IGF 2006 Part 2 - Before

"You know what I really wanna do now? Sit in a plane for 11 hours," says Mark as we're waiting at Heathrow Airport. It's early, we're tired, Mark's sarcasm is starting to grate, and we have no idea whats awaiting us in this upcoming business trip. Originally planned as just a few days for a couple of us to attend the IGF award ceremony, this trip has gone completely out of control and now involves all four directors, three major US cities and more than ten days abroad, with 25 hours of economy class flying time in between.

Right from the start we all know it's going to be pretty much wall to wall business. Tom has packed in meetings with absolutely everybody, giving us just two days out of the whole trip to do our own thing. Even our flight time has been booked up - Chris, Johnny and Mark bash out a design for the Defcon Metaserver in between the complimentary meals and movies.

We finally land at our first stop - Seattle, and hire ourselves a suitably bling motor for the next few days. Despite all of us being up for a whole day already we're scheduled to have dinner with Valve this very evening, so we check into our hotel (very kindly provided for us by those lovely fellows at Valve) and head out for a night on the town. We finally get the meet the Valve guys and it feels great to finally put faces to the names. Mark and Johnny pussy out early but Chris and Tom push on and shoot some pool until midnight, hoping this will minimise their jetlag and get them onto West Coast time faster. By the time they get to bed they've been up for around 26 hours.

The next day we head in to Valve's offices and Scott Lynch gives us a great tour around their building. Their lobby is centered around a massive steam valve (which we really wanted to turn to see if the building went dead) with a golden Half-Life crowbar on a pedestal to one side. All terribly impressive, but not nearly so exciting as seeing a Darwinia poster on their office door. We do some business, play some Half Life:Episode 1, and marvel at how far we've come since walking into HMV all those years ago and asking the cashier how we get Uplink onto their shelves.

San Francisco
With our Seattle business concluded we get in an internal flight and make our way onwards. We have a couple of days free and the plan all along was to tour around San Francisco and take in some sights. Tom goes skating around the city (he brought a pair of retro quad wheeled skates all the way from England, the crazy fool) and the other guys witness the finest sunset they've even seen in their lives. These pictures don't even begin to capture the depth of colour in the sky as we watched the sun go down right behind the Golden Gate Bridge. This was definitely a sign of good things to come.

Spurred on by such a positive omen, we wake up the next day and decide to hire some sports cars. The memory of our financially and spiritually disasterous trip to E3 in 2002 has clearly faded sufficiently that we're willing to waste money on yet more frivolous activities, but hey we're directors. In LA it was sailing and gun shooting which seemed highly appropriate, but this is San Francisco and all we want to do is drive around the hills north of the bridge in some fast cars and take in some great views.


It was a beautiful day and we felt like kings. We quickly realised turning up to the Independent Games Festival after driving sports cars around the city would probably give the wrong impression, so a story was quickly thrown together that we planned to celebrate with sports cars only IF we won the grand prize. We consider it a premature celebration, and nobody was ever the wiser.

Our drive began in total embarrasment for Mark Morris - despite being the Managing Director of Introversion and despite being educated in one of England's finest Universities, he was completely and laughably unable to start the damn car. The Porsche Boxter can not be started from the key and relies on some form of voodoo clutch depression to coax the engine into life, something which Mark was simply unable to master.

Have a look at this video we put together. We hope you find it as funny as we do. It certainly does not inspire confidence in the future of our company.


San Jose
Our frankly outrageous weekend in San Francisco over, we drive to San Jose and start getting ready for the GDC. We quickly find the IGF pavilion and set up our laptop to run Darwinia in demo mode. Over the next couple of days each of the Directors takes it in turns to man the booth and display the game to the crowds as they pass by. All in all its a pretty busy pavilion, with a constant stream of curious conference attendees passing through during the day. Tom gets started visiting a long list of first and second tier publishers, surfacing occasionally to let us know how he's getting on.

We meet tons of people and are kept busy pretty much constantly. The Valve guys show up and say hello, before having a look around the other IGF entries. We meet up with Tim and Margaret from Future Publishing, and old memories of curry nights out in Bath resurface. We finally meet Andrew Welch in person - he's the "el Presidente" of Ambrosia Software, the guys that publish the Mac versions of Uplink and Darwinia for us, and he treats us to an awesome dinner out that night.

Mark handles the cameras almost single handedly, and there is certainly no shortage of screen time for us. Despite promising to do an interview on camera for SpikeTV, Chris chickens out at the last minute and leaves it up to Mark to handle alone. Rock star game developer Cliffe B stops by our IGF pavilion with a whole film crew in tow and Chris makes a discreet exit stage left, once again leaving Mark to handle the camera.

What can I say, i'm very camera shy.


The day of the awards ceremony, and a debate is still raging within Introversion. Mark has had this crazy idea that we all go on stage in tuxedos, just to make damn sure everyone notices us. It's been discussed ever since the start of the business trip, and we've completely left it to the last minute. We finally decide to go for it and frantically start looking up tuxedo hire stores in the San Jose area. It's 5.00pm by the time we get to one that's open, and the awards ceremony begins with drinks at 6.30. We calmy explain to the staff we need 4 fitted tuxedos, shirts, trousers, ties, links, buttons, and shoes, and we need them in the next hour.

It takes us a little while to convince them that we aren't joking. Once they finally accept what we're asking they spring into action and the whole store becomes a production line - the four of us stood in a line, being measured up, fitted and suited. In the end they completely pull through for us and we walk out of the store wearing all of our gear. We're running behind schedule a little at this point - the awards ceremony has supposedly already started, so we hop into the first cab that passes by and head straight for the GDC convention centre.

Read Part 1 : What happened during the award ceremony.




Help & Support Uplink . Darwinia . DEFCON . Multiwinia . Darwinia+ . Subversion . Prison Architect