· 7 min read

Claws of Furry – Rezzed 2018 Interview With Terahard

Ahead of the upcoming release of Terahard's Claws of Furry, we spoke to Director Aris Tsevrenis about the return of couch co-op games, making a rogue-like brawler, and how much easier it is for indie developers to publish onto consoles than it used to be. 

So first, what’s the story behind Claws of Furry?

I created Terahard Studios about 5 to 6 years ago, and about a year ago we started making a prototype for a platformer. We were playing around with a few different concepts, but the idea of cats being ninjas stuck straight away and was one of the first concepts we tried and we loved it. We changed the shape of it a few times to make it more interesting – and the version we’ve shown here is the version that stuck with us – and the more we played the game and the more we were making it, while still playing it every day, we tried to make it more extreme.

We had a lot of little different fun mechanics added in that almost compliment each other; you can fight quickly, you can use combos, and you can create a way to pit the enemies against each other. So, mayhem is what we were aiming for.

On top of that, we also wanted to create different costumes. At first we decided to go with a skills and level up system, but we scrapped it and changed it all in favour of costumes, so each skin has its own special abilities. For example, we have a Sub-Zero-esque costume that allows you to freeze enemies, we also have ‘Catpool’, as we call him, which allows you to regenerate.

Every costume that you unlock as you play, the more abilities that you unlock, and that’s the point. Claws of Furry is a rogue-like brawler, so the more mayhem, the more unlocks. The more unlocks, the more mayhem. That’s the idea.

A rogue-like brawler is quite unique, especially as wiping out means that everyone has to start from the beginning, what was the idea behind that? Was it a desire for challenge or to do something different with the genre?

I personally really like challenging games, so I really wanted our game design to head towards that area. Some people loved it, some people really didn’t, so that’s what lead us to create the ‘Pussycat’ mode for easiness. This mode allows you to continue without having to start from the beginning again.

The roguelike brawler is exactly that, the game is split well, for example in Chapter 1 has about 12 different levels, but you only need 3 to get to the boss, but every time you play the game you play different levels, so the replayability is key. You can keep playing the game and you may not have seen all of it, and more things will unveil as you go.

There’s up to 4 players at once, is this one that’s easy – or rather difficult – enough to get through on a first play-through by yourself, or is it better not to go alone?

You can play just as well with one player, we’ll balanced it quite well, so the only difference is that with multiple players is that if someone falls, they can be revived by team mates. That’s the only difference, but even so, there’s still a skill involved as you have to pick your moment, and then you both have to hit the revive button at the same time, three times each. That actually increases how hectic the gameplay can be at time, but you don’t get that in single player. The enemies will have less health when you go it alone, and you can kill them faster, but in multiplayer you have more difficult enemies but can revive your friends.

Everything is based on skill – when we designed this game, we thought that you would get better as you learn the game. It’s almost like a Super Mario game – you start off, something kills you, you go back and try to kill it again, and Claws of Furry is the same principle.

The game took about 9 months to develop, is that correct?

Yeah, we started around a year ago, but we paused for a few months to create a prototype first. As an Indie studio we get a lot of client work as well, so we had to pause it, but the development has been 9 months in total. We started in earnest about July, and since then it’s been non-stop. We started developing for Steam first of all, then Nintendo Switch, and then we’ve been working on Xbox and PS4.

How easy was the process of getting the game onto Nintendo Switch? It used to be said in the past that it wasn’t the easiest process if you were an indie developer.

I would say that, because I’ve been in development for a few years, this has been the easiest and smoothest sailing ever to get a game onto a console. I can’t speak for every developer, but for us it was that hopefully they liked our concept because they gave us the green light straight away. Since then, they’ve been super helpful; any problems we’ve had they’ve solved within a day or two at maximum, which is unprecedented in game development. When it comes to indie, Nintendo has been the best.

The Nintendo Switch is where the game is coming to first on consoles, but it’s also something that has revitalised the couch co-op game in the last year. Do you think that it doing so and making couch co-op more viable means that games like this could see more success than a few years ago?

I would say that games like this start to pop up here and there, and consoles in general are really good for couch games. The Nintendo Switch gives you the ability from the get go to play with two players, which means the couch is less empty. Straight away, you can play with a friend and connect with them.

I would say it’s the time and age that people have played their online multiplayer games and love them, it’s there for them, whether it’s eSports or MMORPGs, but couch games are coming back. It’s almost like board games where you gather round in a room and you play these kinds of games together.

That’s what we love to do as well, when we’re in the studio we play the game. We sit together, we grab the controllers and try to play all together. It can be easier to play online with your friends from far away if you can’t be with them all the time, but playing together is a different feeling. It’s more like a party every time you have a game you can play together, and I wouldn’t see there are too many of them right now.

What was the process of applying to and getting into Rezzed like for you?

We’ve been with EGX in general quite a few times, so we know the people who set up Rezzed. We’ve done both expos before with the company, but we’ve done it within the Indie Collective as well, so we’ve been on both sides of the fence. It’s always been really easy and straightforward, which is great.

What advice would you give to developers who want to get their games noticed, or want to come back to this kind of this platformer/brawler genre in future?

It’s always about the quality of the game. I would always say not to worry about everything – because you won’t have time anyway – try to focus on one thing at a time. The most important thing is that your game is good, and if your game is good, your game will get noticed. This is always easier said than done, but patience is a virtue.

Keep showing the game to people, keep showing it at events, keep getting feedback. There are so many people who can give you an honest opinion about the game. That’s plus one. Maybe at the beginning you just have one person, then you have one plus one, and that grows into fifty people. Then maybe one of them will tell their friends, and it starts expanding, but that’s only going to happen as long as your game is good.

Claws of Furry releases on Steam and Nintendo Switch soon, followed by PS4 and XBOX One.

Get game industry insights,
delivered to your inbox