What Mode 7 is working on right now!

May 27th, 2013 by Paul

What Mode 7 is working on right now!

Frozen Cortex (PC, Mac, Linux)

A simultaneous turn-based tactical game: think Speedball meets Blood Bowl.  Check it out on Steam!

Untitled New nervous_testpilot Album

This should be out in 2015 / 2016.  Take a listen to nervous_testpilot’s other music here.

New Game

We will be starting work on a new title later in 2015.

Stuff We’ve Done Before

Frozen Synapse (PC, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android)

A simultaneous turn-based squad tactics game.  Multi-award winning et cetera.  Have a look!

We collaborated with Double 11 on Vita, PS3, PC and other versions of their reboot Frozen Synapse Prime as well.

Determinance (PC)

Super weirdo sword-fighting game where you swing the sword with the mouse.

Visiting the Village: Episode 61

September 3rd, 2015 by James

On this week’s show we have managing expectations, government funding, gritty reboots, when tweets become major news stories and much more.

We also have the return of this week’s old releases, the UK Steam top 10 and a bumper crop of listener questions before concluding with a discussion of Daybreakers and Ex Machina in the Television and Film Lounge.

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Visiting the Village: Episode 60

August 26th, 2015 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 60

This week’s topics include being a dick, abandoned spaces, arguments against VR, prison servers, Chinese slang and (perhaps most exciting of all) data protection.

Also returning are Ian’s Magic Corner, this week’s old releases and listener questions.

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Visiting the Village: Episode 59

August 18th, 2015 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 59

This week Ian and Paul discuss old websites, allowing players to practice your game, hobbies, lawsuits and rip-offs along with much more.

We also have the return of the Television and Film Lounge along with Ian’s Magic Corner. Perhaps most surprisingly of all we get some serious questions from listeners!

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Visiting the Village: Episode 58

August 12th, 2015 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 58

This week’s stories include perennial hot topic Star Citizen, alternative uses for VR, Scooter the Musical, choice vs consequence in games and many more.

We also introduce a potential new segment; the intriguingly titled “Ian’s Magic Corner”.

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Visiting the Village: Episode 57

August 5th, 2015 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 57

Visiting the Village is back with a largely Gamescom free podcast.

This week Ian and Paul discuss Playstation Home, game design, ‘bad’ F2P, outstaying your welcome and more. Also talked about are this week’s old releases and some reader questions of variable merit.

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Visiting the Village: Episode 56

July 29th, 2015 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 56

Visiting the Village is back! Again!

A bumper ep for you as we discuss the week’s hot topics such as eSports doping, the success of the Xbone, Star Citizen and many more. We also answer a selection of reader questions and consider this week’s new releases…10 years ago.

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Frozen Endzone is now Frozen Cortex!

July 22nd, 2014 by Paul

Frozen Endzone is now Frozen Cortex!

Frozen Endzone is now Frozen Cortex!

It also now has OSX and Linux versions as well as big performance updates and a completely overhauled AI.

We’ve also made some significant changes to the aesthetic: the ball, player animations and some elements of the pitch are now different.

frostyPickup

There are three reasons for the rebrand:

1.)  The original name was a bit rubbish and we got bored of it

2.)  We think the game looks better like this

3.)  Some people thought we were making a Madden game with robots: that is not what we’re doing

Cortex is a simultaneous-turn-based strategy game; a tense competitive contest wrapped up in the trappings of a brutal futuristic sport.  It’s not a simulation of any existing sport; it takes an influence from football but you can certainly play it without understanding even a smidgen of that particular game.

planning1

Here’s what’s in the update:

– OSX and Linux versions

– New pitch, ball and animations

– Completely overhauled AI including much faster performance and much more intelligent play

– Five new stadiums

– Significant performance improvements: frame rate should be 50-100% improved on most hardware

– Big loading time improvements

UI improvements:

– Throwing UI improved

– Intelligent interception-radius rendering

– indicator for whether a move location is “safe” or not

– Minor rules changes to reduce the need to “keep playing when the match is clearly over”; other gameplay improvements

– Quite a few new gameplay options to play around with in the Custom Game editor.

– Significantly updated in-game commentary text

– Other minor changes

nightCity

Have a look at the new trailer here:

http://youtu.be/mD08aDe0F8U

If you’re a journalist and you’d like to use some screenshots, you can find them here:

http://www.frozencortex.com/FrozenCortexScreenshotsJuly2014.zip

Frozen Endzone July Update

June 17th, 2014 by Paul

Frozen Endzone July Update

Greetings,

We will be pushing an update for Frozen Endzone at the end of July.

We’ve also been working heavily on single player content which isn’t ready to release yet. I’ll talk about that a bit in a moment but first, here’s what you can expect in the update…

nightCity

Change List

– OSX and Linux builds

– Completely overhauled AI including much faster performance and much more intelligent play

– Significant performance improvements: frame rate should be 50-100% improved on most hardware

– Big loading time improvements

– Major aesthetic updates and improvements including…
– new ball
– many new animations
– new throws, new catches, new tackles
– several new stadiums
– other minor graphical improvements with a lot more to come

frostyPickup

UI improvements:
– throwing UI improved
– intelligent interception-radius rendering
– indicator for whether a move location is “safe” or not

– Minor rules changes to reduce the need to “keep playing when the match is clearly over”; other gameplay improvements

– Quite a few new gameplay options to play around with in the Custom Game editor.

– Some commentary improvements.

– Other minor changes

Single Player

Alongside this update we have been working on the single player game, which we think is a fantastic combination of a traditional season mode but with a much tighter structure, character interaction and potential for storytelling.

The main mode will feature 7 distinct AI teams, all with their own coaches. Each coach has a response to the player, ranging from hatred to admiration, and their dialogue will change based on this and your performance in the league. You’ll be playing in the Global Cortex League (GCL) against these teams and also in a series of specially crafted contests with hugely variable rules and player behaviour.

You’ll earn incremental stat upgrades and be able to customise your team; there will also be storylines and intrigues which happen within the league that will have a bearing on your progress. The coaches will each have a different agenda and occasionally will propose league-wide votes on rule changes which you can influence.

There will also be other leagues and tournaments where you can coach, as well as an ongoing background story which will progress across different playthroughs with different teams

We’ve been working on this a lot behind-the-scenes for a while and making progress on it is very exciting. This kind of gameplay isn’t something that will work with incremental updates, so you’ll have to bear with us as we polish it up to the level where we’re happy to show it to you.

Thanks very much for the support on Endzone so far: this game means a lot to us and we’re really pushing to make it as good as humanly (and robotly) possible.

Frozen Endzone Beta 2

March 10th, 2014 by Ian

Frozen Endzone Beta 2

Three months ago we launched the first publicly available beta of Frozen Endzone.  Endzone is quite like Frozen Synapse, but it involves a futuristic sport played by robots.  People seem to like it quite a lot so far.

On Monday we launch Frozen Endzone Beta 2 onto the great Steam platform.  It is a massive update of Endzone, and a pretty complete multiplayer game in its own right.  Here is a list of the major new features:

(If you have bought Endzone via our own website, you will be able to use your key to activate the game on Steam right now.)

Player attributes/statistics
In Beta 1, all players behaved the same way.  Now they do not.  They have different statistics in Speed, Strength, Blocking, Interception, Resilience, Evade, and Burst (with more to come).  You can play matches with random players, or you can…

ezstatsingame

 

Create your own team build, upload it and play against others easily
Click on the team editor and create a unique build, name your players, then hit the upload button and your team will be stored on the server.  Any matches started by you or by someone against you on the normal Full Match mode will use your team.  Speed-based teams are good for newer players, or try something a bit more pro with an Interception/Strength build.

ezstats

 

 

New central game mode
The “Handball” mode from Beta 1 has been fully redeveloped and is now the central game mode.  Lots of turnovers, interceptions, end-to-end action, and new points zones make this a really exciting and strategic mode.

 

All new single player AI
We’ve got lots of single matches to play in SP against a really good AI.  It took me bloody ages to make an AI which played the game properly, so I hope you like it!

 

Pitch editor
Powerful, easy to use tile editor to make your own game pitches.  Super easy to immediately play against the AI or a human on them.  The pitch templates we use for everything in the game are included.

 

ezpitch

 

Custom game rules editor
Make any two teams you like with the team editor, any pitch you like with the pitch editor, then use the Custom Game editor to challenge your friend and give yourself a 20 point lead to start it off.

ezcustom

 

 

In-game commentary
Our commentators Bill Jansky and The Auditor will keep you company while you play, talking about your history with a specific opponent; berating you if you’ve played badly recently; and using the AI code behind the scenes to tell you if you should have played better on the last turn.

ezcommentary

 

 

Loads of new animations and improvements for our cinematic Outcomes
We got loads of feedback on this area during Beta 1 – I hope you like what we’ve done with it.

 

Loads of fixes and tweaks
Beta can mean a million different things nowadays, but the Mode 7 way is never to sell something we don’t believe stands on its own.  We’ve got a huge amount more to add to Frozen Endzone, but right now it’s a stable, solid game that our fans tell us is good!

 

Aaaaaand… everything that was in Beta 1 too
Awesome game, rock solid matchmaking and online play with leaderboards, friends lists, and a feed.  Great music by nervous_testpilot.  If I can just quote someone one twitter for a second, talking about Beta 1: “it’s like they took the best bits of a Frozen Synapse match, and made a whole game out of them.”

 

 

Games in the Public Domain

February 4th, 2014 by Paul

Games in the Public Domain

Yesterday, John Walker over at RPS posted about his desire for games to enter the public domain twenty years or so after release:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/02/03/editorial-why-games-should-enter-the-public-domain/

Steve Gaynor (of Gone Home fame) wrote a great response which is worthy of your time:

http://pastebin.com/eiKaV8Rq

I’d like to add a few points to this discussion.

Profiting from work in the public domain

Steve makes the point that profit from work > 20 years old is pretty vital to someone’s long-term career as an artist; I agree completely.

However, making something public domain does not mean that the original creator cannot go on profiting from it at all: John makes that point very strongly and he is completely correct.   It would be good for this discussion if people actually listened to the point he was reiterating and didn’t stupidly attack him on false grounds.  He did say that quite a few times, after all, just in case you weren’t paying attention.

Now that’s established, let’s look at what could potentially happen…

– A game being PD wouldn’t affect the sales of that game on GoG (or equivalent) all that much

There would be an impact on sales but my general suspicion is that it wouldn’t be all that great. I don’t have much evidence for this: I’d suggest that it is somewhat equivalent to the current piracy situation around single-player only games but that’s mostly conjecture…and obviously highly debatable in its own right.

– However, it would affect licensing a great deal

A large amount of value vested in IP’s that persist meaningfully for longer than twenty years (and indeed in ones that don’t) stems from their potential to be licensed for new products.

So it’s revenue from new products that mostly help support the original creator, not revenue from the original work.

The creator would not, in any way, be able to profit from the license, because the characters, art, story and anything meaningful to do with the IP would be free for anyone to use. So there goes merchandise, movie adaptation, animation rights (yes I’ve just started watching Arrested Development, please ignore me)…and, especially, reboots.

We’re seeing a lot of classic game reboots at the moment: these would all happen without the original creators getting a dime, when that person was still alive, well and creating.  That doesn’t feel right, and it doesn’t seem like it would make financial sense either.

Integrity of your IP matters, not just its monetary value

When something becomes public domain, anyone with any agenda can repurpose it. I would feel concerned if, in my lifetime, Frozen Synapse was turned into something used to promote ideals that don’t reflect our own: I’m sure Ian, the game’s designer and the one who originally conceived it, would feel even more strongly about that. I doubt we’d feel much better if that happened in our kids’ lifetimes either…so when does this become acceptable?

Think of the worst possible thing someone could do with work that you spent four years creating, then imagine you have no legal protection against that.

Most of us do not have experience dealing with big IP’s. The makers of Minecraft have to see rubbish, derivative junk products and scams which use their product’s name cropping up on a daily basis; they have to put in a huge amount of effort to stop this from happening while maintaining the rights of those who want to do genuine creative things with their game. Why are they suddenly not allowed to fight this battle after 20 years (or 25 years, or 30 years etc.)?

Creative work has a unique risk/reward paradigm which other forms of work do not share

I believe that there is a strong case for society treating creative work differently from other forms of endeavour.

I think John’s workman analogy is the weakest part of his argument and undermines his more interesting points, so I don’t want to dwell on it too much. I will add, though, that our hypothetical workman is building up a kind of value when he works which is inaccessible to a lone creator:

– The workman should, in a lot of cases, be able to earn promotion or increased salary simply by doing his job well over a long period

– He may, after a while, acquire enough knowledge about his trade to start his own business, or expand his current one. Growing a service business is significantly and inherently simpler than expanding a creative business. It’s Ian’s unique combination of talents and insanities that make our games the way they are; we can’t hire another one of him, nor can we clone him… Sure, we could hire another development team and expand that way, but please don’t try to tell me that’s like a plumbing company hiring another plumber.

For Ian and myself, something which has always attracted us to making games is that there is “no ceiling”. There is a very, very low chance that something will become a ridiculous hit and go on being a success for your entire lifetime. Again, this isn’t entirely about money, and I agree with John’s point that it’s facile to suggest that money is a prime motivator for creativity. A lot of that feeling – for it is mostly a feeling – is to do with the fact that nobody can ever take it away from you.

Publishers holding IP’s exclusively / creators not getting paid

This is a completely separate discussion in my eyes: briefly, I don’t think there is a “moral right” to be paid for work where you have consciously and knowingly signed up as work-for-hire and waived those rights.

Trying to fix this by enforcing a situation where nobody owns rights after a certain time is somewhat of a nuclear option and not an elegant solution to this particular problem; I don’t think conflating these issues is helpful.

Things that do need addressing

A world where IP holders can just sit on both an IP and a product for years and refuse to allow anyone access to it for no good reason is fairly silly. It would be nice if, perhaps, there were some means to force older games to be available in some form: perhaps they should have to be released for free (but not PD) if they are not commercially available in any way for a length of time?

We need better, clearer and wider application of Fair Use to allow free quotation and intertextuality without threat of legal action, facilitating things like sampling in music (which is a whole different kettle of fish). Not-for-profit fan work should be actively encouraged; repurposing of game footage and machinima should be more than just quasi-legal.

The “giving back to culture” idea that John mentions does appeal to me.  I’m actually still thinking about this in the context of my own views – I don’t have any real conclusions on how to facilitate this yet.

Rather helpfully, that brings me on to my final point…

Thoughts on discussion

This is a very emotional issue for people: John illustrated this at the start of his piece with the vehement reactions to his off-hand comment.

I’m personally utterly sick of big games industry topics like this one dissolving into ad hominem idiocy; I wish that everyone could grow up and focus on the actual issues involved.

I’ll admit to having been annoyed by that initial comment as well: I thought it reflected views that were hopelessly different from my own.

But here is an instance where John has taken the time to expand his off-hand remark into a significant, thoughtful piece about a nuanced issue. We should respect him for that: it’s easy to just become more entrenched in your beliefs and leave the discussion when responses are combative; instead he’s actually done something that benefits everyone.  In the course of his writing, he took me from just being a bit irked by something he said to fully engaging with his argument: much more interesting!  Maybe I don’t fully agree with everything he said, but he  overtly stated that wasn’t his main goal, so everyone’s now happy, right?

Why aren’t people praising and encouraging this instead of being defensive and stupid about it?  If you can’t explore the reasons for your own beliefs and just get increasingly tumescent with rage when challenged, that’s a good indication that you’re probably wrong.

I’d like less knee-jerking, more brain-thinking, please: I guess I’m a romantic as well.

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