Introducing Crab God

If you’ve been following us for a while, you would know that last year, we started developing an original game - Crab God. We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes, but it was time to post an update and let everyone know the story behind the Crab.

So, let’s start with the what - Crab God is an atmospheric underwater strategy game where you nurture a quirky family of Crablings and breathe life into your underwater domain. 

As the guardian of the abyss, you must defend the egg of the next crab god, cultivate enough food to sustain it and migrate to deeper waters where it will hatch and become the new ocean caretaker. Your colony of Crablings will build mighty coral reefs, protect against threats, and collect food for the journey ahead. As you progress, you'll get access to new flora and learn what to combine to attract other ocean inhabitants and create a diverse and healthy ecosystem.

Watch your Crablings develop unique abilities and personalities as they grow bigger and stronger. However, be wary, as the deeper you dive, the greater the dangers to your colony. If the Crab God's egg is harmed, your colony must return to the shallows to attempt another migration.

While caring for their reef, players will aid real-life conservation efforts via Working alongside various environmental charities, Crab God allows players to feel joy and accomplishment as they progress, converting in-game actions into tree planting, ocean cleaning, reef restoration, and more.

The splash screen of upcoming game Crab God

In the Beginning

We started developing the game in early 2023 and have taken it to various local and international showcases, such as GDC, Gamescom, and SXSW Sydney, to test the game and get some feedback (and potentially snag a publisher… more on that later!)

But where did the idea for a crab strategy game come from? Our co-founders - Nico, James and Will, have spent countless hours playing all manner of strategy games. Our Executive Creative Director Nico said, “Growing up, I was always drawn to games that fused simulation and strategy elements in interesting ways... Playing games within the loosely defined God Game genre, such as Creatures, Majesty, and Black and White, were some of my formative experiences playing games... When we decided to start work on our next game, the conversation eventually landed on - hey, let's make a modern god game where you can shape an ecosystem”.

An early screenshot of the game Crab God by Chaos Theory Games
A screenshot of a very early version of the game

Chaos Theory strives to create games that cause a lasting impact. Most games we create fit under the “Transformational Games” tag. Our other co-founder and Managing Director, James, said, “When creating the original idea for Crab God, we knew we wanted to tackle an environmental conservation topic. We have always said that if we can make a game about anything, why not make it about something meaningful? Most of our games focus on some impact objective, and we have a particular passion for coral reef conservation...

And that’s roughly how Crab God was born! We want to create a cute, spooky, engaging and stimulating game that positively impacts the world. 

The Journey So Far

Everyone knows that games take years to develop, requiring thousands of hours from dedicated teams of devs. Some games take months, if not years, to get into players' hands (e.g. Spore with an 8-year development period). Even though we’ve been in development for over a year, we’re technically still only in the ‘Beta’ phase, where the game’s key systems and core loop have been defined, but there’s still a lot of content to create and polish to do before it’s ready for launch. We are currently running playtesting sessions to collect feedback and refine the game as we build the remaining levels.

A mockup of a UI screen in Crab God the game
Proposed UI changes after running external playtests

If you are curious to know more about the process of game development or some of the tools we use when building transformational games, we have previously created a few blogs:

The Basics of Game Development

Intro to Making Games Using the Transformational Framework

Create Games that Solve Problems: A Free eBook 

Let’s focus on how much love and thought went into Crab God. A couple of initial stages deserve some focus - Vision and Innovation. 

Ideating Crab God 

Now, to the all-important question: what was the vision behind Crab God? We knew we were making an ocean game from the get-go; our co-founders have a fascination with ocean life because of how unique and alien a lot of it is. Fun fact of the day - Mantis Shrimp can strike so fast that it generates a shock wave and even produces temperatures as hot as the sun's surface! And hailing from Australia, which has some of the most ecologically diverse oceans, this theme was a no-brainer. 

The reason for picking a crab as our god was more nuanced but also so obvious. Nico has this to say about the process, “Our initial inspiration came from our love for god games and strategy games and the desire to create something unique within the genre. We're also nature enthusiasts, particularly fascinated by coral reefs and the incredible life they host. Crabs, the ultimate lifeforms with weird and wonderful traits, became the obvious choice for our central characters. We believed that by combining elements from god games and strategy games with the fascinating world of crabs, we could create an engrossing game that captures the wonders of the natural world.”. 

Don’t believe us on crabs being the ultimate life form? Have you ever heard of carcinisation? Check out this video

In simple terms, carcinisation is where some creatures decide to evolve into crabs, even when they come from different species. It's like ten legs and two hands are the ultimate combo for surviving in the ocean and climbing to the top of the animal kingdom...

Thus, the internet crowned crabs the ultimate meme lifeform, and an oddly wonderful crab subculture was born. Because, come on, who wouldn’t love these adorable creatures?

A funny crab meme featuring characters from Crab God

And it's more than just memes; crabs are in the gaming zeitgeist now, with multiple crab games suddenly announced quickly. , 

At the recent inaugural South by Southwest convention in Sydney, there was a dedicated game event for crab games, and Crab God was nominated for “Best Crab” in the award ceremony! People just can’t get enough of these creatures, and it shows with the continued popularity of becoming a crab.

Impact-Focused Game Design

Having a positive impact on our games is essential to our team, and we wanted to do something special with Crab God. We utilised two UN Sustainable Development Goals while setting our impact objectives - Climate Action and Life Below Water.

A mock UI of a challenge complete screen from the game, Crab God
Proposed splash screen for eco-reward challenges

How did these goals influence our game design? Our co-founder James shared some insight on it, “We wanted to put a percentage of the game’s revenue towards conservation efforts, but we wanted to do this in a way that engages players. In Crab God, in-game achievements translate into real-world conservation actions. Players can be directly responsible for cleaning ocean plastic, preserving ocean habitat, and saving baby sea turtles!.”

Creative Spotlight

We have focused on creating compelling visuals and immersive audio from Day 1. We want people to instantly fall in love with Crab God and connect with the Crablings as they dive into this world. Our art team pulled together a fantastic board with inspirations from other ocean-themed games like Abzu and Subnautica. Creative Lead, Jennyfer shared with us, “We also particularly liked the restrained colour palettes and lush plantlife in the art for games like Astroneer and No Man's Sky and drew on those for inspiration since we wanted to steer away from a consistently traditionally blue-washed ocean screen throughout the entire game.”. 

As for the design of our key character, the Crab God, Jennyfer said, “We wanted something undeniably a big a** crab but also grand and godly. Unearthly and eldritch, but more like an approachable, loving matriarch than something tentacly that crawled out of R'lyeh. There was a lot of googling of cool crabs and temples - we included elements of religious architecture in her design and leaned into symmetry to emphasise divinity.”

One of the first art mockups of the game environment

Elric, one of the designers working on Crab God, added, “I'm grateful that Chaos Theory has such an incredible team. Through Crab God's many iterations, we've adopted ideas and inspirations from every part of the team. Making games is incredibly collaborative; there's so much value in every single contributor, and as a designer, I try my hardest to actively seek out and test ideas from everyone and be inspired by all their unique perspectives and experiences.”

Crab God partners with Firesquid! and is….coming soon!

We are thrilled to announce that Firesquid has joined the Crab God team and will support the project. You can read more about the partnership here. [LINK] 

We aim to launch the game in mid-2024 and will have more exciting updates soon!

Chaos Theory Games and publisher Firesquid come together to release Crab God

Crab God is available NOW to wishlist on Steam.

You can follow the crablings on socials:

We cannot wait for you all to enjoy the bizarre wonder of our game!