It's a simultaneous, turn-based tactics game that's multiplayer. We were looking at turn-based games on the multiplayer side, and realized that they're really slow, because usually you have to wait for the other player to play. [The breaks in the action] can last up to five minutes or so, especially when there's no time limit. "Take your time. The other guy takes his time." It [seemed like] it took a little bit to long. We were looking for ways to make it more dynamic, more multiplayer-focused - like current FPS games. We came up with simultaneous, turn-based gameplay, where all players play at the same time. So, everybody gives their orders to their characters - "You move here. You shoot here," and things like that.Avenard also explained how having player plan their moves simultaneously will make the experience more reactive, effectively reducing any down-time normally present in turn-based multiplayer.
Once the timer runs out or everyone has given their orders - about fourty seconds to one minute, depending on your level - the action takes place. All the characters move, and all the action is shown to the player with a dynamic camera system. Then you see if the choices you made were the right ones. It's much more a game of anticipation than most traditional turn-based strategy games. It's closer to an RTS than a turn-based game. In an RTS game, you have to anticipate what the other player is building. That's kind of the feeling we were looking for in the game.
Fray will also incorporate a robust leveling system that will allow players to customize their units as they progress, as well as some some other goodies meant to appeal to hardcore gamers. "We're not closed to the idea of including single-player," said Avenard, "but right now, it's multiplayer only." Avenard also told me that how players build their team will greatly influence the action on the battlefield.
One of Fray's virtual battlefields.
That was another gameplay element we were focusing on: Having to choose which classes you want to play with will really influence your play-style. We went with over-the-top weapons, air-strikes... things that will appeal to hardcore gamers like us. Since we're doing a multiplayer game, we wanted to have a leveling system where you start from level one and [progress] to level twenty, where your character and team evolve - gaining new abilities and new weapons - and pretty much adjust your own strategy compared to all the other players. The idea is that when you reach level twenty, your team is your team. Nobody has the same team as you. You have your own weapons and your own play-style.Despite the fact that my early look at the game was more of a tech demo, Fray's aim to streamline (and speed up) the multiplayer side of simultaneous turn-based gameplay seems new and interesting. Avenard still estimates about eight more months of development time, but is hoping to release Fray on a wide array of digital-distribution services, including Steam. That doesn't necessarily mean that Fray won't eventually make it to other platforms. "The good thing about Unity is that it's adapatble for PS3 and Xbox 360," Avenard clarified. "We're not opposed to adapting it later on for consoles - PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Arcade - because it would fit pretty well. A game lasts around 20 minutes, there are 20 levels of experience, and about thirty hours of gameplay. So, we think it would be a good fit on consoles too."