1.9.2015

A Day at the Lake with Dovetail Games

By Brian Rowe

Video games have never been more popular, but, perhaps more importantly, they have never had such a diverse range of players with unique tastes. The doors have been opened for once-niche genres to reach new audiences, and few genres have exploded in popularity quite like the simulator.

Dovetail Games has seen the growth of the simulation genre firsthand as the developer and publisher of the Train Simulator series, and is now venturing into fishing and flight simulation. With its new flagship title, Dovetail Games Fishing, the studio believes that now is "the perfect opportunity" to create the most realistic fishing game to date.

Dovetail Games' Brand Manager, Darren Nokes, says, "Fishing is massively popular around the world and there’s an unfulfilled demand for a state of the art fishing simulator that encompasses all the main disciplines. There are more people fishing in the US than there are golfers and tennis players put together, and fishing is growing around Europe and other parts of the world." 

Drawing inspiration from real life, authenticity is among the studio's chief objectives. As highlighted by PCGamesN, Unreal Engine 4 was the perfect solution to provide top physics-simulation and next-gen capabilities, combined with the versatility to develop for a largely untapped sub-genre.

Dovetail Games

As Nokes explains, "We were looking for an engine that gave us the best of all options from the perspectives of gameplay, rendering, tools, pipeline and content creation. With Unreal Engine 4, we get all these things along with the ability for every member of the team to rapidly get up to speed and create content."

Dovetail Games is serious about capturing the true essence of fishing, especially since many of the team members are avid anglers themselves. To help bring this to life players will get the full fishing experience ranging from location surveying and gear selection to skillfully baiting their targets. Dovetail Games even worked with experts to create A.I. that reacts appropriately to different stimuli and players' techniques.

Dovetail Games Fishing isn't the first fishing simulation, but its ambition is second to none. Using Dovetail Games' Total Cast Control system, both the rod and line feature full physics simulations in order to create a realistically challenging casting experience. It's this devotion to authenticity that the studio hopes will allow Dovetail Games Fishing to expand into additional styles of fishing and even esports.

DoveTail Games

With such a high attention to detail in such an underrepresented sub-genre, creating Dovetail Games Fishing has been a journey into uncharted waters. Time and again, game developers have cited Blueprints as one of Unreal Engine 4's defining features capable of quickly transforming concepts into prototypes, and Dovetail Games is no exception.

Nokes says of Blueprints, "The ability to rapidly prototype game mechanics using Unreal Engine 4 has been part of the reason we've come so far with a small team in such a relatively short period of time. Blueprint visual scripting puts amazing power into the hands of our designers and content creators. They have been able to trial game features and balance mechanics very quickly for the team to play and comment on, which has meant our iteration times have been reduced significantly."

One of the most surprising aspects for the team has been Unreal Engine 4's stability across a wide range of PC specifications. Dovetail Games Fishing became available on Steam Early Access in early-November. Instead of worrying about the vast assortment of hardware builds, the stability of Unreal Engine 4 has allowed the team to focus on further refining gameplay, improving visuals, and interacting with the community.

Dovetail Games was so impressed by its experience that it has already announced its adoption of Unreal Engine 4 to develop the next generation of Train Simulator. Nokes concludes, "Unreal Engine 4 is a great multi-format engine that provides a powerful, flexible foundation for a wide variety of teams to fully realize their vision."

Dovetail Games Fishing is currently available through Steam Early Access for PC. You can follow the team and further developments at @DovetailGames and @DovetailFishing.

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