To the Rescue game developer shares more about mission and design process

To the Rescue game screenshots. Photos courtesy of Little Rock Games.
To the Rescue game screenshots. Photos courtesy of Little Rock Games. /
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To the Rescue game developer Olivia Dunlap talks about the game’s mission and the design process.

Here at Dog O’Day, we love all things pet-related, and enjoy pet-themed games. So when we got to talk with To the Rescue game developer Olivia Dunlap via a Zoom interview in March, that was pretty cool to learn more about the upcoming game’s mission and the design process in general.

While bibliophiles and fans of dog writing especially, if they are sympathetic to the plight of shelter animals, will learn a lot about the challenges that come with shelter management’s daily operation from Cara Sue Achterberg’s excellent book One Hundred Dogs and CountingTo the Rescue approaches the same mission of raising awareness from a different angle – that of a simulation video game with some elements of pet care. (Imagine Roller Coaster Tycoon in a blender with Nintendogs and a Saturday morning cartoon animation style.)

To the Rescue is an animal shelter simulator game developed by Little Rock Games and published by Freedom Games, slated for release later this year across PC and Mac (on Steam) and the Nintendo Switch.

Dog O’Day – Hey Olivia! This game started out as a college project, right?

Olivia Dunlap – Yeah, it was. [Little Rock Games co-founder] Tanner [Marshall] and I were the lead devs, and we started working on it as an undergraduate project, just because we wanted to get into games and thought it was a cool idea, messed around with it after class sort of thing.

Did either of you have a background in animal rescue, or how did you decide “hey, managing an animal shelter would be a really cool game”?

That’s a really interesting question, because neither of us had really done anything in that field at that time, but a lot of our friends had, and we were in a situation where we were living with a lot of different people, so it was difficult to do that [foster animals]. But it was something that we really cared about, and we had lots of friends and acquaintances who were constantly fostering animals and volunteering and stuff like that, they were always talking about their experiences and were surprised that this sort of game didn’t exist in the sim management genre already.

We just decided that it would be a really fun and potentially really worthwhile project to take on.