Introversion's creative backbone Chris Delay has declared that "2008 was a disastrous year" for the developer.
"By all accounts, 2008 was a disastrous year for Introversion, characterised by an incredibly positive start and a noticeable increase in ambition, but not a single genuine success throughout the whole year," writes Delay on the Introversion blog.
"There was only one bit of good news - that we survived the whole year without laying anybody off or closing the company."
Delay began the year with a full development slate. Multiwinia for PC/Mac and Darwinia+ for Xbox 360 (a mixture of Darwinia and Multiwinia) were scheduled for a simultaneous launch. Pinnacle Software (which recently went bust) had agreed to publish a DS version of Defcon, and Channel 4 had commissioned a project that would be "by far our most outrageous game design yet", he says. Plus there was Subversion: the "project that really excited" Delay.
"The first major problem was Microsoft," explains the lead designer and developer of all Introversion games. "I want to be clear that in hindsight, we believe Microsoft were absolutely correct in the calls they made, and we were wrong. But at the time, oh my God they were pissing us off."
Microsoft ordered massive redesigns to Darwinia+, covering menus, squad command and even game modes. "It was the first time a massive company had effectively told Introversion what to do," Delay reveals, "And we didn't like that at all."
The solution: putting the Xbox 360 version on the "back-burner" and soldering on with Multiwinia on PC. (Darwinia+ now carries a release date of 29th September 2009, according to the official site.)
Delay then got to work on Subversion and was very happy. But Channel 4 project Chronometer soon kicked in and he had to divert his attention.
"Ultimately there was only one choice for me - I had to summon my professional alter-ego and give up on Subversion altogether," rues Delay. "It was actually very professionally done in the end, something to be proud of. But internally I felt the project was considerably less interesting than Subversion."
Multiwinia was finished in time for a July/August launch, but previews of the final code went awry, with journalists eventually confessing that the controls were rubbish.
Redesigns followed and pushed everything back by a month, but the game came out, scored 8/10 on Eurogamer, and Introversion sat back ready to reap the rewards.
But the smiles were short-lived, as the eerie silence of a self-built sales ticker forebode during the launch party.
We'll have to wait until later to find out more, however, as Delay hopes to publish the final part of the three-post recollection this afternoon. Perhaps the whereabouts of Chronometer and the Multiwinia sales will be explained in it.