“Depth” put on hiatus: “Ultimately it was starting to feel like we were grinding our gears and getting nowhere”

The ocean carries with it a sort of primal fear, one which is easily understandable. Humans fear the unknown, and the vast Oceans are terrestrial reminders of how much humankind has yet to chart. Sharks factor heavily into that fear, too.

The ambitious, multiplayer, indie game, “Depth,” was looking to tap into those fears to add tension to its asynchronous sharks vs. divers combat. Unfortunately, visitors to the game’s site are now being greeted with a solemn message from the game’s creative director, Alex Quick:

Hey guys. Alex here, Creative Director for Depth.

I wanted to fill you all in on a bit of news regarding the project : As of about a month ago, Depth was put on indefinite hiatus. The reason for this decision was a combination of things I won’t get into too much detail about, but it boiled down to

(1.) Maintaining the project and its staff was becoming extremely costly.

(2.) Aspects of the project weren’t “clicking” and needed design love that we couldn’t provide it after nearly 3 years of devotion and attachment.

Since all of this probably sounds quite dissapointing, I’d like to stop and mention that depth_isn’t_dead. Nobody is throwing out any of the work that

has been done, and the concept (as i’m sure you’ll all agree) is one that kicks major ass and needs to get made. If depth can find the right kind of support and direction, I have no doubt that it will rise once more from the murky abyss and bite us all in half with its awesomeness.

P.S Thanks so much guys for all your encouragement and positive vibes ūüôā

I reached out to Alex to inquire further about the circumstances behind the game being put on hiatus. Quick initially expressed frustration about working with new technology. “The reasons for putting the project on hiatus are many and varied. ¬†I think one of the big ones is that I underestimated how much work would be involved in bringing a game of this scope to fruition on ‘next-gen’ tech. ¬† My previous experience was with the last iteration of unreal engine (2.5) ¬†where the content and distribution pipelines were significantly simpler,” he said.

Quick said that he also underestimated the complexity of managing his independent team remotely.

“It sometimes feels like you’re throwing several dozen balls up in the air at once and trying to catch them as they come down … with your teeth,” Quick said.

The game’s sharks and the divers are entirely separate entities. As Quick pointed out to me, this proved to be a major complication for the team. “So all of these management and infrastructure issues underpinned Depth’s design problems. The biggest one we found ourselves facing is that sharks and divers have very little in common. ¬†They don’t share inventory items or gameplay styles, or HUDs. ¬†Nothing. ¬†You are effectively creating two games in one and trying to balance both of them so they play nice with one another. ¬†That’s a pretty tall order for a remote managed team of less than 10 people. ¬†Ultimately it was starting to feel like we were grinding our gears and getting nowhere. ¬†When you can’t find any fun in developing your game, ¬† it seems unlikely that players are going to have any fun playing it. The decision to put the project on hiatus was a difficult one, but I believe it is in the best interests of everyone involved. ¬†None of this changes how I feel about the concept of a game involving sharks, which I think is unique and badass and really needs to get made.”

It is unfortunate that these numerous issues have put a halt to a promising looking game with such a unique take on the deathmatch genre, but Alex’s passion in the core concept and reluctance to explicitly call the project dead provides a slightly less bleak outlook. Don’t get me wrong, ‘indefinite hiatus,’ isn’t exactly code for ‘coming soon,’ but I’ll cling to hope for this ambitious project, even if that hope is a little head-in-the-clouds.

This article was originally written by me and published on October 12, 2012 on PCGamingIsAlive.com. The site is now defunct, so I am republishing the original article here.

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