Frost is a Deck-Building Game Almost 10 Years in the Making

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Xbox Wire.

Frost is a game about groups of wanderers on a planet where a permanent freezing storm restlessly revolves around the world. I got this core idea a while ago, circa 2010. At that time, I was working with a partner and we were looking for fresh game concepts. My initial idea was for a game in which you would pilot an ornithopter, inspired by the “Dune” saga, on a frozen world, rescuing stranded people. There were many issues with this concept, so I let it rest. Later, I thought this overarching universe was worth a game, so I started brainstorming for gameplay that would work well with it.

Frost Screenshot

Around 2011, I created a prototype that featured exploration in a procedurally generated world, much like the exploration phase in the Civilization series. It was boring, even after some iterations, so I decided to discard it. Between 2011 and 2013, I prototyped at least four different games around the same core concept, every time trying to work on top of the original idea of a restless storm and the impact it would have on populations. I made a time-management game, a text-based game, a stealth/hunting game. Some of them were in 2D, others in 3D.

Here you can see some of the first ideas for Frost

Frost Screenshot

None of these prototypes were convincing, so again I decided to put the core idea to rest. A few years later, in 2015, I was really into board games, and especially deck-building games: Dominion, Thunderstone, Ascension; games that allow the player to build a deck of cards on the fly. It’s a genre that’s very dynamic, full of surprises, and yet very strategic. All those games I loved were made for several players, and I wanted to try and make a solo deck-builder, so I started prototyping several card games, with sheets of print paper and felt pens. Then I remembered the universe of Frost and it simply clicked in my mind.

Frost Screenshot

It was one of the few times in my life that a prototype functioned so nicely and so quickly. Everything seemed to work together: the theme, the genre, the rules. After two weeks I started to organize playtest sessions with close friends. After several iterations, I started work on a digital version of the game to send to people over the Internet. From this point, I always tried to keep in mind my first paper version and tried to make rules that would also work in a board game. This guideline has been sometimes very useful, and sometimes very frustrating for players, but I decided to stick with it as much as I could.

Frost Screenshot

When I started to work on the commercial release of the game, I felt so good with the idea and the prototype that I decided to go solo with the production of the game. I usually work as a game designer and developer, but I love drawing and I had some experience as a game artist. I don’t consider myself a good drawer, but I had this art direction in mind and felt confident in my ability to produce it. Even though I anticipated the style I had in mind would be a problem for some players, I decided to stick with it because I wanted the game to be as personal as I could make it.

Frost Screenshot

Having been able to create, develop and release such a personal game by myself is a huge source of pride for me. Seeing players enjoy it or be passionate about Frost, it sounds surreal to me and every time a player puts a good word on the game I’m filled with emotion. Being the creator of a game puts your guts on a table for everyone to smash, and even though sometimes people do that, I’ve been amazed to see that most people responded well to the game, and especially the art style I was so hesitant to show to the world.

So, my own journey creating Frost has been a lot like a journey for one of my characters: hesitant, harsh, confusing. But, opposite to them, it ended well for me! I’m so excited that now, players on Xbox will be able to experience it. I sincerely hope you will enjoy it!

Frost launches for Xbox One on July 20 and is available to pre-order now for a 20% discount.

See the rest of the story on Xbox Wire

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