Subversion, Procedural Cyber-Espionage From Introversion

It’s been more than three years since Introversion, indie developers behind Uplink, Defcon and Darwinia, first dropped the name of their new project, Subversion. That blog post and every subsequent entry were incredibly candid about the process of building the systems behind the game with screenshots and videos. But what kind of game it actually is was never revealed, until now. Rock, Paper, Shotgun has the scoop with news from Introversion’s launch event for Darwinia+, where Subversion was demoed for the first time.

From the very early work-in-progress demo that was shown, it appears that the game is about infiltration and sabotage. Where Uplink was a game of hacking and espionage on the intangible, ethereal level of the internet, Subversion takes place on the physical, infrastructural level, with the same kind of goals to accomplish. In the examples given the player was tasked with finding a secure server room in an office building, and had certain tools at his disposal including a stolen keycard and a wallscanner. A second run demonstrated a brute-force approach with guns and explosives1. The way RPS’ Jim Rossignol puts it excites me:

On a wider, genre basis, it sits roughly in the Commandos area of careful execution of planned procedures. Or perhaps it is to Syndicate as Thief was to the shooter tradition…

The visuals of the game will no doubt use the neon-retro style that Introversion is known for. As you can see in the early development screenshots, flat-shaded and wireframe graphics portray the city blocks and interiors. It suggests an abstraction of the action, placing the player in the role of an overseer, able to witness the situation from various camera views.

As explained in the blog posts (and in the video embedded below), the art assets like the buildings and room layouts are all created procedurally - that is to say, generated by a computer algorithm as opposed to hand-crafted by a person. Changing certain values or randomising them produces completely different results, and in this way whole cities and offices can be created. Perhaps this will be done every time you play a level in Subversion, which would mean that each playthrough would have different maps to infiltrate.

Chris Delay of Introversion has updated the blog with a post about the Subversion demo, with screenshots of the build shown. Hit the jump to check them out.

Chris explicitly calls the game a “spiritual successor” to Uplink, confirming our first impressions. Have a look at the post for more early information including the ambitious premise.

You will be using Sabotage, Social Engineering and Grifting, custom Electrical and Mechanical devices, Distractions, Hacking, Stealth, Acrobatics, Precision demolitions, Trickery, whatever gets the job done. In the best case scenarios your enemies will never know you were even there.

The game is still probably very far from completion, but be sure that I’ll be watching very closely for updates and will post them as they come. Below, the magic of procedural generation.

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