Water Witchery: Dovetail Games Fishing On Early Access

How tranquil!

Fishing, as I understand it, is not about catching fish. It’s all a macabre ritual to invoke a pleasant Sunday afternoon by the water, isn’t it? The fisher delicately scratches the hook across their fingernail and nods at the white line left by a sharp point. Fingertips descend into maggots, grubbing for a fresh sacrifice, a juicy virgin. Meat and metal meet as, with the greatest of care, they pierce the flesh between the maggot’s eyes. The weighting of the line, the winding of the reels… the rituals are minute and endless. For hours, they stare intently at mirror waters reflecting the sun’s passage across the sky. Silence, solitude, ritual, and contemplation. Witchcraft.

Train Simulator developers Dovetail Games are now dabbling in that magic, having launched their fishing game into Steam Early Access this week. It’s only £4.99 at first.

This is an awfully early version. Right now, Dovetail Games Fishing has a tutorial, a few casting target challenges, a casual fishing mode, one fish type, and that’s about it. I’ve had it behave in weird ways and outright crash too. But for a few glorious minutes, I dangled my rod limply and simply took in the sights and sounds of the pond. Eventually, they’ll let people wander around the pond and pick their own spot too. Yeah, that’s right: a walking simulator. How lovely.

Dovetail say they expect to be in Early Access for 6-12 months, adding new things and gathering feedback. Reflecting how early it is, the game’s only £4.99 right now. This price will go up over development. Here’s a trailer going over their plans a bit:

23 Comments

Top comments

  1. Kollega says:

    Maybe I'm stating the obvious here, but I don't feel that a fishing simulator can actually work without motion controls, Oculus Rift, and amBX. Plus, ideally it would have to involve cross-country trips as well as actual fishing, because in my eyes getting to the fishing place while taking in the beautiful countryside views is half the fun. And in the perfect-case scenario, it would probably also have an expansion pack where you get to fish in exotic and/or outright fantastic environments, such as the Amazon rainforest, an overgrown part of a humongous steampunk city, or liquid methane lakes of Titan.

    Actually, scratch that nonsense, the only way a fishing game would be truly fun to me is if it had some outrageous extreme scenarios, like angling on alien worlds from the side doors of a futuristic hoverjet, or engaging in intense vehicular combat before you can get to that perfect place on the shore of a serene woodland lake.
  1. Wowbagger says:

    I’m of that strange breed of gamer that enjoys fishing in games, but not as the main event. I’ve spent ages fishing in WoW, Dark Chronicle and Zelda, but I doubt this would do it for me.

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      phuzz says:

      The fishing is particularly nice in Eidelon.

    • Dilapinated says:

      I too really enjoy these kinda things.

      The fishing minigame in Okami is pretty great. Kinda like the standard “see size-ranked shadows swim about, tap things” thing in a lot of games, but with the Okami ink-drawing mechanic used to draw the line to the right fish, then slice through them when they leap out of the water. Also pulling in the opposite direction to a constantly switching target is a nice change from “hammer the A button”.

  2. padger says:

    This will no doubt REEL IN the punters.

    • All is Well says:

      Fishing with hooks is really one of the most gruesome hunting techniques, isn’t it? You trick an animal into biting a sharp hook, which gets lodged in its mouth (no doubt extremely painful) and then you proceed to pull and yank on that hook to lift the animal into an element where it has never been and where can’t breathe. And then you probably bludgeon it to death, or just let it asphyxiate. That said, I hear it’s very contemplative, very good for PONDering.

      • Neutrino says:

        Whereas breeding the animals in captivity so that we can devour their offspring after electrocuting them and slitting their throats is the height of good taste of course.

        • All is Well says:

          I don’t know if you’re joking or if you’re accusing me of holding that belief, but just to be sure: I do not agree with that statement at all.
          (Sorry if you weren’t being sincere and I spoiled a humorous mood)

    • aldo_14 says:

      I dunno, this whole early access thing sounds fishy to me. I don’t want to keep carping on about it, but if you buy EA you’re treading on uncharted waters and it’s very much sink or swim – you can’t just worm your way out if the company ends up floundering. Not that it’s my plaice to keep casting doubt, mind you – just have to make sure to trawl the net beforehand..

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      Coral blimey, it does look nice.

  3. scrub tier says:

    You forgot “drinking”.

    A cooler full of alcoholic beverages is perhaps the most important bit of gear you can have. Once you are 4-5 beers deep it won’t matter if the fish aren’t biting, because drinkin’ is awesome.

    Also, for the “fishing is cruel” crew… fish are incapable of feeling pain the way you or I do because they are fish, not people

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      Harlander says:

      Or to use the worlds of one of history’s great minds, it’s OK to eat fish ’cause they don’t have any feelings

    • Sam says:

      The real question is whether a sufficiently advanced simulated fish can be said to feel pain. Making a virtual agent that performs the responses expected for “human level, conscious pain” is certainly achievable. Does the fact that the pain is transmitted through conceptual C-fibres and remembered in a digital database rather than in squidgy neurons matter? If not, would we also not care about pain in an intelligent alien species if it’s sufficiently different from us?

      Perhaps as creator-gods we have a fundamentally different moral relationship with virtual beings in contrast to those that naturally occur.

      • Monggerel says:

        Or perhaps we’re all sumbitches.

      • mrbright01 says:

        In theory, all pain is, is a mechanism of avoidance. You know something is painful, you shy away from the pain to avoid the consequence of whatever brought it. If that is the case, every even remotely interesting game, from pac-man’s blue ghosts to the latest cover-taking bullet sponge Terrorist 1138 from any number of current shooters, is a pain simulator. They all seek to avoid pain, and you give it to them with glee.

        You monster.

    • All is Well says:

      That’s a really interesting article, thank you very much for linking to it! I don’t have enough time to read it very thoroughly right now, but after a quick reading it seems that the authors are arguing pretty much the following:
      1. Pain is not identical to an unconscious, neurobiological state or response but is a subjective, private and most of all consciously observed experience or feeling (which is referring to a widely scientifically accepted definition),
      2. The findings regarding fish behavior in certain named studies (for example Sneddon’s) that have been interpreted as responses to pain (and thus evidence that fish do feel pain) are not necessarily indicative of pain, but could be interpreted as nociceptive responses, because these studies rely on methods and definitions that do not adequately account for the distinction between nociception and pain,
      3. The neurology of fish is sufficiently different from our own (most notably they lack a neocortex) to warrant the presumption that fish do not have a consciousness like ours, and even if they did, it would not be sufficiently like ours to assume they feel pain the way we do.
      (please correct me if I’ve interpreted them wrongly or uncharitably)

      As I said this is really interesting and it’s not really a subject I’ve thought a lot about (opting instead to adopt the “benefit of the doubt” attitude that Rose et al seem so dismissive of in the article in regards to practice and a non-scientific, personal experience-based theory about pain in fish), but at a first glance it would seem that this article only invalidates the idea that “[Recreational] fishing is cruel” if the argument is that
      “Fishing is cruel if and only if:
      A) Fish feel pain (the way humans do)
      B) Recreational fishing causes fish to feel pain.”
      The article is mainly a critique of the methodology of certain studies (equating to the proposition “It is not on the basis of studies X, Y & Z scientifically proven that fish do feel pain”) and what positive argument it does supply (“Fish do not feel pain”) is pretty limited in scope. It does not take into account other mental states (fear, anxiety), which could be relevant to a moral judgment on fishing, and it utilizes an anthropocentric concept of pain (which is of course not a shortcoming of the article itself, as it is a review of other studies that have claimed fish feel pain similarly to humans).

      I have to go watch scary movies with my sister now but thank you again for linking!

      • WiggumEsquilax says:

        Or we’ve become unknowable elder gods who use math beyond understanding to cruelly dismiss the suffering of lesser species, even as we inflict it.

        Enjoy your movies!

  4. Krazen says:

    What next, a game about train spotting? However I see they’ve already done that first.

  5. Kollega says:

    Maybe I’m stating the obvious here, but I don’t feel that a fishing simulator can actually work without motion controls, Oculus Rift, and amBX. Plus, ideally it would have to involve cross-country trips as well as actual fishing, because in my eyes getting to the fishing place while taking in the beautiful countryside views is half the fun. And in the perfect-case scenario, it would probably also have an expansion pack where you get to fish in exotic and/or outright fantastic environments, such as the Amazon rainforest, an overgrown part of a humongous steampunk city, or liquid methane lakes of Titan.

    Actually, scratch that nonsense, the only way a fishing game would be truly fun to me is if it had some outrageous extreme scenarios, like angling on alien worlds from the side doors of a futuristic hoverjet, or engaging in intense vehicular combat before you can get to that perfect place on the shore of a serene woodland lake.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      This is an excellent comment.

      • Kollega says:

        Thank you. I’m definitely trying :P

        And for bonus points, everything I said also applies to my views and opinions on golfing simulators. I just wish someone made a golf simulator where burly space marines in full powered armour make shots over lava canyons and drive APCs from one hole to the next while being fired at by hostile aliens. I’m sure Borderlands or Ratchet & Clank could accommodate something like that, no problem.

  6. Martel says:

    I love your description of fishing. I’m also one of those people that fishes in all sorts of games, but more as a side bit. I’m not sure I could bring myself to do it as the only thing in the game unless the walking simulator parts became more fleshed out or something.