Minimalist puzzle platformer Thomas Was Alone launches on iPad today.
The iPad port was developed by Surgeon Simulator studio Bossa in collaboration with Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell.
Bithell told Eurogamer he created an iPad version shortly after the game released in 2012, but, it was "crap".
"[Game engine] Unity has an export to iPad button, and it's very tempting!" he said. "So I spent a weekend around the game's release and did an iPad port. It was running on an iPad, but it was crap. It was technically there, but it felt wrong and it didn't play well. It just wasn't designed for the platform with all the obvious problems you'd expect from a platformer on an iPad.
"So, honestly, I wrote it off at that point. I was like, you know what? I'll go to iPad at some point. I love my iPad and I'll make something for it at some point, but this isn't the game to do it with, and I just left it."
A few months ago Bossa, which published the Curve-developed PlayStation 3 and Vita ports of Thomas Was Alone, contacted Bithell to suggest an iPad version. Bithell provided the studio with the game's source code, and from that Bossa produced a demo that impressed.
"It was brilliant," Bithell said. "It solved all the problems. This is a solid feeling version of Thomas Was Alone. It doesn't feel like it's a cheap cousin to the PC and the PlayStation versions. It just felt right."
"I may have mentioned on Twitter that I'm not a fan of free-to-play"Mike Bithell
The game's interface has been reworked for the iPad touch screen, alongside refined graphics to make use of the retina screen. The iPad version's default control scheme uses a virtual on-screen joypad. "It's rebuilt from the ground up to give that sense of feedback, so buttons work in an interesting way," Bithell said. "There are actual notifications on the characters themselves.
"It's just been about creating a not s*** virtual joypad. I'm happy with how it's come out. It feels solid. It feels like the game, which was the lowest bar for me. That was the minimum spec. It had to be as good as the existing version of the game."
Bithell stresses that as far as content and gameplay goes, Thomas Was Alone on iPad is the same as the other versions.
"Gameplay wise it's exactly the same game," he said. "It was really important to me that it had to feel like the original game. Because it's so minimalist, because it's so simplistic in its representation in its graphics, it's entirely defined for me at least, as the nerdy guy who made it, by the interactions and how it feels. That had to be constant."
Thomas Was Alone costs £5.99 / $8.99 / €7.99 on iPad. Explaining the cost, Bithell described Thomas Was Alone as a premium title on the App Store. "We're not doing free-to-play!" he said. "It's not 10 quid a character! I may have mentioned on Twitter that I'm not a fan of free-to-play. I have a price that feels fair for the platform and fair for the existing players."
An Android version "sounds really interesting as an idea and we're going to explore it." A smartphone version, however, sounds unlikely, due to the smaller screen.