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The world's first underwater Stealth/Trivia cheat-'em-up!
The world's first underwater Stealth/Trivia cheat-'em-up!
989 backers pledged $31,315 to help bring this project to life.

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How to go from shoaling to schooling!

Hey all you back-to-schooners!

It’s the start of a new school year! This can be an incredibly stressful time. To help the new students better acclimate, we here at Sunken Places have three helpful tips:

1. Wear awesome clothes!

Every new student wants to make a good first impression (just ask Ted Kaczynski). First impressions mean a lot, and each year our new crop of crappie fret so. Will I fit in? Will the other students like me? What do you mean there weren’t almonds in your pudding?!? Well here’s a suggestion that’s bound to work--show up wearing an amazing hoodie!

Wow, that hoodie is so cool, it almost makes me stop thinking about how weird the person wearing it looks!
Wow, that hoodie is so cool, it almost makes me stop thinking about how weird the person wearing it looks!

That’s right, it’s the first prototype of the one and only Classroom Aquatic hoodie! Behold its glory! One thing’s for sure, any kid who comes to class wearing the Classroom Aquatic Hoodie will instantly be warmer than the day before. With your Classroom Aquatic hoodie you’ll never have that dream about coming to school naked again (so you can get back to dreaming about everyone else being naked!).

Not ones to rest on our laurels (or anyone else’s laurels for that matter), we’re already designing our next hoodie prototype, which will feature some dramatic changes--overlapping fabrics and stitch patterns, even a zipper. You can see a mockup of our changes here!

It's blue because the picture was taken in the ocean. Also, I might be drowning.
It's blue because the picture was taken in the ocean. Also, I might be drowning.

Coolest-Kid-in-Class tier Kickstarter backers and higher will be receiving a special version of the Classroom Aquatic hoodie—those who have seen it call it the greatest, most revolutionary, single greatest innovation in dolphin outerwear since Starkist started coming in pouches. But don’t the rest of you fret your fins off. You’ll be able to buy it through our online store page once they’re available!

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

As Professor Porpoise once said, there are no stupid questions, only moronic mammals who ask them. But just like in Classroom Aquatic, we here at Sunken Places are always asking questions. “How do the dolphins breath in the school?”, “Should we integrate walking track pads into the game?”, and “Why is Professor Porpoise named Professor Porpoise if he’s not a porpoise?” The answers to those questions are: “There’s a special air bubble in the school”, “No”, and... “Hey, that’s actually a good question!”

Professor Porpoise is getting redesigned to fit in with the rest of the students’ design update, and part of PP’s touch up is to fit properly in the Phocoenidae family of toothed whales.

PP has always had an inflated ego… and now it really shows!
PP has always had an inflated ego… and now it really shows!

 We’re just not sure if he’ll fit into his old chair now.

In addition to his new GQ body and rig, we are updating PP with the rest of the game’s streamlined code. Currently, his new model is being UV’d, which basically means we’ll be able to paint him easier. After that we’ll animate him, give him his voice and add him into the free demo of the game!

3. Teachers are your friends! If all else fails, seek their advice!

Even after you’ve made an amazing first impression with your Classroom Aquatic hoodie, you might still be worried about your grades. Will you succeed in this new school? Is your future on the honor roll or a sushi roll? Will the next Unity update break your build? Fortunately our third teacher, the Career Counselor, will guide you to the right path.

The Career Counsellor and his Cadre of Cronies
The Career Counsellor and his Cadre of Cronies

The Career Counselor always tells students to work smarter rather than harder, and exemplifies this by not working at all! Instead, he gets four enthusiastic (some would say power-hungry) students to do all his work for him--now that’s smart!

By now you’re probably on sensory overload, so we better say adieu (which is French for Sayonara my bichirs!). But don’t wander too far, because we’ve got a huge surprise planned for our next Kickstarter update (like George Clooney huge. Heck, like Mitt Romney huge!). Until then, remember that the bowline knot is the most useful knot when sailing, and yet it's still almost absolutely useless in any other circumstances! So what’s that tell you about sailing, huh?

Wel-clam-ing the New Student Body!


Good tidings, fellow flounders!

It’s graduation day at Classroom Aquatic, and another class of degreed dolphins head out to conquer their kelp beds. So determined, so porpoiseful. And though it's sad to see them go, graduation also means it's time to welcome a new crop of pelagic pupils to Classroom Aquatic: say hello to the new Student Body!

Mmm… they still have that New Dolphin smell!
Mmm… they still have that New Dolphin smell!

These new students have been a huge project for everyone here at Sunken Places (well, 99% of the work was done by our resident master of motionography Mickey Goese, but rest of us provided emotional support! Team effort WOO!). Our new rig is a huge improvement over the old one, and gives Mickey much more control over the movements, poses and even facial expressions of our cetacean students!

Our new rig greatly expands the behavior of the dolphin students. Take Dolph Lundgren here, for example:

While last year’s class was so stoic, so stone-faced, Dolph and this new group of students are far more responsive and reactive to your every move: they become noticeably angrier the longer you stare at them, and they try harder to block their test when they notice you peeking. They even change their behavior depending on their mood!

And, most importantly, they’re even adorable.

In fact, Dolph’s so cute we may be legally obligated to make him into a plushie.
In fact, Dolph’s so cute we may be legally obligated to make him into a plushie.

Turns out this new adorability factor (or cuteness component, if you’re on the metric system) is directly linked to our new art style, which our also adorable resident dolphin designer Adeline Ducker explains:

We wanted our art style to be more reflective of the fantastical and surreal world we have envisioned for Classroom Aquatic, so we worked on creating a student that had exaggerated proportions and a texturing style with bolder shapes and colors. With larger eyes, longer limbs, and a highly articulated mouth, the new student is capable of a much wider range of emotions and produces slightly more of a ‘toon-stretch’ effect when animated. We’re currently reforming the environment and the teachers to match the student design and are excited to be revealing more in the future!

While this incoming class gets settled, our next project is upgrading Professor Porpoise to the new rig to expand his mechanics as well: so when some exchange diver student tries throwing an eraser at him, the reaction will be truly special!

And that’s not all. While Adeline was putting together Professor Porpoise’s new classroom, she was struck-- not by an eraser, but by inspiration! And by the time inspiration was done striking her, she knew how the History and Dolphinities teacher’s room should look. Behold, the drift fruits of her labors:

As you can see, we’ve upgraded Professor Porpoise to the deluxe suite.
As you can see, we’ve upgraded Professor Porpoise to the deluxe suite.

You’ll also see elements of the demo’s current classroom in the new Science and Math classroom, and the Detention Hall (reserved for class clown fish and dolphin delinquents).

We even have some news about platform support. We here at Sunken Places want everyone to be able to enjoy our game; Why? Because we’re givers. But balancing game making with game porting has really slowed development. A little birdfish told us there may soon be an update to Unity’s VR code that will streamline and normalize a lot of the functions. Yay! So, for the time being we’re creating the master build of the game. Once we're finished with our immediate goals, we'll be updating the Steam demo so that you can all check out the new stuff!

TTFN! Until next time, remember to always know where your buddy is during a dive. (If you’re not sure, “In the ocean” is probably a safe bet)

A Coin in the Fish's Mouth!


What’s going on, all you fish-tastic scholastic fanatics!

We just finished celebrating April 15th--tax day, a favorite day of cheaters everywhere! Let's get back to work with a huge progress report on everything we've been working on for Classroom Aquatic!

Professor Porpoise has been stomping (well, swimming, er slithering?) around that dusty old classroom for too long. However, with new funding and grants, he’s got a brand new classroom to patrol, looking for cheaters!

We'll be moving in more of his possessions for you to throw erasers at right away.

Along with a new classroom, we’re excited to welcome a new teacher into the coveted halls of our underwater school. Everyone, meet Dr. Delphinidae!

Delphinidae doesn’t seem happy to meet you.
Delphinidae doesn’t seem happy to meet you.

Dr. Delphinidae will be teaching in the science classroom, which is under construction as we speak. 

On the technical side (which is something Dr. Delphinidae likes), we've created a new way to project test questions to make them more legible (you can’t cheat off what you can’t see). This was done in conjunction with a super-secret new demo. We’ll be releasing details about it soon, but for now just imagine saying “Oh man, this is awesome! And the text is so legible!” over and over while playing our new version of the demo. 

Finally, we’d like to share with you a game mode that didn't make the grade, and was held back from the game: the Anchor Ride. 

I’m already getting a sinking feeling about this.
I’m already getting a sinking feeling about this.

Our original idea was that you would get from your bathysphere to the school by riding on an anchor-- a reference to mermaids sitting on anchors in the classic sailor tattoos. 

That can’t be good for your posture.
That can’t be good for your posture.

Along the way you could snag air bubbles, dodge dangerous debris, all the while trying to get to class on time. Hey, we've all been there! 

The problem was that this level was painful to play--literally! Looking up and down for five minutes straight with an HMD strapped to your face is something no chiropractor would recommend. And it turns out that the mechanic of dodging or hitting stuff as you fell from a distance didn't really mesh with the cheating theme of the game. So we dropped the anchor a safe distance away from our toes. Lorewise, we think you Uber to class. 

Our production is moving forward at a good pace, but it’s clear that we were cheating, or at least dreaming, when we said the full version of the game will be finished by May. Now it looks like Classroom Aquatic could be a snappy Halloween gift, or the stuffing in your turkey. In the meantime, we will be updating the free demo to include our newest classroom, and keep you posted as we develop our new levels! 

That's all for now! Until next time, remember that Conus shells are very beautiful, but incredibly dangerous--the animal inside could sting you, causing full paralysis. So if you have to have one, get your friends to pick it up for you!

A Louvar-ly Update!


Ahoy, all you seafaring swanks! Its Valentine’s Day, and that means spending time with the people you love. That’s why we wanted to spend some time with you, giving you an update about the development of Classroom Aquatic! So come take a peek at the captain’s log and see what routes we’ve been charting.

First off, we’ve completed about three-quarters of the campaign of Classroom Aquatic, and it is more than halfway to being feature complete! Along the way we went through a lot of prototypes for levels that ultimately didn’t make the cut. Some didn’t fit the overall design, weren’t feasible, or simply weren’t fun. Even so, they were instrumental for the development of the game, as they taught us a ton about how to change the core gameplay of Classroom Aquatic, what elements made our game fun, and how to design the flow of the full campaign. Because they taught us so much, we thought it could be both fun and educational (like our game!) to show you videos of some of these prototypes, along with an explanation as to why we ultimately left them out.

Because the game is so modular now, the rest of the levels are easier to implement. However, the remaining levels are also the most complicated, and they require the most rigorous playtesting to make sure they’re fun, engaging, and have lots of obscure references to cool scholastic/oceanic works of fiction. I think we can all agree that a level isn’t a level unless it has at least one item from Waterworld or Welcome Back Kotter.

We also wanted to give our faithful backers an update on their physical rewards: we’re working now with our underwater clothing designers on your awesome swag! We want our clothing line to be too cool for fish school! When people wear most video game based clothing, others usually say “I wanna shove that nerd into a locker”; but when you wear your Classroom Aquatic designer clothing, people will say “I wanna shove that wonderfully dressed nerd with refined taste into a locker!”

Finally, a few points about the development team: we’re doing well making the game. This is the first game we’ve made as a team of professional indie devs, and we’re all happy that we haven’t had too many major meltdowns (although I’ve heard from other developers that a meltdown or two can be cathartic). And while we’re still aiming for a May release, we’ve agreed to continue developing the game until it is release ready--we will serve no game before its time (but I’ll still be bummed if we miss that date so I would appreciate a few tweets of consolation if it happens).

And now, as a special treat, I’d like to show you all a project that our animator, the magical Mickey Goese, has been working on: a new dolphin rig!

It can pat its head. We're still trying to teach it to rub its stomach.
It can pat its head. We're still trying to teach it to rub its stomach.

This baby is going to kick the game up a notch, especially with all the new things students will do in the classroom. Future short-term updates to look forward to include an updated version of the demo with better performance and a Mac build, and a sneak peek at one of the new teachers that you’ll be desperately avoiding the gaze of!

That’s all for now! Until next time, remember that a dive knife is not recommended for beginner divers, despite it being the most awesome gear!

A Holiday Card from Sunken Places!

Season’s greetings, all you merry mariners!

We just scuttled by to say we hope you all have a wonderful holiday spent with those you love, that Manta Claus gets you everything you've asked for, and to always remember to be thankful for those who make your dreams come true-- for us, that’s you. 

From everyone at Sunken Places, happy holidays!