins of the project
” The two co-founders of the studio were fascinated by a place that no longer exists today. It was called the Walled City of Kowloon, Hong Kong [il a disparu dans les années 90]. It was a really special place, because there was an extreme population density. I think it was the most populated place in the world, and it gave organic and very complex constructions. As artists, they were really fascinated by this place and when they started to think about an artistic direction, they realized that it was an ideal playground for a cat, because of the density of paths that you can borrow. »
2. The motivations behind the cyberpunk universe
” Originally, populating the city only with robots was a production constraint. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to remain a small team. When we started doing tests with human characters, we understood that it was very difficult and very expensive to have a rendering that we liked. We started experimenting with easier things, like robots. This constraint then became a means of freeing ourselves creatively. The cyberpunk universe therefore imposed itself, with great inspiration drawn from the cult film Blade Runner.
3. The first concept is from a long time ago
If we discovered stray on the occasion of a Sony conference broadcast in 2020, the concept has been around for longer. It was first shown six years ago, when it was called HK_Project.
4. A game made by cat fans, for cat fans
” I believe that about 80% of the team members own cats. Or are possessed by cats, depending on the point of view. We are all passionate about this animal. “Swann Martin-Raget sincerely hopes that feline fans will find their account.
5. There are real cats in the studio
” We have two cats who come to work every day at the studio. » Are they paid? ” They are the ones who pay us, we are just modest employees. »
6. This is not a cat simulation
” We do not claim to make an extremely realistic cat simulation. We’re just cat lovers. At no time are we biologists. We took a number of liberties with reality. If you really wanted to do a simulation, there would be 21 hours of sleep per day. It wouldn’t be a very interesting game. »
The developers did not call on veterinarians or experts in feline behavior to design stray.
7. Animations were created by hand
” The vast majority of the game’s animations were done by one person, Nico. It turns out that he is very comfortable and very talented with handmade animations. We naturally started like that (…). Then we heard about studios doing motion capture with cats. Even though it made us laugh to see these videos with poor cats covered in sensors, we were very happy with our production and the freedom to make our own animations. Also, there are a lot of situations in the game that would make motion capture difficult or even dangerous for the chat. »
To get as close as possible to reality, Nico notably fed on all the cat videos available on the internet.
8. Hide those butts I can’t see
On June 8, 2022, Kotaku published an article titled Stray won’t show you cat’s butt (probably), whose title necessarily challenges. On this subject, Swann Martin-Raget replies: “ It is first of all a production problem. It’s not easy to model a cat in great detail. We had to prioritize certain elements, such as the look or the muzzle, which require a lot of attention. There is also the tail animation, which is very important and has been complex. We did as much as we could and often the cat’s tail is lowered, because it’s in an environment it doesn’t know. This fearful side allows us to hide this detail. It’s true that we laughed a lot about the fact that we could have made a game where, most of the time, we only saw the cat’s butt. Personally, I think it’s a good thing that’s not the case. Don’t look for them, they aren’t even modeled.
9. The cat can die 😿
” There are action phases in which the cat can die. When this is the case, one is instantly reborn. Phew.