Gamers Mourn Death of Indie ‘Waves’ Developer Rob Hale

Dan Clarendon - Author
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Aug. 29 2022, Published 5:53 a.m. ET

Fans of independent video games are mourning the loss of Rob “Squid in a Box” Hale, developer of Waves and Waves 2: Notorious. Hale’s net worth isn’t known, but their impact can be seen in eulogies posted in Steam reviews and forum posts. “Thank you for your work,” one gamer wrote in a review, reports Kotaku. “Rest in peace, and much love for your family. We will all be sure to look over and safeguard your legacy here.”

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Hale’s partner, CJ, announced their passing in a Steam forum post on Aug. 14, sharing “one of the hardest announcements I think I will ever have to make.” “Rob passed away a fortnight ago as a result of complications from cancer after a prolonged and arduous stay in hospital,” CJ wrote in the post, using they/them pronouns to refer to Hale. “I would have liked to have made the announcement sooner, but I simply wasn’t composed enough to sit down and write something meaningful until now.”

Rob Hale was a self-taught developer who released ‘Waves’ in 2011

As Hale recalled in a 2012 PC Gamer interview, they started working on video games in 2001, breaking into the field by developing mods for the popular game Deus X. “[I] knew absolutely nothing, and I've taught myself everything I know along the way,” they said. Hale broke out onto the independent game scene in 2011 with the release of 2011’s Waves, which Eurogamer hailed as “one of the finest examples of the twin-stick arcade shooter genre.”

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waves video game
Source: Steam

Hale told PC Gamer they thought that Waves would take a couple of months to make, but it ended up taking the better part of a year. “And if you asked me during development how long I thought I had left to work on it, I would always say, ‘A couple of months.’” They quipped, “Ultimately, though, I was making a game I wanted to make, how I wanted to make it, and for me, that's the reason I get up in the afternoon.”

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Both ‘Waves’ and its incomplete sequel are now free to play, according to Hale's wishes

Waves 2: Notorious is currently in “early access” on Steam, and CJ wrote that the sequel will “definitely remain incomplete,” since financial realities and health struggle meant that Hale “never got the time to cap off this particular branch of their legacy.”

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“But what Rob did achieve was inspirational and amazing to me; to have done all that solo development work, to be continually challenging themselves and polishing their games as they went… it was a joy to witness, and something that I always supported wholeheartedly,” CJ added.

Following Hale’s passing, both Waves and Waves 2: Notorious became free to play on Steam. “This was something Rob was considering anyway within the past two months as their health entered into more substantial difficulties, so I hope this can be seen as a parting gift to all those out there that haven’t yet played either of these games,” CJ explained. “I hope that you can continue to feel the passion and love that Rob poured into these games long after the pain of their passing begins to fade.”

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