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Game development








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.


By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

  • html color: This is the information I am looking for. This article is clear and easy to understand. I’m...
  • Grant: Thanks to the start of this video, I’ve just now noticed that during the static flickers while staring...
  • Ben: Great analysis. During the lab sequence in the Prey intro, you were looking around for tells that Morgan is in a...
  • RoboLeg: this game would be PERFECT for mobile, and I’d happily pay 10 bucks or so for it.
  • Jepp: 1) Please keep critiquing games by building new ones :) 2) The non-hand holding, simple systems integrating...
  • Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

    Postcards From Far Cry Primal

    Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

    Kill Zone And Bladestorm

    An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

    Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

    What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

    Natural Numbers In Game Design

    Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

    Writing vs Programming

    Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

    New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

    What Works And Why: Nonlinear Storytelling In Her Story

    My Idea For An ‘Unconventional Weapon’ Game

    From Gunpoint To Heat Signature: A Narrative Journey

    The Cost Of Simplifying Conversations In Videogames

    What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

    Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

    What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

    Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX

    What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

    The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

    Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

    Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

    Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

    Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

    Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

    Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

    Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point

    What’s Your Fault?

    The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

    Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

    Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

    The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

    A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

    One Desperate Battle In FTL

    To Hell And Back In Spelunky

    Games Vs Story 2

    Gunpoint Development Breakdown

    Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer

    My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection

    Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

    Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

    How Mainstream Games Butchered Themselves, And Why It’s My Fault

    A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

    The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

    Arguing On The Internet

    Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

    Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

    E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

    The Suspicious Developments manifesto

    GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

    Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

    Understanding Your Brain

    What Makes Games Good

    A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

    Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

    Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

    An Idea For A Better Open World Game

    A Different Way To Level Up

    How I Would Have Ended BioShock

    My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

    Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

    Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

    EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

    My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary

    I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

    My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

    Blood Money And Sex

    A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

    First Night, Second Life

    SWAT 4: The Movie Script

    Deus Ex 2

    Robots: Keeping The Peace

    The Basics
    Far-future this time, and you’re a mercenary nano-augmented agent with ‘biomods’ right from the start. You’re constantly given conflicting objectives by two parties, and who you obey will have major consequences for absolutely nothing. There will also be REVELATIONS and ALLEGORY.

    NG's Travelling Trunk

    The Appeal
    Mostly the Strength Biomod – it meant you could pick up a chair and throw it at someone so hard that they died. Actually that’s not really it, but before I get to it I should add that this is the first game in this list to have serious flaws. Whatever anyone might dislike about any of the above games, these people are wrong and ugly. But Invisible War was a bit stupid. Factions simply didn’t care if you stabbed them in the back again and again, so the only meaningful choice you actually had in the game was which cut-scene to watch at the end. The head of the Illuminati seemed irritated at worst if you stabbed the love of his life to death and blew up her corpse. And combat was only fun if you quadrupled the damage multipliers in the [Difficulty] section of the Default.ini file.

    So what’s it doing so high up? To quote myself, “It’s not that there isn’t a huge ‘greatness’ chasm between Deus Ex 1 and 2, it’s just that nothing else is in that gap.” Not quite true, idiot, but there is a part of me that feels like Deus Ex 1 and 2 are the only games in the world – everyone else is just coming up with briefly amusing little toys.

    2, like 1, is extraordinary because you genuinely invent your ways of tackling situations using the tools you’ve collected – rather than doing what the game designers intended, or choosing from a few set paths. And unlike 1, 2 had the visceral joy of tossing the bodies into a dumpster afterwards. The weapon mod system was vastly more meaningful, to the extent that one of my characters went through the game with four pistols – each modded to serve completely different functions. And while we’re at it, the biomods were much more useful – you could easily get by without them in the original, but here you wouldn’t want to. They all do cool things like take over bots, turn things off when you hit them, eat corpses or shoot enemies for you.

    Corpse Pile

    The Essential Experience
    Punching someone in the face with the baton then flinging their unconscious form gracelessly into a skip. The baton was another little area in which 2 hugely improved on 1 (with its sluggish telescopic number), and once you’ve made the damage tweaks mentioned above, it knocks people out with a single sharp punch to the face. This doesn’t make the game too easy, since getting to everyone’s face before they shoot (and hence kill) you is extremely hard. But possible. This is the thrill – you can take out a whole room full of armed opponents before any one of them can fire, without making a noise other than a rapid series of dull thuds. It takes N-like mastery of your character’s movement, but you couldn’t feel more like a super-agent in anything else.

    DemonDoll: I am almost finished with this game for the first time right now (2011) and it has been a very painful process the whole way though. I am all for tight and sharply edited games but this game just doesn't have enough. There are so few weapons and augments that I feel like my character must be identical to every other (this is probably no more true than for the first Deus Ex but it sure feels like it), the levels are small and feel fake for the sake of the consoles of yesteryear, the storyline 'twists' are true to the DX formula but are presented in such a ham-fisted manner that I can't help but feel that this is "Toddler's First Deus Ex - Now With Floaty Jumps To Minimize Boo-Boos." The biggest threat I've felt from the game is the very real danger of drowning in multi-tools which removes the need and motivation to explore non-obvious ways of by-passing obstacles - the very thing that made Deus Ex so brilliant. Like I said, I see the value of cropping meaningless mechanics from a game but all the systems they changed - from removing skills and weapon-specific ammo to the simplistic and small inventory - not only lessen immersion but deprive the player of real meaningful choices which made Deus Ex a thrill before even considering the interesting and well-delivered plot.