Years before I visited Indonesia on a surf trip, I saw videos of the wave at Nias where surfers were speeding through long bottom turns and "schwacking" good hard turns off the lip, three or more hits on every wave.
When I got my chance to go there, I thought, "I want to do that."
After getting there on the trip of a lifetime and surfing for a few days, I was doing the turns just like the surfers were doing in the videos.
It was insane.
But actually, what I found was that I preferred doing a hard turn under the lip and pulling in for a tube ride instead.
Wouldn't it be great to have a video game where you could surf how you like in these different ways?
When making "The Endless Summer Surfing Challenge," I wanted to recreate that kind of real-life surfing feeling in the game.
Controls could be simple, but surfing should be a simulation of how surfing is in real life and allow for a wide variety of surfing styles.
After experimenting with different surfing models, a simplistic approach, using only left and right turning while letting water physics do its thing, provided the most realistic surfing feeling and freedom of expression.
The mechanics are simple.
Small left and right turns let you pump for speed, while big turns let you keep speed; sharp turns like cutbacks and tailslides slow you down, just as expected in real life.
Interaction with the wave is where physics takes effect and realism is achieved.
Get onto a flat area, and you will slow down, but the steepness of a wave will make the board go faster.
This forces you to surf and read the wave the same way you do in real life.
Two Buttons of Stoke
Best of all, you can surf using only two buttons.
Catch the wave - yes, you have to line up, paddle, and catch it - press a button to stand up, turn and ride the wave.
Once up and surfing, you only need to use the left and right buttons to do carving turns, bottom turns, swooping cutbacks, and pump for speed.
Of course, if you want to surf at the level in the Nias story, you will need a way to turn sharper, smack the lip harder, and launch airs.
All of this is accomplished using only one other button.
If you are going sideways, hold the button, and you will cut back sharper. If you are going vertical and want to slide the tail, hold the button.
When you get the speed and want to do an air, hold the button. The longer you hold it, the more the effect.
Why the same button for all these moves?
The reason is that it makes surfing more about reading the wave rather than about memorizing button presses.
When you ride a wave, you need to know if the wave is steep enough to go for an aerial or slide the tail.
On the other hand, if the wave is slow, you need to know to cut back or extend your bottom turn.
And if the wave is running off, pump for speed or do a carving turn.
After a little practice and familiarity with a spot, you may even get to know when you can slash under the lip and pull into a tube ride.
There are a couple of other buttons to use while surfing and paddling, but they are more straightforward and somewhat less often used.
A stall button slows you while surfing for speed control, mainly for tube rides, a bail button to jump off your board, and a duck dive button to get through waves.
And finally, the often-used cheat button will return you to a great spot to take off - you will wish you had that one in real life.
This is a 3D, open-world, physics-based, two-player surfing simulation video game.
At its core, it is a surfing game and has elements of adventure role play and sports with a competitive option.
The game starts with the player on a small tropical island.
They wander around and get information from players and surfers on how to surf, where to go, and what to do.
There is a surf break at the start of the game, an easy beginner wave where the players can learn the controls and get better at surfing.
There are two more surf breaks nearby that are more challenging but still easy, which can be discovered and surfed.
Surfing is physics-based, the waves are constant, and the game gives you a realistic simulation experience of surfing, including paddling out, lining up with waves, paddling for and catching waves, and surfing.
The wave pushes the surfer, the surfer must catch the wave, and players use the energy from the wave and from turning to ride the waves.
The surfing simulation aspects of the game are great for players to experience surfing and give off a really cool surfing feeling as the player progresses at surfing, but the concept of surfing is difficult for beginners to grasp.
Players often have no experience getting or catching waves.
To make it easier, a far away camera view was added so a player can more easily orient themselves.
A cheat button was added to move the player to a great spot to catch a wave, and other surfers were placed at the breaks to know where the waves are breaking and give tips on how to surf and catch waves.
The player still must paddle to get waves, duck dive to get through waves, and get in the right spot to catch a wave.
There is a wave score for each wave - a menu can be called to see the details of the wave score.
It's based on wave size, ride length, wave difficulty, and number of "schwacks," which are how many hard turns you do at the top of the wave.
Keep an eye on wave scores, and you can see how well your score and surfing improve over time.
Your accumulation of wave scores over time is your star score.
Star scores are used on leader boards to post the best surfers of all time for all players to see.
The player can take a jet ski and look for new breaks.
Waves are different at each break, and part of the fun is finding new breaks, learning them, and figuring out the best way to surf them.
There are set waves that break outside the regular waves, fast waves where you have to pump for speed to keep up with them, steep waves, and waves of different sizes.
Check with the surfers at each break for advice, comments, and information.
Tricks such as 360s, aerials, and tube rides, are possible but rely on the physics and wave shape in the game to achieve a trick.
It's especially fun to play with a friend. Two players can play on a split-screen, so they can learn to surf and explore together.
They can surf at the same spot, even on the same wave together, or go separately and explore or surf or watch each other.
They can also initiate a contest and try to beat each other in a contest where the players can set the time and amount of waves that count.
It can be set up like a professional contest where wave scores are calculated, and the best two waves during the time period count toward the final score.
As mentioned above, there is a far away camera view for beginners.
This view allows the player to see further to the sides and more of the wave, so it's easier to play.
As a player improves, there is a regular camera view and a pro camera view.
These views are more difficult to play but allow more precise surfing because you can see the wave better.
The pro cam view is a nearly first-person view that really brings the player into the action.
The camera follows the player at eye level and gives a view that matches the view seen by actual surfers.
The game can be played on PC, Mac, and Xbox.
An Xbox controller can be used, or a keyboard and mouse. Two players can play on a split-screen on a local computer.
On Steam, two players can connect as friends to play two-player remotely.
The ultimate way to play is to have a two-player contest competing against each other to get the best waves.
Have both players use the pro cam so that the players have the most realistic surfing view.
Don't use the "cheat" button. The players should paddle through waves back to the takeoff spots and have to lineup and catch waves themselves.
If you use a setup like this, then you will experience the most realistic surfing experience the game provides, and it's really fun too.
Testimonial Story From An Early Adopter
"I've been surfing for about two years now, and though I feel I am pretty average in ability, I have an occasional moment of surfing glory on a good day.
I consider myself a casual gamer and tried "The Endless Summer Surfing Challenge" surfing video game for the first time last week.
I found it to be a little bit tricky to learn and moved on to the challenge levels a little too early.
After returning to the tutorial level and becoming familiar with the wave catching and turning, I got how the surfing worked in the game and moved on to give the challenge levels another try.
Now I am able to use the wave and pump for speed, do cutbacks, and I got really good at "schwacks," which is what they call off the lips in the game.
My plan is to get really good at surfing before I invite my friends to play two-player contests with me."
About the Developer
I am a long-time surfer from Southern California who has many years of computer experience.
I saw a need for a decent surfing video game and set out to make some waves.
After fiddling around part-time with mobile games while simultaneously trying out some digital wave-making concepts, the universes collided into a computer-generated wave that could be surfed but was a closeout and was not functional on mobile.
After some time tweaking the waves and figuring out the system, a rideable wave efficient enough for a PC was developed, along with lots of foam.
With the extra latitude afforded by a PC game, I decided on an open-world model with jet skis and land accessibility because, as in real life, a surfer cannot live (or play) based on surfing alone.
Therefore, "Search For Surf" was developed into a 3D open-world adventure game.
Later, controller support, wave scoring, and contests were introduced to add even more interest to the game.
Now, it has become a unique surfing game experience pushing the bounds of everyone who plays it.
Words by Ed Marx | Surfer and Developer of "The Endless Summer Surfing Challenge"