By Dana Cowley

Waves, the breakout indie game developed by Squid in a Box, delivers addictive gameplay peppered with a confetti of striking visuals. To celebrate the arena shooter’s launch on Steam, we sat down with CEO Robert Hale to talk about his years spent making games and the decision to go with UDK.

As both the brains and the brawn behind Squid in a Box, Rob Hale wears many hats of game development, including designer, producer, programmer and artist.

IndieGames.com calls Waves “gorgeous” and DIYGamer says “you really need to see the level of polish and witness how slick everything is for yourself to really appreciate it.”

For Hale, creating Waves required a game engine that is packed with advanced tools, so selecting UDK was an easy decision.

“I've been working with the Unreal Engine since I started modding back in 2001, and have worked with it professionally on multiple AAA console titles since then, including Wheelman and Enslaved,” said Hale. “It let me get up and running with my own projects in no time at all.”

Hale pointed out that, due to his familiarity with Unreal Engine 3, “I knew what I was getting into with UDK but was still surprised at how quickly I was able to get something playable running.”

Although he considered alternative game engine technology, Hale noted that UDK was the only option that gave him the power needed to achieve his goals.

Elaborating on tools he’s found to be indispensable, Hale remarked, “Unreal Cascade has been invaluable while developing Waves because the game is very particle-heavy. It's so easy to experiment inside Cascade and see the results immediately that it's let me concentrate on being creative rather than worrying about technical constraints.” 

Unreal Kismet has also been a great tool for balancing the game,” he said. “All of the high-level gameplay with spawning waves of enemies is handled in Kismet, and it's allowed much faster iteration and rapid prototyping than having to code everything in script.”


UnrealScript itself is a very easy language to learn, in my opinion, and takes away a lot of worries about platform compatibility. It's good to know that if I do ever want to port Waves to consoles then all of the code I've written in UDK will still work", said Hale.

As for UDK’s support and community infrastructure, Hale is satisfied.

“The monthly updates to UDK and the sheer scope of the changes, such as DirectX 11 support, have been very surprising,” remarks Hale. “I was expecting UDK to be a cut-down version of the engine with Epic keeping the really cool toys for themselves and the licensees, but we really do get everything (with the exception of the C++ source code) and that is very refreshing.

“What has also been great is the community, he said. “Everybody is really supportive, and Epic has been very quick to address any problems people have had on the forums.”

To view a video timeline of Waves’ development with UDK, check out Hale’s blog post, The Evolution of an Idea. Still not ready to buy the game? Try out the Waves demo for free.

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