In 2016, we set out to find local indie game developers to make connections with. What we found was as many inspired individuals with talents doing as little, or less, than we were. Quickly we came to understand that if we couldn’t find “people to know,” we would become the people to know. We knocked out a couple mobile games, Chibi Chase and Rainbow Reflex, to prove what we could do. Later that summer we began to bring our friends into the fold and produced the mobile preview as a proof-of-concept for our current project, Death Witch. Showing the game at GDEX in 2016 provided the positive feedback to know that what we thought we might be able to do was a reality of what we can do. We had started an indiedev. But all of this is ancient history.
2017 was the first full year that Stray Cat Studios was in operation. We started the year with a game project, a team, and a general plan. Everything we undertook last year was in order to move all of those things forward and I wanted to take time here at the beginning of the year to outline all of our growth from the past year as well as share some company objectives for 2018.
First, while we had the elements of level one of Death Witch: Bloodline designed for the mobile preview, the work on it really began in earnest in April of 2017. We already knew that we would be returning to GDEX with the first showing of the PC version of the game, so with that in mind we set out to bring more than just an updated version of level one. Investments were made in new hardware and software to give our team the opportunity to shine on the software they trained on. Each of these investments have done us well throughout 2017, as these hardware and software investment allowed the quality of the work created by our team matched their skill and was not limited by the tools.
Working remotely certainly presented it’s challenges, but the production of the game persisted throughout the summer, sometimes by sheer will alone. Obstacles occurred along the way, such as time and money, but nevertheless as we had set out to do, we were in a strong position to show a full two levels at GDEX, just 6 months later. (Remember, the game was nearly entirely resculpted, remodeled, retextured, reblueprinted from the original mobile preview.) The last week leading up to GDEX we took time to bring everyone together in order to incorporate all of the assets and team skills into Unreal and make the game the best that it could be. It was during this week that we also announced that a second game was in the works, Hyperloop Escape, and would be shown as a demo at GDEX as well.
Fourth quarter is always a hectic time in any business, and Stray Cat Studios is no exception, however we managed to finish most of the assets for the third level by the end of the year, and a few after, putting us in great shape to meet our goals for 2018.
When we founded our studio, it was then that we realized we already knew who we needed to make games. Throughout 2016 we reached out to our friends to take part and in 2017 we solidified those roles. We are first and foremost creators, and so our games reflect us as a team of artists rather than a team of coders. Many game developers either rely on Unity or Unreal or other such marketplaces, but we have hand crafted every part of the characters, environments, hard surface and organic objects. We have created our own 2D and 3D art at every step of the way. This takes time, but in the end creates a wholly original and more “cared for” visual aesthetic that other companies can’t match. I cannot express enough how our talented artists make this project more than an average indie game.
However, some art forms are very different than others and we have used outside talent in our games as well. Since the first two mobile games, we have used dotWAVsound as our audio team for sound effects and soundtracks alike. Their original score for Death Witch: Bloodline is one of my favorites. They are currently in development of the audio for Hyperloop Escape and while we would love to bring them both under the umbrella of Stray Cat Studios, the autonomous dotWAVsound will remain our audio department of choice for some time to come.
2017 was an outstanding year for growth in Stray Cat Studios, but 2018 is poised to do even better. We are in a strong position to release Death Witch: Bloodline in the first half of the year, Hyperloop Escape over the summer, and an untitled project by the end of the year. It’s an ambitious schedule, yes, but we are foaming at the mouth with ambition. It’s a lot of dedication and deadlines for everyone involved, but we have one of the best collections of artists around.
Lastly, as an exclamation mark on this report and a great way to stir inspiration for the year to come, I am pleased to announce that Codey and myself will be in attendance of GDC 2018 in San Francisco this March! We will be continuing to expand our brand, name recognition, and growing list of industry connections. I’m super excited to get a chance to meet with industry professionals and talk about everything we have done to make Death Witch, and Stray Cat Studios, a reality.
Once last time, here’s to a great 2018!
- Leroy Binks
Things have been hectic so I feel I owe an update post, but don't worry, it's all good stuff! First and foremost, our podcast, Stray Cats Speak, has clearly been a little delayed. We have a lot recorded and a large portion of it edited, but our focus moved away from it the past couple weeks is all. This is because of what I promised from the beginning; we will be putting games as top priority. Everything with Speaks has been done in-between working on our other projects, but as those come up to release, we felt it important to really knock the games out of the park instead of letting them suffer or delay for podcast sake. Know Stray Cats Speak is still coming and we are very excited for it. Once they start releasing, we fully intend to schedule it around game releases so delays won't happen like this very often.
For the time being, our Facebook and Twitter pages are updated regularly along with our personal accounts so feel free to keep up there!
Bigger news, our next mobile game, Death Witch: Isha, is about to come out. We have high hopes here as this is our biggest game so far, fully 3D, and with much more planned. I'm not allowed to say to much right now, but there's a lot coming. Death Witch: Isha will be free on Google Play and is actually just a demo, a proof of concept if you will. It's our way of sharing an idea for a game to as many people as possible, both convenient and free, while the full game is planned to be bigger, better, and online. As I said, stay tuned!
Some final words, know delays come from us doing as much as possible in then some, not from distractions and not working on anything. While our podcast and another game are about to come out, many other projects have been being worked on on all of our down time. I shouldn't say much, but you may have already noticed videos and screenshots of unannounced games (which are going wonderfully). Those games, a few other games big and small, and updates on other projects are coming, and so many other good news I'll be sharing as soon as I get the "Okay"... I share too much as it is. Being said, I'll stop here for now.
- Codey Cross
Anyone keeping up on our Twitter or Facebook can see good things are happening here at Stray Cat Studios, and that art is being created. However, with sharing art for various different games without releasing any games, I thought a general update was in order.
Half our team graduated! First of all, congratulations of coarse. But on top of that, they all have a solid week or two of your various graduation activities such as family time, celebrations, and what have yous. As eager as we all are to finish and release our work, it's important personal time is met too. Being said, this is why so many other projects have been started, because we hate just waiting around. Know that within about a week, we will be hopping on the mobile games that are so close to being released (many of us have been addicted to the Betas already on our phones)! The hype around here is ridiculous with how these are coming along, not to mention our newest and biggest project that's in pre-production right now. Can't talk about that yet though.
Another project worth mentioning are our podcasts (just wrote podcats on accident and it almost became an official thing and I'm so sorry... it might become a thing). Clearly, the closest anything related to those have been these posts. However, many hours have been recorded already, we simply haven't dedicated any time to editing all of it. We want to, but our priorities are our games, and with all these projects and your typical set backs to slow it down, i.e. computers breaking down, time just hasn't allowed us to touch the videos. As long as games are being worked on, that's fair, right? If it means anything, I've been wanted to write more posts on here. I'm very opinionated on video game related things and have been hesitant to vent about it. Lately though, I've been in a "why not" mood, and I will probably start doing so, especially while videos aren't coming out.
Are those enough excuses? Know we're busy and it is so incredibly worth it. I'm currently getting together some things, and once I do, expect to see some details on our company's growth (in other words, the amazingly talented people coming on board)!
- Codey Cross
Something I have learned after over committing to way to many projects at once is to never over promise. Well, I wouldn't say I learned not to do it, so much as that I am just aware of it now. I tend to shoot for excessively high expectations and do all I can to make it happen. It worked out for Naughty Dog, so why not here? Any-who, I can't give away to much of what we are currently working on, but here's a vague idea so you know we're staying busy.
There's running the website, social medias, and general "business" stuff, that will take up a decent amount of time and effort in itself. We really want to do things right and set up a strong foundation here. So, expect constant updates and changes as we begin to establish our formats, projects, and general routines.
Games! As many of you know, Chibi Chase for Google Play is already out and free, but a massive update is planned...shhhhhh. Well before that though, we are currently in the works of a few other small mobile games. On the side, a bigger mobile game , Nether Here Nor There, is being worked on. Consider all the smaller games as a practice for ourselves to learn how to do Nether. More specific updates will come over time.
The rest of the plans coming up that are worth mentioning has to do with how we handle news and such. Between writing about them or other topics for discussion in general, we also hope to begin a podcast of some sort as well. This would include what's to come soon, maybe monthly, along with random discussion because boy do we like to talk! Expect more real soon, especially now that I have put the pressure on ourselves (we love it).
- Codey Cross
Stray Cat Studios has been in the works for what honestly feels like years. We're pulling all the cliches, from starting out with nothing, offices in apartment rooms, and completely self- funded. However, although the community here seems small now, there are many artists more than ready to join in on the fun here as soon as we can offer the bigger projects. I personally go back and forth about how I feel with my own work, but Stray Cat Studios is made out of relationships that have been growing for years now. It's not my work, but our work that I always seem to love. To be short, I am very excited to see Stray Cat Studios grow because that means the people around me are growing.
- Codey Cross