Train2Game news: Mode 7 Games on Steam, indie development and free-to-play

Frozen Synapse by Mode 7 Games is published through SteamTrain2Game students should find this Gamesbrief guest post by Frozen Synapse developer Mode 7 Games very interesting.

The bulk of the post sees developer Paul Taylor take a look back at how both business and design influenced the design and marketing of their turn based tactical title.

As previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Mode 7 Games have argued that getting onto Steam is essential for an indie PC game developer. Taylor reiterates that this was vital to the success of Frozen Synapse.

“Steam’s position in terms of digital distribution right now is well documented; having seen the results, there is no doubt in my mind that aiming to create a game which would stand up against other titles on there was the right thing for us to do in this instance.” he said in the Gamesbrief post.

Taylor also suggests that release timing was an element in the success of Frozen Synapse, with Mode 7 Games releasing it in a quiet time for PC releases. His advice to indie developers is to avoid releasing titles during busy periods, such as the run up to Christmas.

“The end of May turned out to be a fairly quiet time and a good time to launch for us: I’d just suggest that indie devs focus on avoiding busy periods (e.g. Christmas and late June to early August) when they’re shaping up for launch.” wrote Taylor.

The Frozen Synapse developer also discusses the growth of Free-to-play, but insists that the ‘pay-once’ model was right for their game.

“Pay-once is the most maligned business model out there right now:I would suggest that even the most hardcore entrenched old-school developers have been won round by the raw data that free-to-play games have generated, so pay-once is in decline.” said Taylor.

“I’m yet to hear a sane scheme for an F2P Frozen Synapse – I don’t think that a free-to-play game along similar lines would be impossible; however I have not heard any viable suggestions for how we could have done it with this game, the game we cared so much about making.” he added.

The Gamesbrief post certainly makes interesting reading for Train2Game students and it can be read here.

Gamesbrief examines the business of games, and Train2Game students can watch an insightful interview with website founder Nicholas Lovell here on the Train2Game blog.

Lovell also spoke in-depth to the Train2Game blog last year, providing useful advice about indie and social game development.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Mode 7’s post-mortem of Frozen Synapse? Will you take the advice on board?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamesbrief]

Train2Game students can hear indies speak at GameCityNights

Train2Game students in Nottinghamshire have a great opportunity to find out how an indie studio works for themselves at GameCityNights later this month.

In their latest monthly event, GameCityNights will feature all three former Bizarre Creations developers of indie studio Hogrocket as they discuss their debut game Tiny Wings, their move away from Triple-A and life as an indie.

Of course, those who can’t make it to Nottingham can always read the Train2Game blog interview with Hogrocket co-founder Ben Ward in which similar subjects are covered.

“We’ve always loved the GameCity Festival and admired the hard-working folks behind it, so it’ll be great to take the stage once again in Nottingham” said Hogrocket’s Pete Collier.

“This time we’ll be sharing the experience of starting a brand new games studio, including all the ups and downs that go with it! We’ll also let you play Hogrocket’s first gaming creation: Tiny Invaders. See you there!”

The GameCityNights event will also be showcasing a number of indie games, which will no doubt be of interest to Train2Game students.

GameCityNights Season 2, Episode 7 takes place on Thursday 29th September from 6pm in central Nottignham. For more information, and for ticket prices, see the GameCityNights website.

So Train2Game, if you’re in the Nottingam area, will you be going? Do you see it as something useful to you?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Team Meat on how to get your game on Steam


Super Meat Boy developers Team Meat recently featured on the podcast where they discussed their projects and various aspects of game development.

Perhaps of most interest to Train2Game students is Team Meat’s advice about how to get an indie game onto Steam.

As Train2Game students will know, the Steam digital distribution service can be very beneficial for indie developers, with Frozen Synapse developers Mode 7 Games labelling it as essential.

So how does an indie studio get their game on Steam?

“If you can get a lot of attention, and get people to care about your game, try to do interviews, show what your game’s about”  Edmund McMillen, one half of Team Meat told

“And if Steam keep saying no, then just release it, and then if it does really well, then show Steam.”

He added that Steam is giving indie games more publicity because it’s been a successful venture for them.

“I think Steam is getting more accepting of indie games because they’re doing really well with indie games. Indie games are doing really fantastic on Steam”

“So yeah, persistence… make the best game you can, and talk about your game.” He added.

McMillen also argued that being prepared to go the extra level to get your game published on Steam, and not giving up at the first hurdle is also very important for indie game developers looking to get their games on the service. Getting there could be tough.

“But don’t give up too — that’s like a big thing. We used to hear of a lot of people saying “I emailed Steam and they didn’t get back to me”, and then they just fucking give up.” he said.

“If we gave up, we wouldn’t be on anything. We had to fucking fight. You have to fight for these things.

“I would say persistence and drive are the two most crucial things about being a successful indie developer.” Added Tommy Refenes, the other half of the two-person Team Meat team.

Last time Team Meat featured on the Train2Game blog, they labelled Kinect ‘garbage.’ The statement was controversial to say the least and drew both support and opposition from Train2Game students.

What are your thoughts on the advice from Team Meat? How important is persistence to game developers? And do you see Steam as an avenue to publish your games through in future?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamasutra

Train2Game students have never had a better chance to compete with big companies

In what will be music to Train2Game students ears, there’s never been a better time for small developers to be successful.

That’s according to Kristian Segerstrale, the boss of Playfish. As previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Playfish social games are played by 55 million people a month.

“Never before has there been a time where as a small company you have such an unbelievable opportunity to challenge the big giants in any sector.” Segerstrale said while speaking at an event in London.

“And nowhere is there such an opportunity as in mobile.”

As Train2Game students will know, the rise of mobile gaming has made it much simpler for aspiring developers to get their work out there. Indeed, Train2Game student Georgij Cernysiov from the North East of England has released his own iPhone game, Euro Destruction.

And Segerstrale believes the number of smartphone owners could rise from 1.5 billion to 4 billion over the next five years, thanks to the world’s emerging economies.

“There’s an opportunity that big companies can’t do: it’s hard to focus on this platform when you’re big. People are migrating from desktops to mobiles, and big companies won’t do it, you guys will,” said the Playfish boss.

“It is horrible today to be a big company and want to do something new and innovative and different.”

And as reported by the Train2Game blog, UK developer Ninja Theory appear to agree with Segerstrale in that they believe it’s easier to be creative for a mobile or digital device.

Train2Game students can get an insight into life as an indie developer from the Train2Game blog interview with Liverpool based micro studio Hogrocket. The ex-Bizarre team recently released their first iPhone title, Tiny Invaders.

What are your thoughts on Segerstrale’s comments? Does the emergence of mobile really mean that small developers can compete with the established giants? Would you prefer to develop for mobile?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Develop]

Train2Game interview with Hogrocket co-founder Ben Ward


Hogrocket is a micro-studio founded by three former employees of Bizarre Creations and they’ve just released their first game for iPhone, Tiny Invaders.

 Train2Game recently caught up with Hogrocket co-founder Ben Ward to discuss switching from Triple-A to indie, indie development, and releasing games for the iPhone.

Ben also revealed how he got into the games industry and gave advice on how Train2Game students can attempt to follow in his footsteps. Read the interview below, or listen to it via Train2Game Radio


Train2Game interview: Hogrocket co-founder Ben Ward


Train2Game speak to co-founder of indie studio Hogrocket about game development, making games for iPhone, self promotion, how to get into the industry and much more!

Listen to the interview below, here on the Train2Game blog.



Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game hands it to Sony over Vita development gifts for indies

It’s entirely possible that some Train2Game students could end up developing games for the upcoming PlayStation Vita in future.

At least that’s the case if one or more students end up working for an indie studio looking to develop on the handheld console.

Indie studio Rubicon has confirmed to Gamasutra that Sony are handing PlayStation Vita dev kits to small game developers.

“I can confirm that Sony was generous enough to loan us some kit, and that’s one of the many reasons why I big them up every opportunity I get.” said Managing Director Paul Johnson.

“They really do seem to have gotten behind smaller developers, based on my own experience and from talking with other small devs, and I think they should be saluted for it.”

“We’re entering a new era in which digital downloads can be translated into mass market sales for smaller operators – once only the preserve of the big boys.”

Johnson noted that the PlayStation Vita dev kits aren’t for keeps but “are just loaners – we have to give them back when we’re done.”

Last month the Train2Game blog reported that Sony wanted to see more support for indie developers.

As an industry, we have to support those smaller teams, and let them try out their ideas, without doing so, the whole industry will stall, in terms of innovation.” Said Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida.

The PlayStation Vita – previously known to Train2Game blog readers as the NGP – featured prominently in Sony’s E3 conference.

“PlayStation Vita will revolutionise the portable entertainment experience,” said Sony CEO and Exeuctive Vice President Kaz Hirai  “It gives you the most complete entertainment package in the palm of your hands.”

For more information about the PlayStation Vita, see the full report on the Train2Game blog.

So Train2Game, is it a positive move that Sony are loaning dev kits to indies? Would you like to develop for a handheld such as the PlayStation Vita in future?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamasutra]

Train2Game news: Steam ‘essential’ for indie devs say Mode 7 Games

Frozen Synapse by Mode 7 Games is published through Steam

Train2Game students with plans to develop PC games will almost certainly be familiar with Steam, the digital distribution service from Half-Life, Portal and Team Fortress 2 developer, Valve.

Now, Mode 7 Games, the team behind indie title Frozen Synapse, have praised Valve and the way they go about promoting indie games, while keeping a hands off approach.

“That’s one of the best things about Valve, they won’t say ‘you are doing this’ – which they could do very easily – they’ll say ‘this is the kind of thing we want to do, this is why, how do you want to go about it?’ It’s great, it lets you try stuff.” Mode 7 Games co-founder Paul Taylor told

“We’re doing some stuff on Steam that people don’t normally do, like the free key for a friend thing, or offering the soundtrack as a separate thing you can upgrade to.”

“They’re quite different, and Valve had to do some actual system-related stuff to allow us to do that. For an indie game that doesn’t have a lot of clout, they’re surprisingly flexible and that’s great.” He continued.

“When you’re a company with that much power and that size, you have to strike a balance between doing things that benefit you and things that create a good eco-system for everyone,”.

“I think they’re pretty good at that, and they think very seriously about it. It is astonishing just how important they are in terms of the PC. Steam is really essential for indie games at the moment.”

The recent Steam Sales will probably have helped many smaller studios sell their games too.

Of course this isn’t the first time the supportive nature of Valve has been mentioned on the Train2Game blog, regular readers will know that community developers receive revenue from in-game items they’ve produced for Team Fortress 2.

So Train2Game, do you agree that Steam is ‘essential’ for indie PC developers? Would you attempt to get a game on Valve’s distribution system?

As usual, leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.


Former Rockstar Game Designer founds indie studio

In a move that’ll remind Train2Game students of the ever growing appeal of mobile games, a former Rockstar Game Designer has founded a new studio for producing them.

Anthony Gowland’s micro-studio Mainly About Games will concentrate on developing web an mobile games, with the first coming in the form of Tealy & Orangey, a web-based puzzle platformer

“With the varied distribution opportunities now available to developers, it felt like the perfect time to move away from AAA development,” explained Gowland”

And in similar comments made by games industry veteran Jon Hare during the Third Official Train2Game webinar in October last year, the former Rockstar Game Designer believes small teams can make very successful games.

“It’s totally viable for a small team, or even a single dedicated guy, to create and market a successful game independently. My passion is in creating small titles that have solid gameplay hooks and big budget polish.”

And in news that could theoretically benefit Train2Game student run game development teams, Mainly About Games will also offer consultation services.

“Each year there are a lot of games that are very good, when they could have been great. Playing through them you often get the impression that it’s the little details that are missing or have been overlooked.” said Gowland.

“I think there’s a real benefit to having an outsider with a proven track record play through your game with a fresh pair of eyes.”

Anthony Gowland previously worked as a Game Designer on titles including Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and Red Dead Redemption. For an interesting look behind the scenes of Red Dead Redemption, see the Train2Game blog.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the move? What does a Game Designer with Triple A experience moving into mobile say about the industry right now?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.


Interesting for Train2Game students: Epic on how the Samaritan tech demo was made

Regular Train2Game blog readers may remember Epic’s extremely impressive Unreal Engine 3 tech demo from earlier this year.

Now Epic Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney has spoken about ‘The Samaritan’ and the work behind it may be of interest to Train2Game students.

“Samaritan is the result of three months’ work by a small team of artists and programmers within Epic, as well as NVIDIA engineers who contributed to the advanced DirectX 11 and physics features we demonstrated.” Sweeney told Games TM.

“This was a pioneering effort, simultaneously figuring out what our development pipeline should be, creating content within that pipeline, and optimizing the visual quality and performance of the end product. We aimed very high, seeking a true movie quality of character lighting (via subsurface scattering and advanced shadowing techniques), reflections, filmic camera effects, cloth, and particle effects.”

“Enabling these features to run with full quality in real time on DirectX 11 hardware required substantial original research by the development team, as well as major code and content optimization efforts.”

The impressive tech shown in the demo is certainly something Train2Game students would love an opportunity to work with in future.

And as previously reported by the Train2Game blog, while Art & Animation is one way of creating realistic characters, Sweeny believes Game Designers need to more to create a truly realistic experience.

“[They] have much further to go in delivering truly dramatic interpersonal experiences,” he said. “Alyx in Half-Life 2 offered a glimpse into this possibility; I think increasingly lifelike characters are key to further progress.”

While the Samaritan tech demo offers a glimpse at the future of triple-A titles, the Epic CEO he also told Games TM what he thinks is to come from indie and social games.

“The game industry has stratified amazingly well in recent years, enabling great games to be developed across two orders of magnitude of budgets. Fifteen-person teams are shipping great Xbox Live Arcade titles, and two-person teams are doing great things on iOS and Android. Web games and social games are doing well with modest budgets. We at Epic expect this trend to continue.”

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the work behind the Samaritan? Can you see yourself working on that sort of tech in future?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or here on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Games TM]