The Next Game

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The Next Game

Postby Chris » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:38 pm

We've been quiet for a long time. We'd gone dark while we worked things out. That time is now at an end, and we have a couple of bombshells to drop.

A few hours ago I submitted Introversion’s latest game to the IGF 2012.

This game was NOT Subversion.

This new game is our fifth original game, and is unrelated to any of our previous games, released or not. We are in fact very proud of it, and we will be revealing more soon. We think you’ll like it too. The last game we submitted to the IGF was Darwinia in 2006, so this is a big deal for us. But let’s deal with the obvious question first. What on earth happened to Subversion?

Around June last year, we pushed ourselves as hard as we could and made a playable slice of the game, and demonstrated it publicly at the World Of Love conference in London. The demo went well, but was heavily scripted. Internally we had come to realise that somewhere along the 6 years of part-time development, we had lost our way. We couldn’t even remember what sort of game it was supposed to be anymore. We’d ended up with a game that looked and sounded brilliant, classic Introversion with its blue wireframe and sinister faceless characters. But there was a massive gaping hole where you would normally see a “core game”. We’d tried and tried to fill that hole with ambitious tech and experimental systems, but you couldn’t escape it.

In the end, after all that development and years of work, you still completed the bank heist by walking up to the first door, cracking it with a pin cracker tool, then walking into the vault and stealing the money. There was no other way to complete that level. And this would be the essential method by which you would complete every level after that. Technology 1, Gameplay 0 - we’ve made the fatal mistake of having more fun making the game than gamers would ever have playing it.

Around August last year, I took a couple of weeks off and went on holiday in California. It was a great chance to think clearly about something that had become very difficult. Daily work on Subversion seemed to be going well, with lots of regular technological progress, but whenever I considered the project from the high level view I wondered where the core game was ultimately going to come from.

And that was when the next game idea arrived. This new idea was fully formed, just like DEFCON, just like Uplink. I could see most of the core game design straight away. I could see how much of the tech that we’d designed for Subversion was directly applicable, if properly turned on its head. And within an hour or two, I’d made up my mind. I went old-school and bought a blank notebook, the first time I’ve used one since Uplink, and spent most of the ten hour flight home writing it all down. Those first 10 pages written on that flight are the design bible that we still stick to today.

And like that, the decision that should have been incredibly difficult was made. We don’t have the manpower to do multiple projects, so it was one game or the other, and I had no trouble convincing Mark and Tom which way I wanted to go.

Subversion has not been cancelled, but I would certainly forget about it for now. We will be going back to that project eventually, but the first thing I plan to do is gut the thing from top to bottom of all the tech fluff that we forced in over the years. Without a core game it’s all a worthless distraction, and I will NEVER again spend so long making tech for a game without having a solid core game in place first. Subversion needs a total rethink from top to bottom, and some long standing sacred cows need slaughtering.

Today is Day Zero of our new plan!

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Last edited by Chris on Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Flamekebab » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:47 pm

Sounds pretty damn interesting. Fawn, fawn, etc..

No, it really does sound interesting. I look forward to hearing more about it. I loved looking through the original game bible so I hope I one day get to have a good, voyeuristic look at the newest game bible.

I would love to see the technology of subversion for generating cities and buildings put to use in making some sort of survival game, somewhat like Left 4 Dead, but perhaps not based around zombies. Or perhaps sometimes based on them, other times communist invasion, natural disaster, etc..

Best of luck, lads!
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Postby Yrael » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:56 pm

Wow, that is a bombshell ! Best luck to you at IGF.

About the core gameplay - with all the technology (systems working together, etc), maybe an assassination game would be more interesting instead of a heist game.
With consequences to acting rashly or not, that would then impact on later levels... Just an idea.

"Killing" those 6 years of dev' must have been tough. Luckily it doesn't seem to have been close to affecting your motivation :)
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Postby Dark Acre Jack » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:02 pm

Registered to post, been a long-time Introversion fan.

Andy Moore linked this scoop on his G+ and while I'm surprised and shocked like I'm sure everyone else is, I'm excited by the intrigue!

I know all too well about the strain of managing more than one project, and having one promising project take on a scope that adds more and more time to development (and player expectations!) though I'm certain you're making all the right choices here.

Keep up the good work and I can't wait to see what you've got up your sleeves in the days ahead!
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Postby Xocrates » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:22 pm

Well, this is an unexpected, but not surprising, development.

Anyway, looking foward to hear more about this new game.
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Postby shinygerbil » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:41 pm

!!! :!: :!: :!:


Awesome news. This is really exciting. It's always inspiring to see the creative leaps you guys make, not to mention the huge positive steps you're taking in the face of very difficult decisions.

Very excited to hear about this new game too :) All the best with it and the IGF!

(Surely this is [The (Next)^n Game], where n is at least 4 by now?! ;) )
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Postby MrBrown » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:44 pm

ARGH... the whole premise of Subversion was so damn sexy to me... I was imagining Uplink developed into a bigger game with more replay value (as in: there are still challenges even after you've learned how to hack a bank).

But you failed to disappoint me so far with any of your games, so I'll manage to stay optimistic :)
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Postby mibias » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:47 pm

When Chris is inspired, great things happen. I'm sad to see Subversion being put on hold, but I'm damn excited about this new project.
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Postby ynbniar » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:51 pm

Ditto, great news I reckon...some kind of teaser please :P :?:
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Looking forward to it

Postby dudecon » Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:18 pm

Sweet! Procedural something secret game attack!
Best of luck with the new direction. We're all watching for the release.
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Re: The Next Game

Postby Mas Tnega » Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:37 pm

Chris wrote:In the end, after all that development and years of work, you still completed the bank heist by walking up to the first door, cracking it with a pin cracker tool, then walking into the vault and stealing the money. There was no other way to complete that level. And this would be the essential method by which you would complete every level after that. Technology 1, Gameplay 0 - we’ve made the fatal mistake of having more fun making the game than gamers would ever have playing it.
Ouch, man. That's a lot tech going into nothing.

Needless to say, I'm glad to hear you were able to pull yourself away from something that took so much of your time and have something entirely new to show for it. I'm not sure about the whole silence thing; I guess having people continue to ride on "No news is good news" wasn't so bad a move.
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Postby xander » Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:44 pm


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Postby RagingLion » Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:46 pm

Wow, is this big news. I think I literally checked your site yesterday to see it there was a new blog posted (RSS feed had been broken) since I have really been wondering what's been going on behind closed doors with you guys.

What you say here kind of strikes me deep, just as it sounds like it did to you as well. I've followed the development of Subversion since near the beginning and been all giddy with excitement particularly during the phase where it was all an unknown quantity. I think my excitement slightly dipped as you revealed the details at World of Love despite the fact that the whole heist scenario has always appealed to me. Maybe I was subconsciously starting to feel the gameplay as being a bit thin although I hoped that there would be more that opened up once I actually played it. (To be clear, much of the Subversion gameplay still appeals to me and I want it to work. I think feeling part of a bigger world is what would make it for me, so if it really felt like you were picking targets out of a living dynamic city that responds to you and has other forces shaping the world independently of you for example, rather than just going through a series of linear levels in the world, that might make it start to feel special. Still needs more than just that though.)

...I think I got caught up in the 'shinyness' of it all but ultimately that doesn't mean there are meat on the bones. I feel like this teaches me something, especially having been captivated by that shinyness for so long. It also teaches me because I'm dealing with some mechanics that have a similarity to Subversion's present ones myself for something I'm creating and it's interesting to know that it might not work out in feeling satisfying and having depth to it just by layering extra layers of complexity onto the core bones if they themselves are flawed. Starting to sound like Chris Hecker's call to find the core deep gameplay first before building on top of it and the issues Spore had in really creating something special. Now that I think of it my rabid following of Spore pre-release feels very similar to Subversion's and maybe it would have ended in the same way if it had not gone unchecked.

Really looking forward to whatever the new thing is, even though there's a chance it might not be for me. Good luck.
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Postby Weatherproof » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:08 pm

This must have been hard, but with it you have that much more wisdom!
Keep up the motivation! And the blog updates (seriously, more updates :P)
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Postby cheesemoo0 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:26 pm

It must have been a hard choice to put aside all that work, but it's good to hear things are still moving forward.

Here's me looking forward to hearing more about this new game!

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