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Stray Won’t Show You The Cat’s Butthole (Probably)

Image: Annapurna / KotakuIf there’s a cat in your house, how does it typically walk around? With its tail pointed straight up, probably—y’know, like any normal cat. But the feline protagonist of Stray is a bit more modest: He primarily keeps his tail down, at least based on gameplay footage viewed during a hands-off streamed…

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Stray Won’t Show You The Cat’s Butthole (Probably)

A cat walks up to a robot in Stray.

Image: Annapurna / Kotaku

If there’s a cat in your house, how does it typically walk around? With its tail pointed straight up, probably—y’know, like any normal cat. But the feline protagonist of Stray is a bit more modest: He primarily keeps his tail down, at least based on gameplay footage viewed during a hands-off streamed preview event attended by Kotaku.

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In other words, no, you very likely won’t see much of the cat’s butthole in Stray.

Stray, an adventure game to be published by Annapurna Interactive for PlayStation and PC this July, is the debut of French developer Blue Twelve Studio. It largely takes place in a futuristic city devoid of humans, mysteriously occupied instead by iPod-looking robots. Whereas most games with such a setting would put you in the rugged boots of a battle armor-clad soldier, Stray puts you in the softer, infinitely cuter, arguably deadlier (hey if you know, you know) boots of an orange tabby cat. The game caught a ton of buzz during its reveal at a 2020 Sony showcase, and was initially planned for a 2021 release before getting delayed to this year.

Throughout the preview session, I couldn’t shake one feeling: Stray isn’t an adventure game in which you play as a cat. Stray is an adventure game in which you are a cat, right down to the stuff you do in-game.

Swann Matin-Raget, a producer at Blue Twelve, played through roughly 20 minutes of Stray, narrating several segments from a selection of levels throughout the game. (Though Stray is partially open-world, it’ll also feature more traditional, seemingly linear stages.) Much of the quote-unquote gameplay centers around some extremely typical feline behavior. You can push bottles and jars off counters. You can disrupt a board game played by two robots, sending wooden pieces scattering in a flurry.

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There’s also a legit mechanic in which you scratch all the things cats like to scratch: the carpet, the sofa, anything else that frays easily and also just so happens to be held dear to your heart. By alternating the right and left triggers on your controller, you can sharpen your claws on a litany of in-game objects. (On the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller, you’ll feel some Returnal-style force feedback.) This isn’t just cosmetic, either. At one point, Matin-Raget clawed at a nondescript door in a neon-lit alley. A few seconds passed. A robot opened the door. That’s how you progress into certain inaccessible areas.

“I’m doing something very unrealistic here [in] that I’m entering straight away,” Matin-Raget said. “You know any cat would probably wait 10 to 20 minutes before doing so.”

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It makes sense that the folks at Blue Twelve are so well-positioned to adeptly capture what it means to be a cat, seeing as many of the members of the studio have cats of their own. Purely for crowd-pleasing purrposes, here are some:

Three cats from employees of Blue Twelve Studio stand on pillows.

Photo: Blue Twelve

In fact, even the cat you play as is in part based on one of those cats: The orange tabby (pictured) is named Murtaugh and lives with the studio’s co-owners. Matin-Raget noted, however, that Stray’s player character does not have a name.

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Before you ask, Murtaugh did not serve as a motion-capture actor for Stray’s stray protagonist. No cat did. This is going to be hard to believe, I know, but apparently it’s not so easy getting a cat to wear a motion-capture suit and follow stage directions. Instead, Stray’s protagonist was fully animated by hand, which presented its own set of challenges.

“It’s quite harder to animate a quadruped in general as opposed to a biped. The center of gravity is really different and the fluidity of the overall animations needs to be really high to be convincing,” Matin-Raget said. “Also, when you try to animate a human, you can easily film yourself doing anything to use as a reference. But when you want to have something very specific with a cat, you need to extrapolate the material that you might be able to find or create.”

More than just “cat stuff,” the core gameplay in Stray centers around platforming with light puzzle elements. You’ll automatically complete every jump in the game, always landing on your feet, and you won’t take any damage while just exploring and moving around. Progression seems primarily blocked by environmental puzzles. At one point in the preview, Matin-Raget came across a spinning industrial fan. To stop it, he directed the cat to pick up a nearby pail in its mouth, then rolled it toward the fan. It wedged between the fan and its vestibule, stopping the blades to open up a pathway into the next room.

The cat rides in a bucket with B12 in Stray.

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Screenshot: Annapurna Interactive

As with most third-person adventure games, you view your character from behind. Obviously, this, um, poses a potential issue. (Since Stray does not support character customization, you can’t, say, equip a Twinkle Tush.)

“We didn’t specifically take any steps to avoid having players having to see the butt the entire game,” Matin-Raget told Kotaku in a follow-up email. “But we did work a lot on the tail animations in several different situations, and that helps a lot.”

One thing that struck me here: Throughout the preview, Stray’s protagonist kept its tail down. I have two cats. Many of my friends have cats, too. (Welcome to journalism!) Most of these cats walk with their tails in a “flagpole,” or straight-up, position. According to Matthew McCarthy, DVM, the founder of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital in Middle Village, NY, that’s an invitation for social interaction. It’s one indicator of a “cat’s desire to make a connection,” McCarthy told Kotaku.

“Fearful cats will create a smaller silhouette,” McCarthy said. That can mean crouching, pinning back their ears, or, yes, tucking their tail down. “Out of sight, out of mind. Hopefully.”

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It’s sad, but Stray’s protagonist has a lot to fear. When Blue Twelve first revealed the game, its rich, atmospheric setting—and, y’know, the whole playing as a cat thing—helped capture a lot of folks’ attention. But there wasn’t a whole lot of info about what it is you actually do. The general consensus at the time could’ve been summed up as: “I’m a cat? I walk around a city? I sit at the bar? Great! Sold. Gimme.”

The cat sites at a bar next to some robots in Stray.

Screenshot: Annapurna Interactive

But a trailer released last summer showed a totally different side of Stray. One scene showed the cat sprinting away from a horde of antagonist creatures, trying its best to escape. He’s accompanied by a floating robot drone. He hops onto a speeding cart, dodging enemies and careening through a chasm as if starring in Uncharted: Cat’s Fortune. This wasn’t the placid exploration game shown off the year before.

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The preview clarified a bit more about what was going on there. According to Matin-Raget, the creative decision to feature intense segments was a pacing choice made close to the game’s inception, which has been in development in some capacity since 2016. The robot’s name is B12 (an obvious nod to the studio’s namesake). It serves as both a protector and a translator, seeing as it’s capable of language and you, a cat, are not. When asked about whether or not you’re limited to nine lives, Matin-Raget demurred and didn’t clarify exactly how health, damage, respawns, and the like work.

Hands-off previews rarely offer insight into whether a game will be any good. More often than not, they’re marketing charades—and even more curated by PR than hands-on previews, since you can’t even get a sense of what the game feels like. It’s why we typically veer away from them at Kotaku.

That said, I came away from Stray buzzing with excitement to a degree I usually don’t. And this is from someone who’s generally at hype-meter-level-1,000 for game announcements, someone who’s (somehow) not yet spoiled by the cynicism that infects so many people who turn a hobby into a job! Maybe it’s just feline-adjacent instinct, but I’ve got a good feeling about this one. It will, if nothing else, be a welcome departure from the typical snarky action fare that tends to clutter the summer release calendar.

Just don’t expect any butts.

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How long do Valorant’s Acts last? Answered

Image via Riot Acts in Valorant are akin to seasons in games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, or Destiny 2. Every Act introduces new content to the game, such as agents or maps, alongside an Act-exclusive battle pass featuring 55 tiers of cosmetics to unlock. However, you’ll need to ensure you finish your battle pass before…

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How long do Valorant’s Acts last? Answered

Image via Riot

Acts in Valorant are akin to seasons in games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, or Destiny 2. Every Act introduces new content to the game, such as agents or maps, alongside an Act-exclusive battle pass featuring 55 tiers of cosmetics to unlock. However, you’ll need to ensure you finish your battle pass before an Act ends if you want to reap all of its rewards. But how long do Acts last?

How long are Valorant’s Acts?

Valorant’s Acts tend to last around two months each, give or take a few weeks. Looking at Valorant’s past Acts, most have typically ended roughly two months after launch, with some clocking in at just under two months. Additionally, some Acts — such as Ignition Act 3 — have lasted for about three months, so there’s always a possibility that an Act might be a bit longer than expected.

Related: All Valorant Episode 5 Act 1 Battle Pass content: skins, tiers, and rewards

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Like most other popular online games, you will not be able to redeem battle pass rewards for a particular Act after the Act ends. If you’re considering purchasing Valorant’s battle pass, it’s always worth checking how long an Act has been out to evaluate if you’ll have enough time to unlock the current Act’s rewards before it comes to an end. However, other content introduced in an Act, like agents and maps, will carry over into the next Act.

Valorant Pearl map
Image via Riot Games

You’ll work through battle pass tiers by leveling up. If you’re looking to level up quickly, we recommend you pay close attention to your daily and weekly missions, which both reward you with a good deal of XP.

Some of the cosmetics you’ll unlock from an Act’s battle pass can be quite stylish. If you’re looking to flaunt your fashion on the battlefield, check out our coverage on the best Operator and Spectre skins.

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Man gets early morning shock as car crashes into his house

GEORGE TOWN: A homeowner in Penang got a shock on Saturday (June 25) morning when a car rammed into his home at about 7am. “I heard a bang outside and rushed out. I saw that a car had crashed into the front of my house and the empty house next door that had been used…

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Man gets early morning shock as car crashes into his house

GEORGE TOWN: A homeowner in Penang got a shock on Saturday (June 25) morning when a car rammed into his home at about 7am.

“I heard a bang outside and rushed out. I saw that a car had crashed into the front of my house and the empty house next door that had been used as a welding workshop,” said 52-year-old Hasbullah Mohd Khalid.

News portal Berita Harian Online reported that Hasbullah was boiling water while his three children were in another room when the incident happened.

“I was confused for a moment when I saw the damage to the front of the house as it was just a few meters from the place where I was boiling water. It was only separated by a wooden wall,” he said to the portal.

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Hasbullah said the damage to his house was estimated at RM50,000.

He did not have time to meet the man who was driving the vehicle because he was taken away by his friend.

It is understood that the case has been handed over to the police for further action.

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Norway terror alert raised after deadly mass shooting

OSLO: The Norwegian security service PST has raised its terror alert to the highest level after a mass shooting left two people dead and many wounded during Pride week in Oslo. Acting PST chief Roger Berg called the shootings an “extreme Islamist terror act.” He said the gunman, who was arrested shortly after the shootings,…

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Norway terror alert raised after deadly mass shooting

OSLO: The Norwegian security service PST has raised its terror alert to the highest level after a mass shooting left two people dead and many wounded during Pride week in Oslo.

Acting PST chief Roger Berg called the shootings an “extreme Islamist terror act.”

He said the gunman, who was arrested shortly after the shootings, had a “long history of violence and threats.”

Early on Saturday (June 25), the gunman opened fire in Oslo’s night-life district, killing two people and leaving 10 seriously wounded in what police are investigating as a possible terrorist attack during the Norwegian capital’s annual Pride festival.

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Investigators said the suspect, identified as a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran, was arrested after opening fire at three locations in downtown Oslo.

While the motive was unclear, organizers of Oslo Pride cancelled a parade that was set for Saturday as the highlight of a weeklong festival. One of the shootings happened outside the London Pub, a bar popular with the city’s LGBTQ community, just hours before the parade was set to begin.

Police attorney Christian Hatlo said the suspect was being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, based on the number of people targeted at multiple locations.

“Our overall assessment is that there are grounds to believe that he wanted to cause grave fear in the population,” Hatlo said.

Hatlo said the suspect’s mental health was also being investigated.

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“We need to go through his medical history, if he has any. It’s not something that we’re aware of now,” he said.

The shootings happened around 1am local time, sending panicked revellers fleeing into the streets or trying to hide from the gunman.

Olav Roenneberg, a journalist from Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, said he witnessed the shooting.

“I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag. He picked up a weapon and started shooting,” Roenneberg told NRK.

“First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered and I understood I had to run for cover.”

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Another witness, Marcus Nybakken, 46, said he was alerted to the incident by a commotion in the area.

“When I walked into Cesar’s bar there were a lot of people starting to run and there was a lot of screaming. I thought it was a fight out there, so I pulled out. But then I heard that it was a shooting and that there was someone shooting with a submachine gun,” Nybakken told Norwegian broadcaster TV2.

Police inspector Tore Soldal said two of the shooting victims died and 10 people were being treated for serious injuries, but none of them was believed to be life-threatening.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a Facebook post that “the shooting outside London Pub in Oslo tonight was a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people.”

He said that while the motive was unclear, the shooting had caused fear and grief in the LGBTQ community.

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“We all stand by you,” Gahr Stoere wrote.

King Harald V also offered condolences and said he and Norway’s royal family were “horrified by the night’s shooting tragedy.”

“We sympathize with all relatives and affected and send warm thoughts to all who are now scared, restless and in grief,” the Norwegian monarch said in a statement.

“We must stand together to defend our values: freedom, diversity and respect for each other. We must continue to stand up for all people to feel safe.”

Christian Bredeli, who was at the bar, told Norwegian newspaper VG that he hid on the fourth floor with a group of about 10 people until he was told it was safe to come out.

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“Many were fearing for their lives,” he said.

“On our way out we saw several injured people, so we understood that something serious had happened.”

Norwegian broadcaster TV2 showed footage of people running down Oslo streets in panic as shots rang out in the background.

Investigators said the suspect was known to police, as well as to Norway’s security police, but not for any major violent crimes. His criminal record included a narcotics offence and a weapons offense for carrying a knife, Hatlo said.

Hatlo said police seized two weapons after the attack: a handgun and an automatic weapon, both of which he described as “not modern” without giving details.

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He said the suspect had not made any statement to the police and was in contact with a defence lawyer.

Hatlo said it was too early to say whether the gunman specifically targeted members of the LGBTQ community.

“We have to look closer at that, we don’t know yet,” he said.

Still, police advised organizers of the Pride festival to cancel the parade Saturday.

“Oslo Pride therefore urges everyone who planned to participate or watch the parade to not show up. All events in connection with Oslo Prides are cancelled,” organizers said on the official Facebook page of the event.

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Inge Alexander Gjestvang, leader of FRI, the Norwegian organisation for sexual and gender diversity, said the shooting has shaken the Nordic country’s gay community.

“It’s tough for the queer movement to experience this,” he was quoted by TV2 as saying.

“We encourage everyone to stand together, take care of each other. We’ll be back later, proud, visible but right now it’s not the time for that.”

Norway has a relatively low crime rate but has experienced violent attacks by right-wing extremists, including one of the worst mass shootings in Europe in 2011, when a gunman killed 69 people on the island of Utoya after setting off a bomb in Oslo that left eight dead.

In 2019, another right-wing extremist killed his stepsister and then opened fire in a mosque but was overpowered before anyone there was injured. – AP

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