One of the PC’s finest features is its ability to allow small, eccentric development teams to create great games without constraints. The spirit of the bedroom programmers of the ’80s is just about living on PCs across the world. One such home-grown PC team are the British IGF winners, Introversion, who have been something of an inspiration in their attitude towards game development: the kinds of games they have decided to develop appeal to something basic about gaming. It’s not a Retro appeal, so much as timeless. Uplink, Darwinia and DefCon each have their own encapsulated, deliberately self-contained idea, and each sits just outside the commercial comfort zones. These titles do what indie games do best: surprise, entertain, and challenge.
So how does Introversion’s central programmer, the superbly-named Chris Delay, feel about independent game development in 2007? “Alive and well! PCs are still the best place to play genuinely indie games made by very small teams. It’s worth keeping up with events like the IGF – a lot of teams that do well show up later as serious game developers. I think people’s interest in indie gaming has been slowly rising and this is definitely a good thing.”
Introversion came away from the IGF as stars, but are now somewhat distancing themselves from their indie roots, with increased commercial success thanks to their exposure on Valve’s Steam sales platform: “We’re big fans,” says Delay. “Of course we’d say that, since all three of our games are now available to buy on Steam. But it’s such a convenient system. I recently reached the end of my patience with Vista and wiped the hard disk, and installed XP from scratch. After installing Steam I had easy access to the latest versions of every game I’d bought over the system. From a company point of view Valve offer a direct link to a huge number of customers who might otherwise never have heard of our games. Certainly with Darwinia, Steam was kind of a saviour for us and sold Darwinia in quantities we’d never seen before. With Defcon (and all of our future games, we hope) we released the game on Steam and on our website and in the high street simultaneously. We’ve found that players like the choice – some people want the convenience of Steam, some people want it direct from the creators and not tied to any system, and some people like to walk into town to buy.”
And some of us just want to get rid of the towers of CDs and DVD boxes that currently dominate our tiny box-room offices…
Read on for thoughts on Multiwinia, Subversion, and the future of Introversion.
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