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Posted 3:00pm

How acclaimed strategy game Frozen Synapse Tactics is evolving on PS Vita

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For those new to Frozen Synapse Tactics, it’s an evolution of the acclaimed, turn-based, PC strategy game by Mode 7. Players control an elite strike team of futuristic soldiers, from shotgunners and snipers to grenadiers and machine-gunners. Matches take place on procedurally generated, virtual environments, or players can create their own, choosing the amount of rooms, walls, windows, cover and so forth in the creation area. All battlegrounds are fully-destructible.

Players plot paths and issue orders for their units, aiming to predict their opponent’s strategies or complete the match objectives. Both teams commit their plans for each turn, we call this ‘Priming’, and the outcome of that turn is then played out, resulting in awesome fire-fights, exploding walls and cinematic kill cams.

Our real design challenge for Vita was to figure out how we would engineer away from a complex menu driven PC experience to an intuitive design that still maintains the immediacy of the original game. Intuitive for us meant that it should appeal to a much wider audience but at its core should satisfy modern day die-hard tactical shooter fans.

At its core every match in FST, whether you are protecting VIPs in the Campaign or Death-matching in multiplayer, involves placing, previewing and priming your plans. In FST, creating a path and adding orders such as dashing, ducking, aiming and checking corners, is quick and accurate with either touch or button controls.

Focus testing has allowed us to refine how the game’s interface improves on the overall experience. This has resulted in an entirely new on screen display (OSD), which incorporates huge visual and functional changes following a minimalist and context-sensitive design. The new Command Wheel contains all your unit’s orders, retaining everything from the original game as well as introducing some brand new options for casual and advanced players.

FST isn’t your typical squad-based shooter, it’s easy to jump in but challenging to master, so guidance for casual players was another important element to integrate and get right. Through focus-testing with new players, we’ve developed a range of new in-game planning assists.
One of these was the dynamic cone-of-vision; showing exactly what your unit’s can see, taking into account whether the unit is ducking, standing or moving through rooms.

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Once a plan is laid down, players can quickly review and revise orders such as Aims, simply by touching and dragging the Aim handle, without using the Commands Wheel. Because each player has different strategies in mind for any given scenario, and different means to execute their plans; we’ve really tried to embrace the ability to do anything at any time within the design. Players can switch between units and commands mid-plan and hit the Time Bar button to preview their developing strategy for the turn.

When planning a turn, advanced players can also assign commands to their AI or human opponents (the red team), in an attempt to predict that squad’s maneuvers and counter them. FST is as much about the mind-games between players as anything else, inspiring players to anticipate and deceive their opponent.

The newly introduced Replay Theatre also allows you to save your favorite matches against friends or watch the best of the FST community face off. Within these replay players can also ‘toggle on’ the full-plans of their opponent to inspect their strategies, pick-up planning tips or winning moves for a specific match type.

There’s a load more we have done and still to do, so I hope to share more about FST on PlayStation Blog soon!

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Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 3:01 pm   1

HELLO FROM DOUBLE 11 (Developers of FROZEN SYNAPSE TACTICS).
So Hi everyone, I’m Gaz, Design Manager at Double 11 in the UK, here to answer your questions on Frozen Synapse Tactics for Vita. I hope you enjoyed checking out our most recent trailer which shows a little more gameplay, basic commands and strategy. The game is still in development. I’ll be here for the next couple of hours so please fire off questions about the game.

jorispelgrom 7 February, 2014 @ 3:09 pm   2

Will the game be native resolution + 60fps? Any idea when the game’ll be available (Q3, Q4, 2015, …)?

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 3:16 pm    

    Unfortunately I can’t give any info on release dates at this point as it’s all still being discussed. The game is still in development, it plays really well but there is of course lots we want to improve on, add in and tweak.

    Yes it will be native res and we are confidently pushing to get as close to 60fps as possible.

Every single week I ask about this game!
Loved it on my laptop and tablet but I really want it on Vita! The new design is stunning and the only question I have is is it releasing this year?

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 3:39 pm    

    That’s awesome to hear. Thank you!

    Unfortunately I can’t give any info on release dates at this point as it’s all still being discussed, but please stay tuned :-)

‘ey Gaz,

Can’t wait for the game.

Sorry if these have been answered;

“as well as introducing some brand new options for casual and advanced players.”

What are the new options for advanced players?

Are there any new units planned for release/post-release?

Will there be a remixed OST, and/or new music?

Have the core mechanics (who shoots first, bullet trajectory, cones of view, etc) been changed? If so, anything you think will be game changing and exciting for FS players?

Thanks!

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 3:24 pm    

    Thanks for the love!!! Some of the advanced options include new commands and new ways to use commands, such as Wait, Sweep and Targeting or Drawing specific zones.
    The beauty is, that all of the ‘causal’ changes benefit Advanced players too, with clearer messaging, the new aim cone-of-vision, touch controls, and everything being quick to plan and preview.

    Content pre and post release such as unit types is all still being discussed, but I can tell you all the unit types in the original game are present.

    The OST is epic and all created by Paul (Nervous Testpilot) at Mode7. I can’t comment on any new tracks at this time, but the original OST is ever-present.

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 3:50 pm    

    Regards the core mechanics, we’ve enhanced as many elements as we can. Everything fans loved about the original game is present, we haven’t stripped anything out – so I wouldn’t say we’d ‘changed’ the core mechanics. It always been important for us to add in more pick-up-and-play tools for newcomers, but the depth of strategy as well as advanced orders is all their.
    Our most recent trailer is primarily focused on creating basic but effective plans.

    The cones help show a shotgunner’s kill range for example.

I really wanted a game like that for my Vita.

Please consider for a demo, it would be great to let us test it first.

My compliment for bringing this to the Vita. Any kind of strategy game is welcome.

I’m sorry that I have no question for you, I played the game on Steam already. And I have fond memories of seeing friends curse due Frozen Synapse Steam’s Holiday Achievement in 2011. Who would have guessed that a christman event made my sadistic side shine? :)

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 3:38 pm    

    Thanks for the kind comments though and its great to hear people anticipating something new and strategy focused for Vita. Given the game’s strong asynchronous and touch gameplay elements, Vita is a perfect platform.

    If you think of any questions later, i’ll try to respond to more questions after the weekend.

    All the Trophies for FST will be new ;-)

Just a quick suggestion after watching the trailer;

Different death animations based on what weapon was used! Knockback from a shotgun blast, bullet to the head from a sniper, riddled with an assault rifle – bit of variety.

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 3:33 pm    

    I like it! All the characters are mo-capped (by a Batman stunt-double no less). We are definitely playing around with the death animations and kill cams. Knockbacks as you say from shotguns, as well as explosions is something we are looking at.

Looks really FUN even if I never played something like this.
is it the kind of game you need to outwit your oponent? would definetly buy

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 3:30 pm    

    Thanks, it is super-fun. Honestly I lie in bed at night playing the game and hours fly by, and multiplayer games in the office have been a lot of fun. I keep getting beat by the junior designers though ;-)

    Oh for sure, Outwitting your opponents is massive. The other key elements are using the strengths of your squad, and the environment, but all those things go together.

    Not every match is Deathmatch too. Sometimes you have to rescue and protect hostages, or collect items too!

Are you going to Rezzed, I’d love to have a quick interview for PSNation.com :)

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 3:51 pm    

    We enjoyed attending last year as spectators but not sure if we are going this year! If we are I would be more than happy to do an interview, send Kirsten your details via contact@double11.co.uk

Thanks for the replies!

Any avenues to help test/support the alpha?

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 3:42 pm    

    We’ve been running a load of focus tests with the best of the Frozen Synapse community as well as new players and these have really helped enhance and balance the game.

    There’s no immediate plans to run more at this stage, but with new features and gameplay adjustments happening all the time its possible we may run more.

erniewhatbert 7 February, 2014 @ 4:01 pm   11

I’ve been waiting on news on this game for so long and the update looks better than I hoped for. The vita is perfect fit for turn-based strategy games.

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 4:06 pm    

    Thanks for the love!! Apologies for going a while without updates, we’ve been working hard to improve the core game experience get an update out to you all.
    There’s tons of additional stuff we want to talk about going forwards, regards the campaign, multiplayer, modes, gameplay, advanced stuff, and all the other cool new features. So please stay tuned :-)

I tried the PC version a few months ago, the long-ass tutorial got the better of me.

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 4:26 pm    

    I like this question because I can tell you with confidence that the tutorials are completely different :-). They are quick and feel more like mini-missions. Everything regards tutorials is covered in an ‘Essentials’ and an ‘Advanced’ mission, where you ‘learn by playing’ and its designed to provide you with some common scenarios where certain tactics can be used, as well as how units work well together.

    We’ve focus-tested the tutorials a lot to ensure they are fun and engaging, as well as helpful.

    Of course you can also jump straight into the game and we have a new built in hints system (you can see a little bit of it in the trailer) that helps with all the planning and issuing commands to units – The ‘Hints Bar’ as we call it can also be turned off once a player’s skill grows.

erniewhatbert 7 February, 2014 @ 4:26 pm   13

Is the control wheel mapped to the select button? The wheel looks like a great way to include all the possible actions.

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 4:30 pm    

    Currently is yes, but like all the OSD (On Screen Display) buttons are also touchable. So you can open and close the ‘Commands Wheel’ quickly with touch – or Select.

    Yes on Vita we’ve really tried to make the most out of the screen real-estate but ensure, like the original game, that issuing commands is still quick and intuitive.

    Thanks for the praise too.

Looks quite complicated from the trailer but I’m guessing it may look more complicated than it actually is.

Closest I have come to a game like this (I think) is xcom, does it play a bit like that albeit with a more refined control scheme?

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 5:01 pm    

    XCOM is probably one of the closest comparisons to FST and I play both a lot. XCOM I’d say is a lot more automated though and encounters between you and the aliens can come down to a roll of the dice at times.

    In FST you have complete control, that doesn’t mean complicated though. On the team at Double 11 we have a broad mix of casual and die-hard tacticians and anyone can prosper on any given day ;-). Planning is simple and you can create effective strategies (as in the trailer) quickly, will simple ‘walk here’ and ‘aim’ commands.

    Its more about your imagination and creativity, can you out-think your opponent. Every match is unique.
    If you prefer a certain type or map, squad or mode though, you can create matches based on those specifics.

Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 5:05 pm   15

Thanks for all the questions, thoughts and suggestions so far. I will continue to answer more over the weekend and into next week. So please feel free to submit more comments and questions. Regard, Gaz

Does the game come with a platinum trophy to unlock?

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 9:24 pm    

    It depends on the scope of the game within the Sony guidelines. Sorry I can’t answer that just yet.

Ac3_l1ghtn1ng 7 February, 2014 @ 8:51 pm   17

Hey Gareth I’ve never played the original version but I’m looking forward to the vita the version. just a quick question do you guys have any internships going? :p i’m a recent games programming graduate and looking to gain experience.

Hey Gaz, the PC version recieved DLC that included Coop features. Has this DLC pack made it onto the Vita?

    Gareth Wright 7 February, 2014 @ 9:27 pm    

    Not at this stage regarding that content specifically. But the game is packed full of tons of exclusive content :-)

Well, all I can say to that trailer is, wow. I’ve been a fan of squad based tactical games since the original Laser Squad on the Amstrad CPC 464 (I’m showing my age,) right through the original UFO/XCOM games and up to the modern. The brilliant Valkyria Chronicles 2 is the current time sink that’s installed on my Vita, but this could be the next.

As other posters have said, it looks complex from the outset, but setting up your entire team and then having both sides play out in real time gives a new tactical twist that is really necessary for a game of this sort to stand out.

One thing I would say is that this game is just calling out for a good campaign mode. Scenario based games, no matter how good they are, inevitably get put down after a while once something new comes along with a good story.

You may not be able to fund the kind of fully voiced, cutscene based epic that SEGA did with Valkyria Chronicles, but a few well written, story-based pre-set mission chains of varying difficulties, with custom locations and some unique bosses such as mechs or tanks, would really add a final level of shine to the game.

    Gareth Wright 8 February, 2014 @ 10:27 am    

    Thanks for the support dude. I can’t promise mech-tank bosses ;-) but the Campaign does have an immersive storyline, characters and a huge amount of varied missions that tie directly into the narrative. Its a massive part of the game.

    Please stay tuned for more about the Campaign though.

jaythibodeau 7 February, 2014 @ 11:46 pm   20

This game looks absolutely fantastic! I’ve been playing the original version on PC to death for a few years now. I can’t wait for this to release. :D

I’ve got two questions. First, would it be possible to alter the colors of the GUI, units, and the environment, such as using a RGB slider?

Second, will we be able to actually create our own maps by hand(such as the loadeditor(); command on the PC version)? I see that the article says,”players can create their own, choosing the amount of rooms, walls, windows, cover and so forth in the creation area.” but, does that just mean that it generates the map for you?

    Gareth Wright 8 February, 2014 @ 10:47 am    

    I like the idea of the colour altering options. Its something I will pass on but it’ll come down to time vs all the other features and improvements we’d like to add.
    We are planning to have loads of different colour and lighting themes in the environment which you can choose to play on.

    I don’t want to give too much away about the map creation just yet. At its core think Worms 3D ;-). Of course giving players unlimited freedom to design maps can also create unbalanced and broken matches, and we want it to be a feature everyone can use.

DiscworldDeath 8 February, 2014 @ 12:07 pm   21

I love the game on the PC, will this game also come out on PC? I play it with friends, most of whom don’t own a Vita, so would like to play the new version with them.

And yeah, this looks hot. The new graphics are all sorts of awesome, though I liked the minimalist nature of the original as well.

Aside from “Deathmatch”, I trust we’ll still have the conquer and such going on? What about the “Dark” option, where you don’t know where people are until you see them? That was /really/ good.

    Gareth Wright 8 February, 2014 @ 4:00 pm    

    Multiplayer does include several different match types, and if you are a fan of Dark mode you won’t be disappointed ;-)

HomessaHomem 8 February, 2014 @ 4:02 pm   22

Great news! Thanks guys.

Doomshine 8 February, 2014 @ 9:19 pm   23

Is multiplayer the biggest part of the game or is there single player content as well?

    Gareth Wright 8 February, 2014 @ 9:28 pm    

    There’s a huge single player Campaign, as well as single player Skirmish matches against the AI. Both have tons of replayability, as does multiplayer.

harryrl27 8 February, 2014 @ 9:36 pm   24

Hey, i have a couple questions but first want to say it looks great. I was a big fan of dark mode on the PC, and one of the great things about that was how all of the maps were really, well dark. I was wondering if you would consider having a “night time” lighting mode where light radiates from the buildings into a relatively dark environment. Also, I think it would be could to have the walls be destroyed instead of just disintegrating, sort of how they were blown out and left rubble behind in the PC version. Other than that i think the game looks great! Keep up the good work!

    Gareth Wright 8 February, 2014 @ 9:51 pm    

    All the visual effects you are seeing at the moment, including wall destruction are not final. I will say though getting the wall to break into pieces is very tough, as its all being affected by the light, casting shadows and also would need to work in reverse for our kill cams ;-).

    matches in Dark mode is definitely something we want to look unique for sure.

    Thanks for the praise.

I really like how this games shaping up,any chance of you bringing this game to the ps4?
The ps4 is severely lacking in rts games and this game would definitely be snapped up by rts fans on ps4.

BartsBlue 9 February, 2014 @ 7:18 pm   26

Hi Gareth, sorry to be late to the party. Finally, ! ‘ve been waiting quite a while for Frozen Synapse Tactics.

I have read the post and the comments and I have a few more questions. One was already answered, concerning the original music by Nervous Testpilot (which is awesome, by the way).

First of all, while the new graphics are pretty and in tune with Frozen Endzone, I have to say I liked the minimalist visuals of the PC original. Is it going to be possible to play with the oldschool version of graphics? Even as a payable DLC, if need be?

Secondly, are the original missions and storyline going to be available? Once again, even as something we’d need to pay extra? I actually haven’t finished the original Frozen Synapse (shame on me, I know).

Thirdly, while I understand that release date and pricing are not something you could reveal at this point, are there any (gu)estimates that you could share here?

Keeping fingers crossed for the success of Frozen Synapse Tactics. Good luck guys!

    Gareth Wright 9 February, 2014 @ 9:32 pm    

    Hi, better late than never ;-).

    Regards having a ‘Classic mode’ it is something we’ve talked about but will come down to time. Obviously there’s still a lot we want to polish on the current visual style.

    I’d rather save the Campaign stuff for another vid/update on FST, but it wont disappoint, especially if there’s lots about the original Campaign you liked, as do we.

    Release dates are all still being discussed. Its just a case that we haven’t decided yet ;-)

LieutenantFatman 10 February, 2014 @ 9:23 am   27

Oh wow, I’ve been waiting for a game like this to come to Vita, so excited! I’m a huge Xcom fan, and anything that is at all similar is right up my street. If you could push for a platinum trophy, that would really extend the replayability even further, and probably sales. And plats are fun to hunt down, especially for games like this. I’ll be getting it regardless though, good luck! :)

salvogdaze 10 February, 2014 @ 10:21 am   28

I really loved the idea of Frozen Synapse and despite thinking of myself as quite adept at tactical games, couldn’t really get into the PC game itself. Even my short attempt at the tutorial wasn’t very successful. I hope this version grabs my attention again, providing maybe a more user-friendly approach for first-timers.

richard4481 11 February, 2014 @ 11:58 am   29

Been following this game for ages looks the type of game I would really enjoy and something the Vita needs!

Tried it on Steam but I’m more of a console gamer than PC.

Do you have any plans on a ps4 version? Any plans for a ps4 rts game at all?

The game looks brilliant, I am definitely look forward to playing this. Was the colours and graphic style for the game Tron inspired?