True Friendshape: Thomas Was Alone

By Adam Smith on November 2nd, 2011 at 5:09 pm.

MINIMALISM

Phew. I ran here as fast as I could. I know the entire internet is waiting for the hottest new trailer in town but some git thieved my automocar so I’ve had to come by foot. Here it is then. Thomas Was Alone is an upcoming indie game “about friendship and jumping”, with a cast of angular shapes working together to make their way through minimalist platform environments. It’s based on an earlier free prototype but the full release isn’t due until March/April next year. It’s worth taking a look at the trailer just for the gorgeous music by David Housden. Apparently the full game will have a procedural score, which sounds like something I’d like to wrap my ears round.

These are truly the saddest shapes. I still can’t tell if it’s set in Los Angeles though. The early version, by the designer’s own admission, is very rough and does not contain lovely music. He didn’t admit that last bit. My ears worked it out.

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34 Comments »

  1. Emmanuel says:

    This game looks/sounds a little bit like Limbo from the Xbox Arcade. That game was fun so this one might even be better.
    http://www.newlyreleasedgamesreview.com

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      “… like Limbo from the Xbox Arcade…”

      *facepalm*

    • Fadobo says:

      That didn’t really help promote your site sorry (which I assume you are trying to do here). I think it’s cute since a site like that paved my way into the games industry, but that comment about a game that clearly doesn’t look or sound anything like Limbo which has been released on PC and PS3 by now and this beeing a pretty much PC only website didn’t really helps your credibility when it comes to gaming-knowledge. Then again you just might be a troll. In that case: Well played.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      …but does your website have shoes for kings?

  2. Syra says:

    Oh good, I don’t care much for people who steal cars either.

  3. Tams80 says:

    Awww. Those shapes look like they’re best friends!

  4. Danny252 says:

    N’aaw, such cute rectangles.

  5. Ian says:

    Thank the gods. We had to kill some time with that Rockstar bilge while waiting for this.

    Good work, Adam. :)

  6. caddyB says:

    No matter how intelligent I’m kinda getting bored with all the indie platformers.

    • Niche93 says:

      Agreed. Although the indie platformers are mostly amazing, and are some of the best games currently (games like SMB, Braid, LIMBO) in my opinion, there must be some other genres to explore. I mean seriously? A game “about jumping and friendship”? I’m usually a big defender of these types of games, but “a game about jumping” will quite probably not capture my attention.

      That’s not to say I didn’t like the soundtrack. That was quite splendid.

  7. RagingLion says:

    I’m liking the tone of it.

    My critique that could be unfounded is that it wasn’t obvious what changes on the world you would be causing by activating different things and maybe that might feel odd or not completely satisfying when playing it.

  8. BigRedS says:

    Well hello.

  9. HexagonalBolts says:

    MY NAME IS THOMAS!

    • Josh W says:

      Are you alone?

      (I ask this for information, in a non-creepy way)

  10. Bughunter says:

    Ok…Is anyone else tired of lazy platformers thinly veiled as “high design” projects?

    Jee wizz! How can I do the least amount of work and sucker enough people into buying my oh so artsy digital vomit? Procedural music! That’s the ticket! Doesn’t matter if the game is absolute ass in every other way.

  11. MythArcana says:

    Minimalism is certainly making a big splash these days. I almost feel guilty for using SM 3.0 in the game I’m currently developing.

  12. jonfitt says:

    That looks rather hard.

  13. Dark Acre Jack says:

    If your game’s main character is a featureless block, it’s probably time to start thinking about making friends with an artist.

  14. Zarunil says:

    This does not look like my cup of tea, tbh, and I usually like platformers.

  15. Skabooga says:

    From the top screenshot, I thought the block had this huge smile on it. The trailer dispelled that illusion. Still, looks like a nice puzzle-platformer, with a little bit of The Lost Vikings in it.

  16. Cinnamon says:

    I think that this must be some sort of adult only rated version of Rod Humble’s game “The Marriage.”

  17. wiper says:

    Well, for what it’s worth I love the look of it. Hurray for teamed-up abstract shapes! Always a fan of the co-operative platformer, hopefully this’ll be a bit harder than Trine was – the reliance on using the actual shape and properties of the, er, shapes, as their abilities bodes well on that one, as it would appear less exploitable than, say, a mage’s abilities.

  18. Emeraude says:

    I suppose it’s the shapes and theme, but seeing this instantly reminded me of The Marriage.

  19. JackDandy says:

    I remember playing the flash version, it was pretty nice and touching.

    There’s no way I’ll put money on this, though.

  20. brulleks says:

    That music could easily have Jason Lytle singing over it. Lovely.

  21. googoogjoob says:

    this is the most amazingly generic indie game i have seen in a while

    minimalist platformer with a portentous title and some lazy “arty” concept laid on it

    also, procedural music

  22. Alehr says:

    Honestly, this looks awful. I’m sick of all these slickly presented games that just try to put smug little spins on rotting game genres.

  23. McCool says:

    Oh my. I think I disagree with most people here,. Despite my normally antipathy towards this kind of thing (I wrote the article on it last year) I can’t help but find this game lovely. The reason? “This is a game about friendship and jumping”. In a flash, all pretentiousness vanishes. This game openly admits exactly what it is, and tries to do it (it’s a small thing) well. Bravo.

    I wish more indie platformers with a twist would do this. “Braid is a game about the guilt in relation to the transitivity of time and jumping. It’s really a much more honest way of going about things. Bioshock is a game about the limits of Randian objectivism and shooting crazy people in the face with bees. The only thing that’s pretentious is pretending the game is just about the clever thing and not the silly one :p.

    • HilariousCow says:

      I put a press release quote out for a game once saying “it’s about expression through movement, and also kicking a flaming basketball in your friends’ face.”

      Thanks for the memory.

  24. Sabre_Justice says:

    I was expecting a tank engine. Now that could be a fun game done right. Baby’s first Transport Tycoon?

  25. Tom4J says:

    This looks lovely.

  26. HilariousCow says:

    I think you need to know a bit more about the gameplay. The blocks have various properties (boyancy, weight, bounciness, size), and all combine in completely un-forced, naturalistic ways to solve the puzzles. The fact that they’re blocks means there’s literally no foil or fakery to hide behind. The puzzles are born out of the affordances of these combinations, rather than the blocks being designed specifically to solve puzzles. That’s incredibly elegant and organic, to me. The combinatory depth alone cries out for a Terry Cavanagh style under the microscope exploration of the possibilities.

    All the decrying of overuse of minimalism seems a pretty superficial a reason to ignore this game. Perhaps the video could do more to explain all the teaming up and moving between character control, but it’d be at the risk of spoiling the puzzles.

    That the developer has found some meaning behind the mechanic is a nice bonus, but if it bothers you, or sounds pretentious, it’s also easily ignored. Personally, I think that kind of mentality only helps make a game feel more cohesive and less arbitrary. I’m more afraid of a developer not channeling their own humanistic take on an abstract mechanic: To be so sterile in dealing with mechanics is what makes them feel so soulless. We should be overjoyed that someone has *anything* to say, or worth saying, with such a simple rule set.