Chris Delay of Introversion Software, developer behind the awesomely indie games Darwinia, Uplink, and Defcon, has "a couple of bombshells to drop" on the developer's official forum.
The first is that they've submitted their latest game to the Independent Games Festival 2012, and it's "NOT Subversion". The Introversion team had a severe wake-up call when they demonstrated the game 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…
Technology 1, Gameplay 0 – we’ve made the fatal mistake of having more fun making the game than gamers would ever have playing it.
This led Chris to scrap that idea completely, purchase a blank notebook, and start furiously scribbling down 10 pages of game design that the entire team see as their new design bible. So what about the 6 years of part-time work on Subversion?
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. [Emphasis added]