Paul Froggatt, Co-Founder & Technical Director at Outlier Games – Interview Series
Paul Froggatt is the Co-Founder and Technical Director for the video game studio Outlier Games. Based in Dublin, Ireland, and Toronto, Canada, Outlier is an independent video game development studio focused on innovative multiplayer games and they are the creators of This Means Warp.
What games did you grow up playing and which ones have stood the test of time for you?
I’ve always been into strategy and simulation games, so have fond memories of titles like Roller Coaster Tycoon, Sim City, Theme Hospital, and Age of Empires. I think the core gameplay of those games has never grown old, especially considering we’re continually getting remakes or spiritual successors 25 years later!
Prior to Outlier, you had a 10-year career at Google and also created and sold an award-winning restaurant business. What made you decide to pivot towards launching a gaming studio?
Games have always been my passion, and I really wanted to learn more about how they were made. I started teaching myself gameplay design and programming in my spare time about 4 years ago, and loved it! I found myself in a situation where I could follow my passion while keeping the lights on, so jumped at the chance!
The first game you launched was Zombles’ on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store in 2018. What was this game and what did you learn from the experience?
Zombles was inspired by games like Lemmings, and was a simple puzzle game for mobile. It was really an attempt to solidify my understanding of the online tutorials I’d been working through in the months prior, and getting experience in developing and releasing a game. I would definitely recommend any aspiring dev to do the same – your first game should be something achievable but stretches your abilities, and you will learn a huge amount. After that I felt ready to move on to commercial projects, and started formulating ideas that would later become This Means Warp.
Outlier Games is launching “This Means Warp”, an online co-op spaceship management game. What was the inspiration behind this game?
This Means Warp is really a combination of two genres – strategic roguelites, and co-op action games. We felt that most co-op titles were very focused on ‘party’ experiences, with short play sessions and simple mechanics for accessibility. There weren’t too many titles that offered the frantic action and camaraderie of multiplayer, but were targeted more at core gamers who wanted a strategic challenge and longer-form gameplay they could experience with friends.
Could you share with us some of the gameplay mechanics?
The game balances high-intensity combat (players rushing around fixing systems, putting out fires, shooting the cannons, etc) with strategic long-term choices (how to invest in your ship, what to upgrade, and how to build an effective playstyle). It’s an interesting combination, particularly as the game can be played singleplayer, local co-op, or online co-op!
What type of players will most be attracted to this game?
There are really two types of players we’re trying to design the game for. The first are core gamers who want a challenging real-time roguelite they can enjoy alone or with friends. If you like Binding of Isaac, FTL, Risk of Rain 2, Heroes of Hammerwatch, Gunfire Reborn, etc then hopefully you’ll really enjoy This Means Warp. The second are gamers that enjoy fast-paced games with a friend or partner – games like Overcooked 2, Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime, Unrailed, etc. Hopefully we have a bit of each for people to experience!
Do you still find time to play other games, if yes which are your favorite?
I tend to either play strategy games (Voxel Tycoon has been a recent addiction) or the big 3rd-person console titles like Spider-Man, God of War, The Witcher, Assassins Creed, etc. The Witcher 2 was a particular stand-out for me.
What’s your vision for the future of Outlier Games?
We’d love to continue building online multiplayer games for core gamers! This Means Warp has already established a growing community, so we’ll be getting their input and stealing their ideas for game number 2! Outlier was built on the idea of making games that expand upon previous titles to foster a community that enjoys many of our games. This Means Warp is just the start!
Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Outlier Games or This Means Warp.