An alien ocean, rich with impossible life.
A lone xenobiologist, adrift in a world of secrets.
An AI, waking from a dreamless sleep, ready to guide humanity to a terrible truth.
In a future where humanity's ceaseless consumption has expanded out to encompass the stars, and Earth's last biological life clings to a poisoned planet, In Other Waters tells the story of Ellery Vas, a biologist who stumbles upon extraterrestrial life.
When a routine exoplanet study goes wrong, and her partner Minae Nomura disappears into an alien ocean, Ellery is left with little more than an antiquated diving suit and a strange AI to guide her.
Together they will trace Nomura and dredge up secrets that were meant to be lost forever, beneath these turquoise waves.
// STRETCH GOALS ANNOUNCED //
In Other Waters is a unique exploration game which balances narrative depth and meaningful relationships with a world of intersecting pathways and alien life.
Explore an alien ocean.
Casting you as an Operator AI In Other Waters is structured around an ever-growing, tactile interface. Through this unique mode of interaction you will chart underwater courses, scan environments for vital clues, and navigate this unearthly ocean.
Study new life.
Rather than play as a sci-fi soldier or planetary colonist, In Other Waters gives you the chance to engage with its world through xenobiology. You will assist Ellery in tracking, sampling and studying the planet’s life in order to understand how to navigate its ocean.
Uncover terrible secrets.
As you dive deeper into the ocean of Gliese 677Cc, the bond between you and Ellery will be tested by what you discover. The choices you make, and the way you react to Ellery will change the course of the expedition.
Guest Writers announced!
Greg Buchanan (No Man's Sky: Atlas Rises, Aquanox: Deep Descent)
Danny Salfield Wadeson (Abandon Ship, The Last Night)
Cash DeCuir (Sunless Sea: Zubmariner, Fallen London)
The ocean of In Other Waters forms an interconnected world for you to explore.
Each time time you leave the base camp and descend into the turquoise waters with Ellery you will be faced with a choice. Explore the local area for abandoned tech and resources? Track and study local creatures? Revisit an old area with new upgrades to find new paths? Dive a new zone to move the narrative forward?
Each of these activities will push forward to core objectives of the game: Rebuilding the base camp, cataloguing the planet's life and uncovering the mysterious disappearance of Ellery's dive partner, Minae Nomura.
Upgrades, retrieved from the scattered ruins of the base camp (crippled by a catastrophic event at the start of the game) will be your primary focus, as they grant the suit new abilities, from being able to dive cave networks, to marking creatures with tracking tags.
Cataloguing, meanwhile, rewards those interested in understanding more about the planet, with short narrative quests spinning out from each completed study. Track a scavenger to the vast carcass of a dead leviathan, for example, or use samples of their primary prey to attract a predator.
The game's central narrative is tied to the players progression deeper and deeper into the ocean. New areas will hold revelations about the history of the planet, as well as cast new insight on the time Nomura spent here before Ellery arrived. However, you will want to be well equipped before you attempt to dive into the ocean's depths and investigate the secrets they hold.
Back at base camp, players will be able to add creatures to their study list by logging samples at the lab, and upgrade the suits' oxygen and power capacity with recovered resources. This hub will build out over the course of the game, offering a respite from the pressure and tension of dives.
This structure of free exploration and narrative progression is the core experience of In Other Waters.
As an AI, your role in In Other Waters is unique. Rather than dive the ocean alone, you will be permanently tethered to your pilot, Ellery Vas. She will act as your eyes and hands; describing the world to you and manipulating it directly, while you serve as an extension of her abilities and senses; analysing and studying the environment.
However, this relationship is more than one of convenience, and Ellery, abandoned by her partner Minae Nomura and stranded on a strange planet, will turn to you for support. How you respond to this will change your relationship with Ellery. This isn't just a case of the direct communication you have with Ellery, it also hinges on your abilities as a guide: put Ellery at risk, unthinkingly chart paths for her into danger, or make bad decisions in high-pressure situations and you may lose the trust you have earned.
Beyond this, In Other Waters also explores the idea of symbiosis in a deeper sense. Does this Human/AI relationship point to a new kind of cross species collaboration? When forced to choose between the natural life of the planet and the guiding hands of its human creators, where does the allegiance of an AI lie? How might artificial life be simply the next step of a universe-wide evolutionary chain?
Supporting and standing alongside In Other Waters is the companion book: A Study of Gliese 667Cc.
Charting the initial expeditions the mysterious Minae Nomura performed in secret, it acts both as a prequel to, and a supplement for In Other Waters. Filled with original paintings, sketches and diagrams produced by Nomura, it provides a visual guide to the world that players can explore in the game, as well as expanding on some of the creatures and enviroments players will make contact with. The paintings, sketches, notes and diagrams of A Study of Gliese 667Cc provide another angle on a rich and diverse world.
A Study of Gliese 667Cc is also designed to feed more directly into your experience with In Other Waters, whether that means looking-up sketches of a creature you just discovered, or following a set of cryptic clues from the book to find a hidden cache in-game.
Inspired by the cult work Wayne Barlowe's Expedition, the false histories of Simon Stalenhag's "Loop" and WETA workshop's exceptional The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island, A Study of Gliese 667Cc is not your typical "art of" book but an artefact of the game's world in itself.
And, like the classic reference points it aims to emulate, A Study of Gliese 667Cc will serve to provoke questions, leave enticing gaps and foster leaps of the imagination more than it will aim to explain, describe or otherwise close-down, seal-up and neatly package the strange world of In Other Waters.
Backers of the Complete Edition (Physical), will receive a meticulously designed hardcover copy of A Study of Gliese 667Cc
The final piece of the project is the In Other Waters soundtrack. Intended as a standalone album that sits alongside the sound design and music featured in the game, it is as much a part of evoking the project's world as the game or the companion book.
Composed and produced by Paws Menu, its alien rhythms and flooded soundscapes are a core part of both the experience of playing In Other Waters and the larger world of the book and the game.
As a taste of the work Paws has been doing behind the scenes, all backers over £3 will receive a download of the In Other Waters "Prologue" Ep.
Backers of the Complete Edition (Physical), will receive a CD version of the final soundtrack album complete with unique album art and packaging.
Like the sound of all this?
The alpha version of the In Other Waters Prologue is available for download on PC and Mac right now:
This slice of gameplay introduces the player to the unique interface of the game, and to their pilot Ellery in a linear, narrative prologue. Think of it as an introduction to the game rather than a comprehensive showcase of the mechanics and ideas expressed here.
Earth’s oceans are dead. Vast toxic swathes of open water, broken-up only by “reserves” of mutated fish and fetid phytoplankton farms, they serve as a reminder of what we lost.
When I say we, I mean those of us too poor or marginal to have found a place on one of hundreds of starward colonies, where exoplanets are scoured of resources to fuel the desires of the richest people ever to have lived.
But there is life - I have seen it. Life beyond our fragile frame. I will show you.
- Minae Nomura | Notebook xvii
In the future of In Other Waters, the Earth is undergoing massive environmental change. The acidification of the oceans, toxic and radioactive pollutants, deep sea mining and the destruction of vital food chains have left the planet's sea-life decimated. The oceanic biomes we know now are only preserved within costly, fast-declining "reserves". Slowly being abandoned by those rich enough to head "starward" to join the vast industrial colonies of near systems, Earth is occupied only by those unable to join the exodus. Life continues, in its dull and relentless way, but many see Earth as an abandoned shell from which humanity has now hatched into the universe. And yet, on all these new worlds, around fresh suns, humanity has been unable to find life.
As a Xenobiologist, researching marine-life at Zurich University, Ellery Vas is studying the last dying species of our world-spanning oceans. With terrestrial biology relegated to a mostly theoretical study of limited new adaptations, she barely ekes out a living on teaching marine science and dive training to students who will never set foot in an ocean. She supplements this with corporate-funded studies of exoplanets, which are a legal requirement before these worlds are “harvested” for their resources by deep space mining conglomerates. These studies are little more than a formality, eliminating the possibility of life, and opening up the universe to humanity’s ceaseless, unquenchable expansion.
It is on one of these expeditions, along with her partner Minae Nomura, that Ellery finds herself cast into an alien ocean of impossible life.
This vision of the future came to me in the same year in which the Anthropocene, the new epoch of human influence on the development of the natural world, began the process of being ratified into the geological record. The world of In Other Waters is both a response to these recent events, and part of a need I see to create art that might reflect or comment on the precarious enviromental position we find ourselves in. Images such as the apocalyptic industrial photographs of Edward Burtynsky have entered the public consciousness in a way like never before, and In Other Waters' world comes from that slow then sudden recognition of the harm already done.
However, as many have pointed out, simply replicating an approaching dystopia as a comment on humanity no longer feels like an effective response. And so In Other Waters exists as an exploration of what comes next. At its heart is a proposition that on a supposedly dead planet, in an uninteresting part of the universe that was once a source of wonder, something might grow that leads humanity, and life in general, towards a new epoch of transformation and renewal.
Gareth Damian Martin - Design, Art, Writing, Programming
Hi, I'm Gareth Damian Martin, and I am the creator of In Other Waters.
You might know me as a games journalist, Eurogamer columnist and editor of the games + architecture zine Heterotopias. I was recently nominated for the prestigious New York Game Critics Circle Games Journalism Award and my writing has been described by Arkane Studio's Harvey Smith as "both beautiful and illuminating."
But I'm also a game designer, having worked with the British interactive theatre company Coney in designing and programming narrative games for clients like the Imperial War Museum, and last year with the collective Tower Team Games, I led the design of The Tower at Tortenna, one of the winning entries in the massive Dreamhack Jam.
Outside of this I am a graphic and video designer with a decade of experience working for a huge range of clients from The Lego Company, and NASA to the London Philharmonic Orchestra and New York's Metropolitan Museum.
In Other Waters is a dream project for me, a chance to unite this range of experience into a single cohesive whole. It draws on my love of Metroid Prime and Ecco: Tides of Time, on my bookcases rammed with sci-fi art books and imaginary documents, on my years of writing about and analysing game design and on my passion for sophisticated and meaningful graphic art.
As a game set mostly inside the workings of an AI operated diving suit, and concerned with xenobiology, philosophies of environmental change and the gap between experience and description, it's also very much an outsider in a world of commercially-proven concepts. Kickstarter feels like the only chance to make something like this, and that's why I'm here.
This will be my first commercial game, but with your support I hope it can be the first of many projects that might bring something new to a medium I love.
Michael Berto (AKA Paws Menu) - Music, Sound Design
Hello my name is Michael Berto.
As my musical persona "Paws Menu," I have self-published over 30 records across a whole array of genre, some for games, some for short films and others as more personal, stand-alone releases. I am also a writer, a game designer and I most recently curated and created a virtual art gallery for artists working in the digital mediums called The Zium Museum.
For In Other Waters, I'm at the helm of all things audio, working on creating the sonic soundscape and electronic alien score for your time with the game.
My aim with my approach to the audio of In Other Waters is to create a score that plays like a combination of what an AI may self-synthesise mixed with the sounds of an alien ocean, heard from inside a dive-suit, as we slowly pass through the reefs, and as the aqua-fauna starts to grow around us, sonically and metaphorically.
Zion Siton - Programming
Hi, I'm Zion Siton, and I will be programming on In Other Waters.
By day I’m a client engineer at Plumbee games studio in London and by night I’m an active indie developer (Objective-Z). The last published title I worked on was Swing King and the Temple of Bling where I was the concept owner and lead programmer.
I’m very interested in working on this project as I love the atmosphere and pace of the game. I feel the decision to present this journey through the mind of a symbiotic AI makes for a unique and compelling experience.
Greg Buchanan (No Man's Sky: Atlas Rises, Aquanox: Deep Descent)
Danny Salfield Wadeson (Abandon Ship, The Last Night)
Cash DeCuir (Sunless Sea: Zubmariner, Fallen London)
When I was conceiving of In Other Waters I quickly realised that this was more than an experiment. The ocean of Gliese 667Cc; the relationship between the player's AI and Ellery; the tactile interface; they all needed the space of a full game to grow and develop. However, with a 2-year old daughter, lecturing and freelance work, I couldn't see how it would be possible to make space for such a project in my life, let alone pay for the collaborators I needed. Inspired by the excellent work of my friend (and mentor on this project) Alexis Kennedy (of Sunless Sea and Cultist Simulator), I realised Kickstarter would be the ideal place to fund this project.
I have already invested months of work into this project, in creating the world, planning the game, prototyping and building the demo and painting images for the book. But to take this project further I need investment. The money you contribute will pay for my programmer and composer, fund software licences and cover equipment upgrades, as well as covering some of my living costs so that I can take time away from my other freelance work.
I am also coming to Kickstarter because for In Other Waters is not your average game. It borrows from Metroidvania, text adventures, exploration and survival games, but ultimately fits into no existing genre. It asks players to invest in a world through the limited vision of an AI. It builds a world across a book and a game, looking back to the richness of classic game manuals and strategy guides, while simultaneously looking forward towards new cross-media storytelling.
For all these reasons it requires the belief of an audience, a supportive community and the help of those that share my passion for this game and its world. I came to Kickstarter because that's what I believe I will find here, and I hope you will join me in making something unique.
To begin with, any funding above my goal will go directly towards making the game and book better. More funding will mean more time to polish features, more paintings and sketches in the book, more species to study and more secrets to uncover. I don't want to commit myself to delivering specific features or porting to esoteric platforms because I'd rather use any additional funding to strengthen the core of the project, which means the game and companion book.
However, there are many features of In Other Waters I just can't deliver for our base budget, and below is the full list:
Risks and challenges
The main risks associated with this project reflect the fact that it is almost entirely a one man project. If anything was to happen to me, or my family, delays or issues with the timescale would obviously occur.
Outside of an "act of god" smaller issues arise around my time, and the need for me to continue to earn a freelance living. I have a 2 year-old daughter and have various freelance commitments, so In Other Waters will be a split between a period of part-time prep with more intensive development beginning later in the year. I've accounted for this, and given myself a healthy timescale to complete what is a substantial project.
In addition, I have, in the past decade, delivered multiple projects of different scales for clients from large international bodies to individual arts organisations. I have worked on the project management side of many creative projects and am confident in my ability to realistically schedule and manage the work of others and myself.
I hope to have an honest and clear line of communication with backers. The narrative nature of the project limits me from sharing extensive alpha or beta programs, or unfinished builds, as I wouldn't want to lessen the impact of the final game, but I hope to update you all with progress regularly and hopefully a few surprises too. Having a community around the game is one of the reasons I want to use Kickstarter, so I welcome the challenge of managing it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)