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Minecon wasn’t only about Minecraft. Mojang were good enough to invite along the bright lights of the indie dev scene to give a series of inspiring, funny lectures, describing how they got into the business and what they’ve learnt along the way.
Taking to the stage in chronological order: Hello Games, purveyors of deceptively chirpy stunt-biking game Joe Danger; C418, Minecraft’s maestro of electronica; Introversion, creators of Uplink, Darwinia and the tremendously tempting crowdfunded clink-sim, Prison Architect; Suspicious Developments, aka Tom Francis, aka maker of Gunpoint, aka PC Gamer writer, aka man sitting two metres two my right as I type this and looking rather dashing too, I might add; Mike Bithell, the dev behind clever platformer Thomas Was Alone; and Mode 7, creators of simultaneous turnbased-tactics masterpiece Frozen Synapse.
Hit the jump for the videos of each talk, and watch out for our PCG-helmed indie dev round-table which we'll publish in the next few days.
Hello Games / Grant Duncan
Hello Games' supremely talented artist, Grant Duncan, takes the mic to talk about conjuring Pixar-like delight from pixels and polygons in Joe Danger (and also to tease Hello Games’ next aesthetically divergent title, quite possibly coming to PC, currently going under the codename of Project Skyscraper).
C418 / Daniel Rosenfeld
The effervescent Daniel Rosenfeld, also known as C418, talks about the production of Minecraft’s electronica score, game music in general, his album, and the soundtrack for the upcoming Minecraft documentary (teaser clip within) - all in some impressive technical detail. A must for electronica nerds and aspiring musicians.
Introversion / Mark Morris & Chris Delay
British indie-dev double-act, Mark Morris and Chris Delay discuss the long and bumpy road they’ve taken, from early hits Uplink and Darwinia, to the calamitous production of Multiwinia and the aborted Subversion. But - spoilers! - it has a happy ending with the hugely successful crowdfunding of clink-building sim Prison Architect.
Suspicious Developments / Tom Francis
PCGamer’s very own tame indie developer, Tom Francis, discusses how being mean to games professionally has helped shape his development practices on Gunpoint, and how becoming a developer has changed his perception of the games he writes about.
The supremely affable creator of Thomas Was Alone discusses its origins as a rough-hewn Flash experiment and how the curiously emotive reaction to it - which saw players ascribe human thoughts to its simple cuboid avatars - snowballed into a project capable of attracting accolades and high-profile voice-actors.
Mode 7 / Paul Taylor
Paul Taylor, the co-director of Mode 7, who heroically multitasks as a musician and creator of hilariously terrible PowerPoint slides, tracks the company’s evolution, from its early swordfighting game Determinance, to the terrific tactical tour-de-force which is Frozen Synapse.
Mar 27, 2012
What began as Good Old Games, GOG.com, has relaunched to sell new PC games alongside old.
Therefore, the Good Old Games meaning will fade away. The company will be known instead by the acronym-turned-company-title GOG.com. "It doesn't matter what G, O and G stand for," explained a post on GOG.com. "Gee Oh Gee dot com stands for high-quality, DRM-free gaming, each week with bigger and newer games."
Trine and The Whispered World are examples of 'new' games available right now. Legend of Grimrock is out 11th April. Spacechem, Machinarium and Darwinia are "coming soon". Apparently, more than 20 indie and new games have been signed for release in "the next few months".
The GOG.com website has been redesigned, and the GOG.com downloader improved.
CD Projekt used homemade RPG The Witcher 2 to test GOG.com as a destination for newer PC games. The result? Around 40,000 sales - the best result of anywhere but Steam.
Feb 10, 2012
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Richard Cobbett)
They say you should always be prepared to kill your darlings. Darwinia creators Introversion have taken it one step forward, creating nothing short of a Darwinian snuff movie to mark their transition from little computer people to… prison architects. Yeah, that’s still a little weird. But never mind. Help them celebrate this glorious new age of Not Darwinia by enjoying 2:36 minutes of burning, shooting and stabbing that really puts the ‘aaaaargh!’ into ‘carthasis’.
There's retiring old video game characters by not using them any more, and then there's retiring old video game characters by building little models of them and destroying them.
Introversion, the developers of strategy game Darwinia, are done with the property. Having worked on it in some for another for nearly a decade now across its various forms, by 2010 they'd become so sick of the thing that they couldn't just let it go quietly into the night. They had to kill it. With fire.
Nov 22, 2011
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
The Humble Bundles keep on rolling, with a new 'pay what you want' indie mega-bargain arriving mere weeks after the last one wrapped up. The new Humble Introversion Bundle packs four games from English indie Introversion: hacking sim Uplink, RTS Darwinia, its multiplayer sequel Multiwinia, and Cold War 'em up Defcon.
The Bundle also includes two Introversion tech demos, the procedural city generator used in Subversion and a voxel-based destructible building demo. As Subversion is on indefinite hold, it'll be nice to get a good look at some of it at least.
The Bundle has already outsold Xbox Live Arcade's Darwinia+ within 41 minutes on sale, Introversion revealed on Twitter.
As ever, all games come DRM-free, but you can activate them on Steam if you fancy. And, as Humble Bundle tradition dictates, you can choose how you divvy up your money between the developers, organisers, and the Child's Play charity and the EFF.
Head on over to Humble Bundle to name your price.
Oct 21, 2011
Darwinia and Defcon developer Introversion stopped working on Subversion nearly a year ago, Eurogamer has discovered.
Subversion resembled a collection of tech demos but "the core game itself wasn't really that great", creator Chris Delay told us.
"What happened was, we were tinkering away on Subversion for ages and ages, trying to make some progress - and we did make a lot of progress on it - but we always had this worry that the core game itself wasn't really that great. There wasn't really much to do.
"We had literally years of tech demos but no sort of cohesive core game. It's the core game that was missing.
"Whenever we stopped and thought about it from a high-level point of view, in terms of what's the player going to be doing, where's the fun going to come from, we were drawing a bit of a blank, all the time.
"We finally faced up to it," he said.
Subversion, an infiltration and espionage game where gamers controlled a team of operatives moving through hostile high security buildings, is officially now on hold.
"It's on hold and we openly told everyone to forget about it for now, pretend it doesn't exist if you can."
Chris Delay, lead designer, Introversion
"Yes, that's exactly what it is," confirmed Delay. "It's on hold and we openly told everyone to forget about it for now, pretend it doesn't exist if you can.
"We do plan to go back to it - that's our firm intention, to go back to it after this game. But we wouldn't want to promise it or anything like that, or for anybody to get their hopes up, because we're a small company and we can't work on more than one project at once, so we always have to pick what we're going to work on.
"We had quite a few chats to discuss what we wanted to do and switched whole heartedly onto Prison Architect, and Subversion hasn't had anything done on it since then.
Prison Architect, a game about building and managing a high security prison, "fell out" of Subversion, Delay explained.
There was a Subversion mission where you had to "bust" a team mate out of jail, apparently. "You had to get this computer hacker out of prison," Delay said. "And we started all this work on this prison code code, and it was turning into a massive project just for one level.
"While we were doing it, laying out the prison in our Subversion map editor was actually really good fun. And that's the gestation of it, really - that's where it came from."
Prison Architect will be a PC game and, Delay said, probably also for Linux and Mac.
"It's still too early for us to say a lot about Prison Architect," Delay said. "We find it difficult to pace this stuff, because it's still a while off being released, and we don't want to give it all away at this point.
"It's not a 2011 game, but we're hoping for early next year to be launching this thing."
Prison Architect was recently submitted to the Independent Games Festival - the same competition Darwinia won back in 2006 - and Introversion hopes to launch around the time of the IGF awards (March 2012).
Will Prison Architect win?
"That was a very different time, when Darwinia won. Even now I don't believe Darwinia would sweep the awards," said Delay. "It was a different era then."
Six years ago, Introversion was crowned king of a soon-to-boom indie world. Today, Introversion still clings to those same high points. Mistakes were made, hard times were hit. But Delay is upbeat about the health of the British developer today.
"We get people on the forums and things going, 'Have Introversion gone bankrupt or something?' People really worry about Introversion because we did hit some really rough times, around 2008, 2009 time," Delay said.
"We don't even have an office any more. We got rid of our office; we've come right down to just the core team."
"We don't even have an office any more. We got rid of our office; we've come right down to just the core team. There's only a handful of us. It's like the first days when we started out and there was just three or four of us working on something, all working at home, just on the next new game. We've kind of got back to how it used to be, and we're quite enjoying it now for that reason, because we're able to just go ahead and make our own game again.
"It seems like a simple thing, but we didn't have that for a long time. We had a big team; we were up to 11 staff at one point, which doesn't sound that big, but that's very big for Introversion. 11 staff and a few freelancers all working on console versions of the game and stuff like that. We were a much bigger company then and we were spending a lot of money each month. That's what it ultimately came down to. And it wasn't really that sustainable like that.
"It sort of required us to have big success on the consoles, which Darwinia+ never really achieved. It actually continued to be outsold on Steam, even though the game's been out on PC for ages. The Steam versions and all the PC versions of Darwinia just carried on doing better.
"We thought [Darwinia+] was a bit of a misstep, a bit of a mistake, and luckily we have enough games out now - four main games and one console game - that continue to sell to this day, and that keeps us going."
Oct 20, 2011
Darwinia developer Introversion has announced a new game called Prison Architect.
In it, you "build and manage a maximum security prison", Introversion's creative mind Chris Delay told Rock Paper Shotgun.
No other Prison Architect details were offered.
Subversion, Introversion's other project, is on hold.
Introversion won worldwide acclaim with strategy game Darwinia. Defcon, Multiwinia and ill-fated XBLA project Darwinia+ followed.
Mar 4, 2011
Couple Darwinia+'s longer than expected development with a "poor performance" on Xbox Live Arcade, and it's no wonder Introversion has decided to focus its future on Steam.
"Do we regret working with Microsoft? No, but it's unlikely we'll work with them again," Introversion's mouthpiece Mark Morris told PC Gamer.
"[Microsoft] make you work harder on the production value, but they don't back it up with sales."
Darwinia+ is a combination of Darwinia and Multiwinia - a project bossed by Microsoft that took Introversion down a frustratingly long and winding development path. Darwinia+ was eventually released in February 2010, nearly four years after Darwinia - and a precocious, naive Introversion - won top honours at the Independent Games Festival.
The poor sales of Darwinia+ almost ruined a fragile Introversion. What saved the once bastion of British independent gaming was, coincidentally, Steam, and the sale of nuclear warfare strategy game Defcon.
"For the first time in a long time we've got a cash flow that extends out for two years at our size, which is nice," said Morris in August 2010.
With that cash, Introversion can hoist its sails; and with creator Chris Delay reinvigorated to be finally working on his beloved Subversion - comes the wind to fill them.
Oct 11, 2010
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (John Walker)
I was worried that people haven’t had an opportunity to complain that we write too much about Minecraft for a bit. So here’s two Minecraft things at once. First up, yesterday developer Notch released a screenshot of the Hell dimension that’s appearing in the Halloween update. You can speculate for yourself what the various block types in here might be – there’s five new ones being added overall. Click on that pic above to see it all biggerised. And below, there’s something special. A video of the biggest Darwinian you’ve ever seen.
Aug 23, 2010
If ever proof was needed of how important Valve's Steam platform has become to many PC developers, look no further than the tale of Introversion, the developers of Defcon and Darwinia, whose company was saved by a Steam sale.
Despite a string of cult successes like Uplink, Darwinia and Defcon (pictured), the British developers had run into some tough times recently, and had gone from being a "proper" studio, with an office and staff, to having to fire most of their workers, sell their furniture, move out of their office and code from their bedrooms.
In desperation, one day they decided to add some Steam achivements to Defcon. Doing so meant Valve gave the team some promotion on Steam, and that promotion turned into sales.
Valve okayed the promotion and even though it didn't focus on DEFCON we were happy that we had achieved our core objective. This was the game-changer. When we started Introversion we'd had a string of successes and believed we were undefeatable, but it was a long time since we'd had a victory and we really needed one. Right on cue, Valve delivered. The promo exceeded all of our expectations and when combined with our low burn rate (no office or staff now) we had gone from being fearful about paying our mortgages to having a year's operating capital in the bank.
Great news for Introversion, as they thoroughly deserve it. It'll also hopefully give them the coin to continue development on Subversion. But for everyone else...Valve may be in most people's good books, but it's still a little frightening to think that a single company can play Kingmaker with the fortunes of developers across an entire platform, so dependant have so many PC publishers become on Steam for legitimate sales.