Hockey fans might think they’re hearing a familiar sound in Fart Cat, the rude-and-crude mobile game that released last week, when they finish off a level and the titular feline floats an air biscuit into the basket. And they’d be correct. That is the bleat of the same horn the St. Louis Blues use to celebrate a goal in the NHL.
More specifically, it’s a modified sound file of the report of the Kahlenberg KM-135 arena horn, which blares every time the Blues dent the twine at Scottrade centre. Fart Cat developer Summer Camp Studios wanted something distinct, something cathartic, something… loud to communicate the ultimate dispersal of Fart Cat’s apocalyptic flatulence, and in early designs of the game its creators came to the realisation that only a big arse fog horn would do. That’s how it came to “audition” goal horns used at NHL arenas.
“We knew we wanted to end each level with giant, pungent clouds of fart, and took to calling it the ‘Peggle Fart,’ said Summer Camp’s Rich Gallup. “[Peggle] does such an amazing job of joyfully celebrating the player’s success by blasting Ode to Joy over fireworks and rainbows when a stage is cleared. As a longtime hockey fan and player, it was a quick leap to realise the ideal analogue for our megafart, with banks of green fog rolling in, would be a hockey goal horn.”
After that creative decision was made, someone at Summer Camp found this item on Kotaku sister publication Deadspin, which pointed readers to an audio collection of every NHL arena horn. From there, Gallup selected ones he thought fit the end-of-stage tenor described above, and spontaneously blasted the best ones over speakers to the rest of the office. “Most of them made us laugh, but we weren’t convinced a goal horn was the way to go until we hooked them into our project,” Gallup said. “That sold us, and then it became a matter of picking our favourite.”
But why use a hockey arena horn? This is a game that unashamedly lets it rip with fart sound effects throughout play. “We don’t have too many gross fart sounds and didn’t want our Peggle Fart to be an exception,” Gallup said. ‘The goal horn felt like the perfect mix of ridiculous, funny, celebratory, a good contextual fit, and so loud that kids could drive people crazy with it.”
St. Louis was one of four finalists, along with Tampa Bay, Boston and Buffalo. Tampa’s was “too long,” said Gallup; Boston’s “is too short, while St. Louis’s rolls on in that unceasing manner, and breaks it up with those two quick beats in the middle.”
Of course, there’s the matter of licensing and lawyers. Summer Camp said it tried contacting the St. Louis Blues but were unsuccessful, possibly because “they were too caught up in all of their postseason awards.” (St Louis lost in the second round of the playoffs.) Without the Blues aboard, Summer Camp was looking at finding another horn. They contemplated a promotion with a minor league hockey team but “none of them could compare to that St. Louis sound.”
Until, however, someone at the studio discovered a ship horn collector’s community, through which they learned that the Blues use the Kahlenberg KM-135. The studio went to Kahlenberg’s official site, found a sound file, took a snippet of the audio, “chopped it up, stretched it out and added some reverb until it sounded similar to the St. Louis horn,” Gallup said. ‘We changed the file so much we felt safe using it in the game.
“We love that horn so much that if Fart Cat made enough money where it would be worth anybody’s time to sue us, we would be too busy spending all of that money on our own KM-135 and a sweet pick-up truck to put it in.”
Why, however, go to these lengths for a 99 cent game? Why not just find some other boat horn from a soundfile site?
“Although we are the first to say that Fart Cat is a silly, doofy game, it also represents the first product a group of veteran game developers have shipped in years,” said Gallup, himself a former producer at 38 Studios, which folded in May. “We wanted to be proud of Summer Camp Studio’s debut effort, and that included spending keen attention to even the littlest of details. This would be our game’s signature moment, and it needed to represent the game’s irreverence and professionalism.
“Also, we spent hours on those sound file sites, and none of their horns had the same room-clearing power.”