Archives: Introversion



Brandon Boyer

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Already a good year into production (playing through its initial demo was one of the highlight of last year’s IGF), Darwinia and Defcon creators Introversion have just opened a pre-order campaign giving the public immediate access to the alpha version of their latest game, Prison Architect.

Described as a mix between Theme Hospital, Dungeon Keeper & Dwarf Fortress, Prison Architect (as you will have guessed from its name) is a sim/sandbox that gives you total control over building and maintaining a maximum security prison, with a set of story-mode challenge levels to guide you through the world of daily lock-up routine.

Interestingly, the devs have structured the pre-ordering system quasi-Kickstarter/crowd-sourcing style, giving higher donations the ability to have their own names & caricatures used as in-game prisoners, up to and including being one of the games five wardens for top price. And, awesomely, they’ve highlighted as a bonus that you’ll get to experience the thrill of all the early-alpha game-breaking bugs, including the naked shower-room dining you can see in the video at top.

Visit the Prison Architect site to get in on the PC/Mac/Linux builds now, and browse all other available bonus levels before they sell out. [via Introversion]

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Brandon Boyer

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Indie game dev rock star finery, spotted by negativegamer at Manchester’s Videogame Nation museum exhibit [via GoNintendo].




Brandon Boyer

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Continuing in that spirit of full disclosure that they kicked off with the bare-all website for upcoming Xbox Live Arcade dual-pack Darwinia+, Introversion programmer Chris Delay is currently undergoing a minorly gut-wrenching look back at the studio’s ‘disastrous’ 2008 “in three increasingly depressing parts.”

The first part kicked off with a sweet spot — at least for readers and fans of the developer, anyway — with the first concept image (above) of the company’s unannounced game that was being developed for UK network Channel 4. Called Chronometer, and based, said Delay, on a long time Introversion idea, it was due to become the company’s most ambitious game.

But that optimism is short lived: Delay makes casual and foreboding reference to signing a deal with Pinnacle for a DS version of their thermonuclear war game Defcon, a deal we all now know has since gone under. He goes on to describe the contentious relationship forming with Microsoft at the time, stating in no uncertain terms: “we believe Microsoft were absolutely correct in the calls they made, and we were wrong. But at the time, oh my god they were pissing us off.”

You can read part one in its entirety here, and part two’s just recently been published, which describes Delay falling further away from his true pet project — Subversion — only to be met with anything but fanfare when they’d first revealed their multiplayer Darwinia sequel Multiwinia to the press.

2008 in Hindsight, Part 1 of 3 [Introversion, part 2]

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Brandon Boyer

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With rumors floating for nearly two years now and yet no official word, developer Introversion has made a surprise announcement this morning that they do indeed have an essentially finished version of their global thermonuclear wargame Defcon ready and aimed for the Nintendo DS, but are now in need of a publishing partner.

Introversion — whom Offworld recently spoke to at great length on their past projects and future developments — has recently re-acquired the rights to the game after a deal went south with former partner Pinnacle and is hoping to bring the game to store shelves by autumn 2009, given a new deal can be struck.

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Jim Rossignol

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Time for another fireside chat with a developer. This time it’s a programmer named Chris Delay, the man who is the algorithmic heart of independent developer/publisher Introversion. These British independents are just a couple of years younger than me, and they started out when I started out as a journalist. As a result I’ve followed their progress quite closely.

They’ve gone from making a quietly clever hacking game through to talking about procedural generation of urban landscapes as the key theme to their latest, unrevealed game, Subversion. What follows is a perspective that is neither that of a fundamentally “indie” team like 2D Boy, nor that of a mainstream developer. Introversion have, somehow, cut their own path. It’s a fascinating story that promises to get even more interesting in the years to come.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be familiar with the world of Introversion “Last Of The Bedroom Programmers” Software, so let’s look back at what you’ve been doing over the past eight years. Chris, what have you been doing?

Chris Delay: Well, we’re quite a small developer, and we started out in 2001 with a hacking game called Uplink. That was basically a game I made while I was at university. We launched that from our website, and got it into high-streets in the UK. That did quite well, really, and then we spent about three years making our second game, Darwinia. That was a strange game, which won awards and got good reviews, but it took so long to make that we had to troll along for nine months with zero income. Eventually, finally, we got the game out on Steam, and it was the Steam deal which finally brought us a little big of financial security. Darwinia hadn’t sold well on launch, so having the Steam guys put it on their system got us a comparatively huge number of sales.


I’m still processing that bit about retail in the UK. You got your indie game about hacking on shelves in the UK?

CD: Yeah, it was a pretty major coup for us. It was about 2002, and so the game had been sale on our website. None of us knew anything about how this stuff worked. Mark and Tom went into HMV on the highstreet and asked a guy behind the counter how to get a game on their shelves. This guy said they had to speak to the manager, and he told them to speak to a distributor. We ended up speaking to Pinnacle Software and made a deal to have the units distributed to shops. We produced all the units, so we were acting as publisher and developer. It gave us a huge amount of confidence, we felt we could genuinely operate as an indie publisher and developer. It was a different market then, however. (more…)




Brandon Boyer

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After first being announced for Xbox Live Arcade almost exactly a year ago and already several months behind schedule, it’s hard to tell if this is a move of frustration at the normally opaque process of console certification, or a move of pure indie developer philanthropy, but with the apparent full cooperation of Microsoft, it’s apparently a mix of the latter and a healthy dose of pure marketing savvy.

In either case, Darwinia and Defcon creators Introversion have taken the unprecedented step of uploading any and all documents relating to the ongoing development of Darwinia+ — the Xbox 360 port of their original Darwinia and later multiplayer followup Multiwinia — laying bare all the “good, bad and very very very bad” for everyone to see.

Included you’ll find their internal schedules and project plans, problematic early 2008 confidential usability reports from Microsoft, snippets of Darwinia‘s AI code, and nothing less than e-mails between the team and Microsoft.

Well, ok, it’s not everything — they won’t go so far as to let you read their contract, though they do highlight the length of time it took to get signed, but they do, at least, let you see them caught with their pants down by the ever-reliable ESRB leak: all in all it’s quite good reading for fellow indie devs and anyone wanting to get a behind the scenes look at the console development process.

Darwinia+ home [Introversion]

What's he building in there: Introversion's Subversion – Offworld
Introversion's DefconAR: mutually destructive augmented reality …
Introversion playing with fire with unbeatable DEFCON AI – Offworld
The art of vector-war – Offworld
Offworld: The Offworld 20: 2008's Best Indie & Overlooked (pg. 2)



Brandon Boyer

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Having mastered the art of the vectorbeam and procedurally generated cities, where next for Introversion? Courtesy a blog post by company programmer Leander ‘elDiablo’ Hambley: augmented reality.

Hambley shows off the first experimental baby steps to get the studio’s global thermonuclear war sim Defcon literally running on the desktop, and explains:

DefconAR was originally just gonna be a cool little toy for us to use in the office to wow people who came to see us. Who’d have to hide the Defcon screen from your boss when playing Office mode, if there isn’t even a window open for it? Have a small tile on your desk, wearing some AR goggles, and no one would know. Obviously there isn’t much to it at the moment, I still need to spice up the world rendering, and then add in some actual content, but just imagine how this would look with nukes flying over the globe in realistic arcs, and maybe even 3D mushroom clouds.

Hambley makes no promises as to whether the self-admitted “silly thing” will ever see the light of day, but in my head it does look amazing.


Introversion playing with fire with unbeatable DEFCON AI – Offworld
What's he building in there: Introversion's Subversion – Offworld
The art of vector-war – Offworld
The Offworld 20: 2008's Best Indie and Overlooked – Offworld

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Brandon Boyer

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It’s been near exactly two years since Darwinia and Defcon developer Introversion first revealed their official “next game” (not including multiplayer expansion Multiwinia), with a debut video showing its initial real-time cityscape generating algorithms.

Fast forward to now and, surprisingly, we still have very, very little to go on beyond what we knew then: apart from its familiar vector-beam design, the ongoing blog entries showing Subversion‘s progress have been just as opaque, bar optimizations of those algorithms, and a fractal descent showing ever more detail at the building-by-building level.

We learned in March that part of this is understandable, if not deliberate, when programming head Chris Delay admitted that “we genuinely don’t know what’s going on,” but (he’d said earlier) “every day I work on it I’m even more convinced – this is the big one, Introversion Software’s Magnum Opus, and it’s going to be the best game we will ever make.”

And so every scrap of information, as with Delay’s most recent blog post, becomes a desperate hunt for anything that might take us that one level deeper into their mindset. In it we learn that Subversion’s progress is now focused on systems of standardized components: “Sensors, Actuators, Emitters, and Controllers,” and while we don’t get much in the way of narrative, a sense of its sandbox possibilities (and, as its name might suggest, an espionage-tinged flavor akin to Introversion’s debut title Uplink) is certainly starting to gel:

…smash one of the Actuators with a hammer, and one of the doors will stay where it is, while the other door continues to open and close. Smash one of the outer sensors and the Actuator will push the door of the end of its slide. Cover the motion sensor with a plastic bag and it wont send any detection messages to the computer, leaving the doors closed. Stick some chewing gum over the inner proximity sensors and they will think the doors are already closed, thus the control computer will leave the doors open.

Push a bin in-between the two doors and they will close on it, and sensors on the insides of the doors will detect this obstruction, and the doors will open slightly, then try to close again. The doors will be stuck in an open/close/open loop, constantly hitting the bin and re-opening, just as you’d see in real life. Cut any of the signal wires, or short-circuit them to set a high or low value. Or just plug straight into the control computer and tweak the status variables in memory, making the system do whatever you want whenever you want. None of these are activities or opportunities that I have explicitly created, but all are possible because I’ve simulated the system in sufficient detail. The possibilities for amazingly complex systems and interactions – from Introversion AND from the Subversion community – is kind of breathtaking.

The blog post contains more in-game shots and video of working systems — the previous twelve ‘It’s all in your head’ entries in the archive will give more of a sense of the scale and the magnitude of the game, while we all patiently await further concrete detail.

It’s all in your head, Part 13 [Introversion]

The art of vector-war – Offworld
Introversion playing with fire with unbeatable DEFCON AI – Offworld

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There’s nothing about 2008 that I’ll remember more fondly than the bold success of independent games developers. Based on the past couple of years, and the guiding lights of companies like Introversion, I had been anticipating some positive trends for 2008, but things really started to clarify at February’s San Francisco GDC. The signs were all there: 2008 was going to be a crucial year for the indie gaming scene.


Jim Rossignol

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It’s fair to say that the Independent Game Summit was brimming with energy, and the independent developers had more to say – and more to be happy about – than any of the scores of well-paid big-studio professionals who were strolling lackadaisically around the convention centre halls. In fact, seeing games like World of Goo and Fez in motion was pretty unsettling: they were so imaginative, and so cogent, that the idea of their being built up by two man teams seemed absurd. If I were a developer working in a big studio game, I would have been rethinking my life choices around that time. (more…)