Introversion Software has made a name for itself as the independent development house that all others look up to. With the successful Uplink and the award winning Darwinia behind them, we spoke with Chris Delay, lead developer at Introversion, about the company's forthcoming release, DEFCON.
Pro-G: Could you tell us who works on DEFCON and what their job entails?
Chris Delay: DEFCON was made by myself, Chris Delay, lead developer here at Introversion, and Gary Chambers. Gary was one of the first members of the Introversion community, initially an Uplink fan and a prominent poster on our forums. He came to work with us on Darwinia and is also co-producer of DEFCON.
We also have an outstanding sound team, comprised of two guys, Alistair Lindsay and Michael Maidment who also worked on Darwinia before helping us with DEFCON. The music is perhaps the most serious content in DEFCON - it's incredibly eerie and atmospheric and really adds a macabre element to the whole game.
DEFCON would not have been possible had it not been for the sterling work done by a troop of dedicated beta testers - all members of the Introversion online community. They have been steadily testing DEFCON now for many months to ensure that all's functioning as it should.
Pro-G: DEFCON is a complete break from your previous title Darwinia and more akin to Uplink in terms of game design. Was there a particular reason for taking a step back from the Darwinia universe and if so, could you explain?
CD: It's certainly fair to say that DEFCON's look and feel is not dissimilar to Uplink; both games take huge inspiration from the film Wargames but in different ways. Uplink takes its inspiration from the hacking elements of Wargames - the war-dialing, password breaking, school record changing etc., whilst DEFCON takes its inspiration from the cold war Armageddon theme and the scenes in the NORAD bunker with the US Generals watching the world end in wireframe. Meanwhile Darwinia, stands out on a limb in some ways with its references to the gems of halcyon gaming, such as Cannon Fodder and Tron.
To be honest we don't have a conscious game-plan when it comes to themes or future game ideas, but certainly after making such an incredibly complex game like Darwinia, there was a desire to return to a simpler and purer kind of game. The immense amount of custom content in Darwinia was a very ambitious and time-consuming project for such a small dev team. Almost every level had something special on it and the second demo alone took us four months to make - all for just one hour's worth of gameplay! DEFCON was a wonderful project because it is almost entirely 'content free' - the world map continent data is publicly available, the world's major cities are all well known, the icons are simple, there's no custom level designs or cut-scenes or dialog or anything - it's just a pure game.
Pro-G: If Darwinia redefined a classic genre, what do you hope to achieve with DEFCON?
CD: As with all of our games, perhaps the thing we most consciously strive for is to make something that really stands out, that's wholly unique and innovative. We wanted people to play DEFCON and find it addictive, enjoyable and above all a breath of fresh air in an industry that feels increasingly stagnant and choked with the inevitable onslaught of first-person shooters.
Pro-G: What are the main goals in terms of gameplay for DEFCON?
CD: In DEFCON you play a general hidden deep within an underground bunker. Your mission is to successfully exterminate your enemy's civilian population whilst disabling their ability to retaliate against you, thus in effect saving your own civilians from destruction. This is actually a lot more difficult than it would appear, because launching an attack on an enemy exposes the positions of your own ground silos leaving them vulnerable and open to attack.
DEFCON is a fascinating game to watch - every day we watch people coming up with new strategies to win this game. It is a relatively easy game to pick up, but very difficult to win convincingly, and everybody loses, you just have to make sure you lose the least!