IAN THOMAS

Hello! I’m Ian, a games programmer, narrative designer and writer.


  • Games Programming

    I’m a programmer and designer for AAA and indie games on console, desktop, mobile and web, specialising in gameplay and mechanics across a range of genres.
     
    LEGO Star Wars III

  • Narrative Design

    I’ve written and designed interactive narrative, dialogue and gameworlds for computer games, interactive fiction, and live events.
     
    Slaght Maand

  • Writing

    I’m a published author and screenwriter; my credits include children’s books, long-form fiction, interactive books, and feature films.
     
    shoggoth

ABOUT
I’m a game developer and writer. I’ve mixed up interactivity and storytelling for a living for over two decades. I’ve worked in interactive television, education, puppet-making, film, live events and the video games industry.

Talespinners & Winged Monkeys

I’m co-director of Talespinners, a writing & narrative company dedicated to helping you develop story for your game. I also run my own freelance company, Winged Monkeys.

Games Programming

I’ve held a wealth of roles as a programmer, technical architect and CTO. I spent a long time running software teams creating interactive TV systems and produced over 40 educational games.

I threw all that in to work in the mainstream games industry, where I’ve since worked as a programmer and designer for gameplay, systems and tools on a wide range of triple-A and indie titles across all sorts of platforms – including SOMA & the LittleBigPlanet & LEGO franchises.

“Ian is an excellent programmer who was also a pleasure to work with. He is a very articulate speaker and clear thinker, with a great sense of code and API design – allowing him to stand out as a clear leadership figure within both the LEGO Systems group, and the company as a whole.”
 
Paul Connor, Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller’s Tales

Narrative Design

I’ve written and designed story for many different types of interactive media. My credits include character and world design for PC games, narrative refreshes on console games, interactive web fiction, and leading teams to create gameworlds from scratch for commercial clients. I’m story lead on Frictional Games‘ next title.

I’ve also directed live action events for over 20 years. I’m co-founder of Crooked House, an organisation legendary for its high concept events and ridiculously over-the-top special effects and sets. Oddly a lot of this experience has now become relevant to the mainstream due to the renewed interest in VR and in street games.

“Ian’s experience was invaluable at Double Eleven, not only was he able to write the character scripts and in-game plot, but he also took full ownership of that role, implementing and adapting all aspects of the narrative as the game evolved over time. Not only is Ian a great collaborator and team player, he is also a friendly and inspirational person who you can absolutely depend on.”
 
Gaz Wright, Design Manager, Double Eleven

Writing

My first full-length feature film, Fallen Soldiers, came out in July 2015. We made it for virtually no money, and with no time. Critics have said things like ‘a very clever piece of genre cinema that is not bound by its conventions’ (Film News) and ‘a great low budget horror movie, with some strong talent and clever ideas.’ (Starburst). I have two other optioned screenplays.

My twisted children’s book Where’s My Shoggoth? is available in all good comic shops. It has been variously described as ‘a firmly recommended gift for anyone in life who has a taste for the bizarre’ (Starburst Magazine), ‘a book you’ll happily put on your child’s shelf alongside Winnie the Pooh & Dr. Seuss’ (Omnicomic), ‘perfect for the Lovecraft lover in your life’ (Ain’t It Cool News) and ‘just right to snuggle up with your budding young mythos investigator on a dark and stormy night’ (Wired), amongst many other accolades.

I’ve also worked as editor and writer-for-hire on projects ranging from novels to gameworld lore. I’m often asked to polish and copy-edit work, particularly when it comes to dialogue.


“It was a pleasure working with Ian on The Bunker, he has an expert eye for game design detail and an incredible talent for bringing real humanity to storylines. His logic in game narrative structure is flawless and he brought an amazing attention to detail to The Bunker, providing layer after layer of storytelling, making the game richer and more immersive.”
 
Allan Plenderleith, Director, Splendy Games

Talks

I’m happy to give talks anywhere (just try and stop me!) and have previously given talks on:

  • Making Horror: Getting Emotional in Interactive Media
  • How to Build a World
  • Telling Game Stories Without Words
  • Getting Into Games Writing
  • Be Lazy: How To Make Games Development Painless
  • Getting Into The Games Industry
  • How Not To Get A Job
  • Lessons From LARP
  • The Anatomy Of A Triple-A Game Engine

Other Work

I lecture and advise on training courses, have acted as a games adviser for BAFTA Wales, co-founded and chaired the Games Wales industry body in Wales, and generally spend a lot of time making a nuisance of myself in an attempt to big up the games industry in my local area. I’m a full member of BAFTA, the IGDA, and of the Writer’s Guild.

WORK

Bomber Crew writing

Winter Hall narrative design, writing

Depot narrative design, writing

Operation Apex writing

Bloody Zombies writing

Talesinger narrative design, writing

Raiders of Erda narrative design, writing

Raid: World War II dialogue

The Exiled narrative design, writing

Carte Blanche game design

The Siege and the Sandfox coding, narrative design, writing

The Bunker interactive narrative, screenwriting, writing

Pendragon Rising interactive narrative, writing

SOMA coding, design

God Rest Ye Merry? directing, interactive narrative, writing

Fallen Soldiers directing, screenwriting

Frozen Synapse: Prime coding, narrative design, writing

LittleBigPlanet Vita coding, game mechanics

Where’s My Shoggoth? writing

LEGO® City Undercover coding, game mechanics

Empire narrative design, writing

LEGO® Harry Potter, Years 5-7 coding, game mechanics

LEGO® Pirates of the Caribbean coding, game mechanics

Fallen London interactive narrative, writing

LEGO® Star Wars III coding, game mechanics

LEGO® Harry Potter, Years 1-4 coding, game mechanics

Stalingrad directing

Blood Trails screenwriting

Awen: Crisial Engine coding, narrative design, systems architecture, writing

Awen: Educational Games art, coding, design, narrative design, writing

Revamp directing, screenwriting

Awen: Build System coding, systems architecture

Butcher’s Blossom directing

Reign screenwriting

My Worst Words writing

The Voice of the Seraph directing, interactive narrative, narrative design, writing

Artifex Rex directing, interactive narrative, narrative design, writing

Alea Iacta Est directing, interactive narrative, narrative design, writing

The Dragon’s Eye directing, interactive narrative, narrative design, writing

Avago Bingo coding, design, systems architecture

Slaght Maand directing, interactive narrative, narrative design, writing

xBrowser coding, design, systems architecture

Sky Fantasy Football coding, systems architecture

Fireman Sam CD-ROM art, coding, design, sound

CLIENTS
PRESS

Here are a few bits and pieces from press, talks and interviews I’ve given:

SHOP
I’ve made a bunch of things you can buy over the years. Here are a few of them.


Where's My Shoggoth?

Where's My Shoggoth?A children’s book about the Cthulhu mythos, with rhymes & pictures.
Buy Here

Carte Blanche

Carte BlancheA tiny any-genre RPG – everything you need to play in a deck of cards.
Buy Here

Pendragon Rising

Pendragon RisingAn 110,000-word interactive novel set in the time of King Arthur.
Buy Here

Fallen Soldiers

Fallen SoldiersA Napoleonic horror movie set deep behind the French lines, available on DVD.
Buy Here

My Worst Words

My Worst WordsA special book of vocabulary for children – Sid James would be proud.
Buy Here

SOMA

SOMAAn existential horror game set deep under the sea, from Frictional Games.
Buy Here

The Loop

The LoopA short album of electronica inspired by Tron, Stranger Things and the like.
Buy Here

CONTACT

Feel free to get in touch. I’d love to talk about possible projects or collaboration.

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BLOG

Ian’s Trivial Getting-a-job Tips

I’m not an HR person. However, over the years I’ve hired quite a few people to be on software or games teams. More recently I’ve helped out with filtering CVs for games companies. I’ve also been bombarded with emails about work experience. This is a set of short rants I recently posted to my Facebook […]

Mind the Gap

I waffle on how leaving gaps in your storytelling gives an audience space to bring their own input to the story.