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A glimpse of the future

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 3:01 am
by Chris
Strictly speaking this news entry isn't Darwinia related. It's sort of Introversion related - in that i'm going to suggest what we're up to and what we're planning, but since we don't yet have anything good at i've no choice but to put it here.

Speaking of which, we are actually building a new Introversion website that isn't tied to any specific game of ours. We've got two games out and we're well underway with the next one(s), so we're definately at the point where we need a company website to bring everything together. It's long overdue - the existing page at is a half-arsed amateur embarresment, and for that we are sorry.

So lets talk about Introversion.

Our next game <the third game> is in development, and has been for many months now. In fact, work began on <the third game> on the 2nd of August 2003 - over two years ago, and stopped exactly one week later. Believe it or not, even WE get bored at work from time to time - and during August 2003 it's fair to say that I was BORED FUCKING SHITLESS of Darwinia. So I put it aside for one week, and made something else. I actually planned to work solidly for one day exactly - ie 24 hours - but this is Introversion, and even on a 1 day project there is slippage and feature creep like you wouldn't believe. Some readers may remember this news post on the Uplink website around that date, in which I said:

Chris got a massive flash of inspiration, coded solidly for around 18 hours a day, and produced a complete game in 7 days, single player and multiplayer, by stealing copious amounts of code from <the next game> and <the next next game>. This will probably show up as a B-side on <the next game>.

Decoding (bear with us), we now know that <the next game> is of course Darwinia, and i'll tell you about <the next next game> in a sec. Unfortunately the game referred to in the post - which we now know to be <the third game> - was never sufficiently completed or polished for any kind of release, and we were all far to busy with Darwinia to devote any more time to it so it was shelved, until June 2005. The fact that the "first playable" was put together in one week should give a strong clue : its a much simpler and smaller game than Darwinia or even Uplink, and it's not going to take us that long to finish it. It's Multiplayer and Singleplayer, and we're currently at the stage where we play each other over the Internet every day for around an hour. In other words, things are progressing nicely. We're not sure when we will be done, but we're talking months rather than years, so you'll be hearing about details soon. This time the core dev team is Chris and one other developer (soon to be revealed), and we've got Alistair and Michael on board to do the music and sounds as before.

So, moving along. Amazingly, work on <the forth game> has also begun. In fact, work on <the forth game> began shortly after Uplink was completed, waaaay back in early 2002. Intelligent readers will notice the above quoted news post from the Uplink site mentions <the next next game>, which is now <the forth game>. I'll come straight out and stop any suggestion that this game is Uplink II, or is related to Uplink at all - it isn't. It was intended to be our second game, and I worked on it full time for around six months before embarking on a new project with Andy - codenamed Future War, which eventually became Darwinia. After a few months of working on both games at once Mark and Tom insisted I put one of them on the shelf, and I was forced to conclude that Future War was the better project to continue with. This was late 2002 and Future War was just six months from completion.

Ok, we've learnt our lessons now.

I'm working on <the third game> full time at the moment, but that doesn't mean I haven't begun work on <the forth game> - just in a different way. I'd like to introduce you to NaNoWriMo. The basic genius concept of these nutcases is to write a Novel of AT LEAST 50,000 words during November (the name means National Novel Writing Month). That's around 1700 words per day, for 30 days flat. It's an astonishing personal challenge designed to inspire people to just get on with it and put words on the page, and to let ideas fly without engaging the inner critic too much. And it's just the sort of challenge that <the forth game> needs right now.

I'm going to bend the rules a little bit. My basic intention is to write a number of short stories, all set in the world of <the forth game>. I'm aiming for ten short stories, roughly 5000 words each, which is much more achievable. I've already got a fairly solid plan (i've used hand written Game Bibles to build the game design, just like I did Uplink), and all the stories weave together in strange and interesting ways. These aren't designed to be published - 50,000 words is do-able, but 50,000 well written words is impossible for me even without the time-limit. The tens of thousands of yearly participants clearly all have their own reasons for subjecting themselves to this, but for me there are two goals.

My first aim is to explore the game world - to flesh out the characters - and (hopefully) to run into some fascinating ideas that I would not have come up with otherwise. Writing at this kind of speed, i've got no choice but to dive in and run with whatever comes up. The plan I spoke of is 3 lines of text per story - in other words, there is no plan. I'll know the plan on November 30th, and with a bit of luck i'll have a ton of new ideas, and maybe, just maybe, some material for <the forth game>.

The second aim is more subtle. Writing material of any kind has always caused me huge headaches. Uplink's mission descriptions we're all placeholder nonsense until very late in the project (some would say they still are) - I simply couldn't bring together the enthusiasm to write anything else in them. And Darwinia stars just one character - Dr Sepulveda - but writing his dialog was a horrific experience. He's got to get across vital tutorial information, and he's got to explain aims and objectives, but he's also got to talk about what it all means - why you should care about these little green fellows, and what effect your efforts have on the world. One minute he's explaining the purpose of a Control Tower, the next he's discussing the philosophical implications of digital lifeforms reading their own source code. He has thousands of lines of text and every one was a struggle. There's only one way i'm going to get around this problem, and that's to practice.

And I can't wait for midnight 1st November.

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 3:36 am
by xyzyxx

Also, did you misspell <the fourth game> on purpose?
Or is that perhaps the way it's spelled in the UK? *thinks of Armor*

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 3:46 am
by NeoThermic
Wow. Must be one of the few posts where its not written in third person..

This sounds very very intresting. Its 3:45amish, so I got lost a bit in talks of next game (too many next's to compute).

However, I like the idea of backstory. Darwinia was really quite good in the sense that you had short stories over verious aspects of the Darwinian world. It will be very intresting to see a more detailed world arrive out of the mind of Chris...


Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:06 am
by daset
Yay!!! Yay!!! Yay!!!

I can't wait for IV's next game to be released!

:D :shock: :D :D :shock: :D

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 8:36 am
by Tortanick
A few months? the video game world is already suffering ISS (Involontary saliva syndrome)

P.S. I can't promess anything but PM me if you want me to have a go at writing dialogue, I'm currently doing a fan fic for darwinia, part ine is out already and I've made big progress in part two. That should show my skills and probably my weaknesses. (Character inconsistency and most characters sound somewhat like the same person)

I haven’t played uplink but from what I saw in demo2 I do think you'll be better of if you find a good writer and if I'm not that good I'm sure some of your fans are :)

P.S. My hat’s off to anyone who can do a writing marathon like you are planning (doing?). I know I couldn’t force myself to go at a speed like that.

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:12 am
by Rkiver
Oh I can see this interview expanding dramatically........

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:27 am
by Sobek
Who else hears "...flesh out the characters" and thinks RPG?

Who else absolutly loves the idea of Introversion doing an RPG?

xyzyxx: Fourth is spelled with a 'u'. Forth is forward direction, "We shall go forth...".

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:59 am
by Tortanick
I thought adventure myself but RPG would probobly be better.

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:34 pm
by AgentX 24
Wow, awesome, can't wait for the next game(s). *hopes there is lack of slippage*

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:53 pm
by Darksun
AgentX 24 wrote:*hopes there is lack of slippage*

Hahahaha. Ha. Ha....

Oh, you were being serious o.o

But anyway, this is great, putting this kind of effort into a storyline (or at least backstory and character depth). They can be seriously lacking in computer games, and although some think that they're as important as the storyline in a porno (I'm looking at you Carmack), I think the story is often what makes the difference between a good game and a great game.

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 1:48 pm
by ReflectingGod

This interests me so much that it has tempted me away from the Uplink forums into the unknowns of these boards.

Keep up the good work Chris, and hurry up and get these new games out ;)

PS, it's strange how I've been a member here for over a year, but this is my first post! Somehow, I never dragged myself away from Uplink to here...

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:15 pm
by sweaty bob
Keep it up , i wonder what it will be about this time.

Re: A glimpse of the future

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:28 pm
by martin
Chris wrote:single player and multiplayer

OMFG! :twisted:

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:37 pm
by xander
Stupid double post.


Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:37 pm
by xander
/me is very excited.

So, to recap:
<the game> == Uplink
<the next game> == Darwinia
<the next next game> == <the fourth game>
<the third game> == ???
I am so confuzzled... 0_o

So, when is <the sqrt(-1) game> going to come out?

Oh, and as the local whiney Mac bitch, these will all run under OS X, right? :P