GDC 2007: Introversion a Year after the IGF


We’ve spoken to the guys at Introversion before, but it’s always great to look in on them to see what they’re cooking up in their labs. Today’s “Introversion: One Year after the IGF” gave Mark Morris and Tom Arundel, creators of Uplink, Darwinia and DEFCON a chance to tell their story, as well as show off a bit of what’s bubbling away in their cauldron.

During their short presentation, Arundel and Morris ran through post-mortems of each of their three games, explaining what they learned from each game’s development cycle. Notably, they said they’ve given up on traditional advertising after blowing nearly $50,000 on a mix of print adverts and E3 appearances to promote Uplink, which they said benefited more from word of mouth. They also focused on Darwinia‘s extensive, three-year development timetable. Toward the end of production, the team had to sell everything that wasn’t nailed down on eBay, and when that didn’t cover costs, they went on welfare for a bit.

However, once Darwinia shipped, things turned around. They developed a relationship with Valve, using their Steam client to digitally distribute the game and maximize their profits. They took a similar approach with DEFCON, and Morris said the future for small, independent studios lies away from brick-and-mortar stores, something that’s been echoed countless times over the past couple years.

“Publishers had all the power [five years ago],” he said. Now, they’re middlemen in danger of being outmoded. According to Morris, Microsoft is overturning the current developer-publisher relationship with Xbox Live. Microsoft is splitting the profit with developers directly, giving developers 70 percent of the profit made off their games. That’s a figure previously unheard of.

In the future, Introversion plans on honing their development process, namely launching all of their games across multiple platforms. They’ve also expanded their operations enough to let them work on two projects, one of which is the highly-anticipated Subversion, which, as our own Shannon Drake so aptly quipped, is apparently “about subverting.” They’re also working on Multiwinia, multiplayer Darwinia. Looking at some of the early gameplay video, the game continues the very wide-scale warfare aesthetic.

“This was the original concept behind Darwinia,” Arundel said.

And to hear the two talk about their games, it’s easy to tell they’re very into what it is they’re doing, even before the story about going on the dole. And if there’s any justice in the world, those days are over.

As Morris said, “The future is bright.”

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