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.

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.


  1. airtekh says:

    It will be very interesting to see what he comes up with.

    Coincidentally enough, I just started replaying Deadly Shadows this week; I’ll see if I can brave the Cradle for a second time.

    It’s one heck of a level.

    • db1331 says:

      The Cradle stopped my 2nd trip through the game dead in its tracks. I was doing an expert, 100% loot run, got to The Cradle, turned it off and never went back to it.

    • DrScuttles says:

      That it was. With the contemporary horror games of its day making effective use of jump scares (and especially with Doom 3’s incessant monster closets having been opened just months prior), The Cradle had players constantly expecting something to happen and managed to make it all the more terrifying when nothing did. Takes some skill to manage that.

      • Ushao says:

        The Cradle is the singular most terrifying gaming experience I’ve ever had. The constant tension when things constantly DON’T happen is quite a harrowing experience.

      • Shaz says:

        That’s it, that’s just it!

        I typically hate horror. I might enjoy a book, but a movie or a GAME? Ugh. Keep that crap away from me. I think it’s the tendency of the visual horror genre to repeatedly whack the horror reflex with a far too heavy hammer. Jump scares! BOO!!!! Well, I prefer my terror to percolate slowly, with the possibility that it never actually will boil over… just that it MIGHT. I prefer to be scared about what MIGHT happen, what COULD happen. That’s the kind of fear that I will long remember.

        I loved The Cradle. I loved it in a way that still makes shivers run up my spine years later. I might have been greatly disappointed by much in Thief 3, but The Cradle alone made that game worth my time and my money, for I will carry the haunting shadow of The Cradle’s memory… forever.

      • Contrafibularity says:

        Nothing you or anyone says can convince me that those racking sounds and noises don’t emanate from something horrible indeed happening somewhere not more than a few corridors away. Also I’m fairly sure it was my inconsiderate footsteps which set it off.

        I mean, I know it was just a game. It was just a game, right? Right?

    • soopytwist says:

      LOL, me too! I made a mod that shrinks the HUD, makes Garrett walk by default and I’m using the Collective Texture Pack. If you want the HUD mod let me know.

  2. Jason Moyer says:

    I wonder how related his departure is to XCOM going from “holy cow this looks amazing” to “don’t I already have a turn-based version of this game?”.

    • stkaye says:

      Yeah… this xcom trailer ( link to youtube.com ) feels kind of Jordan-y, and even this one ( link to youtube.com ) does a little bit too…

      I think The Bureau looks good, actually, but I’m pretty sad that I’m never going to get to play this crazy-looking fps.

      • Bhazor says:

        Again you’re making the assumption that that version of the game ever existed in any functional state. Certainly the E3 trailer was almost completely scripted.

        • Jason Moyer says:

          It doesn’t matter if the game ever existed in that state. What matters is that the trailer/demos is what they wanted the game to be, not some crappy Mass Effect clone with boring X-Com humanoid aliens in it. I want that game set in a kitschy early 60’s Americana midwestern setting where the aliens actually provoke a “wtf is that thing” response.

  3. RedViv says:

    As for the game which was the XCOM FPS and is now The Bureau, apparently he left that behind early next year […]
    Time means nothing to those who work on BioShock! (Or it’s confusing to those affected by twee wee tyrants.)

    • Ironclad says:

      I assume/hope that what it’s supposed to say is:

      As for the game which was the XCOM FPS and is now The Bureau, apparently he left that behind early next last year, so what we play soon may well have relatively little to do with him.

  4. Turkey says:

    I hope he programs some sweet ghosts.

  5. foda500 says:

    Make a full blown horror game, please.

  6. ARKaMAN says:

    Am I the only one that saw Darth Vader in the screenshot?