Save The Cat was inspired by the true story of Lawnchair Larry, who took flight in his Lawn Chair after attaching 45 helium balloons reaching a height of 3 miles! Alex had been told the story when he was a teenager and assumed it was just an urban legend. We later found it to be absolutely true.
Personally we love a good shoot-em-up, but we make a conscious effort to try and make non violent games where possible. We don't want to limit ourselves so we will probably make those shoot-em-up games at some point, but this seemed like a great opportunity to create yet another non violent game.
To turn this amazing story into a game we needed to figure out the gameplay, and the hook. In other words, a. what do you have to do to win, and b. why would you want to? Our idea for the gameplay was to reach a target height in the balloon powered contraption. We just had to figure out the hook, why?
The idea of rescuing a cat came quickly. At first we thought it would be a fireman rescuing on old lady's cat. Then we thought why not just let the lady rescue her own cat, in her own contraption, and with the amateur spirit of the original story. Perhaps she could pop balloons with her knitting needles to continue our shameless stereotyping theme.
We had an old lady, a flying machine, and a cat to design. At first the old lady was going to be in a lawn chair, but we changed our minds.
Our local park is only a couple of minutes walk away and we are there most days. We often see an old lady in a mobility scooter with 2 small dogs and a cat. The dogs walk along with her (it's incredible how well trained they are) and the cat sits on her lap.
In our first pencil sketches we started with a wheelchair instead of the mobility scooter, and in the end we stuck with that. If our old lady returns in another game we may well put her in a scooter.
We put in place a basic background and experimented with some baloons. Alex started on the wheelchair first using the pencil sketch as a reference image. The width of the wheelchair was way too wide, but we didn't realise at this point.
The lady was pretty much the same as the sketch, but without the glasses.
She is facing left because that is how the game was going to be at the stage of development the screen grab was taken from. We later flipped her back to match the original sketch. Notice the wheelchair is more narrow, as it was taking up too much of the available screen width.
We needed to give her legs, and add the balloons to her wheelchair, but our old lady was pretty much complete. In part 2 we explain how we brought the cat to life.