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Archive for the ‘frozen synapse’ tag

Developer Blog: Frozen Synapse's Singleplayer

Posted on 31st Aug 2010 at 12:03 by Mode 7 with 6 comments

Mode 7
We’ve just started work on the single player campaign mode for Frozen Synapse. Although the core of the gameplay is about two players trying to outwit each other, we’ve known from the outset just how important single player is for a strategy game.

A lot of strategy fans have an aversion to multiplayer; they like the sedate pace of singleplayer and the ability to immerse themselves in strategic decisions without the pressure of competition. Indeed, in this interview with RPS , the Gollop brothers talk about how a lack of single player hampered their turn-based strategic epic Laser Squad Nemesis.

Despite the fact that we tend to focus on multiplayer, we’re big single player fans at Mode 7. Personally, I’ve always loved the immersive narratives in classic PC games like Wing Commander and Terra Nova.

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Developer Blog: Making the AI Work

Posted on 11th Aug 2010 at 10:31 by Mode 7 with 10 comments

This week I'll hand over to Frozen Synapse's Lead Designer, Ian Hardingham, who has just had a breakthrough with creating Frozen Synapse's pathfinding engine... - Paul Taylor

I'm pleased with myself today.

The pathfinding in FS has always been atrocious – experienced players pretty much have to use shift all the time to bypass it. It’s a pain in the ass. Here’s a great example of it going wrong, below.

Developer Blog: Making the AI Work Developer Blog: Interface Design
Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity

The reason pathfinding sucks so much is that my algorithm for it is terrible – it splits the levels up into a grid, each square about the size of a unit. It then checks each square for obstacles. It’s a really innaccurate representation of the level.

This weekend I was reading up on advanced pathfinding stuff, and considering using some kind of Navmesh with movement polygons. Then I was hit by a flash of inspiration – the only thing that matters in FS is corners. If you ever want to make a path in FS, you only ever use the corners to get there – the only points I need in my nav-graph are the corners! Here’s my code for identifying the corners in action...

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Developer Blog: Interface Design

Posted on 6th Aug 2010 at 10:24 by Mode 7 with 6 comments

Mode 7
I’m going to step out of my chronology of Frozen Synapse this week and talk briefly about what’s going on around here at the moment.

One of the major difficulties with the game is giving the player a vast amount of control over his units while still retaining a clear and clean interface: it’s something we’ve struggled with throughout development.

Our first real stab at tidying up the game came when we took it to the University of Reading for some focus testing. We had a batch of brilliant (and very patient) Computer Science students play the game for a few hours while we watched and talked to them about the problems they were having. It was encouraging that they all rated the game very highly, but there’s nothing like observing someone struggling to make a unit do something to bring home the fact that you need to make some changes!

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Developer Blog: Getting the Graphics Right

Posted on 28th Jul 2010 at 09:00 by Mode 7 with 5 comments

Last time I talked about Annoying Wonky Triangle Wars, the original Frozen Synapse prototype.

Well, while Ian was struggling to get the game playing well, I was struggling to come up with a look for the game. To give ourselves something to aim for, we commissioned some concept art.

Here is the first concept art that was ever done for Frozen Synapse.

Developer Blog: Getting the Graphics Right
The first concept art for Frozen Synapse

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Developer Blog: Prototyping and Playtesting Frozen Synapse

Posted on 21st Jul 2010 at 11:50 by Mode 7 with 2 comments

Mode 7
In my previous post, I discussed how we came up with the initial idea for Frozen Synapse.

As lots of boring industry types will endlessly tell you, ideas are cheap. Actually, this is complete nonsense, but the point they're trying to make - that the hard work is in the execution - is correct. Even if you do have a strong idea, translating that into a viable game is extremely difficult.

During the development of Determinance, we struggled to get the core mechanics right, so every aspect of the design seemed in flux throughout development. This is a phenomenon that afflicts games of all sizes, and we were determined to overcome it this time around.

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Developer Blog: Inspiration and Q&A

Posted on 15th Jul 2010 at 11:14 by Mode 7 with 9 comments

Mode 7
I talked a little bit about our first game, Determinance, on my last blogpost. So, now we’ll advance merrily forwards in time and take a look at the origins of Frozen Synapse.

The key inspiration for Frozen Synapse was Laser Squad Nemesis, a turn-based multiplayer strategy game from some of the team who worked on the old XCOM games. Once, Ian and I dug it out and played a match during the early phases of developing Frozen Synapse.

I’d never really played Laser Squad before, whereas he had been into it for years. We both spent time setting up our units, shuffling them around in early turns and trying to get into positions where we could gain coverage over larger areas of the map. As the turns went by, we slowly advanced on each others’ positions, sending out individual units to scout and then quickly pushing up the rest of our forces to give them support.

Eventually, we spotted each other. I knew Ian was the superior player, so I decided to go for broke. I set up a feint, attacking in the most obvious way possible: as I’m terrible at games, this is something Ian would have expected me to do! At the same time, I sent a small squad around the back and unleashed a flurry of grenades.

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Developer Blog: Hello World!

Posted on 6th Jul 2010 at 10:09 by Mode 7 with 16 comments

Mode 7
My name's Paul Taylor, and I co-own an indie dev studio (that's code for three guys in a small room) called Mode 7 Games. We've been making games and doing various other projects together since 2005.

Our current title is called Frozen Synapse - it's a squad-based tactical game that people seem to like!

I handle everything that isn't development, as well as working on any art direction, audio and writing that's required. My co-conspirator Ian Hardingham handles design, code and the overall direction of our stuff.

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