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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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!