Interview: Cubed3 Interviews Rose City Games, Creators of Cat Lady

By Justin Prinsloo 31.10.2019

Following our preview on Cat Lady, we got a chance to fire off some questions at Rose City Games. The devs were kind enough to offer some insights on their delightful action title which is now on Steam Early Access. In our preview, we hailed Cat Lady's charming visual style as well as its unique spin on the rogue-like formula, so it's super exciting to be able to offer our readers some exclusive insight into this very promising title!

C3: What games did you draw inspiration from for Cat Lady?
Rose City Games: We drew a lot of initial inspiration from turn-based rogue-likes, old NES games, and games like Pokemon & Pikmin. After starting with the concept of "Pikmin meets 2D action rogue-like," we moved more towards a twin-stick rogue-lite vibe, drawing inspiration from games like Nuclear Throne and The Binding of Isaac and incorporating the art style we were working with as a push towards legibility and clear understanding of what's going on in the game. It was pretty easy at that point to incorporate varied upgrades and unlocks to show a tighter progression while adding more and more style references to early low-colour NES games like Super Mario Bros 3, Kirby's Adventure, and Stinger. It all fit with the art style pretty well, and working with a limited colour palette has helped us learn a lot about how to scale difficulty in the game without it getting confusing!

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C3: Visually, Cat Lady is a testament to the power of a "less is more" philosophy. How did its distinct visual style come about?

Rose City Games: Thank you, that's what we're going for! The original concept of "explore your grandma's basement to find missing cats and beat up ghosts" was something we actually had cooking in the backs of our minds when we hosted a game design jam to further flesh out ideas for our next game projects back in 2017. Our artist, Jake Fleming, was drawn to the idea because he loves cats and lo-fi scary & weird things from his favourite NES games, so we started working together on some basic "what would this game look like" fakie screenshots. He approached the game using his personal style, which is very much reflected in the art of Cat Lady even now - he comes from a background of being a professional designer and loves fonts, so it makes sense how his preferred art style is very clean and simple. Locking into our colour palettes was a very difficult decision but using shader tools in combination with 3-colour assets has proven to be a really fun way to tweak the feel of the game, and we're glad we went the way we did!

C3: The idea to use cats as weapons is a novel and hilarious one. How did you conceptualize such an outlandish gameplay mechanic?

Rose City Games: We were originally working with that Pikmin-esque concept but wanted to de-emphasise the idea of collecting large bulks of cats to be in high-action combat because it was too visually confusing. We initially considered the idea of "herding cats" and having them help you manage portions of the battlefield while you figured out what to do and where to explore next. As we really started to dive deep into the designs of the ghost enemy characters and work more with the visual style in battle, we realized we didn't want to overwhelm the player with too much on-screen with too similar a colour palette, so we simplified gameplay to instead focus on giving the player lots of agency with their primary cat, and have a little bit of a choice of how to either manage the battlefield more strategically, or give themselves more direct firepower using the secondary cat.

I guess the idea of "fighting ghosts" would inevitably lead to cats as weapons. But honestly, I feel like the most outlandish thing about any of these ideas is that they all assume cats are interested in doing what you ask of them.

Image for Interview: Cubed3 Interviews Rose City Games, Creators of Cat Lady

C3: Why cats? Did you consider any other animals for the theme?

Rose City Games: I think cats were first considered the animal of choice because they're common pets and have a little bit of a creepier or more "Halloween-y" vibe than other pets, which seemed to fit with the idea of exploring a haunted mansion. Luck then chimed in when we shared the concept with our artist Jake, as he loves cats and had a ton of fun exploring concepts for the main recruitable cat characters. He has two mega goofy cats who are huge inspirations.

C3: How big is your development team?

Rose City Games: It's best to describe our team as about eight people, but we have lots of talented hands come in and out of the project when it comes to shorter-term roles.

C3: How long has Cat Lady been in development for?

Rose City Games: It's been about a year since we started working on the first prototypes, though we had assembled our original pitch materials for the game a few years prior.

C3: How does developing a game within Steam's "Early Access" model affect the way you work on it? Does it make development easier? Harder?

Rose City Games: Having Cat Lady on Steam Early Access definitely has its gives and takes, but our primary goal is to use it and use our interactions with players to make it a better game. Sharing updates in a stable build of the game can be difficult when we're in the middle of larger feature additions or overhauls but having the game out in the world for feedback is definitely giving us some great insight as to how we can improve players' experiences before the full release.

That being said, I want to give a huge shout out to our early players! Everyone's attitudes and sharing around the project have been so wonderful and provides a huge boost to our ability to identify problems and see what people want to see more of in the game. Big thanks to all of them!

Image for Interview: Cubed3 Interviews Rose City Games, Creators of Cat Lady

C3: Do you have plans to release Cat Lady on other platforms?

Rose City Games: Right now we're focusing on making Early Access as strong as we can, and we'll hopefully be able to talk more about other platforms in the future. 

C3: Can you share any details on future content?

Rose City Games: Yes! More cats! And areas and bosses and enemies and etc.

In addition to a few features to boost the replayability of the game, including additional challenges, difficulty options for veteran twin-stick players, and a variety of unlockables, we're carefully cruising through feedback on the Rose City Games Discord and Cat Lady Steam forums to see how additional content appropriately addresses players' concerns. 

With regard to new areas, bosses, and sharing more about the mansion, we're excited to introduce more areas and difficulty tiers towards the end of this year so we can begin tying more of the story progression in with the events of the game as well.

Image for Interview: Cubed3 Interviews Rose City Games, Creators of Cat Lady

Cat Lady is available now on Steam Early Access and is a must-play for fans of the genre. With updates and new content being added on a regular basis, it's only going to get better! For more info about Cat Lady and its development, be sure to visit the Rose City Games website.
Box art for Cat Lady

Rose City Games


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C3 Score

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European release date TBA   North America release date TBA   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   

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