This page is basically a historical account of the original Cat-Life and why it failed over the course of four years. Cat-Life Original underwent countless revisions and set backs before it finally was re-shaped into Cat-Life GS.
On the 8th of August, 2003 the original Cat-Life was announced officially on ModDB and the Garg-o-holics / Friendly Garg’s Stories website.
With the effective disbanding of the GargArena mod team, some of the members had started working secretly on their new project. Cat-Life Original was announced with the following…
“Deep in the bowels of the Black Mesa Research Facility, scientists have been working on some sick biological experiments… involving cute little kitties. Oh, the horror!
Well, that’s the story behind The Garg-O-Holics insane mod, Cat Life, which they have been working on secretly. Those that REALLY want to know more about this mod can go to their forums.”
At the time, the player character was named Ernest… after Friendly Garg. The plot was a simple and largely traditional change to the game. Ernest was a half-man / half-cat, the product of experimentation on scientists and cats.
Ernest would have then had cat friends and faced various half-cat mutations. Early pictures revealed a garg-cat and our man-cat.
Yet, as one might expect, the concept was short lived. Within the first 10 days of the announcement, discussions on the Garg-o-holics forums turned from man-cat to simply cat. The idea of a scientist having a cat in his dorm became a serious plot debate.
The idea grew quickly and on the 19th of August, Friendly Garg announced that Cat-Life would change and that our player would now be Ernest the cat. Of course, a forum poll for new cat names quickly followed. Poor FG.
However, naming the cat became a bit of a problem. Polls were made… many names were tossed into the mix including Edison and Sylvester. But the entire process ended in a boggled mess. By the 6th of September, the process was re-started with forumites encouraged to offer their favorite three cat names for team consideration.
Up to this point, only a few practice maps had been started and a few models such as a milk carton and a boxy cat model had been completed. FG even publicly stated that the team was far to insufficient for a completed project. His stated goal was to release the game before Half-Life 2 could be released.
With HL2 encountering the first of its year long problems and delays, this goal often seemed obtainable. Regrettably, this was not the case. On the 30th of January, 2004 the Garg-o-holics host service [ hlgaming.com ] was attacked by a malicious script. The perpetrators created a cheap, short message about how great they were and replaced all files labeled “index” throughout the service.
All hosted websites and hlgaming itself suffered from this, but Friendly Garg had suffered some other unrelated issues as well. While most sites were restored by their caretakers, the Garg-o-holics website remained down.
On the 22nd of March FG posted a message seeking new leadership for his entire website.
“I must say I’m sorry to see everything is gone, but I’d be lying if I say I would like to return to make new comics in the future…. or return to lead the mod team for Cat Life or GargArena. It’s simply just too much for me.”
There were no responses. Not even in ModDB’s comments. Nothing.
On the 2nd of May partial functionality was restored to the site officially and FG announced plans to rework his website with the aid of the forumites. At that time, his only goal was to make the site more functional in his absence as real life kept him away for long periods of time.
By that time, sadly, the Cat-Life mod team had fully disbanded. In June FG began recruiting once again. Additionally, he also made the official announcement that Cat-Life would be moving to the Source engine after the release of HL2.
The following six months were a period of turmoil for Cat-Life and the Garg-o-holics site in general. The site changed host services, the third such move since Friendly Garg’s Story site left Planet Half-Life. Even so, there were continued attacks on the forums in the form of disgruntled trolls spamming yiff and other porn images.
This was a serious problem since the majority of team work and community interest in the mod had been focused in the Garg-o-holics forums. With the forums intermittently bogged down or broken, recruiting and contributions were limited.
Moreover, Source was brand new. The tools and learning curve served to detract from Cat-Life’s staff rather then boost it. The team was effectively reduced to a handful of mappers experimenting with the new version of Hammer before modern tutorials were available and before bugs had been eliminated.
Add to that the shift in Garg-o-holics developers to the popular flash game “Half-Park Custom Character Creator” and we soon find that Cat-Life ceased development.
On the 25th of December… yes Christmas Day… FG acknowledged that Cat-Life was on an indefinite hiatus. He further admitted that the project might remain on hold until the Black Mesa mod completed to seek the use of their textures and props.
In January of 2005, FG began asking for the aid of a coder, the one position that had never been filled. For a mod about a cat, custom source code would certainly be needed. But… there were no volunteers and the Source SDK was still relatively new.
On the 22nd of May, that team leader was officially announced. Syringed, an active forum member and ambitious planner was now in charge of Cat-Life. Among other intentions, he expected to move the mod into its own website and separate it from the Garg-o-holics. He also planned to drastically alter the look of the mod, utilizing cell shading and a more comic book style of art design reminiscent of XIII.
His final news post made on the 30th of May, a mere eight days after taking charge, was titled “Expect A New Cat-Life Website…” and consisted of the words “In a few weeks.” He then vanished without a trace. He has never been heard from again.
In his absence, nothing happened. No development. No recruiting. No planning. Nothing.
Worse, the Garg-o-holics forums were again attacked and FG’s password was compromised. The entire site effectively died. The last serious discussions on the forums had been with regard to how the site could be improved. After that, a real life personal dispute between two forum members spilled into the forum and boiled away the remaining fans.
A fresh attack on the forums and re-compromised password was the final blow. No one remained to keep Cat-Life alive. No one was present to even keep the Half-Park Custom Character Creator or other portions of the website alive. The age of the Garg-o-holics had come to an end.
In June of 2006, a full year after Syringed posted his final message, The Wildcat entered into talks with Friendly Garg. The crippled website changed hands and the merger began. Elements of The Wildcat’s own website plans and his two existing MSN Groups were combined with the remains of the Garg-o-holics.
As “Bored With Life” rose from the ashes and began heralding the mantra of “Epically Awesome in Every Way”, the subject of Cat-Life returned. On the 6th of July, FG posted a last bid for a Cat-Life team leader.
The answer was immediate. Redfox899 jumped on the chance to develop the mod. And the final incarnation of Cat-Life O began with the announcement that the mod would revert to the GoldSource engine and once again be a Half-Life mod.
Plans included a shift from the action-adventure plot to a strongly comedic plot. It was Redfox’s opinion that a mod about a cat could not be remotely serious and that he himself was more of a comedian then a serious story teller.
His new story featured our player character as the reincarnated form of Hitler, Jesus, Julia Roberts, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Gandhi, and other random characters. This tyrannical feline would then be escaping Black Mesa with the aid of lazers, various weapons, and powers of great variety with the goal of world conquest.
But in the end, it was probably the number of Redfox’s other projects that overwhelmed him. In his resignation notice, posted a little over one month after he took the lead, Redfox sited the lack of time for such a large scale project. It seems our mini-mod had grown up a bit and doing it any justice at all would require a considerable effort.
In September, FG posted one last cry for help as he found himself in the leadership role once again. But beyond well wishers, there were no responses.
And with that Cat-Life O was ended.
It would be more then a year before the concept would be revived this time. Such was the birth of Cat-Life GS.