Frozen Synapse developer Mode 7 Games exists in a challenging indie development climate, and the studio is responding by attempting to make bigger games and go multiplatform, said co-founder Paul Taylor in an interview with GamesIndustry International.
Oxford, U.K.-based Mode 7 launched Frozen Synapse, a squad-based strategy title, in May 2011 to a warm reception. At the time, the company was just trying to get noticed, and although the game brought Mode 7 a community of dedicated fans, Taylor said the indie competition has gotten significantly tougher since then. Countless studios of all sizes are now trying to revive so-called classic PC gameplay, including through Kickstarter, and controversial personalities in the indie scene grab headlines over developers doing relatively traditional titles.
"Simply being an indie developer isn't interesting to anyone [anymore]: we are so numerous; we are all very different," said Taylor. "The term, which seemed to have a relatively clear meaning ('not beholden to a publisher') a few years ago, has now become almost impossibly amorphous."
Mode 7 is launching mobile ports of Frozen Synapse this month — the iPad version is coming out May 16, while an Android date remains unannounced. The studio developed the iPad version itself, and had a tough time translating its mouse-driven interface to a touchscreen device. But the company believes its work has paid off, even if it's not expecting the game to be a phenomenal success.
"We are hoping it'll be more of a curiosity that gamers who own the platform feel compelled to pick up," Taylor explained. "If it works, we will do our best to bring all our future games to tablets as well."
"simply being an indie developer isn't interesting to anyone anymore"
Thanks to what Taylor called the "increasingly proactive" attitude of Sony Computer Entertainment in talking to indie studios, Mode 7 is partnering with LittleBigPlanet PS Vita developer Double Eleven to launch Frozen Synapse: Tactics on PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. Choosing an outside studio, said Taylor, was preferable to converting the Mode 7 team to console development.
All of this was undertaken while Mode 7 began a press campaign for its next game, Frozen Endzone, a futuristic football-like strategy title. The game recently made it through Steam Greenlight.
"Whether it's hitting a new platform, raising your profile, releasing new content or any other option, I believe it's worth having the confidence to push your completed games even further," said Taylor.