Surfing games are rare these days. Despite the rapid technological advances, the video game industry has not yet developed the game surfers are waiting for.
But the scene isn't dead. There have been a few independent producers keeping the lights on. In 2013, Senne De Pré saved water sports video games from extinction with his "Ultimate Windsurf Game."
Now that he started surfing, he realized he could do something for the millions eager to ride a wave on a computer screen. "Shorebreak" might be a work in progress, but with a little help from everyone, it will be a pretty enjoyable surfing game.
Who are you? Tell us a bit more about Senne De Pré.
I'm a Belgian windsurfer since a young age, and I have been wave sailing from age 14 and on. When I went to Western Australia in 2014 as a gap year, I also started to surf quite a bit. I started with my windsurf game "Ultimate Windsurf Game" in 2012 when "Windsurfing MMX" stopped in development.
Since then, I have been working here and there on the game with my biggest focus on wave sailing. Right now, I started my own company called Poorly Insulated Studios next to my studies, and with a keen interest in surf physics and 3D programs, I'm embarking on a mission to tackle this new surf game "Shorebreak." The first Alpha version is available on my website.
"Shorebreak" is a surfing game in development. For the last two months, I have been building a wave and surf physics system that is starting to work very smoothly. The waves react with a sculpted ocean floor, and calculated energy and depth result in hollower and softer parts in the wave.
Why have you decided to go from a windsurfing game to a surfing game?
A surfing game has a lot of advantages over a windsurfing game. First of all, there is a way bigger audience.
Windsurfing, and especially wave sailing, is such a difficult thing to understand if you have never windsurfed before, so the audience is less than all windsurfers who like to play games.
Secondly, the physics of surfing are easier because you don't really have to think about forces generated by the wind.
How difficult is it to develop a surfing game?
Well, I have got a whole bunch of scrap paper laying in my room with ideas, problems and solutions. The biggest problem is that you have to interact with a deforming object in real time.
There aren't many games having that problem. With games, it always depends on how far you want to push it. If you want to make a realistic surfing simulation game, you will have to cope with the cascade of physics and optics.
I have started to brainstorm about the waves back in 2012, so there have been lots of ideas, failures and improvements, and I reckon it will never stop. You can always improve.
Why did you stop improving the windsurfing game?
Let's say I've put it on hold. Creating "Shorebreak" means also creating a foundation for other games or new disciplines in the future.
Surfers and windsurfers share the same playground to some extent, so improving one game will automatically improve the foundation of the other. To make a great game you need players and funds.
I think a surfing game has the most potential to bring that. I love windsurfing and surfing, and I would love to have a great windsurf game and surf game in the future. This is my best bet in my eyes.
What's harder to simulate: the ocean waves or the surfer's physics?
It's hard to say as they kind of communicate with each other. The hard thing is to generate the waves, but it is probably even harder to read those algorithms and calculate force vectors that will keep the board floating and hitting the lip, etc.
How far do you plan to go with "Shorebreak"?
I'd love to go quite deep. I am still studying architecture in Brussels right now, so I don't have a clear image over what the future will bring. In general, I would like to balance the game between fun, realism and education.
A fun tutorial and good working physics are number one priority. I'd like to have a community where people are free to post their other ideas.
Why do you think there aren't more surfing games for PS and XBox?
I believe that there is not enough audience for a big company to invest in a surfing game. That's why I think it's up to the smaller companies to bring out such a game.
Because the difficulty of the ocean physics and optics, this rarely has happened. I think I have passed the biggest obstacles; now I need time to fine-tune it.
"Shorebreak" (Windows/Mac) is available for free download.