Introversion’s Rezzed Session: Explanations, Demos

Introversion used their developer session at Rezzed to explain why they had canned Subversion, and how the technology and ideas from that had become Prison Architect, which was playable at the show. It’s certainly worth a look, and you can watch the session – which includes some footage of Subversion – below. Relatedly, you can also read my take Prison Architect here and here.


  1. PodX140 says:

    Subversion you say? I played around with the city builder they made and by god is it incredible. I honestly wish that someone would pick it up and do SOMETHING with it, it’s just such an amazing tool. Prison architect also sounds nice, in the kind of theme-hospital management way, but it’s not subversion sooooo…

    • djbriandamage says:

      I was also in awe of the dynamic city generator tool which, I believe, I got from the Introversion indie bundle. It was good for a few gawks and some desktop wallpaper screencaps.

    • hosndosn says:

      I love Introversion but to be honest, I don’t think they’re very good at pushing their concepts on the gameplay level. There is just *so* much potential with all these ideas and tech, throw a truly good gamedesigner at it and you could have an incredible, unique game.

      I already felt that way about Darwinia and Defcon, games with brilliant atmosphere, style and core concepts but when you play them, you feel like you’ve gotten everything out of them in half an hour which is a shame. It’s the kind of minimalism that’s just a waste of potential.

  2. MOKKA says:

    Watched the Video yesterday on Eurogamer. I never played any of the Introversion titles, but what I saw from Prison Architect really impressed me. They were definately right in saying that the Bullfrog style of management games died out too soon.

  3. lordcooper says:

    I need Prison Architect on my PC as a matter of urgency.

    • Belsameth says:

      A live or death situation, even. Only its arival yesterday (at the very latest) can save me.

      Get on it, Inversion!

  4. MuscleHorse says:

    Thanks for reminding me about Subversion; sad face.

    I am rather excited for Theme Prison though.

    • hosndosn says:

      I’m a bit surprised he flat out said Subversion is canceled, I thought it was just put on ice as a possible future project if they ever figure out the gameplay. I understand they’re putting all resources on Prison Architect now, but Subversion isn’t dead, is it? Please tell me there’s still hope.

  5. UsF says:

    Paid alpha this year @ 37:55 or did I misunderstand that?

  6. Defiant Badger says:

    Oh gosh Prison architect appeals to me much more than subversion ever did.

  7. Norton says:

    I want alpha/beta now ;D

  8. matnym says:

    First time I saw Prison Architect I thought it looked a bit simple for my taste. Now though I’m hyped and I want it bad.

  9. caddyB says:

    Interface problems of Subversion reminds me of Sots II actually. I love that game now that worst is fixed, but the ui and the general clunkyness always made me think that they were trying too hard to make everything very detailed, but to me some of it is very frustrating.

  10. Faldrath says:

    While I usually enjoy this genre, the prison theme turns me right off :(

  11. wodin says:

    Superb..great lads those two. Proper gaming geeks. PA has gone onto a must buy list after that.

    Loved their enthusiasm he was great a speaking aswell.

    i hope they do have the harder issue slike death row, gangs, etc. I want to recreate OZ. Some Islamic vs neo Nazi gangs etc etc.

  12. hello_mr.Trout says:

    i wonder if they’ll manage to execute the same compelling gameplay styles which have been locked into their prior releases?

  13. Caiman says:

    What’s really got me curious is Chris put up a slide of one of my favourite Amiga games of all time, Paradroid 90, and then skipped past it with nary a mention. I’m sure he was just talking about its visual appeal. I’d buy the heck out of a remake of that game.

  14. Dozer says:

    So why didn’t they just remove the AK47s and make it mission-critical to not harm guards? Or have a second guard in the control room who hits the panic button, deadlocking the doors and summoning the local equivalent to SWAT? Subversion COULD have been awesome, I still believe it.

    Normally if you can figure out how to shut down the power to one alarm system, the other alarm systems will notice and trigger.

  15. Josh W says:

    Ok, as someone who wants to see subversion work, here’s what I think your missing:

    Removing a unit should never be as effective as bypassing or “subverting” it.

    This encourages people to interact with the systems of the game rather than emptying the levels of their stuff.

    The first example? Security systems should be fail secure; all alarm signals should be constant transmissions of “everything is fine”, and cutting wires should, by default, set off alarms. The standard way to avoid this is some kind of signal analysis and replacement, either done uplink style with specialist tools (and possibly agent skills), or with a minigame.

    “Non-security” systems being used in a security context would generally operate the opposite way round; they would be naturally jammable, removable etc. So basically groups on the lower end of the cost scale, who are using “text me if something goes wrong” style security systems would be much easier to jam and defeat, and the more hardwired and habitual the security, the harder it would be to subvert, giving you a natural difficulty progression.

    The general rules of gameplay should be “solve the problem of this level, or fail and have to solve a bigger problem”.

    In other words, killing guards activates the “police on your trail” system; it should be taken out as an option when testing the smaller scale systems, then added back in when dealing with the broader problem of “how do different organisations see our team” and the problem of people leaving clues that investigators use.

    Here’s the model in short form; every system has an outside, that must look normal, while the inside changes. The longer the outside looks normal for, the longer the larger system remains unaware that that component has in some way been subverted. Layered black boxes.

    Players who are incautious rapidly start dealing with the largest scale of the problem, (which would probably be something like the gateway stuff from uplink but with safehouses) and players that focus on solving specific problems well have to do large amounts of reconisance in order to find ways to apply their specialist skills.

    But given all that, this would be a massive piece of work, so I’m glad you’re working on something that will allow you to eat! Not sure if it’ll be my thing yet, but that’s what demos are for! Well them and reading other people’s reactions. I hope you really manage to get approachable, react-to-able depth into it.

  16. Wisq says:

    Haven’t had a chance to watch the prison architect part of the video yet, but I do have some thoughts on the subversion history & demo part:

    I don’t think it’s as unsalvagable as they seem to think, but I do think it needs semi-realistic AI (at least) before the super-realistic “everything else” can really matter. That becomes a big problem, since the “everything else” was very simple binary logic (wires, security systems, etc.) as compared to humans, who are crazy-complex fuzzy logic.

    For example: One guard in the control room, one roaming guard. You cause a minor disturbance, diverting the guard to another floor, and then you get him stuck in the elevator. What does his other guard do? Does he go check it out? Call the fire department? Call the police? How minor was the minor disturbance you caused? How suspicious does it make them? What happens when the fire department shows up? Are they going to notice you in all the commotion? Will they raise the alarm, or assume you’re meant to be there? What happens on a shift change? Will the new guards inherit all the suspicions of the old guards, or will minor things go unmentioned? Will the new guards behave the same way as the old guards? etc. etc. etc.

    So yeah, it probably makes sense to backburner it for now. I think cancelling it is a huge waste, but I can see why they’d realistically have to do that, given their situation. But hopefully they do find some way to turn it into a fun & successful heist game down the road, even if that takes a lot longer and happens in the background behind a lot of other projects in the mean time.

  17. LTK says:

    This makes me really excited about Prison Architect. I expect it will make me uncomfortably familiar with my own hidden sadistic tendencies that will undoubtedly reveal themselves when I am put in charge of a commercial incarceration facility. Somehow I don’t expect that giving every prisoner ten square meters of cell with a tv and computer will be a lucrative strategy for running a prison.