Frozen Synapse by Mode 7 Games - Developer Interview
by David Montgomery-Blake · 08/12/2011 (10:32 am) · 43 comments
Frozen Synapse was written in Torque 2D by an extremely dedicated team of indie professionals. The ratings for their game speaks loud and clear:
"Ceaselessly thrilling." 9/10 (Edge)
"Expect it to make a lot of people's Top 10 lists this year." 9/10 (Destructoid)
"Excellent and inventive...it's such an achievement." 9/10 (Eurogamer)
"A superb effort...this is the best indie game of the year so far." 9/10 (Honest Gamers)
"The most moreish and brilliant game I've played in years." 95% (bit-gamer)
Frozen Synapse is the ultimate tactical game on PC and Mac. It brings the simultaneous turn-based strategy genre bang up-to-date and lets you give detailed, accurate orders to your squad: classic gameplay with a modern interface. It includes single and multi-player tactical gameplay.
If you love the game (and we can't imagine that you won't!), then make sure to go vote for it at the Golden Joystick Awards!
We caught up with the Ian and Paul from Mode7 to see what makes this game tick!
Please describe Frozen Synapse in your own words.
Frozen Synapse is the ultimate tactical game! You and your opponent have a small squad of soldiers; you both issue orders to them that will be carried out in the next five seconds. Test your plan, hit the "prime" button and watch the results of your decisions play out.
What was your role on Frozen Synapse?
We're a small company (three of us in-house!) so I ended up doing a variety of different things. I was responsible for art direction, audio, music, writing as well as some aspects of the single player design. I also handle all the PR, marketing and business development for Mode 7. I'm busy!
What makes your game unique?
It's the only modern simultaneous-turn-based tactical game. FS combines a classic, under-used form of gameplay with a modern interface and aesthetic.
What was your inspiration to create Frozen Synapse?
Probably Laser Squad Nemesis was the biggest influence. Our Lead Designer Ian played a lot of it in around 2004 and started thinking about ways that he could distill the experience into something a bit leaner and easier to get into.
What was your development process like?
We worked on Frozen Synapse over about four years while doing contract work to support ourselves.
The game started with a basic 2D prototype that was then refined until we had the mechanics working. After that, we concepted the art and started to get some of the actual rendering system in place.
The art and gameplay then evolved together until we had a multiplayer prototype, which we fleshed out into a beta and released. We then spent the next year tweaking that and working on the single player side of teh game.
How many people worked on the dev team? How did you work together?
There we three of us in-house and we had several external contractors as well.
We tend to do a mix of remote working and working in the same location - different situations work for different tasks.
How long did it take to create?
Around four years.
How did you accomplish QA and beta testing?
Robin, who is our in-house tester, does a lot of testing work. We also all extensively tested the game when it was coming up to beta and launch.
But probably most importantly, we had a brilliant community that built up throughout the beta - that included a group of people who were very keen to volunteer their time to help us out - we're very grateful.
What software/tools did you use to create the game? Why did you use those particular tools?
We used TGB - actually a pretty old version; 1.1.3 I believe. I have a huge amount of experience with Torque going back to my 3rd year project at University which was a Tribes 2 mod. We originally planned on using a fully 2D rendering approach which is why we started on TGB, but in fact we ended up writing our own renderer.
Describe 2-3 of your biggest technical hurtles and how you overcame them. Give as much detail as possible, to the point of getting uber-technical.
We didn't have all that many technical difficulties really. Getting the server (which is written completely in TorqueScript) to be fast enough for thousands of simultaneous players was certainly difficult, and involved having multiple instances accessing the same SQLite database. I'm still not sure if SQLite was the right choice, but it has a lot of advantages."
At GarageGames, we love the game so much that we have decided to share it! As Eric noted in his blog, we have a Community Power Hour on fridays where we interact with the community.
Sorry for the short notice, but at 12pm Pacific time (7:00 PM - 8:00 PM GMT), we will give away 10 licenses for it on Steam. Just post at that time with a positive comment for Mode7 Games and Frozen Synapse! They've worked hard and deserve good vibes from the community!
In the meantime, download the demo while you wait and get playing!