A novel Cuttlefish Country side-project is making some exciting progress. Late last year, a chance meeting with Adam Jenkins from the University of South Australia led to the development of an early prototype of a retro arcade game called Cuttle Scuttle. The first prototype was developed by a team of UniSA computing and information technology students as a course assignment. When the student team decided not to carry on with the game’s development over the summer, Adam stepped in and proceeded to rebuild it from the ground up. He has since taken the game to new and soaring heights.
The game introduces players to the perils of life as a cuttlefish on the rocky reefs of Point Lowly in Upper Spencer Gulf, South Australia. Single and two player cooperative gameplay modes are offered, in which Lola and Lulu (two female cuttlefish) must navigate rocky reefs, find mates, lay eggs and stay safely clear of hungry predators and human hazards.
At a glance, the game looks something like Pacman in reverse. You lay eggs, rather than gobble dots to advance to the next reef… but that is where the similarities end. Predators pass through the mazes, including snapper, dolphins and fur seals… while your eggs are vulnerable to seastars and urchins which crawl about the sea floor.
Human influences further complicate life on the reef, with fishing jigs, trawl nets, desalination brine and algal blooms to contend with. Naturally, Lola and Lulu have a few tricks up their sleeve including cunning camouflage and ink-shooting abilities.
The game was successfully playtested at two special events in May and June. The first group of playtesters consisted of primary school students at the SA Museum who were captivated by the game. In some cases, children had to be dragged away by teachers or parents. The second test was with an adult audience- members of the Marine Life Society of South Australia, who were gathered to celebrate World Oceans Night in Whyalla on June 8th.
The game’s development continues, with our next milestone rapidly approaching. A demo session at AVCon (a comic and gaming convention) in the Indie Games Room is coming, the weekend of July 18th. The event attracts 10-20,000 people annually and will give us yet another great opportunity to test the waters with our delightful new game.
So where to for Cuttle Scuttle after AVCon?
Ultimately, the game will be released commercially on multiple platforms with educational editions available for schools, public aquariums, marine education centres and other relevant organisations. Meanwhile work on the principle product, the documentary film Cuttlefish Country continues, with release and touring planned for late 2014. You can follow Cuttle Scuttle as it progresses here and on Facebook.