Robert Tamayo


Game Design: Cats vs Dogs

I'm a dog person, but when it comes to game design, cats are a better choice for playable or main characters. Dogs are better as supporting characters or companion characters.


Dogs' key qualities are loyalty, expressiveness, and trainability. They are often bred to assist humans in specific tasks. They appear in many games as supporting characters, from Duck Hunt to Fable 2. As for their physical abilities, they are strong, fast, have heightened senses, can dig holes, and are good boys. They tend to work well in packs.


Cats' key qualities are independence, feistiness, and unpredictability. They are not bred to do anything for humans. While household cats are weaker than dogs, they are far more agile; they can scale walls, climb trees, attack with bites and slashes, jump very high, fit into tiny places, and evade capture. Even more, they all of the heightened senses of a dog. However, they lack the emotional qualities that dogs have.

What Qualities Video Game Characters Need

Video game characters in most games need to be agile, strong, jump high, have a variety of attacks, and so on. This literally matches up almost perfectly with the strengths of a cat. Even more, since video games tend to cartoonify their characters, the lack of emotional expression in cats is entirely made up for by animating them. Once a cat is made anthropomorphic, they gain the emotional and character of dogs while retaining all of their athletic ability. This is why cats are superior for playable characters in video games.

Cats and Dogs in My Games

Bad Blaster had Bumble as an actual playable character. He was a regular English Bulldog with a gun strapped to his back. 

Robot Ops has a Mama Dog as an NPC, along with 3 cute Pups who you need to find and rescue in certain missions.

But my next project will feature 2 playable characters who are both cats -- Mixie and Moxie. These cats will be anthropomorphized magical cats, who attack with spells and potions. The game will be a more exploration-based overworld-style game, with puzzles and hidden treasures. So yes, even though I appreciate dogs in real life, I find cats to be more flexible in game design.

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