Thoughts on Frozen Synapse iPad

Thoughts on Frozen Synapse iPad

Hey guys.

For those who don’t know, I’m the designer and coder of the original PC Frozen Synapse.  Frozen Synapse, and multiplayer especially, was my baby – although, as with most games, it was our fantastic team are who made it all possible.

I haven’t been all that involved in FS iPad.  Paul, James Urquhart, James Hannett, and Bin (he of the beard, and of the achievement) have been largely responsible for it.  I’m pretty stunned by how well it fits the device – the user interface which they’ve all spent so long working on just works.  It feels native.

Anyway, back to me.  I’ve been working on Frozen Endzone – as much a follow up to FS as it’s possible to be considering the men with guns have been swapped for robots with balls.  I’ve been completely submerged in Endzone development for the last year and I’ve hardly played any FS at all.

But now I am again.  I first envisioned FS as a game I would play on my DS while sitting on the sofa watching Diagnosis Murder.  Well, the device has changed, but basically yesterday for the first time I did just that*.

This is not a blog post trying to sell you on FS.  Honestly, I think everyone who visits this site already likes FS or is looking for SNES hacking advice and has already turned away disgusted.  I want to write a bit about how it feels to have made a game and to come back to it after this time and actually like it.

Making games is difficult, and it’s often not very fun.  You get so stressed during certain stages of development that you just can’t play the game you’ve spent the last 12 hours coding – you have to get away from it.  Certainly when you design and code – as I and many others do – there is real separation between those two elements.  I will playtest and design for a day, then I will spend the next day coding all the ideas I had.  You can’t mix them easily – designing a game and programming are two very different states of mind.  And you are never just playing your game like you would play someone else’s.

When you finish something – any creative endeavor really – you tend to be unhappy with it.  It doesn’t matter how many accolades you get, or how many sales, the original creator tends to only see the things which didn’t work.  The unfulfilled ideas and the bugs.  I was able to play FS when it was originally released, but my mind was so full of all of the different feedback I was getting, and all the ways in which my life was changing, that I wasn’t able to just experience FS as a game.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to just experience FS as a game.

Until yesterday.

Something about the time away, and the newness of playing it on this very different device, allowed me to actually experience FS.  And it felt great.  It felt like I always wanted it to feel, back when it was just a day-dream.  Quick games with real decisions, different every time.  I logged in and got a game against a stranger within ten seconds.  He was nice and we chatted over IRC while we fought.  And then when we’d finished I clicked on “Next Duplicate” and used a feature I’m still immensly proud of – randomly generated maps which are played by multiple people, and it being really easy to see how other people acted given the same decisions as you.

Tomorrow I’ll go and battle with coding the Frozen Endzone AI.  I’ll go back to the fear and uncertainty of making something new, and dealing with budgets and deadlines and a commercial climate which is changing faster than I can even hope to keep track of.

But today I’m enjoying a game I already made.

Thanks for all the support guys,

Ian

*This is actually a heinous lie.  I was watching Murder She Wrote, because there wasn’t any Diagnosis Murder on.  Now I like MSW as much as the next guy, but compared to DM it’s like Corona without lime.

5 Responses to “Thoughts on Frozen Synapse iPad”

  1. sebsauvage:

    Don’t want to look a moron, but: Developing new things sure is intellectually pleasing, but taking care of the existing is nice: When will you correct the bugs in the PC version ?
    eg. Skirmish generator is simply… broken. You can’t get grenade units AT ALL.
    http://forums.mode7games.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=4499&p=20438

  2. Paul:

    As I said in the forum thread, this will be fixed.

  3. Visiting the Village: The Mode 7 Games Blog and Podcast » Blog Archive » Launching in all directions:

    […] wrote a great post that you should read: do that and come […]

  4. Geoff 'Shivoa' Birch:

    I am disappointed that “robots with balls” isn’t a link to a clip from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

  5. Peter:

    I agree with sebsauvage, the PC version of the original must be fixed. You cannot leave the game as it is, the number of bugs present, especially in single player, is too numerous and have prevented me from playing it further. Please fix it or get somebody else to patch it up for you