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Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice Interview: NetEase Games on the complex process of bringing the PC survival simulator to mobile

Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice Interview: NetEase Games on the complex process of bringing the PC survival simulator to mobile
  • NetEase Games discuss its ongoing development of Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice
  • Learn about upcoming updates to Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice's Early Access
  • Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice is a mobile adaptation of PC survival sim Frostpunk

First released on Steam in 2018, Frostpunk, the post-apocalyptic, town management simulator, proved to be a huge hit for its developer 11-bit studios, with PC and Console gamers delighting in the game’s challenge of leading a colony of survivors in the midst of a second ice age.

It comes as no surprise then that when Com2uS announced that it will publish a mobile adaptation titled Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice, the immediate question for fans was: “when will it be released?”.

Whilst there hasn’t been an official announcement on the release date yet, there is good news for players in the UK, US, and Philippines, as Android and iOS users for those regions can join Early Access for Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice right now.

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Besides the release date, there are of course plenty of other pressing questions such as: how does the game actually play? How does it stack up compared to the original Frostpunk? And, will fans be treated to the same level of emotional storytelling that’s become the trademark of 11-bit Studios?

Here you’ll find all of those questions answered and more thanks to our recent interview with Chao Luo, Producer at NetEase Games who developed Frostpunk Beyond the Ice in collaboration with 11-bit Studios.

First off, what attracted you to Frostpunk and the prospect of developing a mobile version? What is the most charming aspect of the Frostpunk IP for developers and users?

The most distinctive features of our game are its art style of the ice and steampunk era and exploring the dilemmas of human nature. We believe this game has huge potential to be successful in the mobile market through improvements. That's why we decided to develop a mobile version of Frostpunk.

As developers, we were attracted by its amazing scenery effects such as delicate melting snow visuals and authentic physical impressions. It was hard not to accept an offer to work on a stunning game like this. This game is a new type of simulation management game with adaptations from the original PC game. Players will be able to explore the core fun factors of Frostpunk anywhere and anytime they want.

How did you go about ensuring that Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice would deliver the same quality experience as the original PC game?

We optimized the rendering line of Unity to bring the high-quality graphics of the PC version to mobile devices and further enhance the overall performance, allowing the same graphics to be displayed on mobile devices smoothly. We have exclusive copyrights and technical patents for this technology.

What is the biggest difference between the mobile version and the original PC version? Will there be strategic elements leading to different endings based on players’ choices like in the original game?

Through extensive discussions with 11 bit studios about gameplay during the early stages of the game design, we decided to use a different approach from the PC version. The biggest difference is that you can end the whole game within a few hours compared to the PC version that requires constant, tactical controls. Our goal was to allow players to explore the in-game content in depth. Thus, we thought optimizing the interface was essential to offer simple controls for mobile. Bringing the elements of the PC version to mobile is truly a complex process. As players gradually explore the game's storyline, meet various people, and get involved in various incidents, they'll be able to develop their city into a huge steampunk city.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during development and how did you overcome it?

Some of the challenges we encountered were control interaction, design optimization, reconstruction of systematic values to match the fragmentation time of mobile device users, and provision of a long-term service. There is no shortcut for resolving these difficulties. We analyze players' controls to define which controls are more significant than the others to proceed with interaction design. As for the designing gameplay method, we play the game ourselves as soon as a certain method is implemented and constantly run tests. Once we find a specific fun factor, we optimize it to refine the content.

What specific features do you think players will enjoy? Will there be competitive and social elements among users? Are there any in-game events planned?

We believe the graphics, objective, and progression elements are the core fun factors of Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice. For future updates, we're currently working to implement more social and competitive elements.

How has fan reaction been so far during Early Access and what are the upcoming milestones planned to roll out during the Early Access period?

We tried to retain the difficult challenges of the PC version in the early stages. However, we found out most players prefer to delve into the game rather than completing challenging quests. Therefore, we lowered the overall difficulty and implemented easy quests here and there to improve the overall progression system. That doesn't mean we removed all of the difficult quests; the Chapter Challenge system offers some challenging content. We'll ensure we make improvements and bring new additions to meet our players' expectations.

Lastly, is there a special message you'd like to give to our readers?

A major season update that will greatly enhance your gameplay experience is coming soon. Please stay tuned!