Ahoy brave captains and fishermen of Alaskan Waters! We are the development team behind Deadliest Catch: The Game and in this article, we’d like to give you a little sneak peek into our work. That being said, are you ready to step into the wheelhouse of your own ship and set course on the deadly Bearing Sea? Let’s make sail than! And what’s a better thing to start with than the fishing vessel itself?
While playing the game, you’ll become the owner of a crab fishing vessel with all the equipment essential for catching the precious king crabs and bringing them safely to the Dutch Harbor. The design of the ship is based on the boat well-known from the Discovery Channel show - F/V Cornelia Marie. It’s approximately 42 meters long, 10 meters width and 20 meters high (counting to the top of the mast). Let’s take a quick tour of it!
The deck is where the magic happens. Here you can find all the important equipment like the hydraulically lifted crane, empty crab pots, the coiler, the lift, the sorting table, the bait chopper, the fridge for the bait and basket with buoys. The deck is where you will spend most of your in-game time (and we’ll get back here soon). From the deck, you can also access all the other parts of the vessel.
In the storage room, you’ll keep all the additional items that may come in handy. Spare grappling hooks, the hydraulic oil or repair kits to maintain the equipment. Provided, that you remembered to buy it all before leaving the port for the season!
Under the deck, there is the holding tank filled with salt water. That’s where all the crabs suitable for sale are kept while your vessel is at sea. Remember, that you have to deliver the crabs alive, otherwise nobody will buy them and all your hard work will go to waste. But don’t get greedy - there is a limited amount of crabs you can safely fit in the tank. If you allow your vessel to get overburden (and that means the weight of pots, fuel, additional equipment and obviously the caught crabs), it’ll affect the mileage and make steering more difficult.
The wheelhouse allows you to truly take command of your vessel. Literally - from this place you can steer the ship. There are four speed-levels for going forward and one for reverse movement. What’s important, you can set the engine power to the desired level and leave the wheelhouse to drop the pots or sort the caught crabs - the vessel will proceed sailing in the set direction. From the wheelhouse, you can also switch on the map and set course to the previously chosen points in the fast-travel mode.
Finally, you can visit the upper deck. From there you can admire the sight of splendid but treacherous Bering Sea! Take a while to relax here - and when you’re ready, we can get back to the deck and check out all the professional equipment!
Our first stop is the crane. It’s definitely the biggest (and highest) machine you’ll use on your F/V. It is hydraulicly lifted and helps you with moving the empty crab pots from the deck on to the launcher and back. At the end of the crane’s arm, you can see a tire, that prevents the crab pots from getting damaged while being moved by the crane.
With the crab pot set on the launcher, it’s time to prepare it before tossing overboard. First, you’ll need to take the rope with the attached buoys out of the pot (moving it on top of the cage) and place a bait bag inside. The set pot can be thrown into the water with the launcher - it is operated with a lever next to the machine. The crab pot will stay in the water for the next 24-48 hours, luring precious king crabs inside with the delicious bait (delicious to the crabs at least).
But, the said bait needs to get prepared first too. That’s when the fridge and the bait chopper will come in handy. In the fridge standing on the F/V deck, you’ll keep all the blocks of frozen fish that you bought before leaving the Dutch Harbor (they come in many kinds, but that’s a story for another time). You’ll throw those blocks into the grinder - better watch out for hands! - and take out the bait ready to get boxed and placed in the crab pot.
When the pot is full of crabs (or at least you’ll think it is) you’ll need to get it out of the water - and that can get a little complicated. First, you’ll need the throwing hook to get the rope attached to the pot out of the water and in your hands. It’s a moment to test your manual skills, as you’ll have to throw the hook between the buoys and pull it in your direction.
When you’ll get a rope, you should place it on the hauling system. With the crab pot close to the fishing vessel's board, you’ll need to grab it with the picking hook and use the picking boom (again with the pilot) to set the full pot back on the launcher. The launcher can tilt in two directions, so this time it’ll help you with throwing crabs on the automatic sorting table from the pot - so you can look closely at what got caught in your trap. All the big, tasty male crabs go down to the holding tank through the trap door. Uff.
So that’s just a glimpse at your on-deck work, but the Alaskan waters have much, much more challenges to offer! But will you dare to take them up?