Amicable Animal is the moniker of Edinburgh-based university lecturer and indie developer Tom Methven. Originally formed as a creative outlet for his obsessions with time, neon, and synthwave, it quickly mutated into a way of collaborating with other talented creators to make strange and interesting games that respect players’ intelligence.
In January 2021, Amicable Animal released its first commercial game on Steam and Switch: SOLAS 128, a game of interconnected puzzles where players redirect and reconfigure rhythmic pulses of light to breathe life back into an ancient machine. Almost entirely wordless, and with a focus on accessibility, SOLAS 128 has received both critical and player acclaim for its fully interconnected world, expertly paced introduction of mechanics, and puzzle design.
For his Resident Entrepreneur project, Tom will be focussing on an new project prototype called Fabricate Reality: “Fabricate Reality is a game where the player takes the role of a newly self-aware AI who seeks to learn more about humanity, and what it means to be human. Players would be tasked with overseeing the construction of a virtual base, the programming of the autonomous agents within it, and creating production lines to capture, clean, and process data using simplified versions of real-world data science techniques. This is a hugely ambitious project for a solo developer, so Creative Informatic’s support is invaluable in making this a reality, and allows for in-depth collaboration with Luci Holland, a local professional freelance composer and musician.”
“The last year highlighted the real issues around data literacy, and the general public’s knowledge of statistics, prediction, and the techniques behind these. In particular, issues with data hoarding and processing are much in the news (e.g. WhatsApp’s privacy update, or Cambridge Analytica), but many are left in the dark about how their data is being used and processed. As I’m a huge believer in the power of games to educate, I see a real opening for a game designed to teach players about data science and data mining fundamentals, a game that would give a small amount of power back to the player, while presenting an entertaining and reflective story.”
SOLAS 128 was a finalist for the UKIE’s UK Game of the Show event 2021, an Official Selection at Strasbourg, and an Indie Dev World Order (puzzle) winner. Since release, it has garnered an 82 Generally Favourable score on Metacritic, and is currently sitting at a 100% Very Positive rating on Steam.
In November 2021, SOLAS 128 won a Scottish Bafta Award for best game.