Eurogamer: There's another platform that appears to be a great fit for Introversion's independent values, Introversion's small team and Introversion's market - and that's iPhone. Are you exploring there?
Mark Morris: Not really, not really. And the reason I say that is I've heard very, very mixed reports on how well Apps do on iPhone. It's very difficult to get any kind of presentation to the user; there are so many Apps out there that getting through all the noise and getting people to download and play is very difficult. There have been some success stories: I was talking to Charles Cecil about Beneath a Steel Sky that he released recently and he's been very pleased with the response that he's got. But for every one of those there's 50 others. I was chatting to another developer recently, and he said, "If you can't get your game out within a month on iPhone then you're not going to get any profit from it."
That said, I think Uplink would be a really great fit: the interface would work really quite well. People talk about Defcon but actually the 'fat-finger' problem is really going to come in with Defcon. But Uplink could work really well. We might do Uplink as a vanity project for us; something that we're not really worried about making too much money from, but just put it out there so we've got an iPhone presence. I think a lot of the Uplink fans would enjoy that.
Eurogamer: Uplink 2 is a game that's been screamed for, but you say it's an itch that will be scratched by Subversion. How's Subversion doing as a project now?
Mark Morris: It's really good, actually. I can't talk too much about it but for a long time we were in just this technology exploration phase with cities. But recently we've started focusing a little bit more on what the game's going to be, on how you're going to interact with this world, and over the last couple of weeks we've taken some big leaps forward in understanding the game. We've never before run with the first playable [builds], although a lot of development studios go down that route. We're choosing to do that with Subversion because, for instance, with Darwinia it took years before we actually understood the game, so we want to avoid that mistake and hit our first playable quite quickly.
We probably won't be showing this to the world, but internally by Christmas - something like that - we'll have the first level of Subversion done and ready. That's brilliant. And then it's just a case of expanding that into a full game.
Eurogamer: What kind of development cycle are you looking at for Subversion?
Mark Morris: We try in general to tighten up everything we do, but I don't want to over-constrain it. I'm trying to run the Defcon PSN project very tightly, but less tightly the Subversion project. The timescale we're forecasting at the moment is about 18 months from now until launch. It'll slip, but maybe within a couple of years - that's when we need to get it out there.
Eurogamer: What's the right price for Darwinia+?
Mark Morris: Er, I'm not going to talk about that! Microsoft will... We get into a discussion with them once it's been certified to agree what it needs to be.
Eurogamer: Do you have a figure in your head at the moment?
Mark Morris: I do, but I want to talk to Microsoft and let that negotiation take its course.
Eurogamer: Once upon a time you, as a PC developer, would only consider PC. Does it feel strange now to be considering consoles first?
Mark Morris: Subversion is being developed as a PC game, but even now, Chris will be saying, "You can see how I could now flip this into a console-controlled game." He's now moving into that mindset. We're never going to move away from PC. Valve are just an incredible team of people to work with, they're so good at what they do. And Steam is just amazing. Even though we hope we won't have cashflow problems, on PC, by selling directly to consumers like we do, eventually if you need to just switch it on on one day then you switch it on, and the money comes straight back into your pocket and you can start paying the bills again. Whereas you can't do that on consoles. We've had so many false launch-dates for Darwinia+: when we came into 2009 we thought June, we had no conception that we might not be out in 2009. It just keeps moving and moving. We've had to do a lot of work to fund that, because we don't have any PC projects about to go live, because with PC you've always got that ability to flip the switch.
Coming back to this idea of being fiercely creative: if we wanted to make a crazy game that every publisher just goes, "Oh no that's just too hot, you're not putting that out on Xbox Live," then we could still put it out and make a statement on PC. So yeah: still very much PC lead, but hopefully with 360 and PSN also.
Eurogamer: You mentioned Darwinia+ being pushed back time and time again - is there a chance Microsoft might opt to have the game as a Summer of Arcade 2010 release?
Mark Morris: We need the cash quite quickly! We couldn't really hold back until next summer to launch it. Cert is a difficult process to go through. Up to recently we've been really happy with it, but there's been a couple of things where Microsoft have said, "Well if you don't like the process we can chat afterwards and do a post-mortem." There's a couple of things I think could be improved on.
What we've got to do is get through cert, then we can start talking with the marketing team about launch dates, price points and support that hopefully Microsoft will give us on the Dashboard.
Darwinia+ is due out for Xbox Live Arcade after Christmas. Mark Morris is managing director of Introversion.