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PC Gamer

Mike Bithell, the brain behind Thomas Was Alone and Volume, says he's working on two new titles but they might mark the end of an era. That's according to a new interview over at MCV, where Bithell surveys his career up until now, roughly six months after the launch of the aforementioned Volume.

Asked what he's working on at present, Bithell mentioned both a small and large project, but didn't offer much in the way of details.  I have a smaller project which I think will surprise people by how quickly it comes out, he said.  It s something I ve been fiddling with since the end of Volume, so about six months. A little idea a few ideas I ve bashed together, actually.

On the topic of the larger project, Bithell had this to say:  there s definitely seismic, massive stuff as well which is super exciting and completely secret, he said.  Volume opened some very cool doors. We were already talking to various people about various things but once Volume came out and sold well and reviewed well, a lot of people became interested in working with us.

Still, Bithell said the smaller project might mark the end of his coding career.  It s probably the last thing I ll code if everything goes to plan, and that s a horrible thing to say. That s a quote that some smart ass will throw at me in ten years time when I m sat in my shed. You can count on it, Mike.

Of course, not coding doesn't mean "not making games" those "cool doors" Bithell mentions in relation to the larger project could indicate anything. Indeed, it could mean he'll take a more directorial, less hands-on approach on the next major title. Who knows.

Volume was a beautiful, polished stealth-action game, but according to our Tyler it had a few problems. "[Volume has] fun, not-too-hard stealth puzzles that look great, wrapped up in a humdrum story with a boring protagonist."

Aug 31, 2015
Community Announcements - Mike Bithell
Hey all, wow, I've never done an announcement on here before, but, I thought I'd drop by, blow away a couple of cobwebs, and invite all of you to check out my new game, Volume.

It's a stealth game, but one designed to welcome new players as much as reward sneaky veterans. We're really proud of it, and the community are already doing great things with the editor.

Also, Danny's in it, which is always fun
Aug 18, 2015
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alec Meer)

Volume [official site] is a third-person, sci-fi stealth game, in which you direct a little dude around VR-styled, maze-like levels, dodging guards with wits and with gadgetry, with the aim of grabbing all the loot and getting out again. It’s out now.>

I hope Mike ‘Thomas Was Alone’ Bithell’s new game wasn’t hoping to pre-empt any ‘turn down the…’ gags by hiring a celebrity voice cast, because sadly it wasn’t long before I started muting things. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Originally released in 2012, Thomas Was Alone is, at its core, a puzzle-platformer built around rectangles. It was also quite a good game, "entirely too touching for a platform game about bouncy squares," as we said in our review (via Metacritic), and it actually built up quite a fan base, evidenced by the nearly 5500 positive user reviews (compared to 229 negative) on Steam. And so now, to mark the upcoming three-year anniversary of its release, there are action figures.

No, seriously. Thomas Was Alone action figures: Officially sanctioned, and, as you can see, almost exactly as they appear in the game, except in three dimensions instead of two. "Lovingly handcrafted from the finest materials [plastic], these figures offer the full articulation possible for toys based on the reasonably popular indie game, Thomas Was Alone," the product description states. "The Claire figure even floats. Seriously. That's not a joke. That took time to make work."

Further evidence that this is not a joke (and it's not!) came from Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell himself, who sent us an email saying that it's actually something he's been asked about quite a bit. He also noted that it's a "very limited run" of figures, and while he didn't say how many of the sets have been made, the counter on the Kerry Dyer website indicates that more than a third of them have already sold.

The Thomas Was Alone action figures come together in a set of four that sells for 20/$31. They're not very big—Claire, the blue block, is 3.2 cm tall—and thus should not be given to children to play with because, as the site notes, "they are small cubes of plastic."

Bithell's next project, the stealth-action game Volume that features voice acting by Andy Serkis, will be out on August 18.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alec Meer)

that is not camouflage, sir

It will probably be the only time in my life when I have no responsibilities, didn t owe anyone any money, didn t have staff that I had to worry about. Absolute freedom to do what I want. I wasn t going to use that to make a sequel to a reasonably well-received puzzle-platformer.

I ve asked Volume lead Mike Bithell if he s been worried about over-reaching himself. 2012 s Thomas Was Alone was one of several break-out indie hits around that time a era of Steam that many of today s PC developers are increasingly worried they ve missed the boat on but it was a simple game.

It was, as the man says, a reasonably well-received puzzle-platformer, and it blew up because it was charming and funny, effectively anthropomorphising the textureless, two-dimensional rectangles it starred thanks to well-judged narration and very human writing. Volume, by contrast, is a full-on, 3D stealth game which will ship with around 100 levels, features an array of tricsky sci-fi items, has a full level editor and has hired Andy Serkis to voice its lead villain. Conceptually, it s a huge leap.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

At this point, we should all be used to Steam's auto-updating. Even so, it can be a little unsettling when it happens to a game about emerging autonomous AI. Quadrilateral platformer Thomas Was Alone has received just such an update, supposedly adding Benjamin's Flight a free chapter of levels originally exclusive to the game's Playstation release. At least, that's what creator Mike Bithell claims it adds. My advice? Keep an eye out for rogue squares.

"Benjamin's Flight takes place before the events of Thomas Was Alone," Bithell writes in a press release, "and tells the story of the first AI to discover something very dangerous: Hope. Armed with a new jetpack ability, he'll go hunting for the strange glowing light he's long admired from afar."

With the update, Steam owners get a new set of jetpack-designed levels, new songs, and a new narration about Benjamin and his high-flying dreams. It's a nice bonus for owners of the game assuming it doesn't unleash sentient and somewhat charming artificial intelligence.

Mike Bithell is currently working on stealth game Volume. For more on that, check out Chris's preview.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

When I last spoke to Mike Bithell, we were in the caf at the National Media Museum in Bradford. He had just delivered a talk about his upcoming Virtual Robin Hood game, Volume, but we found time to discuss Thomas Was Alone as well. Bithell said – and I agree – “I thought I was writing a competent story with an amazing platform game. It turned out it was the other way around!” Presumably, the previously Playstation-only prequel episode, now available on Windows and Mac (Linux build soon), elevates plot over platforming. A cursory examination reveals a possible interpretation of the Icarus myth, with an AI in place of daddy Daedalus and a jetpack in place of waxy wings.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

Mike Bithell’s stealth game, Volume, looks like a very different prospect to Thomas Was Alone, even if there might be some similarities in the audio department. A retelling of the Robin Hood story, Volume takes place in a Britain laced with political dissent, rebellion and fancy volumetric display devices. Upon discovering such a device, Robert Locksley sets out to livestream heists and infiltrations, teaching the poor to steal from the rich rather than doing the job himself. I sat down with Mr Bithell at the Bradford Animation Festival to talk about the game, politics, ethics, Mini Coopers and Russell Brand.>


PC Gamer

A recent trailer for Volume has revealed that author, actor, and Thomas Was Alone narrator Danny Wallace will lend his voice to the game’s companion AI. YouTuber Charlie McDonnell will play the role of Robin Hood. Yes, that Robin Hood.

Volume will be a retelling of Robin Hood set in the near future. According to Eurogamer, Robert Locksley (better known as Robin Hood) finds a volume, a simulation tool that’s used to train a military coup’s forces. Locksley then uses the volume’s AI to “broadcast simulations of robbery against England's wealthiest, becoming the world's first crime let's player.”

I encourage anyone who hasn’t heard of Volume to check out designer Mike Bithell’s video demonstration, which should give you a better idea of what Volume actually is.

Volume’s set to come out sometime in 2014 on the PlayStation 4 with PC and Mac versions a month later.

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