Mike Bithell’s Thomas Was Alone has attracted created quite a buildup of anticipation amongst those who follow indie games development. It’s about to get even more attention, as Yes Man author and Shortlist columnist Danny Wallace has been confirmed as the game’s narrator. I spoke with both Mike and Danny about the game’s narration.
Mike is understandably delighted with Danny’s contribution, the man he always wanted to narrate his tale. He said: “Danny’s a great storyteller, with a natural warmth and good nature towards the characters he describes. I wrote the script with that voice in mind, and I’m really happy to say he pulled it off. I was exceptionally lucky to get my first choice of actor.”
“Danny’s narration brought a lot of humour to the game. He fleshed out the personalities of each character and made us care what happens to them. I’ve been working on the game for a couple of weeks with his [voiceover] in, and I can’t imagine it without him now.”
Danny had nothing but praise for Mike and his game, finding Thomas to be quite ‘lovely’. Here’s what he had to say in this Past the Pixels exclusive interview:
PTP: Danny, Thomas Was Alone‘s development has been turning heads in indie game circles, what specifically attracted you to the project?
DW: “I get quite a few approaches asking me to do stuff, and generally, while I’d like to, there’s just not time. But Mike’s email was really well-written, which was a good heads-up, and he included a link to an early version of the game. I clicked on it. And I thought it was just lovely. And lovely is not a word you get to associate with most videogames, I’d say. But this was just lovely.
A pleasure to play, a real joy to listen to. The kind of thing I could immediately imagine telling people they had to check out. So I wrote back and said, ‘okay, sure’.”
PTP: Mike Bithell has worked incredibly hard on realising his vision, how easy/difficult was it for you to grasp what he was looking to convey in the narration?
DW: “Well, I wanted him to know I was there to do as I was told. I wanted him to be happy with what he got, because he’s been working on this for so long and in his own time. The thing was, it’s a really well-written script – wry, witty with a lightness-of-touch – and he makes it pretty clear with just the narration what the attitudes of these quadrilaterals are. Which means instantly they become so much more than quadrilaterals. You know from the first three words of the script that he wants people to care about these characters. So it was just my job to do what I hoped he wanted.”
PTP: From the brief YouTube trailer released, the storybook-style narration you deliver sounds perfectly apt for this title. Would you be open to more video game work in the future?
DW: ‘Don’t see why not. I’m in another video game already, and even doing a bit of writing for that one now, so it’s a fun world. But something like Thomas Was Alone is perfect. And the fact that it’s an indie game meant I wanted to lend whatever support I could.”
PTP: Have you had much time playing the game itself? If so, what were your impressions of it?
DW: “It might seem small at first. But it just gets bigger, in all sorts of ways. But I’ll let Mike reveal just how, obviously. Not my place. Other than that: lovely.”