Meet the real cats that inspired Stray’s feline hero

Since it was first announced in 2020, stray melted the hearts of gamers. And that’s thanks to its unlikely hero, a stray ginger cat who has made a sci-fi town his personal playground. Since video game developers generally tend to anthropomorphize their furry characters, here the idea of ​​playing an ordinary cat that crawls and scratches sofas seemed both irresistible and original.

Just watch the trailer for the upcoming indie game to realize that it was developed by cat lovers. This is exactly the case, since the developers of BlueTwelve Studio used their own cats as reference points direct to the project. In fact, the game’s furry hero is loosely modeled after a real-life stray cat (although he’s a lot sleepier).

The life of a wanderer

Murtaugh

Visually speaking, the resemblance between Murtaugh and Stray, thehe fictional hero stands out at first glance. Eight-year-old Murtaugh is an orange cat with white whiskers and a black patch on his nose.

cat stray ps5

But the similarities between the two cats aren’t just visual: Murtaugh was a stray who was rescued by producer Swann Martin-Raget.

“Iwas found by myself and my roommate at the time under a car“, Martin-Raget tells Digital Trends. “He was very, very young and not injured, but quite dirty. It was a little sad to see.

Murtaugh’s age at the time of his rescue is unknown, although Martin-Raget says he looked only a few months old at the time. Soon after, Murtaugh and another stray cat Martin-Raget was caring for at the time were adopted by Viv and Koola, co-founders of BlueTwelve. This adoption coincided with the early stages of Stray’s creation.

That’s when they started working on the project, so Murtaugh has been there working with them from the very beginning.“, explains Martin-Raget. “When they designed the main character of the game, they used him as a reference. It’s not an exact copy, it’s loosely based on Murtaugh, especially in terms of timing. Murtaugh spends a lot more time sleeping than the in-game cat“.

When Martin-Raget talks about the studio cats, he describes them as co-workers, joking (or maybe very seriously) that they’re the ones who run the show.

When asked if the team has ever brought them to important meetings with publisher Annapurna Interactive, he replies that they had no choice. If some cats wanted to be the center of attention, Murtaugh was not so comfortable.

Murtaugh is a CEO-type personality: He sleeps every day and complains that food doesn’t arrive on time“, he jokes.

Mischief in the office

Murtaugh is strictly a house cat, so he didn’t spend much time in BlueTwelve’s studio during the game’s development. However, the studio had two office cats that employees brought in regularly. One of them is Jun, a black cat whom Martin-Raget describes as more of an executive (“He walks from office to office watching what you are doing and trying to make sure you are doing the right thing“, says Martin-Raget).

jun stray
June

Having active chats around the office every day would benefit the team in several ways. First, it gave the developers a quick reference point for the behaviors and other details one can see when observing a cat in its everyday natural state.

stray oscar
Oscar

For instance, the main animator of the game took reference videos of the office’s second cata sphinx named Oscar, jumping around to help replicate the animal’s detailed movements in the game.

Naturally, the office chats also brought some chaos during the development process. However, Martin-Raget explains that even these annoyances proved to be useful reference points during the development process.

Having cats in the office is really a constant reminder of their personality.“, says Martin-Raget. “You know when they step on the power button just when you’re about to save your work on the computer, or when they start singing when you have an important call… I think it was a constant reminder of how playful they can be and how great it would be to have cats’ personalities in the game and have a few situations that poke fun at the townspeople.

He is not exaggerating. Martin-Raget notes that he lost a text he was translating between French and English because a cat turned off his computer (“it’s funny now“). As a protection against cats, the developers had to place cardboard barriers over their power buttons to prevent disaster.

Feline discussion group

The office cats have earned their place in the studio. Martin-Raget notes that their presence provided the developers with a surprisingly helpful group chat that let them know if the game was on the right track.

A nice moment we had during development was when the cats in the office started reacting to what was on our screens“, says Martin-Raget. “Having the sounds of the cats in the game making them look up, and trying to interact with the cats in the cutscenes… I think that was a nice indication that we were on the right track.

What is particularly appropriate in this dynamic is that Stray deals with the interaction between nature and machines. It depicts a stray cat in a sci-fi city full of robots, with which he interacts via a drone. This is reflected in the game’s development environment, as cats interact with and influence the digital world, even if they only seek to cause trouble.

Stray’s feline authenticity speaks to the studio’s compassion for animals and willingness to work alongside them. Let’s hope Murtaugh, Jun, and Oscar are properly compensated for their work with treats.

stray will launch on July 19 on PC, PS4, and PS5. It will be included in the Playstation Plus Extra catalog.

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