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Developer Blog: Hello World!

Posted on 6th Jul 2010 at 10:09 by Mode 7 with 16 comments

Mode 7
My name's Paul Taylor, and I co-own an indie dev studio (that's code for three guys in a small room) called Mode 7 Games. We've been making games and doing various other projects together since 2005.

Our current title is called Frozen Synapse - it's a squad-based tactical game that people seem to like!

I handle everything that isn't development, as well as working on any art direction, audio and writing that's required. My co-conspirator Ian Hardingham handles design, code and the overall direction of our stuff.

Developer Blog: Hello World!
Frozen Synapse is currently in beta

Our first project was an action multiplayer sword-fighting game called Determinance. Ian started this off when he was at university: he'd done a lot of work in the Torque engine due to his unhealthy obsession with Tribes 2, and realised that he wanted to make games for a living.

Torque seemed the natural place to start for him, as flying around in Tribes was one of his favourite gaming sensations. So, that's how we ended up with one of the world's only flying sword-fighting games!

A respected games industry consultant once told me that a flying sword-fighting game was a bit like a chocolate hot dog: two things that are nice in isolation but should never be combined. A lot of people did enjoy the game very much, but it was too weird for most gamers and hence got bashed fairly thoroughly. Personally, I still like it!


Frozen Synapse in action

There's no doubt that making Determinance was one of the best things we could possibly have done. Finishing and releasing a game takes you from a wannabe to someone who actually has valid experience - an important distinction.

With Frozen Synapse, we tried to narrow down what we wanted to accomplish in the game to a few elements which we knew we could do well. Translating the experience you want to have into an actual game takes a lot of iteration, so we've spent two or three years on and off just getting things into a form where we're happy for other people to start playing in a beta format.

In this blog, I'll be taking you through our week-by-week experiences with making the game and also sharing some of our thoughts on the current state of the games industry. We hope you'll be interested in the exploits of a tiny UK developer, but if you can't wait and want to ask us questions now then post in the comments below!

16 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
yakyb 6th July 2010, 12:02 Quote
should be an interesting read

i work for a small (5 man) dev team sadly only making windows applications not games. it will be interesting to see how problems correlate
Denis_iii 6th July 2010, 13:13 Quote
:) cracking game, i remember seeing it on bytejacker I think where it was highly rated and looked very cool. I will def pick it up when get a working machine!

I'd like to know.... what dev tools you use for coding, audio creation and 2d/3d visuals? Is it your own engine? What do you code in?

Thanks and keep up the good work.
Unknownsock 6th July 2010, 13:15 Quote
Great, I'll be looking foward to these.

I'll most likely be buying this, as concept idea is incredible.
CardJoe 6th July 2010, 13:18 Quote
Personally, I just want to know where I can get the soundtrack. The song in the trailer is awesome.
Cabe6403 6th July 2010, 15:12 Quote
I'll be following this for sure, a likely buy for me too
SoulRider 6th July 2010, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Personally, I just want to know where I can get the soundtrack. The song in the trailer is awesome.

I may be wrong, but I believe it's from Mike Oldfields Tubular Bells II, been a long time since I heard the album though, so may have got that wrong..
Von Lazuli 6th July 2010, 16:02 Quote
Should be an interesting series to follow, as well as an exciting looking game.

I am currently working on animations for a small experimental exploration/hack and slash game as well as polishing up the design document for a physics based puzzle game, so I will be very interested in seeing your process. Is theres any insight you can give into your design process for Frozen Synapse up until this point?

As for the state of the UK industry, that is starting to become pretty relevant to me, as the Australian industry seems to slowly dying, or at least, slowly dying in Melbourne.
Omnituens 6th July 2010, 16:43 Quote
I can't wait to get a job in the industry, but atm EVERY job I go for says "only bother applying if you have worked on a shipped A+++++ title, if you haven't you are less than scum to us"

How the hell is anyone meant to get experience if they demand only people with experience?

My degree was a complete waste of time.
Unknownsock 6th July 2010, 17:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnituens
I can't wait to get a job in the industry, but atm EVERY job I go for says "only bother applying if you have worked on a shipped A+++++ title, if you haven't you are less than scum to us"

How the hell is anyone meant to get experience if they demand only people with experience?

My degree was a complete waste of time.

You can argue that with any job really.
Thats the sole reason i say Uni can be overrated at times. Depending on the job ofc.
PaulMode7 6th July 2010, 20:47 Quote
Thanks for the nice comments guys!

I can assure you the soundtrack is not Tubular Bells! It's original music for the Frozen Synapse soundtrack.

I hope I can answer some of your questions next week.
Material 7th July 2010, 01:31 Quote
I am definitely looking forward to this. Possible game to play on lunch break?
Cabe6403 7th July 2010, 08:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnituens
I can't wait to get a job in the industry, but atm EVERY job I go for says "only bother applying if you have worked on a shipped A+++++ title, if you haven't you are less than scum to us"

How the hell is anyone meant to get experience if they demand only people with experience?

My degree was a complete waste of time.

Make an iPhone game or something with equal scope. Should be easy enough for one person to come up with a decent game or two in not too long a period. Then when you apply for a job be like "I don't have any AAA experience but here's some stuff I've made in my spare time"

I was talking with a guy who has worked in a number of large studios a while back and he said that that really sets people apart.
Sifter3000 7th July 2010, 13:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabe6403
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnituens
How the hell is anyone meant to get experience if they demand only people with experience?

My degree was a complete waste of time.

Make an iPhone game or something with equal scope. Should be easy enough for one person to come up with a decent game or two in not too long a period.

Or a mod, or some levels, or a scripted campaign (NWN or Arma etc). It's similar with journalism: we want experience, but writing for your own blog, student paper etc are all good ways to get that experience.
CardJoe 7th July 2010, 16:10 Quote
Aye. All the developers I chat too say they look for people who show their own work done off their own back. iPhone games are an obvious way to make money, but as Alex says it does go as far as designing maps, working on mods and so on.
Cabe6403 7th July 2010, 16:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sifter3000
Or a mod, or some levels, or a scripted campaign (NWN or Arma etc). It's similar with journalism: we want experience, but writing for your own blog, student paper etc are all good ways to get that experience.

Precisely. If you can't get experience elsewhere, make your own. It shows initiative and a passion for what you want to do.

Many developers will be just as impressed with a mod you've done yourself or as part of a small team (presuming you've made significant contribution to the project) as if you were a part of a much larger AAA title.

Example from id software:
Quote:
3+ years in the games industry or significant demonstrable mod work in the first person shooter genre

Obviously id are pretty massive and it'd be easier to get into less well known developers but the point stands.

Valve are big into employing from the mod community. Team Fortress was a 3rd party mod created by a small team of non-professionals. They ended up getting picked up by Valve to develop TF2 in house.
Ending Credits 7th July 2010, 17:36 Quote
I've done some messing around making a few "games" but I'm interested in making a (simple) proper game and I want to go into games design after Uni so I shall follow this with interest.
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