The making of The Catch: Part II - Venues

Click here for - Making of The Catch: PART I

PART II - Venues

In the second part in this series of ‘The Making of The Catch’, we focus on the venues that feature in the game. Why are these lakes chosen, how do you go about making the venues look and feel so realistic? This time we talk to Des O’Connor, the producer of the game to find out more:

The Catch: Carp & Coarse will feature 5 brand new venues for players to enjoy and each one will present different challenges, requiring different skill sets to bring success. That is something that is very important to us – each venue needs to have its own appeal so that the player will want to fish on each one.

The 5 venues that feature in The Catch: Carp & Coarse are Oxlease Lake from the Linear Fisheries complex – a licensed venue and famous for its carp. The mighty River Ebro – we have done a section of this river near Fayon, at the foot of the Catalonian mountains and features the famous sunken church. The Ebro is obviously a famous fishing holiday destination known for huge catfish as well as some very big carp and you can expect to find them in-game!

Our third venue is Rotterdam – it is the Nieuwe Maas river that flows through central Rotterdam and allows us to offer a really cool urban setting. The idea of this venue is to focus on the ever increasingly popular street fishing – the accessibility of a venue where you can fish mobile and fish in an environment that goes against the grain of most conceptions. Fourthly, Pearl Lake is a fictional venue set in Malaysia that is home to exotic monsters such as arapaima, giant wolf fish and redtail catfish. This is a bucket list resort style venue where you can fish for species you wouldn’t normally be able to. Finally, we have Loch Mickle, another fictional venue based on the open and wild loch’s found in Scotland. This venue allows you to spin for species such as salmon and trout as well as containing carp and pike. As this is such a wild and expansive venue, you can always expect a surprise or two in what is in there and how big they are!

So how do we go about making these venues? I’ll focus primarily on Oxlease lake as this is our licensed venue and the most known to Total Carp readers. However, to summarise for the other venues in the game, if it is fictional, we take inspiration from public / wild waters that we can tweak to make idyllic for the game. Ideally, we will visit every venue that we make but that is not always possible, so we also use a mixture of lakebed maps, satellite imagery and online reference to make the venues as realistic as possible.

(Above) An aerial view of the digital Oxlease Lake.

To make Oxlease lake, we started off by walking the venue and taking 1000’s of photos and lots of video footage whilst not disturbing the anglers! We stand in a swim and take 360-degree shots – each swim needs to replicate the view you have from it as closely as possible. We also take shots of things you may not think about such as the ground (does the swim have gravel, bark or natural?) and any standout fauna / plants in that swim. Once all this has been collated, we start to digitally recreate the lake focussing initially on the general shape and size and then the surrounding environment that we are going to build as well. This includes the depth of the lake – Oxlease has an average depth of around 12 to 13ft but there are deeper and shallower spots – we need to replicate that.

(Above) Plotting the explorable areas of Oxlease Lake.

We then start to map out and build the swims on the lake, again making this as realistic as possible. The key for us here is to make sure that the swim is in the correct position on the lake and covers the area of water it would do in real life – the acid test is asking a member of Linear to stand in one of the swims in game and tell us which one it is but more on that shortly! The next phase is to then landscape the venue in terms of significant trees and or buildings that you can see around the venue. It would be impossible to place every single tree, bush or plant like for like but all significant landmarks need to be included. If you are in a swim in real life and use a predominant tree in the distance as a reference point, you need to be able to do that in the game and if there is a particular cluster of trees or a tree recognised for its shape (or on a venue such as Manor Farm at Linear, fallen into the water) then that needs to be included as well.

(Above) Building the landscape around the lake

Finally, we build further back from the lake – these are areas that the player can see but will not be able to interact with or explore as such so although still important and need to be in-line with the type of tress and vegetation found at the venue, we will place rows of trees together or add rows of hedges rather than place individual assets so specifically. When this is done, we then send to Linear for approval as it is obviously vital that they are happy with how we have represented their venue and realism is vital for us. As I touched on before, the acid test is to ‘walk the lake’ digitally, getting Chris and his team to stand in each swim and check they are happy with it all. On one occasion, Ian Roper walked into the office and said, ‘that’s swim 27’! At that stage, you know that the lake is an accurate representation!

(Above) The swims contain all the same major landmarks as they do in real life, both on the bank and underwater.

The final job once the lake has been built is to populate it with fish and create an accurate lake-bed surface. If you are in swim 10 and there is a predominant gravel bar at 30 yards out – the game needs to have that same gravel bar in it as well. The stock of Oxlease is well known and therefore we replicate that – in real life there are approximately 1200 mirror carp in the lake, so we stock the lake with 1200 carp as well. The most famous fish in the lake is ‘The Big Common’ so we also replicate and put ‘The Big Common’ in-game as well. In fact, we go into huge detail with our fish, how we make them, replicate stock and create ‘boss fish’ for players to try to catch and we will cover this in the next article!

Click here for - Making of The Catch: PART III - boss fish

(Above) Adding food ‘points of interest’ to the lake where you may find fish on a more regular basis.