Darwinia is the second game by Introversion Software.
Darwinia was created as a digital theme world for artificially intelligent polygons by Dr. Sepulveda. Housed in a massive network of surplus Protologic 68000 machines from the 1980s, Darwinia is a world where the single-poly Darwinians, with their simple, but growing AI, can grow and evolve. Darwinia is also where the world can visit to see them frolicking in their natural, fractal habitat. Darwinians live a life, working and growing, until eventual death, which releases their digital soul to be reincarnated.
However, the player arrives in the midst of an emergency. Darwinia has been infected by a virus, and Dr. Sepulveda is near panic watching decades of research being corrupted and consumed. Sepulveda enlists the player to aid him in rescuing the Darwinians and drive off the virus. The player is given access to the combat programs, simple tools that originally began as mini-games, but now are the only means of attack against the virus. As the player progresses, it soon becomes clear this is not enough, and that triggers the third aspect of the gameplay - evolution.
The first two levels act as an introduction and allow the player to familiarize himself with the controls. After that, Dr. Sepulveda begins assigning tasks that span several levels to achieve a long-term objective. The first task involves clearing the virus population from and reactivating the Mines and Power Generator to provide resources for the Construction Yard. Once done, the Yard begins producing armored units, allowing the player to move on. The next task involves the reincarnation of Darwinians: the Soul Repository in the center of Darwinia collects the floating souls, and sends them down to the Receiver, where the Darwinians collect them and send them to the Pattern Buffer to be reprogrammed with the main Darwinian blueprint code, where they are sent to the Biosphere to be reborn. The player must clear the Viruses from and reactivate all of these facilities.
In the final level of the game, Dr. Sepulveda traces the Viral infection back to its source: E-mail spam. The Darwinians had managed to access Sepulveda's computer, downloading several files and eventually, the Spam. The E-mails were infected with a very nasty strain of internet virus which corrupted the Darwinians. The player is tasked to destroying the few remaining emails.
Darwinia does not fall into any one game genre, as it mixes elements from strategy, action, puzzle, hacker, and God games alike. The player has the ability to run several programs through the Task Manager (a reference to the Windows Task Manager), similar to units used in many real time strategy games. Research allows the player to upgrade programs and weapons, which is critical as the enemy develops. Mission Objectives are given at each location/level, as the player and the Darwinians attempt to wipe out the Viruses in a Great War.
- Initial beta testing on Darwinia started on August 27, 2004, and full game beta testing started on November 26, 2004.
- A demo level was released on January 21, 2005 and can be downloaded from the Darwinia website.
- Darwinia was released on March 4, 2005, while the Macintosh version was released March 30, 2005 by publisher Ambrosia Software.
- A patch was released on April 28, 2005 for Microsoft Windows, bringing the version to 1.2. New features included an improved unit selection system, as well as numerous modding updates including the ability to create custom strings.
- Another patch (version 1.3) was released in September 2005, which includes the option of clicking icons to create units instead of using the gesture system.
- A new demo, using features of the above-mentioned version 1.3 patch and an entirely new level "Launchpad" not in the full game, was released in September 2005.
- Darwinia was released on Steam on December 14, 2005.
- With the Steam framework open to them, Introversion now hopes to implement the long-planned multiplayer mode into Darwinia .
- Beta testing signups for the next Windows Patch started on the February 22, 2006.
- A new patch was released on March 10, 2006 bringing the version up to 1.42 and adding difficulty settings ranging from 1 to 10. Higher difficulties increase the number, speed, and health of monsters. It also increases the speed of the player's own units. When played on the highest difficulty, the players will experience "Darwinia on Steroids", a term coined by Introversion and referring to the high speed.
- eGames-owned Cinemaware on April 4, 2006 issued a press release announcing they would bring Darwinia to US markets in June 2006.
- Beta testing signups for version 1.5.x started on the December 15, 2006.
- A Windows Vista exclusive version of Darwinia with extra eye candy and 3 additional levels was released on January 31, 2007.
- Version 126.96.36.199 patch released on June 18, 2007, providing support for DirectX 9c, including extra eye candy and the "Launchpad" level.
Darwinia+ is the version of Darwinia for the Xbox 360 released via Xbox Live Arcade on 11 February 2010. It includes updated versions of both Darwinia and Multiwinia. This was Introversion Software's first venture onto a video games console.
Darwinia features a number of intros randomly selected when launching the game. These contain a number of references that may be obscure to some players, especially those unfamiliar with older European computers. These include:
- Cracktro text scroller: A spoof of the crack intros that were common among pirated computer games, especially on platforms popular in Europe, such as the Amiga and Commodore 64. The text humorously references both coding for 38 hours straight and finishing the intro in 12 minutes. Allegedly, the release of Darwinia on the Steam platform was delayed for several hours when a Valve employee saw the intro and believed there had been a security breach.
- The Matrix: One intro features green Darwinians dropping from the top of the screen to form a logo, a reference to The Matrix (See Matrix digital rain).
- Real-time Raytracer: Another cracktro-style intro featuring a raytraced scene of spinning spheres. This was a popular effect in many old demo scene productions.
- Cannon Fodder: A black screen displaying the text "This game is not in any way endorsed by Sensible Software" while the beginning of the theme from Cannon Fodder plays. The text is a reference to the message that shows at the start of Cannon Fodder, "This game is not in any way endorsed by the Royal British Legion." Some see this as an acknowledgement of Cannon Fodder's influence on Darwinia.
- ZX Spectrum: One of the intros is designed to look like the ZX Spectrum when loading a tape-based game.
- Life: A simulation of the cellular automaton game of Life in which Darwinians live, die and spread in a grid based on just a few basic rules.
- Nominated for Best Game in the GameShadow Innovation in Games Awards 2006
- Scored 90% from PC Gamer UK and reached number 21 on its 'Top 100 PC Games' list.
- Scored 8.5 in GameSpot's review.
- "Has to be played" from PC Review
- Darwinia won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize, Technical Excellence, and Innovation in Visual Art awards at the 2006 Independent Games Festival.
- Earned a 5 out of 5 on X-Play.
- New Age Gaming magazine awarded Darwinia a score of 97, its highest ever, and an Editor's Choice award. No other game has exceeded 96 as of June 2007. A scan of the review can be found on the official site. It also received a video review included on NAG's cover DVD.
Notes and references
- ↑ Stone, T: "PC Gamer UK", pages 80, 81. Future Publishing, 2005
- ↑ http://forums.introversion.co.uk/darwinia/viewtopic.php?t=3170
- ↑ VERSION 1.42. Introversion. Retrieved on 2009-07-25.
- ↑ Darwinia Update Testing. Introversion (2006-12-15). Retrieved on 2009-07-25.
- ↑ http://www.introversion.co.uk/darwiniaplus/
- ↑ Chris (2005-12-15). Darwinia released on Steam!. Introversion. Retrieved on 2009-01-12.
- ↑ "Darwinia Review" (JPEG). New Age Gaming: 66. april 2005. http://www.darwinia.co.uk/exposure/nag_april_2005/review.jpg. Retrieved 2009-01-12.
- Darwinia homepage with comprehensive play guide
- Darwinia+ on Xbox Live Arcade
- Paul Slocum (additional music composer)