Single player casual genres, such as puzzle and match-3, are natural fits for the short-duration, high-frequency mobile experience.
Taking inspiration from fast-action console-style multiplayer games is much more difficult for mobile developers, however, no matter how much they love and play the source material.
In that regard, Finnish/Russian studio Panzerdog has set itself a hard task.
Inspired by its love of titles ranging from Dota 2 and EA’s Battlefield series, its competitive 5v5 team shooter Tacticool, which is both heavy on vehicles and physics, is currently honing itself via closed beta testing.
One minute hero
“Tacticool has been a competitive game from day one,” explains Panzerdog’s CEO Alexey Sazonov, of its genesis.
“We wanted to recreate the emotions we got from various console games in a mobile team-multiplayer action game because there wasn’t anything like that available.”
He’s quick to point out the ways in which Tacticool is fundamentally designed as a pure mobile experience, though: it has simple two-thumb controls, and each match is just one minute long.
“Life is short. You can have a good battle within a minute,” he laughs.
“After playtesting in the office, we’re often talking about someone's heroic killing spree or the set of unfortunate events that led to your team's defeat.”
Of course, given the impact of esports and games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, audience demands, even for a mobile game like Tacticool, are changing fast.
Life is short. You can have a good battle within a minute.Alexey Sazonov
“PUBG wasn't a thing when we started, but, yes, more and more players are asking us to look into a Battle Royale mode, but that would require some radical rethinking,” Sazonov ponders.
“We have a lot of other ideas ranging from a co-op mode played against NPCs or a Battlefield-style Conquest mode. We’re also experimenting with 10v10 but we don’t want to lose focus.
“Maybe some of these would work better as standalone games, not a different mode in the same game.”
Building a warchest
Excitement about future opportunities to the potential detriment of launching the best game now is the typical developer’s dilemma.
Sazonov is keen to bring the conversation back to the task in hand and talk about how the beta testing is progressing.
“It’s been going well. We had over 13,000 applications and they’ve provided a lot of valuable input,” he says.
Tweaks include alternative control systems, a streamlined user interface, improvements in loading times, and the usual array of fixed technical bugs. This means the game is shaping up to enter soft launch testing during November.
The process will be aided by an almost $1 million investment from Russian internet giant Mail.Ru’s game fund.
“Mail.Ru has a great network of developers we can learn from, and it’s also strong in terms of marketing and analytics. We expect a lot of good things from this partnership,” Sazonov explains.
But, more importantly, Tacticool’s success will rely on the simple attributes of the original vision.
“It’s fast-to-start, quick-to-end and thanks to its physics and destruction, it’s a lot of fun,” he enthuses. “That makes a great fit for mobile.”