Too busy. Too tired. Too expensive. These days it’s all too easy to come up with an excuse not to find time to enjoy one’s hobbies.
Here in Finland it would appear as if the locals have an even bigger obstacle to overcome than most, in the shape of the Arctic winter. But, in a surprising twist, weather conditions actually rarely deter Finns from getting out and about year-round.
This even extends to local fishing enthusiasts, who aren’t put off by the annual coating of ice that forms between them and their prey. Armed with warm clothes, a seat and – most importantly – a drill, once a hole has been bored, one needs only drop their line to tempt the smorgasbord swimming below.
So, if this sounds like the perfect way to spend your free time, what can you do if your local climate doesn’t facilitate perching atop of a frozen surface?
“Fishing games are pretty popular everywhere, basically, on all platforms,” explains Lasse Liljedahl, CEO of Tampere-based games developer Iceflake Studios. “But there haven’t really been many ice fishing games around.”
Until now, that is. The company’s Ice Lakes gives gamers the choice of dozens of locations to try their luck in. Upon settling on a suitable spot, it’s time to drill down, with the game switching to first-person mode.
“You can select from almost 100 pieces of equipment, and take into account depths, weather conditions and time of day,” Liljedahl explains. “One important factor is also how you move the rod. It’s a complex system how each fish can be caught, as each species reacts differently.”
Although at first glance Ice Lakes may seem to be something of a niche title, the game has managed to attract some widespread interest.
“There have been lots of players from more exotic locations, like Japan, China, Spain and Brazil,” Liljedahl says. “We didn’t expect it would be so successful. It’s fun to see that some players know how to do ice fishing, even though there is no ice or snow in wintertime in their area.”
This knowhow now looks like expanding even further, with Iceflake Studios recently launching a new North American-centred update.
“We are adding fishing cabins where you can go inside and fish in warm conditions,” Liljedahl outlines. “There are also more fish species familiar to the US and Canada and new maps concentrated on that side of the globe.”
The updates aren’t set to end there, with Liljedahl hinting that possibilities for summer ice fishing may also arrive in future.
Ice Lakes’ recent popularity doesn’t mean that Iceflake Studios itself is an overnight success – far from it. In fact, the studio has created a total of 15 titles since 2007. Reaching over 25 million players worldwide already with mobile games such as Premium Pool and Pirates Don’t Run, Ice Lakes is the studio’s first PC release.
This doesn’t mean that the six-man team has now shifted focus solely to PC from now on, however.
“Our first console title will be released in the near future,” Liljedahl says. “Ice Lakes is also coming on mobile, and you will be able to play a multiplayer game on mobile against PCs. [Snooker game] Premium Pool was first released on Steam, and it’s actually now also on mobile; iOS and Android users can play against other devices.”
Removing such restrictions between players is part of the company’s cross platform plan for each release.
“This is something that not many companies are doing at moment,” Liljedahl outlines. “We are at the forefront of technology in the game business.”