"In my opinion, Freakwave kickstarted the spinoff community as it exists today." - MagDump -
The United States is in Darkness. The crucible of civilization lies in the sewers of Old York, where the CDF has established a Central Town for their growing faction. According to legend, the West, which was largely flooded over and left in the dust of the old world, still has some survivors. 1999. One of the CDF's scouting parties contacts the stranded residents of Seattle. Their world is not like the civilization the CDF is used to...
After The Flash: Freakwave is a spinoff of After the Flash: Darkness, released in 2019 after a short development period by ZeroClarkThirty, mauscop, WrathofNeonBlue, r_aidmaster, and a myriad of other developers. The game takes place in 1999, following Seattle's survivors, who, adapted to their new dark environment, live on the floating buildings and pieces of land that make up the remains of Seattle. The oceans have risen due to the nuclear apocalypse, and in turn, there is very little land left for the remnants to fight over. The game's central conflict involves the arrival of the CDF after 30 years of radio silence.
The spinoff is set in the same alternate timeline as After The Flash: Darkness. Elements that are not elaborated on in ATF4's lore that are explored in Freakwave include the state of the Western United States, the existence of SEALs, and the nature of the eternal, oppressive darkness that defines the alternate universe. Some elements of Freakwave break ATF4's lore entirely, such as the existence of the CDF and their rule over New York City, which has been retconned in recent updates. The inclusion of this seemingly erroneous element is a farcical reference to ZeroClarkThirty's own experience playing ATF4 and mistakenly thinking the CDF were present due to a CDF logo being displayed prominently in Central Town's entrance.
ZeroClarkThirty (now fireclark) began writing After The Flash: Freakwave in 2015, shortly after abandoning his first spinoff project, After The Flash: Sunrise, which would have been set in Colorado in the main ATF timeline. Upwards of ten iterations of the lore were drafted before a copy written in early 2019 became popular, leading to development on the game starting in May of 2019, with Clark and WrathofNeonBlue heading the project initially. Mauscop was added as a project co-head early in development due to his experience in factions and other spinoff projects, with Magdump and WrathofNeonBlue providing a primary hand in building, while r_aidmaster was taken on as the sole scripter for the game.
The style of the game can be described as a retro vision of an ATF4 spinoff. Several elements of the style remain consistent with ATF4, such as the appearance of much of the scrap walling, but other elements have been modernized. ZeroClarkThirty was insistent on maintaining this style in the game so that he could actively participate in development, and several locations in the game were built entirely by him despite his relative inexperience with Roblox Studio. Some elements of the game were built to impress, such as the recreation of the Space Needle or Pike Place, but others serve only functional purposes, like an underwater police station or a low-poly island lined with tanks.
ATF: Freakwave had a fairly unstable and short development cycle. The mission statement from Clark was simply to 'have a completed spinoff'- the game went through over a dozen developers in its three-month development period. The status of the game's completion is a debated topic. The founder of the project, ZeroClarkThirty, assures that 'everything I wanted in the game is in it, so it's as finished as a spinoff has ever been' shortly after its launch in August of 2019. However, several areas of the game appear unfinished, such as the existence of a vestigial "Morph" section of the character selection GUI, despite the fact that the only morph ever implemented was a step-on Submariner morph.
"It baffles me that we put out this game in three months. The development of this game was an adventure. I hope this game is an adventure for you too, and the same goes for the rest of our games in the future. I hope that you all continue following CQ into it’s endeavours post freakwave, as we have many things we wish to show you all and have you experience." - Mauscop on release day
Release and Lifespan
After The Flash: Freakwave was announced to be complete on August 16, 2019. At that point, the community was fairly large and the spinoff was anticipated by many. ZeroClarkThirty and others pined for Freakwave to be taken into consideration as an adequately complete spinoff in order to grant Clark and other developers the "Spinoff Master" rank, but Flashstorm's developers passed the game off due to its rushed development, elements that were perceived as incomplete, and general lack of fidelity. Upon launch, the game saw some initial success, but due to the the haphazard nature of hosts, the difficulty of traversing the map, and the relatively low density of locations worth exploring, the game saw a massive drop in player engagement after a very limited number of startups. Less than a month after release day, it was announced in the CQ Studios discord that the game would not see continued development.
"Freakwave was put together very haphazardly over the course of a few months. It started as some cool lore that I wrote, and, obviously, I had no idea how to run a development team when things started out, but now it’s finished (to the extent we were able to do so). In truth, it’s more than I ever expected it to be in terms of what we actually got done, but the end result was fairly disappointing. We wanted it to be big- turns out we didn’t have the right ideas in mind. Developing Freakwave taught us a lot about how we should create roleplay games and run a community, and we want to move forwards now that we’ve learned those things." - ZeroClarkThirty in a post-mortem of Freakwave's development
A revival of sorts took place after ZeroClarkThirty's mid-2020 departure from the project. Magdump was committed to reforming the community and giving factions a larger role in the game, encouraging them to host roleplays in their official Discords. The game has still seen limited success, but as of March 2021, the CQ Studios server has over 500 members and regular startups.
In March 2021, hostile interactions between Freakwave staff and a CDF representative caused the CDF to be totally removed from the game. Around the same time, the Entente and GCSA also removed themselves, leaving no lore factions in the game.
Pike Place: A fragment of the remaining world, which is inhabited by raiders and used as a ground for killing. The majority of the market is underwater, but the iconic sign remains.
Edgewater: Arguably the most important and pivotal location in the game's short timespan, Edgewater is a small, rusted out set of boats floating in the Seattle waters. This location was the primary location of the few ATF:FW startups. This location was destroyed in a lore event, and was removed from the teleport menu, but can still be found ingame.
North Admiral: Remnants of two office buildings. In lore, was inhabited by the CDF and used as an operating base. CDF hosted a few roleplays in the area as well as exploring the larger city before pulling out of the game.
Solidarity Commune: Three massive towers with some included interiors. Most notably, this is where the developers hid small tidbits of information about themselves inside of one of the interior office areas. Added later in development.
Comet Hill: A set of several flooded out skyscrapers, with the Seattle Needle still prominently on display.
U.S.S. Arising: A military ship. Never saw usage ingame.
Roe Market: A relatively large market area, placed on top of a sky scraper along with a few remaining buildings near it.
Oil Rig: A defunct oil rig, intended for use by the Entente, an Enclave-like faction representing the remaining US armed forces, before they pulled out of Freakwave.
CDF: The CDF, widely controlling most of the remaining United States, sent a small scouting party out to the Seattle area. The game's central conflict was intended to revolve around the civilian population's frustration with the CDF's unwillingness to communicate with them for 30 years followed by their attempts to annex Seattle.
Comet Hill: Aggressive defenders of their land, they tend to trade with the survivors in Edge Water and have constant skirmished with the Pike Place raiders. Comet Hill's origins lie in a sketch by ZeroClarkThirty of an aquatic SEAL. The Submariner suit was implemented early on in the game's story, but the existence of SEALs was retconned in newer lore.
Edgewater: As the producers of most of the area's food, they are left relatively untouched as they leave themselves to a peaceful life of farming and scavenging in the flooded wastes.
Patriots: Remnants of the Pike Place area, they are nationalistic raiders who see themselves as the only faction ready to take control of Seattle. The in-character leader of the faction was a charismatic warlord named Leon Perry with a mysterious past, and was voiced by Reeshaug in radio transmissions recorded as game teasers.
Juno: One of the first elements conceived for Freakwave was the existence of an enigmatic group of ACMF remnants. Juno kickstarted Freakwave's short-lived story.
- The primary scripter for the game, r_aidmaster, was recruited by another member of the community, Yognaught05120, who walked up to r_aidmaster in the middle of their class transition in real life and suggested that r_aidmaster work to create ATF Freakwave.
- R_aidmaster's previous scripting experience lead him to create a high-fidelity roleplay gun system for Freakwave that included animations for lowering, running, reloading, bolting, and crouching, bullet impacts that left different marks depending on the material, and even a realistic reloading system that changed time intervals of reloads based on how many bullets remained in a magazine. Despite this, few guns were included in the game, including only one sidearm, a revolver.
- Freakwave's opening screen's soundtrack is a pitched-down instrumental of Plastic Beach by the Gorillaz.
- Freakwave was conceived at first as being set in a Waterworld-like apocalypse, but Clark's inexperience with Roblox Studio led him to plan the game around having a more cohesive and classic map.
- A reference to the Seattle-set American teen sitcom iCarly is present in the South Lake section of Freakwave's map, made up of a recreation of a portion of the set by Clark hidden in a building. Somewhere on the map, the lyrics to the show's opening crawl are also scrawled in graffiti.
- In brainstorming calls between the heads of the studio, Clark and Quincy, several sequels to Freakwave would be planned, including a game with a huge scope planned to be set in Kyoto, Japan. Several of the ideas born in these conversations have carried on and dispersed among the spinoff community.
- The game's lore went through a major revamp in late 2020 with Magdump's reorganization of the entire project. Initially, Clark had intended for Freakwave to stick closer to the ATF4 lore, with no stated existence of US Military remnants, but factions are abound in America in the updated lore.
- A cornerstone of Clark's lore is an emphasis on a single word in the entire document. For Freakwave, the word was darkness, intended to reflect on the tone of the game and indicate a connection between the spinoff and ATF4. The inclusion of a single bolded word has come to be much reviled by the community, but it was transferred over into the lore revamp.
In late 2019, work was started on a second spinoff by CQ Studios separated entirely from Freakwave, named Sundark. Sundark was conceived to take place in Colorado with almost entirely unique factions and a horse riding mechanic. Ultimately, this project was abandoned in favor of a sequel to Freakwave, which was to be titled Freakwave II and take place in 2020, 21 years after the original. Several teasers were released in early 2020, but progress on Freakwave II was stagnant, and in May of that year, ZeroClarkThirty threw in the hat and announced his retirement from CQ Studios and ATF as a whole.
Shortly after ZeroClarkThirty's departure, what remained of CQ Studios was salvaged by Magdump, who began work on two projects. The first would come to be regular updates to the original Freakwave game, including the construction of the Oil Rig location. The second is a total reboot built in a more sophisticated style with no planned release date.
This one's for you, Clark. - r_aidmaster