Introversion's playmaker Chris Delay has revealed that his celebrated indie studio was "almost dead" after a "disastrous" 2008 - but is now "back on the ascendancy".
Continuing his candid review of last year, Delay tells of how, after the launch of Multiwinia, "it all came crashing down around us", with poor sales leaving studio seriously considering "closing up for good".
"We knew the money issue had to be addressed directly, and quickly," explains Delay. "We were on track to be bust in just a few months. We made some hard choices, and seriously considered closing up for good."
Belts were tightened and the London Bridge office closed in favour of a cheaper South London abode.
"This was probably the lowest point for me personally," he adds. "For the first time since starting Introversion, I Googled for jobs around the Cambridge area, making it as far as actually clicking on some links before having to fight back tears.
"The company we'd founded together out of university was almost dead, the Directors took it in turns to lose the will to continue for a few days at a time, and it all looked pretty bleak for a while."
The choices boiled down to Darwinia+ for Microsoft or completing the Channel 4 project Chronometer under someone else's direction. Delay wasn't particularly keen on either, but had his choice made for him when the global recession took hold and the funding fell out of the Channel 4 venture.
Darwinia+ is now the only project Introversion has that can be finished before the "minimal returns" from Multiwinia run out.
To make matters worse, Defcon DS developer Pinnacle went bust and left the game in limbo.
"This particular story may still have a happy ending, as we've now resolved all the legal issues surrounding Pinnacle's bankruptcy and Defcon DS is up for sale - for any publisher who is interested - a finished game ready to go, based on a very successful PC game," enthuses Delay. "We've had a lot of interest since announcing that, so we're crossing our fingers."
But worst of all, for Delay, is that while Introversion struggled, the indie scene flourished, producing gems like Braid and World of Goo.
"An indie game revolution has been occurring while this was happening to us, with countless small teams of two or three guys putting together amazingly cool games and getting genuine commercial success out of it," says Delay. "Indie has become a viable genre of its own, with its own style and quirks."
"To not be a part of that revolution - to in fact realise that we were the 'older' indie, already too big and too slow to effectively compete, was a major slap in the face."
But the future's bright: Introversion has found alternate sources of funding through grant schemes and the relationship with Microsoft is "excellent" and Delay feels as though he's on the "finishing straight" with Darwinia+.
"We're back on the ascendancy, with a truly terrible year behind us, and a new sense of clarity and purpose," Delay reveals, explaining that other opportunities for future projects have arisen.
And, Delay breathes with a sigh of relief, this may finally free him to work on Subversion once more.
"Assuming Darwinia+ does okay, there will be be four people working on Subversion including myself, and there will be a momentum behind it such that it can't be stopped again," he says.
"This is not a situation we would ever deliberately put ourselves in - all eggs in one Microsoft shaped basket, but that's where we are, and for the first time in a long while, I'm feeling confident."
Darwinia+ launches on Xbox Live Arcade on 29th September.
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