trash panda game

People are obsessed with this Toronto raccoon video game and it hasn't even launched yet

If you've lived in Toronto for any amount of time, you've probably walked by your fair share of overturned garbage bins surrounded by old food scraps and gnawed-on margarine containers.

Heck, those lucky enough to live near alleys may even have seen said containers being gnawed on in the wee hours by clever cuties, the likes of whom Sir David Attenborough himself has hailed as "backstreet bandits."

But nobody, save for the raccoons of Toronto, can say what it's like to run around the city breaking into high-tech green bins all night looking for Taco Bell wrappers or anything else even moderately edible to consume.

Not yet, anyway.

A forthcoming video game by Toronto filmmaker, game developer and storyteller Jason Leaver will soon allow anyone to experience the city as a naughty nightboi hungry for trash, and people all over the internet are practically foaming at the mouth (sorry) for a chance to play.

Called "Trash Panda" in honour of a nickname many Torontonians have for our little masked frenemies, the PC game is effectively a raccoon simulator set in Canada's largest city on garbage night.

The goal is to knock over as many garbage cans as possible while looking for stuff to eat, which may or may not be inside the cans. Like real raccoons, you need to make a big mess to find out where the food be at.

Leaver, 43, started working on the raccoon game a few months ago, but says many of the elements were actually created over the past year as he tinkered around with tools and wrote code for projects like a Christmas game for his seven-year-old daughter.

"In that one, you play as Santa rounding up your deer who left the North Pole Paddock," he told blogTO. "The deer were all voiced by my seven-year-old and her classmates. Super cute."

For Trash Panda, which is currently still in development, the raccoon character actually came along before the concept of the game itself.

"I'd become a fan of Malbers Animations, an asset publisher. He makes these wonderful lowpoly forest animals. When he released his raccoon asset, I didn't hesitate. I had to have it," says Leaver.

"I didn't know how I'd use it, or what game I'd make with it. I just knew I needed that raccoon.

One night, while taking out the garbage at his east-end home, the idea for 'Trash Panda' struck. The rest, as he says, is history — but there's still a lot more to come.

While Leaver doesn't yet have an official launch date for the game, he's been providing regular updates via social media and now has his own Discord server where an entire community of raccoon enthusiasts can provide input for Trash Panda.

Anyone is welcome to join the server (in fact, Leaver wants you to!) and thousands have shown interest in the game since it was featured by CTV on Monday.

Some are even hailing it as the next Untitled Goose Game, which is a very high expectation indeed.

People are really, really into the concept of this game, if social shares are any indication, and it's not only Torontonians. But Toronto does play a very special role in the overall story.

Leaver says he's modelling the neighbourhood in his game based on real Toronto streets.

"For now, it'll be a 'Toronto-esque' neighbourhood," he tells blogTO, declining to say if we'll recognize any specific parts of the city. "I'm taking inspiration from my neighbourhood on my evening walks."

As for the trash his pandas will eat, Leaver isn't sure, but he does have some ideas.

"I take great pride in the fact that my family and I reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose, refuse, repair. We do everything we can to avoid sending things to a landfill. So perhaps there might be a chance to inject some social commentary about our responsibilities to the environment in this game," he says. "I'm not sure how, but these values are important to me and I'd like to share them."

"Or, heck, maybe it's just about making a mess."

Lead photo by

Trash Panda Game

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