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Subversion

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Introversion Software

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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'Subversion' Development Put On Hold Again

by Rainier on Oct. 17, 2011 @ 3:57 p.m. PDT

In Subversion you take mission control over a team of skilled operatives in a hostile High Security building. You will be using Sabotage, Social Engineering and Grifting, custom Electrical and Mechanical devices, Distractions, Hacking, Stealth, Acrobatics, Precision demolitions, Trickery, whatever gets the job done.

Subversion has just revealed that it is once more putting the game on hold to make room for a new project, issuing the following statement:

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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