The Day After

The Day After
Everybody Dies in DEFCON

Jonathan Glover | 15 Jun 2010 12:13
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"Yes, I think it does," he says. "I don't think it is any less relevant now then it was when we released it four years ago. Obviously, had we launched during the Cuban missile crisis we would probably be millionaires by now - we would have had to have invented the home computer as well, but I reckon that we could have done that. I think people are interested in the theme, but, really, it is the game itself that keeps bringing people back. We've not found an optimal way to play DEFCON which means that, like chess, it just goes on and on."

DEFCON 2.

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"We are trying to avoid changing the game itself," says Morris, when queried about their work on the PSN iteration of DEFCON and the lessons carried over from their last original game (for a moment ignoring Darwinia pseudo-sequel Multiwinia) into the upcoming Subversion. "I think there can be improvements made to the 'meta-game' - a well implemented player ladder and tournament support would aid the enjoyment a lot, but as a game in itself I don't think it needs to be messed with." He continues, "Subversion is a very different game to DEFCON. Much more similar to Uplink, actually. Most of the lessons learnt from DEFCON are technical and relate to our underlying network architecture and development processes. I think that the audio in DEFCON was our best achievement and lent to a wonderful sense of place and atmosphere, I'd really want to recreate that within the Subversion world."

I again lament my lack of sound, particularly over my brother's ever-increasing cellphone chatter.

DEFCON 1.

"Launch Detected." I immediately launch a handful of volleys at his coastal cities. "Shit," I hear, from across the room, before explaining it away to his girlfriend on the other end of the phone.

San Francisco hit, 9.5m dead.

New York hit, 16.5m dead.

The smell of earthworms and warm Virginia rain wafts through the open window. I shift my weight on the uncomfortable carpet, rip off a large slab of salty jerky with my teeth and my mouth is flooded with a thick saliva.

How do you rationalize a game where "everybody dies?"

"How do you rationalize nuclear war?" Morris asks. "We're not particularly left-wing at Introversion and the original desire to make DEFCON was probably more about how cool it is to silently place your submarines and gently move your bombers to a position to deliver a devastating attack than it was to comment on the futility of war. Once we started looking into it though, we just couldn't help but give some sort of commentary on the rationale behind systems of war that have the capability to wipe us out as a race."

Washington, DC hit, 3.1m dead.

Jonathan Glover is a writer.

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