What it was
Deep sea was a game idea I had well before the Hats came about. I wanted to make an atmospheric platformer about exploration. The goal was to create a game that moved very slowly, with some basic navigation challenges, that lead to frightening and wonderous discoveries. I’ve always found large bodies of water to be somewhat frightening (Echo the Dolphin was the scariest game on the Game Gear). The solitude, the limited movement, the eerie darkness and exotic lifeforms. I wanted to make a game where you went deeper and deeper in the sea, discovering large and amazing creatures with a Lovecraftian twist. I think it would be safe to think of this game like Endless Ocean: Blue World. Except with more mind-fuck and monsters.
So the mechanic I came up with was that you would get so deep or find your way into a cave and you couldn’t see directly in front of you. At this point you have to use sonar to see your surroundings. You would ping from your deep sea diver suit and it would outline your environment in a sort of snapshot that would look somewhat infrared. I threw together a prototype in Game Maker.
Why it didn’t happen
Despite the obvious… (like being heavily reliant on art and sound which are not my specialty (Don’t think I have one))
About the same time I thought of this, I realized that this idea was somewhat similar to something my friends started working on…
Now I would like to claim that I came up with the idea first, but I’m 90% sure that I was inspired by talking to one of the developers about making games for the blind at GDC the year before. (Hi Kevin!)
What is was Part 2
The idea should have died off but…
With the newly formed Hats, we were looking for platformer ideas. I whipped open my old idea notebook and plucked this idea out again.
I came up with some cool ideas for an interesting “story” and new mechanics using lifelines and ropey physics to move around the environment. I kept the pinging but pushed it to a more secondary mechanic so I wouldn’t get beat up for stealing from my friends.
Why it didn’t happen Part 2
I got excited about it again but we were focusing on games that didn’t require art. So it just sat in the list of game ideas on our wiki. I don’t think I ever even pitched it properly to the rest of the team.
Then a while ago… I saw Capsized.
This game does what I had dreamed of in a much more beautiful fashion than we could have ever delivered with our current resources. It’s not the same game but it shares enough of what I wanted to achieve that I feel like anyone who wants to play the game I was vaguely describing should just buy Capsized.
So that was the final nail in the coffin of a game that never really stood a chance in the first place. I often dream up games I could never hope to execute on. It was a lofty idea that hinged on all the talents we don’t have.
Being a designer is about dreaming. Being a good designer is about preventing your team from killing you in your sleep. Which is to say: Dare to dream but be realistic.