Thursday 20 October 2016

A Change in Circumstances

Around 8 years ago I had just two games to my name: Penumbra: Overture and Black Plague. I was working fulltime for as editor/content manager, my first job out of uni, and desperately hoping I could find a way to support myself with creative writing alone.

That didn't happen, and in late 2008 I was let go. It was exciting, but difficult, because for the first time I faced the reality that if I couldn't make enough money in the immediate future to pay the bills from making video games I would have to do something drastically responsible, like become a barrister, or a civil servant instead.

Fortunately, and partly due to wonderful people like Gordon Rennie and Andy Walsh supporting me, I was already in touch with a fledgling games writers' agency called Sidelines. It was an offshoot of what remains one of the UK's best (IMO) video game recording studios, Side, and signing up with them secured me work on a bunch of AAA projects such as Driver and Binary Domain. While those two games are the exception in so far as they were actually completed, that string of AAA work from '08 - '12 kept me busy and kept the bills paid until such time as my work on games like FTL and The Swapper was drawing enough attention that I could be more selective about the projects I took on, and stop worrying so hard about what came next.

Now Sidelines Agency is closing its doors, but it's not completely tragic news. Sidelines was always a part-time operation run out of Side's main offices, and their central business continues anon (I was there most recently casting for Elohim in Talos). Further, they will continue to recommend writers to clients, just without taking commission or spending on marketing of the service.

Anyway. They asked me to update my freelancer bio, and I include it here, because why not? You can read it after the break.

Disclaimer: My availability is not super high right now, but it's always good to make contact with people making exciting stuff.

Freelancer Bio

Hello, I’m Tom. I‘ve been making video games since 2006. I like to work on lots of different things, including my own games, but I have specialised by choice in philosophical science fiction. I live in London, but sometimes I travel for work. These are some of the games I’ve worked on:

Penumbra series
Binary Domain
Driver: San Franciscio
The Swapper
The Talos Principle
+ a lot more you’re less likely to have heard of

I do anything that comes under the broad narrative header, including story development, dialog and voice direction. I have received some recognition for my work over the years, including lots of nice reviews from critics and users, various boring awards, and being featured as one of Develop Magazine's "30 Under 30”.

I’m excited about our medium’s untapped potential to tell stories, and I actively seek out projects with procedural elements and interactive narrative. I like to work with small/indie developers on shorter projects, because I like the dynamism of a close-knit team; but I also work on AA projects that pique my interest, such as Subnautica and Talos.

I have done some other things as well: my first job was in QA at Lionhead; I worked as a journalist for a while and still operate a somewhat popular writing blog; I taught at London Southbank University; I studied for an MA in Philosophy at King’s College; and sometimes I talk about left-wing/anarchist things in public.

If you would like to make a game which challenges both how we relate story interactively, and how we understand the world, I’d love to talk with you.


  1. "but I also work on AA projects that pique my interest"

    "how we relate story interactively"
    relate TO story?

  2. Hi Tom, sorry to hear about Sidelines. Thanks for sharing your journey and experience as always. As a new game writer you've been a big help to me in the past and continue to be an inspiration.

  3. I just came from ir/Rational redux, and I am in a propositional calculus course, so please excuse the logic:
    r = would like to create a game that challenges how we relate with stories interactively
    u = would like to create a game that challenges how we understand the world
    t = you would love to talk with me.

    (r^u)->t .// proposition
    r^u ......// assumption (true)
    t ........// conclusion

    Wanna chat sometime? I may not be a programmer yet, but I am currently in our school's Java 2 course, so I'm getting there. Right now I'd be more useful for creative writing and narratives.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.