We’d love you to join us as we journey through the development of ‘Frozen Synapse: Tactics’ and experience the trials and triumphs we encounter along the way. So we’ve decided to write a series of Developer Diaries to open a window into our world and let you follow with us on the game’s progress, all the way to the finished title.

When we realised that we’d be taking the fantastic original Frozen Synapse and giving the player a more immersive and deeper experience with the game, we knew straight away that we had to do something extra special with the Vatforms. They are core to the gameplay and we wanted the player to feel a lot more connected to them and responsible for them. As part of achieving this we wanted to ensure that they had realistic animations. The Vatforms are similar to natural humans; bipedal bodies of muscle, blood and flesh; so we needed to portray this in their movements and communicate that they’re not simply robots or computer models.

There’s also nothing more fun in the original game than watching a plan come together as you see your units blasting the other enemy units away. Getting this same feeling in the new game was therefore a major focus for us. To achieve this, the series of motions we were most keen to get right were thedeaths. When a sniper gets a headshot or a shotgunner blasts a unit back off its feet, it’s a great sensation in-game. That “Blam!” feeling from successfully taking another unit down is what makes Frozen Synapse so fun to play. We realised that the best way to get this absolutely spot-on was to use motion capture.

For the motion capture we went to Audiomotion. They’ve won a bunch of awards for their work on a host of games and movies, including a big range of shooters such as Far Cry 3, so we knew they’d be right for the job. They brought in stuntmanJohn Street (who’s done stunts for The Dark Knight Rises, Inception and The Bourne Ultimatum!) for the actual actions of the Vatforms.

Donned in a black bodysuit bedecked with white bobbles, our stuntman had to repeatedly get shot with imaginary bullets fired at various angles from imaginary guns. For the higher-impact actions, such as the shotgun death, poor John was yanked to the floor via a bungee cable strapped to his waist. It was quite amusing and a lot of fun watching him die over and over again, though he must have got sick of those crash mats! We collected a great set of motions from the day’s recordings. A particular favourite of ours is the ‘headshot from behind’. You can view that and a few others on our YouTube channel.

The animations are now being touched-up by our animatorand we think they look excellent so far. We hope you enjoy seeing the motions in-game as much as we enjoyed watching them being performed.

Stay tuned for more developer diaries coming soon.

Author Double Eleven

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