King Crab Season One (Career Abandoned)

Sometime yesterday I jumped over to my Windows XP gaming rig and when there I started a fresh career in Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm by developer Liquid Dragon Studios and designer Greenwave Games. The game was released in the summer of 2008; however I did not stumble across it until some three years later. After spending a ton of time in this life simulation, I hung it up out of frustration.

That frustration was/is born from the absolute monotony of the game: I have never been (and never will be) a Bering Sea fisherman, however if the show is even the slightest indication of how things go along in a day-in day-out basis, then this game fairly nails it. Completing just a single season of King Crab or Opilio Crab can take several hours of game play even if cruising in “Fast Time” to your next string.

People would either love or hate this type of simulation: that is probably why it has such a poor rating on websites such as Metacritic(56). To make it through a single season, you should plan to set aside about five hours gaming time (that is no joke either). A season is best played in chunks, saving frequently and then getting up to realize you have a wife and a cat hanging around somewhere in the other room. The game can suck you into it that bad.

Below is a high-level survey of a King Crab season from the first year with a freshly hired crew, not a pot-by-pot summary of how much crab was caught. Hopefully I can cull the 112 screen shots I took with FRAPS to a reasonable set of ten or less so I don’t lose everyone’s attention (if I have not already). The intent of my foray into Dutch Harbor was to sniff this game out for its after-action reporting potential. It is a deep simulation (no, really it is) which captures crew morale, mechanical breakdowns and repairs and even luck.

From my frantic scribbling of the crab count of each pot on a notebook (just like Sig does it on the show), I tallied a total haul of 3,130 crab for a total weight (when I offloaded at Akutan) of 99,814 lbs. I also had dead loss of 10,785 lbs. a loss of almost 11% of my haul. I would suspect (if modeled correctly in the game) that this was when I was riding some violent swells and had waves coming over the wheelhouse.

The Crew Share was $105,104 off of Money Earned of $404,249. However I incurred $20,000 in fines because I forgot that I had to wait for the start of the season and started dropping pots immediately. The Profits recorded was $279,144, a lot until you see how much season-after-season in harbor repairs cost. That and the costs to put fuel and bait on board can suck up a huge payday in a previous season quite fast.


Sig Hansen and the Northwestern play a prominent role in the game.


I start with the Bering Star, a 108 foot 150 pot and 175K tank capacity fishing vessel which affords me an opening budget of $60K for the King Crab season which opens November 6. After hiring a crew (notables that were available were from the show on this career start were Josh, Nick, Norman, Matt and Jake).


Piloting the boat out of Dutch Harbor and into the Bering Sea.


The view from the plotter, where a great deal of time is spent in the game. The orange dots represent the strings I plan to drop over the heavy red areas (crab locations according to the survey done prior to the season start). Each of these strings represents five dropped pots, which in the game world is actually 25 pots.


Buster was a problem all season (bitching and moaning, resting while others were working and missing a lot of hook throws) but I should have listened to him here and waited.


The game features some rather good lighting and shadow effects.


Keeping up with the crew ratings (the red bar is health and the yellow bar is morale) is crucial in this game, especially if you have a weak boat which requires a crew to be on their feet. This is actually a fairly involved dialog in the personnel management side of the simulation and is done to good effect without being overblown.


Oh...


...shellfish!!!


There are multiple mechanical breakdowns modeled in the game, some of which can stop work on deck while the issue is resolved. Selecting a skilled engineer at the dock before departing is a critical choice to be made (and skilled ones are well worth their share). A weak engineer may not be able to get the job done in a timely fashion (or at all), and as injuries are modeled in the game, if your engineer is injured (and out for the season), you may have to limp back into harbor for repairs.


The concept of radio fishing is modeled in the game as well, and it is purely your choice how to respond. Although I played this game through many seasons (I actually kept an Excel spreadsheet to track my 1.7 million pounds caught and $4.4 million dollars earned: I know, sick right?) I never noticed how this positively or negatively affected my requests for information.


118 keepers is the highest amount of King Crab that I caught in a single pot during this season, and I hit that number on two pots (my average was 92 keepers).


The Department of Fish and Game notification that fishing will officially close in 24 hours. Note that the time is Saturday, November 10 at 9:41 AM. The scenario began on November 6 and the season officially began on November 7 at 9:37 AM, so that is effectively only 96 hours of fishing.

That is not a great deal of time to do any prospect fishing. The ideal soak (in my opinion) is 24-36 hours, and to reset for another 24-36 hours if I am “on the crab”. Having played this game a ton, I can say that these short seasons are consistent, which does not model well in the game the tactic of prospecting.


Injuries however are modeled well and are not overblown either: in this case, Josh (from the Cornelia Marie) goes down on deck and is injured badly enough that he is out for the remainder of the season. In this screen capture, Norman (who I recruited back in port as a deckhand and a medic) is taken out of the work rotation as he assists Josh to his rack.

After a short period of time Norman returns to the deck and the crew must modify their routine to account for the missing shipmate, and as a result the pace slows down considerably.


Crew management again: noticing that Buster’s Health Meter is at zero, I ask how it is going and he requests a break. Although I am already down one quality crewman in Josh, I decide to let Buster hit the rack (instead of collapsing and hitting the deck). This back and forth occurred twice in only 72 hours, so along with his miserable hook throwing ability I would consider releasing him once back at the pier.


Buster asleep in his rack (again) as the remaining Josh-less crew turn and burn on the crab. Note that the picture of deckhand Roxanne has changed from the pretty smile to a tired, listless sole. This is one of the nice features of the game in that they have several face shots of each crewperson to go with the physiological state they are presently in (with the sole exception of Norman whose picture never seems to change).


DFG announces the season is officially closed at 9:41 AM on November 11. If I were to have any pot in the water, I would be fined for fishing out of season. This sadly is modeled automatically in the game, and is an area where if the game were ever to be modified or made again by a developer would be great to explore: pirate fishing.

Instead of nailing the player at season end, fine them only if caught by the Coast Guard or DFG.


Instead of heading into Dutch Harbor, I head to Akutan to offload my haul as the plotter information indicated there was only one ship in line at that time. By the time I arrive and dock, there are three ships ahead of me, and the time spent could (the game tutorials claim this is modeled) increases my dead loss.


The end of season after-action report: I am notified of illegally fishing out of season (I dropped pots before the season began and the game automatically nails me for that). It is at this point I notice that the ship I had selected, the Bering Star is not on the leaderboard. Actually it is there, at the top named the Polar Bear.

That is a vessel I created for the game last year and it is still somewhere in the files of the game folder. If I proceed to play this game on a monthly basis and make AAR postings of my Bering Sea adventures, then I am going to want to fix that so that the season end AAR shows the ship name properly.

A quarter million dollars is a great reward for less than a week of fishing and only filling 57% of my total tank capacity.

For those that are interested, this is what I pulled out of the Bering Sea:
  • String One (the illegal one): 37/37/42/38/39/38
  • String Two: 110/113/109/102/107
  • String Three: 95/90/109/106/113
  • String Four: 110/118/109/0/109
  • String Five: 118/110/111/111/107/113
  • String Six: 117/100/109/98/102/110/93

The zero pulled on pot set four of string four is because I ran over the buoys and cut the line, and the pot was lost.

Keep in mind that each pot set is representative of five pots in the game.

6 comments:

  1. Interesting. I would never think to play this myself, but I'm fascinated that there are so many simulations today of things like this. It sounds like it's a pretty decent sim, too, or at least close to the TV show.

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  2. It is a great game when taken in small doses: without moderation it can quickly burn a gamer out.

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  3. This post is only two days old at this point and already it is the most popular post for the entire month, having received twice as many page views as any other post.

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  4. Do you have any idea if they plan on making a new Alaskan Storm 2 because the new game by Discovery and Crave/Doubletap studios is horrible I think im the only person in the world that bought it???

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  5. Hi Chris, I do not think they will make another DC game for computers or consoles. The developer of the first game, Liquid Dragon Studios dropped all support for Alaskan Storm a couple of years ago and the popularity of the show currently does not support another company going out and redoing it (considering the first game received such mixed reviews). I am still going to be covering my career effort with the first game on this blog, although when moving profiles from my old XP machine to my new W7 machine they became corrupted necessitating my starting over.

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  6. This campaign was abandoned due to the files being lost during a system upgrade.

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