Does anyone else remember seeing adverts for that game that looked a little like GTA with cats?
It went viral on Facebook then seemingly vanished into thin air? If you think it’s gone quiet, you haven’t checked the website, and well, like many others, I wanted to get my paws on it, so got in touch with the games creator Eric Blumrich to find out what it is, and when can we play it.
Before we get started, for those of you who haven’t seen it, the game Peace Island looked like a fun, fluffy game about being a cat in Maine and exploring the world around you. Not too much is known right now, but as well as looking amazing, and so hopeful, it’s such a unique concept that honestly, I’m a little disappointed I cannot play right now.
Now I do have to point out, that I have spoken to many developers, PR managers and other game company reps, and very few have left a lasting impression, but honestly, it feels like Mr Blumrich definitely deserves a top spot among my friends over in Hi-Rez for being both polite and professional. It’s nice to know that a project as ambitious as this is being done by somebody who talks to others as equals, and not as a stuck-up monarch, so I already have a lot of respect for this guy. And let me tell you, from what I’ve seen, this hasn’t been the smoothest of rides, so I’m hoping this will get the word out and more of you can provide some support.
A brief back and forth email session, here is what followed. And don’t worry Mr B, I won’t include what you said we couldn’t discuss!
Q: Where did the idea come from? And why specifically cats in Maine?
A: Laura and I are both lifelong gamers, and like all lifelong gamers, we’ve always had an itch to create our own. It wasn’t until five years ago, during our numerous visits to the islands of Casco Bay, that the genesis of the idea came together.
Here in Portland, we’re lucky enough to be home to Casco Bay Lines, a ferry company that serves the small island communities – for a few dollars, you can take a beautiful boat ride to these unique, small communities that have existed independently of the mainland for centuries. Each has its own flavour and character – some are welcoming, while others make it very clear upon your arrival: “you can get right back on that boat right now if ya want“.
One of the more popular islands to visit in Casco Bay is Peaks Island – once known as “The Coney Island of Maine.” After a 15-minute ferry ride, you arrive in the middle of a small town, and within ten minutes can be walking through forest trails, searching for sea glass, exploring old WW2 ruins – I think I’ve been there hundreds of times and my absolute favourite thing to do is just sit on the western beaches, and watch the sunset.
When Laura and I go together, we head straight through the island, towards the far eastern shore. At a few remote points where the bulk of the island shields you from the city lights of Portland, you can see – on clear nights – the entirety of the galaxy spread across the sky. It’s unfortunate that due to light pollution, so many people in the west can no longer enjoy such a sight- it’s truly mesmerizing.
But I digress…
On many of our walks across the island, Laura and I would meet the island’s cats. Understand that the island has a 30Kph speed limit, and most get around on golf carts- cats lounge freely on the roadsides, soaking up the remnants of the summer heat as night falls. They are universally friendly animals and roust themselves only when they can get a bit of attention from a passer-by.
Laura first posited the idea of creating a game based on Peaks Island, which she had nicknamed “Peace Island.” The game initially was to take place from the perspective of a young veterinarian, as she was moving to the island to take over the resident doctor’s position, as he was retiring. She arrives to find all humans gone on the island, and through the conceit that “a vet can ‘talk to the animals,'” she would work with all the species of animals on the island, using the cats as her go-between.
One night, I posited to Laura that the game would be more unique if we literally “got rid of the middle man” and told a similar story from the perspective of the cats, themselves.
We worked on the story for about two years during our night-time walks around the islands, and in 2017, I realized that I had a small window in which I had a chance to make the project a reality.
On November 17, 2017, I booted up Unity, work began, and it never stopped.
Q: Will there be any kind of customisation? Or making your own cat? We have seen the 9 revealed, can we expect more? And any calico cat love at all?
A: Understand that while we empathize with the player’s desire to customize their characters, each of the nine cats that are featured in the story of Peace Island look the way they do because of specific story elements. For example:
One of the cats – Anin – is going to be very excellent at sneaking – far superior to all the other cats. Part of her success at this skill is her sleek body type and colouring- which under normal conditions is jet black.
That story element would sort of fall flat on its face, should someone able to make Anin a snow-white Maine Coon (A particularly large breed of cat native to our state).
And yes- there IS a calico!
HOWEVER: Should we be lucky enough to make a sequel, we will certainly include customization!
Q: Is there multiplayer or cooperative elements or are we looking at solo cat adventures?
A: Well, we have spent a VERY long time crafting an engaging, branching single-player narrative. We are hoping to create a story that will resonate with each individual differently. Such an experience, we believe, can only be effectively delivered through a single-player game.
Understand that Laura and I have absolutely NO INTEREST in online multiplayer. We game because we want to GET AWAY from the world, and the mundane, everyday people who annoy us – and we know that there are MANY MORE who feel the same way we do. The “Triple-A” publishers don’t bother delivering, because, well…
Why spend all that filthy loot-box lucre on writers, musicians, and artists, and WAITING for a YEAR OR TWO for a UNIQUE PRODUCT? That’s for LOSERS…
Why not spend the least you possibly can on buying out a bare-bones indie dev team, pump out yet another flaccid, cookie-cutter online shooter in a few months, and spend that money on yet another yacht?
Q: Though there is talk of it going from steam to console, is this something you can confirm?
A: Right now, we are so focused on developing the game, we’ve not really spent a lot of time on that end of things. I can say that we have spoken with publishers and platforms, but for reasons that are probably clear, I cannot mention any names.
Just be aware: We’re not fans of Epic Games.
Q: Many people were excited about the beta, though it’s understandable through no fault of your own it has been delayed. News has gone quiet, is there any light on this happening at all?
A: The final closed 0.9 alpha was delayed a month, due to issues related to the flu season up here in the northeastern United States, as well as conditions arising from the ongoing COVID Pandemic. However, work continues every day. The Beta is currently due for release in July.
As far as “News going quiet,” I’d invite anyone to visit our website where they can find our social media links. There’s always new stuff getting done!
Q: Other than donations, is there any way people can get more involved in helping you out?
A: Right now, the only thing folks can do is join our discord, and let us know what they would like to see in a game like Peace Island.
Well, there you have it, straight from the big guy himself, I for one, am excited about this project and encourage everybody to do what they can to help out. making our own game is a dream many of us share, help this one come true!
Visit www.peaceislandgame.com, donate to his project or even check out his discord at discord.gg/Rgmnrgu, and for those of you who are in America and would like to visit the place of inspiration, you can find more out at www.cascobaylines.com I’ll be keeping a close eye on this, and hopefully, over time, have more contact with Eric Blumrich, and if I find anything out, you can check it out here, first, at PC Zone.
Two things to note, first, at the time of writing this, the Covid-19 (aka coronavirus/Kung Flu) pandemic was in place, secondly, the views expressed in this about Epic Games, are solely that of Mr Blumrich, and do not reflect those of my own (although I agree to be honest….)
As always, the nerdiest of dwarves.