Posts Tagged ‘Jordan-Thomas’

Wot I Think: The Magic Circle

The Magic Circle [Steam page] is a game about an unfinished game. A first person puzzle/exploration/action game about a fictional game also called The Magic Circle, to be precise. After years of development hell, The Magic Circle’s fans look upon it with a mixture of breathless anticipation and derision. Those few staff who still work on it either desperately want out or refuse to abandon their impossible dreams. Now you are inside this half-made game, exploring what it is and what it was, how it ran aground, whether it belongs to its creators or its players, and perhaps either redeeming it or destroying it.

It’s out now. The real Magic Circle that is, not the fictional one. Here’s what I think.

Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: The Magic Circle

One of the things I like most about The Magic Circle is its name. It captures the illusory nature of these conjured worlds, their potential for wonder and the artistry that informs them. Celebrated sentient beard and author Alan Moore has, in his mischievous way, declared himself a magician and all art a kind of magic. Defining art as the act of creating illusions to work an effect on the mind of the audience, he claims this is as close to a shamanistic understanding of magic as we have in this century.

Each week Marsh Davies plays unfinished and broken games on Early Access and usually tries to come up with an introductory sentence which says exactly this while using imagery appropriate to the idiom of the given week’s game. But the idiom of this week’s game is being an unfinished and broken game! So, job done. It’s The Magic Circle [Steam page], a game set within a game, in which the player edits the properties of the world around him while exploring the strata of the game’s many abandoned developmental stages, unravelling the story of its creators in the process.

I have tamed Jim Rossignol’s bumhole. I’ve also made Jim Rossignol’s bumhole fireproof, which is just as well, since Jim Rossignol’s bumhole spews gouts of flame when angered. Jim Rossignol’s bumhole has a lightning rod jammed in it, too, which deactivates forcefields. With my latest effort, Jim Rossignol’s bumhole has sprouted a little propeller, allowing Jim Rossignol’s bumhole to fly about. John Walker’s angry red Weeto has many of the same properties, and it should surprise no one that Alec Meer’s huge husky third leg is shaped like a ginormous mushroom.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Magic Circle Hands-On: Visiting Development Hell

The Magic Circle is the first game from Question, LLC, the new studio from Jordan Thomas, he of Thief 3’s The Cradle, BioShock 2, BioShock: Infinite and many more. It’s a systems-driven first-person exploration adventure about a years-in-development game of uncommon ambition, and it’s about rewriting its rules from the inside while trying not to attract the attention of its developers. I’ve played a couple of hours of an early build.

“Attack them, my spider-army!” A horde of chittering polygonal arachnids skitters surges towards a pack of flamers at my command, while I hang back to let them do my dirty work for me. Every single one of them burns to death. Oh, right. Forgot to set the ‘Fireproof’ attribute. I summon their ‘leader’ – in fact an arbitrary member given the Groupthink attribute, which duly shares its traits with all similar entities – and edit its properties. Let’s try this again. “Attack them, my flame retardant spider-army!”
Read the rest of this entry »

Meta-Vapourware: The Magic Circle Announced

Clouds are vapour too, you know.

After his work on such delights as BioShock‘s Fort Frolic and Thief 3‘s Shalebridge Cradle, one might hope that Jordan Thomas’s first game since going indie would be more than, well, vapourware. But that’s just what The Magic Circle is: a half-finished remake of an ancient text adventure; a load of vapourware. It’s glitchy, you can clearly see the seams where development changed direction, and frankly I suspect it’ll never be completed.

Honestly, these big-shot developers make a few good levels and suddenly they think… oh. Oh! But The Magic Circle is meta-vapourware. Silly me. It’s a puzzle-o-explorer game set inside the wonky overlapping half-finished prototypes of a fictional remake of a fictional fantasy game, with tools to hack around and rewrite it.

Read the rest of this entry »

2K Marin’s Jordan ‘The Cradle’ Thomas Goes Indie

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

XCOM: Release Date Unknown: FPS Slips To ‘Fiscal 2014′

You're so pretty, but we can't touch you.

I hope you’re all now familiar enough with the Walker Principle to have assumed that XCOM wouldn’t be released on its stated release date. As surely as the Sun rises in the morning and floats off into outer space, there was no chance the concerning FPS remake of the classic strategy game would appear on the 6th March 2012. And you’d have to be a fool to then believe it could come in the months after, last November’s slip pushing it into 2K’s “fiscal 2013″. Well, now only two months into that mad-money-date, it’s been announced as slipping again, this time all the way into fiscal year 2014. Which starts next April. Because of the reasons.

Read the rest of this entry »

America Is Not The World: XCOM Preview

We’ve seen XCOM. Want to know what it’s truly all about? Read on below for the best XCOM preview on this or any other internet. Really, it’s got Giant Doom Lasers Of Doom, a bit about that squad-management stuff, reports on alien super-powers, themes of 1960s political incorrectness, correct art-history references, and everything else it could possibly need.

Go have a read.
This way to the underground base»

Illuminated Ones: Shadow & Light In Games


[This was originally printed in a slightly different form at the Escapist in 2007. Post-Bioshock 1 and 2, it struck me as a good time to return to what was on Jordan Thomas’ mind back then – especially the sections which foreshadow Fort Frolic. And with the darkness obsessed Amnesia due within a week, turning our mind on what lurks in the gaming’s dark also struck me as worthwhile]

Light is, as far as fundamental issues in game design goes, an opaque topic for most gamers. In modern 3D engines, it’s something you simply can’t have a level without – or, at least, one which doesn’t involve a lot of bumping into walls. It’s something that effects mood and functionality, so acting as a supporting pillar for both the artistic and mechanistic elements of game design. But when implementing it, what is a designer really thinking about? To shed a little light on the matter, I talked to Jordan Thomas, best known as co-designer of the Cradle in Thief: Deadly Shadows and has been recently been working on a little game called Bioshock.
Read the rest of this entry »

Dark Futures Part 3: Jordan Thomas

Jordan Thomas first came to our attention with Thief: Deadly Shadows where he co-designed the Cradle with Randy Smith. Next he was on Bioshock, with his fingerprints over all Fort Frolic. Then, he stepped up to Creative Director at 2k Marin with Bioshock 2. He’s highly verbal, scarily optimistic and wants to talk to you about the Immersive Sim as an Anti-genre, the death of seriousness and the growth of snark, Thomas Moore Utopian fiction and what Ion Storm Austin were considering doing with Deus Ex 3…
Read the rest of this entry »

Spare Words: Bioshock 2

Happy change of two calendar digits, younglings! While I attempt to warm up my brain farm, let me distract you by throwing my aforementioned leftovers from my recent interview with Bioshock 2’s Jordan Thomas and Melissa Miller at you. They’ll only go to waste otherwise, which would prolong my inevitable torment in Writer Hell. Read on for their thoughts on heading up a new studio and why they don’t think the game’s divisive multiplayer is throwaway…
Read the rest of this entry »