Innovation? Introversion…

Creativity in game design is getting harder and harder to find. Game plots are getting murkier and less distinguishable from one another, and the closest thing to innovation seems to be the type of sword your hero uses to commit their various hackings and slashings.
Or so I thought until I stumbled upon Introversion Software, an indie-gaming company based in the UK. In 2001 they gave us Uplink, a game about computer hacking. Not a computer-hacking cyborg with a machine-gun arm, or a wisecracking secret agent that occasionally hacked computers, but a game dedicated to the act of computer hacking for personal gain. They’ve given us games about global nuclear war and games about sectarian violence among self-aware bits of data in a visual representation of the Internet. See what I mean about innovation?
So how did these heroes of gameplay and design come to be? It all started at Imperial College in London, where Managing Director Mark Morris met creative guru Chris Delay and business expert Thomas Arundel.
“Chris had been working 18 months on a hacking game,” Morris said, “I had some involvement with him, bounced some ideas around with him.”
When the college sponsored a competition offering 10,000 pounds for the best business plan, Morris brought Arundel into the fold and the three set to work. The fledgling Introversion team didn’t win the competition, but they decided to move forward with their plan anyway. Their beginnings were decidedly humble.

“We literally burned CDs on our own computers and printed the labels on bubble jets,” Morris said. As online sales picked up the team was able to expand, and it’s been onward and upward ever since.

Morris credits the innovative designs of the company’s games largely to their focus on creativity. “At the core of our business is the desire to retain creative freedom,” he said. As a result, Introversion engages in extended periods of what Morris calls “creative jamming.”

Initial concepts are at the forefront of their creative drive. Morris explained that they can experiment for as long as two years with ideas before they feel ready to move on to content production.

Once the decision to move on to production is made, Morris said Delay has mastered the art of working in 2-week “sprints.” Each “sprint” is thoroughly planned out in advance with attainable goals in one very focused aspect of the evolving game. Morris called the system a “tight feedback loop between design and implementation” that can be difficult to manage but results in very good games.

Morris said that Subversion, a PC game based around the concept of heists, is the next big focus for Introversion. The company is also working on adapting it’s title “DEFCON” for the Playstation Network, but both projects are in the early stages of their evolution, and little more could be said about them.

Keep an eye on Subversion and on Introversion Software in general if you’re the kind of gamer who likes creativity, innovation, rich gameplay, America and freedom. You won’t be disappointed, and the terrorists won’t win.


About incontrol88

I'm a 21 year old senior Journalism and Mass Communications major at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY. Writing and hobby gaming are my two greatest loves, and it is my hope to combine them here for the benefit of the burgeoning gaming community. I'm mostly an RPG/RTS fan, but I play everything from Final Fantasy to Call of Duty! View all posts by incontrol88

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