Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.
It’s Sunday night, but I’m on holiday! I am spared that awful Sunday night feeling, somehow so much worse than Monday morning, when I realise that I actually like my job. I wasted the first two days of my holiday sleeping ten hours a night to recover from my three-week binge of sub-five-hour nights and an inescapable drowning feeling. The only upside of that sorry cycle is that I get the wholly wonderful song Feather By Feather stuck in my head, by the increasingly wonderful Smog, largely thanks to the gallingly wonderful opening verse:
The reason I’m telling you of all people this is that losing an irreplacable chunk of the next day – particularly in winter – gives things a weird, sad atmosphere. I’m waking up to weak yellow sunsets, a beautiful but incredibly bleak light that seemed to last all day in Moscow. Hang in there a little longer, we’re approaching the point now. There’s a map in Battlefield 2142 set in Minsk, Belarus, and the sky texture captures this exact sight, light and feel magnificently. I find myself loading it up, alone, and flying a futuristic airlift craft to the top of a skyscraper to get out and admire the view. It’s built for forty-eight players, but the testers have stopped playing so there are no multiplayer games going on. Not that I’d want gunfire spoiling the mood.
By divine coincidence I only just this week realised how much I like Two Dots On A Map by the Russian Futurists, another gem from the Fluxblog mines. Not only does it have ‘Russian’ in the band name, but it’s also magnificent, majestic, sweeping and unbearably sad. I don’t know what the backing vocals are saying, but the last lines are:
I choose to hear “If we knew we were” as implying that we are, but aren’t facing it. Which is true, and awful.
I actually thought this mopey wistfulness might be a sign of age, but I just now found a text file on my hard drive describing exactly the same thing, written by me in 2002. So I’m just repeating myself, which is worse.
So… I think I was trying to lead in to the subject of game-music associations, which are brilliant. My favourites:
Half-Life 2 and The Great Destroyer, by Low: two of the best things about planet Earth released at the same time – it was a good November. To this day I’ve never actually listened to Low while playing Half-Life 2, because I like Half-Life 2’s in-game music, but I alternated between the two so reliably that the connection forged nonetheless, and now I can’t stop at those weathered, deserted seaside shacks overlooking the glassy sargasso without hearing the exultant Walk Into The Sea, nor whack that childless dangling tyre with a crowbar and not hum a few bars of California. This is another sad one, isn’t it?
System Shock 2 and Cobra And Phases Groop Play Voltage In The Milky Night, by Stereolab: ba-ba b’dow b’dah. Bubbly futuristic electro-pop played over paranoid dystopian futuristic action RPG. I subconsciously reconciled the two by identifying this album’s off-kilter jauntiness with the hollow optimisim of Xerxes’ pre-recorded broadcasts to the long-dead crew of the Von Braun. Good save, subconscious!
Deus Ex and Voodoo Wop, by Clinic: itchy stompy scary medical drone punk played over a nocturnal interactive conspiracy theory? Well, they’re both uneasy, inaccessible and dark.
Hitman: Blood Money and Deep Cuts, by The Knife: sheer coincidence, I assure you, that I got into these at the same time and that the last screenshot I posted of Hitman was of cutting someone deeply with a knife. There’s no connection between music and game beyond the violent overtones – The Knife aren’t even that sinister, a lot of the songs are upbeat or simmeringly sexy.
Yeah, so they’re a little sinister.
craigp: That would make an awesome halloween costume.
craigp: Actually, riffing on any of the costumes 47 wears in game would make awesome get-ups. Is anyone having a party this year?
The_B: The thought of you guys all wearing bald caps in the office is slightly disturbing. I approve.
Well, except Ross. Maybe he can be a victim or something...
Jason L: Feather by Feather, aside from its inherent excellence, is also eerily and consistently devastating for anyone who loves the anime Haibane Renmei. I assure you.
Jason L: ...except I now find out that the songwriter and I have vastly different opinions on what the song means. Drat. I shall have to forget with all speed.