Steam Greenlight's $100 entry-fee: indie devs respond

Marsh Davies at

Indie devs seem to be divided over the recently announced Steam Greenlight $100 entry-fee. The idea’s well-intentioned: it’s to stop fakes, trolls and overenthusiastic members of the community filling the crowd-promotion service with games that aren’t theirs to develop. But others say such a figure is too much for struggling indies to afford and a dangerous gamble on a service which promises the submitting dev nothing solid in return.

Is the fee a good idea? A necessary evil? Will it crush aspirations or filter out the dross? We asked a number of indies and Steam hopefuls what they thought.

Introversion: "If Valve aren't launching your game you really have to ask yourself why"

Owen Hill at

The Introversion Humble Indie Bundle was a massive success, selling more games in two weeks than the developer had in 10 years: "It was our biggest single sale of any sale we’d ever done before, financially and in terms of player numbers, says creative director, Chris Delay. "Twice as many people play our games thanks to Humble Bundle."

But even though alternate distribution platforms can be profitable, Chris admits that landing Prison Architect on Valve's platform was the ultimate aim: "I think Steam is obviously the market leader. I definitely think that. And I would feel very frustrated if I had a game and Valve turned it down. Getting on Steam is like a number one objective for us, so we have to make sure the game is good enough.

Introversion's managing director, Mark Morris, is just as modest about their future titles: "It’s a really good litmus test, If Valve aren’t launching your game, you really have to ask yourself why."

Introversion on why they're done with Darwinia

Tom Senior at

We had the chance to catch up with Introversion at Bit of Alright recently, to talk about their new project, Prison Architect, the fate of Subversion and their plans for the future. One thing's for sure, Darwinia won't be part of it. Creative director, Chris Delay and managing director Mark Morris told us how the company ended up working on one game for so long when, in the beginning, they set out determined to keep making new games every one or two years.

"We’d started it in 2002 and it didn’t ship until 2005" said creative director Chris Delay. "Then we had Multiwinia, which was 2008. And we had Darwinia+, which was 2010. So we’ve kind of been working on Darwinia for 10 years and it was never meant to be that big a project. To say that we were sick of it is an understatement."

One of the strengths of a small team of indie developers is their ability to throw up new ideas and change direction faster than large, publisher-funded studios. In Introversion's case, Darwinia's runaway success only slowed them down.

Prison Architect "paid alpha" planned for later this year

Tom Senior at

We met up with Introversion at A Bit of Alright last week to talk about how development is going on their new project, Prison Architect. Creative director, Chris Delay and managing director Mark Morris told us about their plans for a "paid alpha" later this year.

The alpha could be released "maybe half way through/two thirds through of this year, so maybe September time," says Chris. The paid alpha will give players the opportunity to pay for a pre-order to get immediate access to the build that Introversion are currently working on.

Prison Architect trailer concludes Introversion treasure hunt

Tom Senior at

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The Introversion treasure hunt is over! By combining the secret numbers and adding them to the end of the url on the Introversion site, the debut trailer for their new IGF entry, Prison Architect was revealed.

It brings back fond memories of Theme Hospital. The most dangerous thing your patients could do in Bullfrog's game was vomit, or explode a little bit. Prison Architect's inmates will be smuggling in poison and shivs, on the look out for an opportunity to start a riot and escape. It wouldn't be Introversion without a hint of darkness, and Prison Architect's first mission certainly delivers. Read our Prison Architect preview to find out how.

Prison Architect tease continues with new image

Henry Winchester at

Introversion’s ongoing Prison Architect treasure hunt and ARG continues to confuse the hell out of us. The game’s being teased in a series of grim Polaroids, with the latest very briefly appearing in the Dungeons of Dredmore Humble Indie Bundle reveal trailer.

This one’s numbered four of five, and shows a man - possibly a prison warden - sitting at his desk with a cup of coffee. We received image one of five, showing a gun being held by an arm in a green sleeve. Image two was found by PC Gamer forum user The_B in Introversion’s Subversion city generator, and it shows some canoodling violently ended by a man in a green shirt. Image three was sent to Rock Paper Shotgun, and it shows a man - probably the same man - kneeling in front of a priest (not like that!), possibly begging for forgiveness. The final image, also found by The_B, shows the man sitting on the electric chair.

Introversion teases Prison Architect with virtual treasure hunt

Henry Winchester at

Oh Introversion, why must you tease us so? We’ve just received a mysterious email from the indie developer, whose games form the core of the latest Hundle Indie Bundle. The email reads:

“We are running a sneaky treasure hunt and we wanted to give you the next clue. This is ready to be released immediately, and it’s exclusively yours to do with as you wish.

“The clues are all from Introversion’s next game Prison Architect, and showcase Ryan Sumo’s amazing art.

“Some of the clues are buried in the Humble Introversion Bundle.”

Humble Introversion Bundle is live, pay what you want for every Introversion game

Tom Senior at

Introversion are the latest indie devs to get the Humble Bundle treatment. You can pay what you want for all of their games. You'll even get a few interesting tech demos thrown in for good measure, including the procedural city generator that the team developed for Subversion.

The Humble Introversion Bundle includes IGF Grand Prize winner, Darwinia, nuclear war simulator, Defcon, tense hacker sim, Uplink and the multiplayer version of Darwinia, Multiwinia. If you pay more than the average donation (which currently stands at $3.82), you also get Crayon Physics Deluxe and gorgeous platformer, Aquaria as well.

Next Humble Indie Bundle to feature Introversion Games?

Henry Winchester at

Bargain games stalwart Lewie Procter has alerted us to this post on DIY Gamer, which seems to suggest that the latest Humble Indie Bundle might include Introversion software. All Introversion’s games to date are included, with the low-tech delights of Darwinia, Uplink, Defcon and Multiwinia listed in Mac and PC varieties.

The bundle was discovered by sneaky internet users poking about in Steam, who stumbled across Subscription 12283, aka Introversion Humble Indie Bundle Retail. There’s no word on release date, and Humble Indie themselves haven’t commented on it. But Introversion are an ideal match for the Humble Bundle - their low-fi approach and refusal to sell out have made them one of the most-loved developers in the world, and the Bundle gives a lot of its proceeds to charity.

According to DIY Gamer, Introversion have fallen on hard times, though, with their fascinating strategy heist title Subversion being put on hold indefinitely so they could concentrate on something else. Hopefully the Humble Bundle will put some cash in Introversion’s coffers - and remind the world that they still exist.

Introversion's Chris Delay on shifting from Subversion to Prison Architect: "I wanted to build Alcatraz"

Tom Senior at

One week ago, Introversion dramatically announced that they have shifted development away from their procedural bank-heist sim, Subversion to work a completely new game for submission to the Independent Games Festival. Their new game is called Prison Architect. It lets players construct and maintain high security prisons. We got in touch with Introversion's Chris Delay to find out why the team decided to put Subversion on hold, how they made the decision to drop a game that they've been working on for years, and what inspired them to make Prison Architect instead.

Introversion's new game is Prison Architect

Tom Senior at

Recently Introversion's Chris Delay announced that their emergent bank heist sim, Subversion was on hold, and that an entirely new project was in development for submission to this year's Independent Games Festival. They've just sent word that their next game will be called Prison Architect. As the title suggests, it's a game in which you “build and manage a maximum security prison.” The first screenshot, of sorts, is above. There's no more information just yet, but from the first image alone, it looks as though it has a different vibe to Introversion's traditional neon blue universes.

When Chris wrote about Introversion's new game in the IV blog, he said "I could see most of the core game design straight away. I could see how much of the tech that we’d designed for Subversion was directly applicable, if properly turned on its head." So instead of breaking into a high security building, we're stopping others from breaking out. Intriguing. We can't wait to see more.

Introversion submitting new game to IGF, Subversion on hold

Tom Senior at

Chris Delay of Introversion has just posted a surprising blog entry on the Introversion site. "A few hours ago I submitted Introversion’s latest game to the IGF 2012," he writes. "This game was NOT Subversion."

Subversion is the game that the creators of Uplink, Defcon and Darwinia have been working on for the last few years. They've shown tech demos here and there, revealing an incredibly ambitious project in which players must rob bank vaults in procedurally generated cities. It's gorgeous, exciting, and now on hold for the foreseeable future.

Why indies leave Xbox for PC

Rob Zacny at

Indie games sell better on Steam and with less hassle for developers than they do on Xbox Live, according to a number of developers Gamasutra interviewed recently.

Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games explains how Zeboyd's Cthulu Saves the Worlddid a disappointing 16,000 sales on Xbox Live Indie Games, "which means it's earned just about the same amount of money as our first game - even though we spent so much more time creating it."

Zeboyd switched their focus to Steam, bundled Cthuluwith their first game, and sold the package for $3 apiece on Steam starting in July. Five days later, they had already made more money on Steam than their annual revenue on XBLIG.

There are other benefits to developers, according to Braidcreator Jonathan Blow.

Introversion dev creates his own Minecraft engine, adds physics

Tom Senior at

We slotted this into yesterday's news roundup, but it's so good it deserves another mention. Introversion's Chris Delay has been enjoying Minecraft so much that he's created his own version of its blocky engine, and added physics. He's made a video in which he uses the engine to smash up some buildings and show what Minecraft's destructible environments might look like with full physics support. You'll find the video below.

Introversion: "It's unlikely that we'll work with Microsoft again"

Matt Purslow at

Mark Morris - the business mind behind Introversion - has declared at GDC that he doesnt believe the team would ever work alongside industrial giant Microsoft in the future.

"Do we regret working with Microsoft?" said Morris. "No, but it's unlikely we'll work with them again ... they make you work harder on the production value, but they don't back it up with sales."

Referring to the Xbox Live Arcade ports of Darwinia and Multiwinia, Morris remarked: "XBLA were good to us and put us in the deal of the week, but it had no impact. Steam promotion was an order of magnitude better."

Subversion's dramatic new audio

Graham Smith at

Subversion looks incredible. The Mission Impossible simulator from British indies Introversion has been in development for a long time, but it's now rapidly taking shape. Chris Delay has just updated his development blog with the twentieth report of the game's progress, highlighting the game's cool-looking dynamic audio system. Check below the fold for the latest video.

50 games to play at work

PC Gamer at

Playing games at work shouldn’t just been seen as idling. You are exercising your mind, taking it to a mental gym. So we've compiled a list of 50 games you can play at work.