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How Acclaimed Strategy Game Frozen Synapse Tactics is Evolving on PS Vita

Gareth Wright's Avatar + Posted by Gareth Wright on Feb 07, 2014 // Design Manager, Double 11

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.

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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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//Add Your Own

35 Comments   24 Replies

1

+ Mando44646 on February 7th, 2014 at 7:14 am said:

This looks awesome and it will definitely scratch an itch that I’ve been having with a lack of turn based strategy on Vita.

Too early for a release date? This is one of the few Vita announcements in a while that Im actually excited for :D


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 9:52 am said:

    Thanks for the praise. Its great to hear.

    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. Please stay tuned.


2

+ jengo-bengo on February 7th, 2014 at 7:22 am said:

Awesome to hear about the replay theater! Will camera be movable like in the trailer, or static top-down view?

And there needs to be a mention of the soundtrack in this game… Great stuff!


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 9:57 am said:

    Hi thanks, the features of the Replay Theater are still be developed and its great to hear your thoughts.

    The essence of the Replay Theater that we are really trying to nail is to allow players to watch any match back. We are storing every single one!
    I don’t want to give too much away but the player will have a number of channels to save and ‘favorite’ the best matches with their friends, and the greatest players in the world. Match codes can also be sent to friends :-)

    Its also designed to help provide players with a way to learn tips and tactics from the pros.


3

+ butcherknife on February 7th, 2014 at 7:39 am said:

This looks really cool. The video does a nice job of showing how the gameplay works. I can’t think of a turn-based game I enjoyed, but I am looking forward to trying this out. The art style and setting look really interesting, too.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 10:11 am said:

    That’s great to hear. There’s so much more we wanted to cram in to the video and 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 :-)


4

+ DariusLamar123 on February 7th, 2014 at 7:40 am said:

Awesome


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 10:10 am said:

    Thanks for the love!!!


5

+ VirgilEarp on February 7th, 2014 at 7:45 am said:

Hey Mode 7, I just wanna say that this update looks great. I have the original Frozen Synapse on the PC and man, did I play the heck out of it! This will be a purchase for me for sure. The game thrives on the truly endless possibilities you have to give your squad, and really gets exciting when playing against humans. You never know what your opponent has up their sleeve. I am glad to see that you have kept the replay system in the game, because even if you really aren’t that good at first, you can always watch other completed games and learn from their strategies. Can’t support this game enough!


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 10:19 am said:

    We feel the same, everything that’s important to the original game that makes it unique and full of depth is retained. A lot of work has gone into messaging things a bit more, a fresh UI, optional guidance for those who need it, speed up the basics of planning, as well as include additional ways to devise new tactics.

    You’ve also explained perfectly the main reason why the replay features are important.

    Great to have your support!


6

+ Teh_AKOD on February 7th, 2014 at 8:02 am said:

FST is definetly gonna be my next bet on the Vita. The game looks amazing and its exactly the kind of game I wanted for the system to have on the go. I can’t wait to hear a release date for this game.

One last thing, will there be a customization option for squad units in order to make them seem more unique for each player? Or how about a logo design option for a squad? That would be awesome. In any case, keep up the good work.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 10:09 am said:

    Thanks. Aside from enhancing the gameplay, we are really trying to create a title that meets the expectations of the modern Vita gamer. Its a platform we love.

    Its a bit early to provide any release dates but please stay tuned.

    Regards squad creation, at present you are able to save and load your own teams with various unit combinations. We’ve also provided some presets to allow players to jump straight into multiplayer games with balance squads.

    Actual visual customization of units is something we may consider later however. Currently the camera never really needs to get up close enough to see variations in the unit’s clothes or masks for example.


7

+ Gorvi on February 7th, 2014 at 8:39 am said:

FST looks absolutely perfect for the Vita, I’ve been waiting for a game like this. :)


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 10:00 am said:

    Thank you! awesome to hear that and I agree, given the game’s strong asynchronous and touch gameplay elements, Vita is a great platform.


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+ Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 9:51 am said:

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. I’ll be answering any questions about the game all weekend so please feel free.


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+ butcherknife on February 7th, 2014 at 10:51 am said:

Does the campaign have a story arc? Is the player a character that gains skill points and weapon unlocks?


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 11:18 am said:

    I don’t want to give too much away about the Campaign, but there is a strong narrative throughout and many different missions. The Campaign is a completely unique experience from the multiplayer and quick-match areas of the game.


10

+ GStylez1980 on February 7th, 2014 at 10:57 am said:

Question: how similar is this game to the latest XCOM game? In watching the video, it certainly reminds me of Enemy Unknown. And that would be a good thing…I’ve been wanting Sony to port XCOM to Vita forever. In any case, I’m looking forward to hearing more about this game!


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 11:13 am said:

    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. Planning is still intuitive thought and you can create effective strategies (as in the trailer) quickly, will simple ‘walk here’ and ‘aim’ commands.

    The 2 games share some similarities but are also very different. FST is more about your imagination and creativity, can you out-think your opponent, and utilize the environment, specifically against human opponents.
    Every match is unique. Mutliplayer is a much more prominent element, there’s various modes and you can have multiple asynchronous games on the go at any one time. I don’t want to give too much away about the multiplayer aspect though ;-)

    Also unlike XCOM, turns are simultaneous in FST, meaning both opponents submit there plans for a turn, and then the Outcome play outs each squad’s maneuvers at the same time.


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+ Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 11:13 am said:

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. Planning is still intuitive thought and you can create effective strategies (as in the trailer) quickly, will simple ‘walk here’ and ‘aim’ commands.

The 2 games share some similarities but are also very different. FST is more about your imagination and creativity, can you out-think your opponent, and utilize the environment, specifically against human opponents.
Every match is unique. Mutliplayer is a much more prominent element, there’s various modes and you can have multiple asynchronous games on the go at any one time. I don’t want to give too much away about the multiplayer aspect though ;-)

Also unlike XCOM, turns are simultaneous in FST, meaning both opponents submit there plans for a turn, and then the Outcome play outs each squad’s maneuvers at the same time.


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+ boomstickbhg on February 7th, 2014 at 11:22 am said:

Looks neat. I hope your game does well.

That being said the Vita needs more original titles. Or at the very least port PS3 games to it.

It seems like the PS4 is solely focused on Indie games and now the Vita keeps porting over PC and Cellphone games.

If I wanted PC, cell phone and Indie games I’d buy them on PC where the prices make sense and the games belong.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 11:44 am said:

    Thanks for the support! Double 11 have a reputation for chart toppers on Vita and we also feel FST has great potential. Touch controls really enhance the gameplay and its a natural fit on Vita given the strong elements of asynchronous multiplayer, pick-up-and-play single player matches, and the ability to join, create and play multiple games with different opponents at once, on the go.


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+ Xoombie503 on February 7th, 2014 at 11:56 am said:

How come this is the first time i hear about this game??and i love these type of games.hope the release date is sooner rather than later.


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+ Dragon_de_Mort on February 7th, 2014 at 12:13 pm said:

This looks like it’s going to be awesome. Turn based tactical games are easily my favorite genre for handhelds, and since trading my 3DS for a vita I’ve had to resort to playing classic PSP/PSOne games to scratch that itch. Not that those are bad games, but it’s definitely refreshing to see something new and unique like this. I will definitely be picking this up, and while I know y’all can’t give a release date, but can you tell us if this will be a digital only release or if there will be a physical release as well?


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 1:02 pm said:

    Thanks for the praise.

    Release model will be determined around the same time as a date will be I’m afraid. Sorry I cant give you more, its all still being discussed and right now we are trying to get the word out. Please stay tuned :-)


15

+ Elvick_ on February 7th, 2014 at 12:34 pm said:

The graphics are lovely.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 1:06 pm said:

    Thank you :-)


16

+ Mo-green28 on February 7th, 2014 at 12:37 pm said:

This looks awesome I don’t have to hope for X-Com to come to PS Vita… Is the multiplayer a guy with a squad verse another guy with a squad. Or 2 squads full of players trying to coordinate together?


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    + Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 1:06 pm said:

    Multiplayer is focused on one player vs another player. Each player can have even or uneven squads so 1 v 1, 6 v 6, 2 v 4…, with any mode and map, whatever you want to create.
    We hope to provide more about the multiplayer features and gameplay going forwards.


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+ Gareth Wright on February 7th, 2014 at 1:05 pm said:

Multiplayer is focused on one player vs another player. Each player can have even or uneven squads so 1 v 1, 6 v 6, 2 v 4…, with any mode and map, whatever you want to create.
We hope to provide more about the multiplayer features and gameplay going forwards.


18

+ Mo-green28 on February 7th, 2014 at 2:00 pm said:

Nice you have a purchaser right here.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 8th, 2014 at 2:34 am said:

    Big thanks for the support!


19

+ genius527 on February 7th, 2014 at 3:20 pm said:

who are you Mo-green28 what do you think about this game, i think it’s a kinda cool game like some type of frozen fututre!!!


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+ genius527 on February 7th, 2014 at 4:21 pm said:

Have ya’ll seen Gamerzlimited cause i want to tjat guy not on this COVO some where else on P.S. blog!!!


21

+ ManjoumeThunder on February 7th, 2014 at 4:22 pm said:

This looks awesome, my interest is certainly peaked…and here I thought my new Vita game hype was over for a while.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 8th, 2014 at 2:41 am said:

    The Vita still has a great deal of life and we feel FST makes full use of what Vita is all about – touch controls that enhance gameplay and don’t feel gimmicky, pick-up-and-play immediacy, and immersive multiplayer with your friends.


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+ genius527 on February 7th, 2014 at 4:23 pm said:

Dang it!!! sorry you guys i meen have you seen that guy gamerzlimited the gamer thats in he’s 30′s i think!!


23

+ tusunami on February 7th, 2014 at 7:21 pm said:

Now this is that originality that the PS Vita needs on the platform. I am very much interested in this, & will be reading up on this more!!!!!!!!


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    + Gareth Wright on February 8th, 2014 at 2:33 am said:

    Awesome to hear! Thanks and please stay tuned for more info about the game.


24

+ vackume on February 7th, 2014 at 9:32 pm said:

So this will be out on PS3 also, right? If so, will it be cross-buy? I think it’d be awesome with local multiplayer on the PS3 (though the dark mode wouldn’t be feasible obviously).


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    + Gareth Wright on February 8th, 2014 at 2:32 am said:

    We are only announcing Vita at this stage.

    Regards the dark mode, it’s definitely possible and not something we’d want to leave out on Vita ;)


25

+ TsarIV on February 8th, 2014 at 4:14 am said:

The wait for this is agonizing.


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+ geassuser87 on February 8th, 2014 at 5:19 am said:

Wow, I have the game on my ipad, but that is amazing, its like a totally different game.

Definately a buy. Keep up with the updates.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 8th, 2014 at 6:08 am said:

    Thank you, we’ve tried to enhance and add as much as possible. We are also big fans of the original.


27

+ sha-near on February 8th, 2014 at 10:03 am said:

I’ve dumped so many hours into the multiplayer on the PC version and have been excited to get this game on my Vita. Never expected it to look so different, but am glad to see the same addictive online play remained intact. Gonna have a lot more friends I can play with on the Vita, I’m anxiously awaiting a release date


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    + Gareth Wright on February 8th, 2014 at 1:58 pm said:

    Awesome to hear the support. Yeah we’ve changed very little, but also added hundreds of things, new features and enhancements.

    Sorry that I can’t give any info on release dates, it’s all still be discussed.


28

+ genius527 on February 8th, 2014 at 4:52 pm said:

You have a pc man i’m kinda upset because i can’t download noth’n on my pc or my family’s pc i wonder if you can play this game on pc, psvita, ps4 and ps3!!!


29

+ Option1live on February 8th, 2014 at 7:26 pm said:

I enjoyed this on Steam but never could bring myself to finish it. IIRC there was some very nasty loading times between moves, I assume that’s been remedied? If it plays right I’ll have to pick this up and try again. The new graphics look swell.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 9th, 2014 at 6:37 am said:

    We’ve really optimized this part of the game and essentially the speed of procedurally generating environments and the loading in of the walls. We haven’t compared it to the PC version and I guess it depends on your PC, but on Vita it’s couple of seconds for loading in a map/match currently


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+ AOSFYCDT on February 8th, 2014 at 8:08 pm said:

I loved Frozen Synapse on the PC and I was pretty much expecting whatw as on the PC on the Vita. I am really glad to see we are going to be getting more than a port. The video shown looks incredible. I love the look of this and am really excited to get my hands on it.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 9th, 2014 at 6:57 am said:

    Thanks that’s great to hear. We feel that the modern generation of Vita gamer is different to that of the audience on PC. We’ve tried as much as possible too appeal to expectations of the Vita gamer with enhanced visuals, cinematic presentation and tons of exclusive content, as well as create an experience that players of all ages and skills can jump straight into.

    Everything that was awesome and addictive about Mode 7s masterpiece on PC is present.


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+ WolfyHopeless on February 8th, 2014 at 10:41 pm said:

^ditto. Love this game on Steam, will deffo pick it up for my vita.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 9th, 2014 at 6:39 am said:

    Thanks for the support :)


32

+ blackterrorgt on February 8th, 2014 at 11:20 pm said:

Been looking for something since I finished Tearaway. This will be it. Can’t wait to hear about a release date.


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    + Gareth Wright on February 9th, 2014 at 6:46 am said:

    We love Tearaway too, that’s another great example of a game that’s designed around the strengths of Vita and fully integrated touch controls that enhance gameplay.


33

+ Earthjolly on February 9th, 2014 at 12:24 pm said:

I was watching a video of this game on youtube and I fell in love with it. Love how mathematical and tatical the game is. You got a sale


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+ hongthay on February 9th, 2014 at 9:16 pm said:

I have been waiting for a good turn based strategy game for the Vita. You definitely got yourself a sale with this release.

Now, if we could only get Total War Battles.


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+ Briankbl on February 14th, 2014 at 6:20 pm said:

Will there be a “classic” theme, featuring the original Frozen Synapse art design? I know you’re going for something a bit different with the look, but all I’ve ever wanted was the PC version on consoles. Thanks.


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