Fish Out Of Water!

Luke Muscat got the idea for Fruit Ninja from watching late-night infomercials peddling cut-through-anything knives. Now the chief creative officer for developer Halfbrick is turning his love of surfing and everyone’s intrinsic desire to skip stones across water into another addicting mobile game, Fish Out Of Water!, due out within the next month or two for touchscreen devices.

The concept is a little Angry Birds-ish, only without the pig death and destruction at the end of the bird’s flight. You pick one of six fish, each with different physical characteristics, then fling it as far as possible to rack up not only total feet traveled but “skips” on the water’s surface. After three attempts, a group of six crab judges will score your session, Olympics-style. Some judges are more impressed with distance, while others want to see more bounces. Climbing the leaderboards will depend on your ability to please the crabs’ different personalities, which are all based on real-life people (developers on the Halfbrick team, Muscat’s girlfriend, and even a Simon Cowell type at Halfbrick who’s as hard to please in person as he is in the game).

Unlike in Halfbrick’s fan-favorite Jetpack Joyride, where the goal is to beat your personal distance record, in Fish Out Of Water!, players are simply competing against others on leaderboards that reset each day. (So the game doesn’t fall into the trap where exceeding your previous high score becomes more and more difficult the more you play.) The appeal here may seem like it could wear off fairly quickly, but ever-changing weather will play a huge part in mixing up play sessions for players around the world.

In any given hour, the weather may change for everyone at the same time. Wind, rain, snow, icy water … all may affect the flight paths of the different fish or create waves that can alter the skipping physics. During a stormy period, scores will likely drop for everyone playing at that moment. It will offer a short-term forecast for the next three hours or so, but Muscat hopes his “randomized, semi-intelligent” weather system will create a new type of activity within the Fish Out of Water! community where players seek out ideal conditions. “I do a lot of surfing and go to the beach to check the waves every day,” he told GamesBeat. “Of course, the day I don’t check, it’s perfect. Then I have to hear about it from my friends. So I really wanted to capture that dynamic with real-time weather in Fish Out Of Water! When it’s perfect with perfectly flat water, there should be tons of people playing to get those ideal conditions.”

This weather system may present some balancing problems on the leaderboards, however, since “ideal conditions” for someone living in Tallahassee, Fla. at 1 p.m., will be a deep-sleep 4 a.m. for a player in Sydney, Australia — probably not the ideal hour for a quick water-skipping session on the iPad. “We’re still working that out,” said Muscat.

See below or more screens and a gameplay video of Fish Out Of Water!