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Frozen Cortex : Art from Concept to Completion.

3 years of art production for Frozen Cortex. Notes on the genesis of the project and a visual history, from concept to completion.

Richard Whitelock, Blogger

February 20, 2015

4 Min Read

Frozen Cortex is complete! To mark this occasion I thought I would produce an ‘art dump’, as it is known.

First though…

In 2011 my friends at Mode 7 Games asked if I (Richard Whitelock) would like to handle art duties on the spiritual sequel to Frozen Synapse – we had wanted to work together for many years, so I didn’t have to think too hard when responding in the positive.

The basic idea was to take the established synchronous turn-based combat gameplay demonstrated in Frozen Synapse and reduce the complexity and stress involved in playing, focusing instead on competing over the movement of a single object, the ball, and the spatial dynamics of two teams of player units within a randomly generated space. Mode 7 director, lead programmer and designer Ian Hardingham explains it far better in these videos:

Interview with PC Gamer

Designer’s Notes

Mode 7’s second director Paul Kilduff-Taylor focused on overall production, the reliably fantastic music ( as nervous_testpilot ! ) and the writing – on which he worked alongside Alex Hayes and Tom Richards.

Paul and I spent rather a lot of time going over all the details and general art direction, massaging the all important concept, the opinions of our learned collaborators, and figuring out how to make things work without a team of 30 artists to obey our commands. The main obstacle to this was that we didn’t choose a low-fi aesthetic. In fact we set the bar quite high, and then spent 3 years jumping up and down towards it. If anything, this builds muscle you didn’t know you had.

The other huge area of Frozen Cortex, without which all other efforts would be quite redundant, is animation. Martin Binfield, a fellow NCCA graduate and very experienced games animator, answered the call to duty, and, as everyone agrees, excelled in providing the anima to all these bots – as well as plenty of other art duties. In goast we trust.

Many others helped out along the way, particularly Mode7’s James Hannett, who makes-everything-work, and James Urquhart, who battles with Torque3D whilst we sleep. Also, Oxford Indies for much-lunching.

Now three years of art, concepts and assets.  Starting from the most basic explorations of the space the game was to take place within.

In the future we may elaborate on the considerations required to communicate the overall concept, the aesthetic choices made and also the implications of design on the final art. 

Concepts & Testing




Early Gameplay










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