There’s Wallace: Thomas Was Alone

By Adam Smith on April 27th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.


Thomas Was Alone first came to my attention while I was trying not to watch the GTA V trailer six thousand times to work out if one of the character models was a fatter, older version of an important bloke from a previous entry in the series. I wasn’t sure whether a platform game about quadrilateral quandaries was all that interesting but David Housden’s music decided me, mysterious and melancholy it brought about a quivering of the lip and, having just listened again, definitely reminds me of The Postal Service more than a bit. It’s something of a shame then that the music now has to fade out to make room for narrator Danny Wallace, who you may know from radio, television and books.

It seems the past participle is more important than I realised, because there’s a Lego set’s worth of blocks jumping about the place. Not a very big Lego set, admittedly. In fact, its the kind that Weird Uncle Billy Burroughs would deliver four days after Christmas, more an assortment of found debris than a child’s construction kit, but we still made castles out of them and we were thankful.

There’s a markedly different tone now that the voiceover is in place, a droll musing on the relationships between the shapes rather than a tender affection for them. The game is out ‘soon’ on both Mac and PC and I’m very much interested to see how it turns out.

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21 Comments »

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  1. deadly.by.design says:

    A game about British humo(u)r and jumping?

  2. sneetch says:

    There’s something rather… lovely about this game.

  3. thegooseking says:

    Being most familiar with Danny Wallace as erstwhile associate of Dave Gorman and founder of the Karma Army, I was surprised to learn that this isn’t the first game to which he has lent his voice – the previous games being the Assassin’s Creed series.

  4. Simon Hawthorne says:

    I love the Postal Service and really like the music here – I couldn’t really find anything about David Housden who is (according to RPS) the composer, other than this http://soundcloud.com/david-housden which only has three tracks. Lovely stuff, I would play the game just for the soundtrack.

  5. CorruptBadger says:

    I don’t really like Danny Wallace, admittedly he has a great voice and is good at his delivery, but it seems his voice never changes, no matter the role, just listening to this guy narrate makes me just think its Wheatly. Danny, for every character or part he voices, seems to take this, personal, friendly approach, and it irritates, because the guy seems to have talent, but limits himself to one style and one voice.

  6. Skabooga says:

    On the header picture, I still can’t help but see a big-ol’ grin on the red block.

  7. Premium User Badge

    AlwaysRight says:

    I saw Mike Bithell announce this at gamecitynights in nottingham yesterday. It looks and sounds lovely and Mike is a great guy so I hope this game does well.

    He pointed out that the music is procedurally generated (through loops) and the composer is *Begin Ninja Edit* obviously much older than 15, that would be ridiculous *End Ninja Edit*

    (phew I think I got away without looking silly then)

  8. HothMonster says:

    http://www.kongregate.com/games/mikebithell/thomas-was-alone

    Seems kind of rude to pull the original. “Here I made a free game, oh you guys really like it? Then I will make a better version but no one gets to play the free one anymore.” I mean if you were satisfied with the game enough to post it in the first place and happy to let people play it for free why make it so no new people can’t play the free version just because the it was well received by the people who did play it?

    Or am I just being overcritical?

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Some people, as they progress in their craft, find themselves unable to stand their earlier work.

      As an example, I’m sure that Notch wouldn’t be able to stand playing Minecraft Alpha, the version which made him rich, because it lacks more than half of the things that Minecraft currently has. The version of Minecraft where the preorders exploded didn’t even have the Halloween Update implemented yet. No biomes, no pumpkins, one kind of tree, no tall grass, no wolves, no golems, no villages, no enchanting or alchemy, no Nether, literally hundreds of bugs that were fixed in the bugfix update, food worked differently and didn’t stack, no powered rails, weapons and tools weren’t as durable, no real oceans or ravines, no abandoned mines, no survival multiplayer, minecarts and a few other things didn’t work in multiplayer…

      This might be a case of lamenting that the narrator-less, unpolished original version was ever posted, and pulling it for that reason.

      EDIT: and of course I overlooked Mike’s reply below the first time I read through the thread. Oh well, at least I was right. ;)

  9. Randomer says:

    I would swear that that is the same voice actor as the narrator of Milo and Otis. Then again, I once confused the voices of Dame Judi Dench and Hugh Grant, so maybe all British voices sound the same to my uncultivated American ears.

  10. Mike Bithell says:

    Hi guys, just got an official looking username to answer a couple of the questions in the thread.

    Hi by the way :)

    @AlwaysRight – David isn’t really 15, he is very young though, fresh out of Uni and silly talented, great to work with too.. any indies looking for a soundtrack could do a lot worse. Hint hint.

    @corruptBadger – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. A lot of Danny’s stuff is very autobiographical, so he is always playing one guy by default. He brings a lot of different characters to life in this game (hopefully).. so fingers crossed we change your mind

    @hothMonster – (the main reason I wanted to post) – fair criticism. Honestly, it’s not motivated by wanting to take away a cool experience, it’s motivated by a desire to remove all traces of a shoddy, buggy, unpolished prototype from the face of the earth. For proof, google the game and find one of the many charming people who stole the source and posted it on their own flash hub sites. It sucks. That’s sort of the reason I spent 16 months fixing it :)

    • HothMonster says:

      Hi Mike. I actually played through it when it was up there and enjoyed it. I saw this article and thought “Hey, they didn’t even link to the original version, I should throw that up so people can enjoy it too, maybe even get excited about it.” Then I saw that message and it soured me a little. Because while I am sure it is no where near the caliber that the new version will be, I could see the potential in that rough build and even a quick glance at the trailer shows how much you are adding both in polish and mechanics. I am looking forward to seeing the new version because of my experience with the first. I can understand a fear that people would have the opposite reaction though.

      I know its your call and I do understand where you are coming from. Unfortunately I can be quite the curmudgeon in the morning before I am properly caffeinated. Best of luck on a roaring success.

      Glad I got you to make a name, maybe we will see you around from time to time :b

      • Premium User Badge

        Sinomatic says:

        I think it was a fair question though. Having someone explain the reasoning behind the take-down makes it seem an entirely fair decision, but to have something yanked away randomly (even if it was an entirely free experience and isn’t truly a loss per se), can be off-putting and souring to many gamer types.

        So I guess the question is (to Mike)….will there be a demo in its place?

        • Mike Bithell says:

          yep, there will absolutely be a demo.. I just need to work out how best to do one.. as characters are added gradually as you progress, simply handing you the first 10% of the game isn’t really going to cut it.

          Might do a Darkness 2 demo style thing, give the players a bunch of early-ish non-consecutive levels so they can get a feel of what to expect.

          Cheers though guys, I hadn’t even considered the possible negative connotations of pulling the prototype.

        • Premium User Badge

          AlwaysRight says:

          I really enjoy the Bauhaus inspired aesthetics Mike. I reccommend the graphic novel; Asterios Polyp if you get the chance. keep up the great work.

  11. Terribleperson says:

    Was the headline a nod to The Wire? I hope so, but since no one else noticed, i am not so sure…