Eurogamer: Darwinia was a champion of that original indie surge. Can Darwinia+ be a champion again? Where do you see Introversion within the movement today?
Mark Morris: We used to call ourselves The Last of the Bedroom Programmers, and we started taking flak from that. When we first started out we did consider ourselves to be really flying the flag for small teams. Indie now is quite an established genre: people have indie sections and there are indie reviews in magazines. This didn't exist back in the day. There was even a lot of consternation whether Darwinia was an indie game because we were on Steam therefore we'd sold out.
What we're trying to do is reposition ourselves so we can stay true to the indie creative vibe: the quirkiness; the not triple-A, photo-realistic graphical look; the ability to plunge into different areas, different genres and try and be really challenging. But with Introversion I want to do that on multiple platforms - so on PC, PSN and Xbox Live Arcade - and I want our games to be increasingly more highly polished and a better experience for the user.
I see ourselves as making this transition from non-professional developer - a couple of guys in a bedroom making great games (not that it's not worthwhile when I say "non-professional" - I just mean doing it as a hobby) into sustainable long-term development studio that's putting out great titles on multiple platforms but without compromising on our creativity or values.
Eurogamer: I remember reading Chris Delay's four-part journal about the bad luck Introversion had suffered over recent years - you've certainly had your fair share. Is it fair to say that there's an air of desperation surrounding Darwinia+?
Mark Morris: You say "bad luck", I'll say "bad planning". I'll put may hands up and say we should have and could have managed this better. Subversion is our next major IP and we're all really looking forward to getting onto this...
Eurogamer: What, even Chris?
Mark Morris: Yeah yeah ha ha! Just a bit! Chris has had a really hard ride because we were doing things with Channel 4 and all sorts of things just to keep us alive, right? And the only reason Chris wanted to be part of Introversion was to develop his own games, so he's had it worse. But he's now off of Darwinia+ and he's working with Subversion, so that's in development and it's looking great.
Also, we've Defcon coming up on PSN. That project is starting to take shape, and hopefully the lessons we learned from Darwinia+ [means] we'll be able to do that project swiftly and less painfully.
In order for this future to materialise for us we don't need a huge number of sales [of Darwinia+]. We're not far above Space Giraffe levels, which is the bottom. If we can hit that level of sales then the future of Introversion is going to be brilliant - we're going to be back on track making Subversion, new, original IP that we really want to do, broadening our base and everything's wonderful. However, if we don't make that number of sales then we won't have the resources to carry on, so there is this point and the whole company is focusing towards it. Either that will be the end or we'll come back with a very, very different attitude and level of capability for making games.
Eurogamer: Are you concerned that Darwinia - first released four years ago - will no longer be relevant?
Mark Morris: The Darwinia and Multiwinia package together is really the right way to present both of these games. I still think Darwinia is a really strong game - it's a really great idea and a really wonderful concept. I don't think necessarily that it's a game particularly of its time. I think as a package the two together really represent great value and also from a gameplay point of view they sit together really, really nicely. And I'm hoping that the 360 audience - many of them having never seen or heard anything of Darwinia - are going to come to it with fresh eyes and really love it.
Eurogamer: Would you work on Xbox Live Arcade again?
Mark Morris: Yeah, we really would.
Eurogamer: Why did you decide to take Defcon to PlayStation Network?
Mark Morris: We were in talks with Microsoft for Defcon, and Microsoft, they really want differentiators for games on their service. And because Defcon had been out on PC before they really wanted something new to differentiate it. And that was where the problem started with Darwinia+. It's fair - Microsoft has got more games out so they can act in that way. Whereas Sony are just a bit keener to increase the number of games on the system. If you've got a good game that stands up well and looks good, they'll take it.
The reason that we've gone with PSN is really about development speed, because we think we can do it quicker - we think we can do it really fast. Also, I really want, strategically, to be able to work with both Sony and Microsoft, because I really want to get our game out to as wide an audience as we possibly can. I still maintain that the difficult part is making the game itself. Once you've got that core game and it's fun and all the rest, then the technical aspect of putting it onto the different systems should, in theory, be a little bit easier and a little bit less risky. That's the direction I want to take Introversion on, so that we can take anything and put it out on any of the platforms.