Command & Cactuar: A Review of Multiwinia – Survival of the Flattest for the PC

November 16, 2008 at 23:36 (Reviews, Video Games) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Three like-minded undergrads meet at Imperial College London and hit it off.  In their love of retro games, Chris Delay, Mark Morris and Thomas Arundel share a passion that proves decisive when they band together to form Introversion Software.  Almost single-handedly, Chris cooks up a little hacker sim by the name of Uplink, while his collegiate compatriots get down to the business of selling their fledgling company’s quirky debut.  They appoint themselves “the last of the bedroom programmers” and invest in some CD-Rs and ink for their printers; they make and distribute the first copies of the game by hand.  They’re a dedicated, down-to-earth bunch of dreamers, and as such, it’s a pleasant surprise to say that they didn’t fall victim to that essentially British condition Top Gear so aptly ascribes as “ambitious, but rubbish”.  Within hours of its launch, Uplink had made back the developer’s paltry initial investment – and then some.  Enough, say, for Introversion Software to take to E3 2002 and drop £10k on showy speedboats and supercars.

The path Introversion Software took from those no-doubt hazy days to the more sobering state of the industry today hasn’t always been straightforward, taking in the bankruptcy of their then-publisher to the near-insolvency they faced themselves, not to mention a series of heartbreaking delays.  Their sophomore effort finally arrived in 2005, but despite critical acclaim and strong overnight sales, few gamers were willing to drop full retail price on an indie darling from a largely unknown quantity.  So few, in fact, that Introversion Software had to sign on for government benefits to sustain themselves through the six miserable months after their failure at retail.  But then: lo, Gabe Newell said, let there be Steam.  And there was Steam.  And it was good.  Valve’s groundbreaking distribution network made a modest success of Darwinia; it was the perfect platform for such a loving throwback to find its feet, and that it did, thanks in no small part to the modding community that blossomed around Introversion Software’s geometric RTS.

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Crisis on Uncertain Earths

June 30, 2008 at 11:13 (Hype, News, Rants, Video Games) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Well, they’ve only gone and done it.  Kotaku are reporting that Rock Band 2 has been announced – officially this time.  And it’s coming sooner than you might think – sometime in September, which, would you believe it, is less than three months from now.  On the bright side, Harmonix have already sworn that it’ll be the first game “to support fully fuctional cross-title DLC”, and that’s a relief to say the least.

Still.  This wasn’t supposed to be a cash cow.  The dev team are the very best at what they do, and they’re perfectly entitled to roll in the profits of their efforts, but you just know there’s going to be a new set of instruments – sure, you’ll be able to use your old guitars and drums, but the new ones will be better put together; they’ll offer extra functionality, new knobs and waggly bits only true Spartans could resist.  I fear I’m not up to the task.

Just as well I hadn’t gotten around to getting the original Band in a Box, then.  Kiss your £100 goodbye Harmonix.  Admittedly you can probably have it this holiday anyhow, but I won’t take any pleasure in giving it to you.  Oh no!

The Sequel Cometh

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