BT:Historically the UK has done well out of humorous and somewhat peculiarly themed games. Is that something you try to reflect in your own games? What’s your opinion on the style and themes that are usually broached in UK games compared to the rest of the world? These were themes that Darwinia especially seemed to play off of…
MM: We don’t try to reflect anything in our games, we just kind of come up with an idea that we think would work well and then make it to the best of our ability. Uplink was about hacking. DEFCON had nuclear war, Subversion - heist. Darwinia is a big exception to that and we were trying to pay homage to the gaming classics of the 80s and 90s, but it’s not a strong motivator in what we do.
BT:We know it’s still very much in development, but can you explain the basic idea of Subversion and how you came up with it? We still don’t know much, since you only announced it recently.
MM: Sure. Subversion is going to be set in a modern, high tech environment, with you taking mission control over a team of skilled operatives in a hostile, high security building. You’ll 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 is all about subterfuge and stealth
In the best case scenarios your enemies will never know you were even there. When things go wrong, a well prepared escape plan and well timed precision violence will get you out of a tight spot - or maybe not.
BT:What were you inspirations for Subversion? We’ve not seen much of it at the moment, but it feels as if it draws a bit from the old X-Com games, though themed around films like Mission Impossible or Sneakers.
MM: Yeah, we tend to take a lot of our inspiration from movies that really touched us when we were growing up. I remember (in a very immature way) deciding that I had had enough of movies, everything I’d seen over the last few months had been really bad and I went to the cinema for what the 15 year old me decided was the last ever time. Then I watched Sneakers, which showed me what I wanted to be when I grew up and restored my faith in Hollywood.
Sneakers is a big part, but so is Mission Impossible, Leverage, Oceans 11, The Sting. Grifitng, heist style movies have had a lot of attention in the movies, but now it’s time for us to make a game out of it.
BT:What about the tech underpinning the game – can you tell us anything about the procedurally generated cities and engine? How important do you think procedurally generated content will be to the final game?
Early reports on Subversion revealed it uses procedurally generated cities
MM: I could tell you an awful lot about the tech, but the best thing to do is head over to our blog and you can read all about it.
I’m hoping that procedural generation will be a big part of the final game though. I’m not going to go into too much detail regarding our plans, but if they come together in the way we hope it’ll be cool.
BT:What’s your basic process for developing a new idea? It seems as if Subversion is a fairly ambitious concept, especially compared to your older games. Has development been very different to older projects?
MM: We don’t have a process, it changes from game to game!
We generally start with a period of creative jamming where we just see what we can do. The original idea for Subversion came all the way back in 2002 and it has been gestating in the background. It’s gone through much iteration, but we are starting to converge on a few core ideas that we’re pretty sure will make it into the final version. Once we have everything pinned down, we’ll then go into full swing and start turning out content and making the core systems work.
BT:We’ve interested in how projects like Subversion change the more they are developed. Do you often find yourself having to discard or add new features into a game that you hadn’t originally counted on, or do you stick closely to the original vision?
MM: Again, it’s actually very different for each game. The implementation of DEFCON was very close to the original design idea, but Darwinia had a much wilder path. I can’t really give any examples because we’ve always been pretty weak on designing things up front. Originally Darwinia was supposed to be a massive war game where you controlled huge armies – it didn’t turn out anything like that!