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PlayStation Plus 'massively inflated' my audience, says Thomas Was Alone creator


Thomas Was Alone "sold really well" on Vita and PS3 since its April launch according to creator Mike Bithell, and in particular through PlayStation Plus where uptake has been "ridiculous" and "amazing." Bithell told Joystiq Thomas Was Alone, or "the rectangle game" as he self-mockingly called it, found its way into more hands through Plus than any other "platform" up to that point - the indie platformer launched on PC last summer before coming to Steam later in the year.

"And that's exciting," Bithell told us, "Because that's a whole bunch of cool players who are really into their games - that's why they have PS Plus - who know who the hell I am now."

"As someone who's making the difficult second album," Bithell added, "I need as many people onside, and knowing what Thomas Was Alone is, and maybe even knowing who I am, so it means something when the trailer comes out and it says 'From the creator of Thomas Was Alone.' And that's what PS Plus was awesome for. It just massively inflated my audience beyond what a normal esoteric indie platformer would have, which is great."

Bithell said he plans to unveil 'Project 2,' that difficult second album, in the coming months. He was enthusiastic, however, to reflect on Thomas Was Alone, which started life as the story-less product of a 24-hour jam, and was so called because one of Bithell's friends joked he should give it an "emo" title so people would read meaning into it that wasn't there. Nearly three years later, Thomas Was Alone took four stars in our review, which lauded the story for making us care about rectangles.

Bithell acknowledged the effort he put in to the writing, including researching everything from Bauhausian graphic design to modernist values in American architecture, but was quick to put the story's genesis down to "blind luck" and feedback from early build players, who started adding their own stories and personalities to the game's shapely cast.

"When it came to actually making the game," he added, "I knew the gameplay worked and I wanted to keep that. I knew that people were attributing [personalities to] characters based on their traits, so I knew I needed to do that with whatever story I told."

Bithell then tried to add more visual features to the cast, including everything from rectangular space suits to almost South Park-like designs: "Every time I added faces or arms or legs, it lost that purity of the image. I kept pulling it back, and realized that actually I'd hit upon something by accident that was really meaningful, and just went with it."

While we can't help now but imagine a Thomas Was Alone/South Park crossover, we suspect Bithell probably made the right choice when all's said and done. Probably...

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