This is part two of our chat with Introversion Software boss, Mark Morris. Read part one of our interview for the first half, otherwise you're not going to have a clue what's going on, are you?
So Darwinia+ is obviously an XBLA exclusive. Why no PSN release?
Morris: When you're a small developer you kind of have to go with whatever you're offered. I would prefer a world where we could put our content out on 360 and we could put it out on PSN, because I think that being able to do that is really going to enable small developer to take risks.
Is PSN better setup for small developers to get their games on the service?
Morris: I think there are different challenges with Sony. With Microsoft your approval is given at the start, as long as you deliver what you said you'd deliver you're going to launch, where as it's not like that with Sony. Sony's clearance for launch comes quite later and you have to invest quite a lot of time before you get it. That's a problem because it means you have to invest a lot of time and effort and then you're in a much weaker negotiating position because they could turn around and say 'we don't want it'.
To be fair, I'm sure if Microsoft wasn't happy with what you'd delivered they'd say 'you need to fix this'.
How much does Introversion need Darwinia+ to be a success? Are you banking on it financially?
Morris: Our success is inextricably linked with every project that we make. We haven't been able to get away from serial game development yet, which means that all of our money is generated from sales of the previous game and some back catalogue sales that really help out - Valve helps us a lot.
There is a minimum sales figure for Darwinia+, a level that it has to achieve. If it doesn't achieve that then we don't have enough money to continue going - simple as that. We know how much money we're going to make from the back catalogue next year so we have to hit this minimum sales level.
So if fans want to see more they should buy this game?
Morris: Yeah, basically. That's the message. There isn't any other mystic source of income for us, we haven't got reserves.
Would it be fair to say that Introversion is still looking for its big hit then, that game that will take all the pressure off?
Morris: I think that we've spent four years developing a game which is a hell of a long time and expensive. I think it would be disingenuous for me to say we haven't had a hit yet - I think we've had four. We've done well. What happened though is we were so young and inexperienced when we started out that we didn't know how long this project was going to take. We didn't really attack it in the way that we would attack it now.
We don't need Darwinia+ to be a massive runaway success. We know the figures that Space Giraffe did and they're not particularly high. As long as we do as well as Space Giraffe we'll be OK, so we're kind of hoping we're going to hit that sort of level. At the same time, I didn't drive here in my Bentley which is kind of the reason we started Introversion! I'd like a game that just goes stellar, of course I would. But in terms of Darwinia, this was the best game we released from a critical perspective and I really hope that the 360 players enjoy it as much as the PC gamers did.
What's next for Introversion?
Morris: We are working on a game called Subversion next. We haven't said much about it, we're kind of in a creative jamming phase. The way that I think you should make games is by taking as long as you need to understand what the game is going to be like. It's quite rare that you have a Defcon moment, wake up and go, 'yeah I can see this entire game'. Usually you've got an idea for a game and you want to see how the pieces fit together.
On Subversion we've started with city generation. So we can automatically generate cities now and if you check out our website you'll see all of this stuff. We're generating ten kilometres by ten kilometres and the idea is that within every building in a city we want to then auto-generate a room, and then some sort of missions will then be taking place within that automatically generated environment.
So it's quite similar to Uplink but all in a virtual world. So imagine taking the virtual world of Uplink into the physical world of Subversion. That's kind of what we're trying to do and we're just trying to see where we can get with that at the moment. So that's the next big IP for us.