Episode Archive

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tone control n. A control device, as on a high-fidelity amplifier, for varying the intensity of high and low frequencies. Alternately, a podcast where Steve Gaynor of Fullbright (creators of Gone Home and Tacoma) sits down with noteworthy video game developers for in-depth conversations about their careers and creative processes, and the tricky work of establishing and maintaining a cohesive tone in their games.

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April 15, 2014 Do you like aliens? No-- you like KILLING aliens. And so does Jake Solomon. He's made a career of it, in fact. But how? Learn all the alien-killing secrets from the Creative Director of Firaxis's XCOM: Enemy Unknown (as well as a little side talk about his career, his mentorship by Sid Meier, and the design philosophy that brought one of strategy gaming's all-time classics back into the modern age.)

Games Discussed: X-Com, Civilization, Civilization 2, Civilization 3, Civilization 4, Alpha Centauri, Sid Meier's Pirates!, Sid Meier's SimGolf, Civilization Revolution, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM: Enemy Within, Gone Home
Tumblrs Discussed: rekall.tumblr.com

April 1, 2014 Few creators in the games industry are fortunate enough to have decades-long careers, much less ones where their own work and that of their studio is constantly vital and inspiring. Between leading projects like Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Brutal Legend and Broken Age, and facilitating the creation of games like Costume Quest, Stacking, and more at Double Fine, Tim Schafer is one of those lucky few. Listen in as I blitz through the long, long career of this incredibly old man.

Games Discussed: Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, Broken Age, Gone Home

March 15, 2014 Creeping. Sneaking. Running and hiding. Ryan Payton has spent many years working on games about sticking to the shadows, keeping out of sight. Now the first episode of his own company's new iOS game series, Republique, has stepped out into the light. Follow us on a journey from Portland to Japan to Seattle, and finally onto your internet telephone.

Games Discussed: Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Republique EP1, Republique EP2, Gone Home

March 1, 2014 Amir's dad's living room. Computers on folding tables. One busted old car. These are the humble beginnings that would lead to the hit indie game Bastion. Amir and Greg sit down to talk about what came before and after their time in that house, and the design philosophy that they're carrying through to Supergiant's next game, Transistor.

Games Discussed: Command & Conquer Red Alert 3, Command & Conquer Red Alert 3: Uprising, Spec Ops: The Line, Bastion, Transistor, Gone Home

February 15, 2014 We all know Jonathan Blow as the creator of Braid and The Witness. But what was he up to before bursting onto the scene circa 2008? Not crazy multiplayer-only squad warfare shenanigans, surely. Not online games that used huge server farms to do their physics calculations. Not learning deadly martial arts! Surely not! Discover the truth on episode 9 of Tone Control.

Games Discussed: Braid, The Witness, Requiem: Avenging Angel, Gone Home, crazy shit you've never played

February 1, 2014 Tom Francis: Journalist, Game Developer, British. Steve talks to the creator of Gunpoint about his path through games journalism into game development, and his inspirations and approach to designing a stealth game all about throwing yourself through plate glass windows.

Games Discussed: Gunpoint and Deus Ex mostly

January 15, 2014 Piranha. Barracuda. Beluga Whale. A frog. These and other fish-types are discussed in episode 7 of Tone Control with Brendon Chung, founder of Blendo Games. Hear discussion on Brendon's earliest mod work, to his time in AAA at Pandemic, to the creation of Blendo games like Flotilla, Atom Zombie Smasher, 30 Flights of Loving, and the upcoming Quadrilateral Cowboy. Salamander.

Games Discussed: Gravity Bone, Atom Zombie Smasher, Flotilla, 30 Flights of Loving, Quadrilateral Cowboy, The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, System Shock, BioShock 2: Minerva's Den, Gone Home

January 1, 2014 In a very special episode of Tone Control, Steve and Randy Smith got onstage at FantasticArcade in Austin, TX to talk about their games and approaches to game design. Afterwards they huddled in an alley and worked back through Randy's career at Looking Glass, Ion Storm Austin, and through to the founding of Tigerstyle Games.

Games Discussed: System Shock, Thief The Dark Project, Thief II: The Metal Age, Thief Deadly Shadows, Steven Spielberg's LMNO, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, Waking Mars, Gone Home

December 15, 2013 Tom Bissell: author, critic, video game writer. What was his path to authorhood? What inspired him to write the video game-focused essay collection Extra Lives? And how did he end up in Cliffy B's lambo? The writer of Gears of War: Judgment (and a number of unannounced upcoming games) tells all. Also this month, Steve is joined by co-host Michael Abbott of the Brainygamer blog and podcast! Savor his dulcet tones.

Games Discussed: Resident Evil, Gears of War Judgment, Gone Home, Journey, Flower, Grand Theft Auto IV

December 1, 2013 It's what all Idle Thumbs readers have been waiting for: a personal appearance by none other than the man behind that legend of legends, FAR CRY 2. Roll this pod down a hill into your ears and observe as a procedural conversation emerges in your brain. This is what video games are all about.

Games Discussed: Splinter Cell, Far Cry 2, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Far Cry 2, Far Cry 2

November 15, 2013 Steve visited Seattle to talk with one of the creative minds behind the classic series No One Lives Forever, F.E.A.R., and now co-founder of Blackpowder games. Hear white-knuckle tales of checking in code for a new weapon on ship day and other wild west reminiscences from one of game development's veteran creators.

Games Discussed: Blood, The Operative: No One Lives Forever, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way, F.E.A.R., Betrayer

November 1, 2013 Steve sits down with Neil Druckmann at the Naughty Dog offices to talk about his long and winding path to becoming Creative Director of The Last of Us. Explore the origins of the critically acclaimed game's world and characters. It's possible Joel, Ellie, Hartigan from Sin City, and a certain ottsel share more history than you'd expect...

The Games Discussed of Us: Crash Bandicoot, Crash Team Racing, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted, Uncharted 2, The Last of Us

October 15, 2013 Steve talks to Jake & Sean, design and story leads of Telltale's The Walking Dead Season 1, and founders of the indie studio Campo Santo. You can't put lipstick on a manatee, according to Jake but not Sean. And yet these very differences are what set this timeless love story in motion...

Games Discussed: Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max, The Walking Dead

Tone Control

Steve Gaynor of Fullbright sits down with noteworthy video game developers for an in-depth conversation about their career and creative process.