MEET THE DEVELOPER
The calm before the swarm
Frost models nature to create a chill gaming experience.
A Dream Odyssey
When Denis and Davor Mikan released their first game, Blek, in 2013, they were swarmed. The game drew millions of players who loved popping coloured dots with dancing black lines.
“My brother would look at these crazy numbers,” says Denis, the producer in the duo. “He was trying to make order out of the chaos. That was the beginning of Frost.”
In Frost, their latest puzzle game, your goal is to manage swarms, ushering streams of tiny shimmering particles to their home planets. Its meditative feel is no accident: while Davor was experimenting with swarming algorithms, a friend gave him a book on meditation. “It seemed that at the first stage, it is about the close observation of things,” he says. That ended up being a guiding idea for Frost.
Denis, who moved with his brother from Bosnia to Vienna over 20 years ago, explains how the project was nearly derailed and what happened when they gave Frost to their mum.
What problem were you trying to solve with Frost?
It wasn’t about solving a problem in a game-like sense but making something innovative, something different and relaxing.
What were your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Each particle in the app is an individual agent. They’re not animated; it’s more like a simulation of swarming behaviour. Just like birds, each agent is looking for its nearest neighbours and trying to align its behaviours with them. You need to calculate the position for every one of them 60 times a second. We decided to give the GPU [graphics processing unit] this algorithm to calculate, but that was very advanced programming.
Our mother, who had never played games before, was playing it on a daily basis. We said, “OK, this really works!”
— Denis Mikan