Newsroom

An update on Frontier.

We’ll be sharing game development progress and snippets from our art team on a monthly basis all the way until Alpha launch.

Game Design

Our game design documentation went through multiple iterations and feedback loops until we reached the final version. We’ve now been tirelessly working together with our co-development studio Globant to tick all the boxes we have agreed on during pre-production.

Here are some of the features we have been working on in the past sprints:

Basic Combat Functionalities (Completed)

Combat will use a hybrid system between an RTS, a MOBA and a Squad-Based Strategy Game. This will let us design more dynamic and exciting combat, where unit positioning and ambushes are key, similar to what a MOBA experience can offer.

  • Basic controls (Keyboard & Mouse) — Basic controls that the player will use to interface with units on the map.
  • Rank-up system for units — Units gain XP from enemy kills and battle participation to level up and become stronger.
  • Combat logic — Functionalities such as unit’s line of sight, reaction and fire accuracy.
  • Unit shield logic — Number of shield bars depending on unit type and rank.
  • Unit AI — Units will follow a series of behaviors related to combat automatically.
  • Special skills (Flash Blocks & Glitch Blocks)

Here are some VFX clips from initial gameplay testing:

Unit Types (Completed)

The objective was to implement different types of units and make sure they work to give more variety and strategy to gameplay. Three unique types of units will be available for the MVP: Assault, Heavy, Zero… and maybe Robot… 👁

The units differentiate from each other in the following ways:

  • Production time — How long it takes to produce each unit type. More powerful units will take longer to produce than light units.
  • Base stats of each unit type & rank-up stats — Attack type, rate, range & damage, accuracy, health, movement speed.
  • Special skills of each unit type.
Watcher Unit animations
Unit types assembled

Map & Environment Features (Work-in-progress)

We are currently still exploring different types of map layouts to make the game as interactive and engaging as possible. Here is an early iteration:

Map layout iteration

Frontier maps will include a mix of non-interactive and interactive features that players can use to position their units offensively or defensively.

Non-interactive features can be of three types: Terrain, Elevated position and Uncrossable.

Terrain will determine the speed of the unit while moving, for example moving on a path will maintain normal speed whereas moving on grass will reduce unit speed.

The map will include Elevated Positions where players can position their units and gain an accuracy bonus as well as increased sight range.

The layout of the map will also include an Uncrossable feature that will divide the map in two and keep players from crossing to the other side. This feature could be presented as a river or crack in the terrain, and in order to cross, players will have to use bridges.

Interactive features on the other hand can be used by units for different purposes, such as hiding in tall grass or finding cover behind large objects such as rocks, cliffs and structures. The size of the features will determine how many units can use them as cover or hide behind to flank incoming enemies.

Cover & hiding scenarios
Rocks & Cliffs (Concept)
Foliage (WIP)

Another important mechanic being implemented in the game is Fog of War. It will be a grey layer that covers the entire map, allowing players to see terrain and structures, but it won’t show enemy or neutral units. Each player’s units have their own field of view that will clear the fog of war around them, but will return whenever a unit moves away from it’s location. Big terrain features such as cliffs and structures will also create concealed areas where the fog of war is not cleared due to the line of sight obstruction.

Obstruction to line of sight

Matchmaking & Accelerated Match Ending (Work-in-progress)

Our aim is to make Frontier a fast-paced and exciting game while keeping the meta fair and gameplay balanced. Matchmaking is a key part of making it possible. The first version of Frontier’s matchmaking system is complete. It determines how a player is matched with other potential players for a match based on three criteria:

  • Skill Level (ELO ranking system)*
  • Location
  • Queue Time

In case there are no players with a similar level available, a bot system is something we are looking at as a possibility to keep the game rolling and prevent extended queue time.

*For the Alpha version of Frontier, we are only going to focus solely on ELO ranking system.

Another game design mechanic we are currently working on is ‘Accelerated Match Ending’. The purpose of this mechanic is to prevent matches running for long periods of time and forcing players into scenarios where they have to make quick strategic decisions or face defeat. For example shrinking maps in battle royale games is a good example of how matches are accelerated to end.

Sketch of shrinking map

Tech

One of the key decisions that both Frontier & Globant had to make early on was whether to develop the game in HDRP or URP. Together, we listed pros and cons for each:

Why choose HDRP over URP?

  • Lighting and visuals are far superior using HDRP.
  • Requires less work to create better visual results.
  • Has the option to use ray tracing.
  • We would need to cut some content to support HDRP, such as drastically reducing the amount of units for each player in order to maintain a decent frame rate.
  • High workload to maintain performance and to meet design requirements.

Why choose URP over HDRP?

  • Far superior from a performance and optimization point of view.
  • Can still look very good, but requires more work on the art style and details compared to HDRP.
  • URP provides the performance needed to use a good amount of units in the game without reducing frame rate or cutting content.
  • Doesn’t support ray tracing.

Due to the nature of the game we are developing, we opted to use URP instead of HRDP. URP will allow us to have more units and interactive features simultaneously in a match while maintaining a decent frame rate on a wide range of hardware. We have also spent countless hours on the art style of the game and are confident we can deliver a great looking game on URP.

What’s Next?

Things are moving quickly and we are happy to finally share some of the work happening behind the scenes. In next month’s update we will be sharing more insights to in-game buildings/structures, neutral units, flash blocks and much more. We are also actively working on the Watcher lore and hope to introduce it to the community as soon as we feel it’s ready!

Pssst.. scroll down for more!

Concept Art

Here’s an epic dump of concept art we have been working on this year. You might have seen some of these before, but there are quite a few that have been lost in the archives.

Visual development of Core & Turret buildings

Iterations of The Beyond Art Direction

And to finish, here are some more random archives from the project development.

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