He might not have quite the profile of a Levine or Smith, but as a lead designer on Thief 3, particularly of The Cradle level, not to mention the similarly nerve-torturing Fort Frolic map in BioShock, Jordan Thomas is a name just as worth knowing. While being granted more overreaching control of a project resulted in 2K Marin’s smart, improved but too safe sequel BioShock 2, followed by a disappearance into the black hole which eventually morphed into The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, Thomas also took on some creative duties late in BioShock Infinite’s development. Now he’s moving away from franchises into creator-controlled, independent territory, and I am not-entirely-quietly confident that this will mean great things.
Speaking to GamesIndustry following a quiet Twitter reveal that he’d left 2K Marin, Thomas says of his time on Infinite that “It cemented for me that while BioShock spoke to me, it’ll never be for me what it is for Ken. I’ve expanded that legacy here and there, but I could never have created it from scratch. I need to build something that is, to me, what BioShock is to Ken. No matter how long it takes, I have to start now.”
He talks of doing something akin to Thief and BioShock, but “with a radically different focus.” The only other clue we get to his plans is that he’s inspired by the relative ambiguity of Binfinite’s ending. “And I wanted to make something that evoked those feelings more consistently throughout. And that could be a niche within a niche. I have yet to complete that experiment, but it’s something that’s really driving me right now.” Don’t know about you, but a game where we could choose to go through any one of those doors is wonderful prospect, though I suspect it’s not that aspect he’s referring to.
As for the game which was the XCOM FPS and is now The Bureau, apparently he left that behind early last year, so what we play soon may well have relatively little to do with him.
Whatever other factors might have been in there, apparently it’s the creative freedom – and danger – of being indie which most promoted this, after having spent several years believing that only big budgets could realise big ideas. “The projects made by two or three auteurs, or sometimes just one, are the ones that are speaking to me and taking me out of my comfort zone. I feel like out of my comfort zone is where I’m forced to stay learning, to retain that student mind. And I think I was at my worst when I thought I knew it all, if that makes any sense.” It’ll probably come as no surprise to hear that one of the auteur projects he’s referring to is Braid.
Good luck, sir. Given that a similar sentiment led to Fullbright’s Gone Home, I am more than positive this will turn out well for all concerned.