Stop me if you've heard this one before.
Three like-minded undergrads met at Imperial College London and hit it off. In their love of retro games, Chris Delay, Mark Morris, and Thomas Arundel shared a passion that proved decisive when they banded together to form Introversion Software. Almost single-handedly, Delay cooked up a little hacker sim by the name of Uplink, while his collegiate compatriots got down to the business of selling their fledgling company's quirky debut.
They appointed themselves "the last of the bedroom programmers," and made and distributed the first copies of the game by hand. They were 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 nails as "ambitious, but rubbish." Within hours of its launch, Uplink had made back the developers' paltry initial investment — and then some. Enough, say, for Introversion Software to take to E3 in 2002 and drop £10,000 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 game 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.
Steam soon welcomed Uplink and DEFCON to the service as well, where these games, as well as Darwinia, have thrived for three years and counting. For all the charms of its unapologetically 8-bit game play, however, that latter went wanting one vital component: online functionality. Well, it might have taken a while longer than fans had hoped, but Multiwinia is here to fill in its predecessor's inexplicable blank at last, and if you've had the pleasure of saving Dr. Sepulveda's digital world from the rampant viruses that threatened it before, you'll find that things remain much as you remember them.