How Frozen Endzone goes from Synapse to sports

Paul Taylor from Mode 7 Games talks about the upcoming Frozen Endzone and the studio's shift from turn-based strategy to turn-based sports.


Mode 7 Games has received high praise for their most recent title, Frozen Synapse, including an Audience Award win at 2012's Independent Games Festival. The indie developer is not resting on its laurels, however. They recently released an iPad version of their turn-based strategy game and are now turning their eye towards the next title--a turn-based sports game. Moving towards the gridiron, Mode 7 has started development on Frozen Endzone. To learn more about this new title, I talked to Mode 7's co-founder, Paul Taylor.

"We really wanted to make a game that was about reading your opponent's moves and gaining territory, and a sports game is perfect for that," Taylor explained. "We also love the aesthetic of things like Speedball and thought it would be interesting to explore that kind of look with modern graphics. The idea for the game really came fully-formed, both mechanics and aesthetic, from our Lead Designer, Ian Hardingham, so he's the one to blame!"

Much like the game of football, Frozen Endzone is about carrying a ball across a field and claiming territory. In this case, instead of humans, players control a team of robots. And instead of a traditional football field, teams will face each other atop randomly-generated terrain. Taylor briefly compares this to Frozen Synapse by noting that the planning system and turn-based mechanics will remain the same, but says that's where the similarities will end.

So what are the rules of the game? Despite its looks, Frozen Endzone will differ somewhat from a traditional game of football.

"There will be a variety of game modes with different rules," Taylor begins. "At the moment, the main rules we're using are pretty different from football. The objective is always to get the ball into your opponent's endzone while in the possession of one of your players. In the main game mode, the ball starts close to the team who is on offense. Once a player picks up the ball, he has to choose to throw it or run with it--he can throw it so that it lands on the field, or directly to one of his own players. If it's caught by the other team when it's thrown, or if a player carrying the ball is tackled, they then gain control of the ball and have to make a similar decision about what to do. That continues until someone gets to the endzone, and then the match is over. That's the absolute basics--there are quite a few rules around tackling, being stunned and so on that are best demonstrated with a video. We'll hopefully be making one soon that will show a lot more of the detailed gameplay and really give people a better idea."

Frozen Endzone's randomly-generated fields will be as big a star as the players. Taylor is aiming for five distinct stadiums, but leaves open the possibility for more. "At the moment, there are two levels of terrain," Taylor added. "One blocks player movement and the other blocks both player movement and the ball when it's thrown. You will also, hopefully, be able to slam players into terrain when tackling them."

The hard-hitting action is set to kick off this summer with a pre-order beta, similar to what Mode 7 did for Frozen Synapse. The final version of the game is set to arrive in 2014 on PC with Mac and Linux versions coming shortly thereafter.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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