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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.

Hitman header tunnel

Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

Far Cry Primal Thumbnail

Postcards From Far Cry Primal

Snowball jack header

Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

Kill Zone and Bladestorm

Kill Zone And Bladestorm

BAFTA Featured

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

Sectors Header

Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

DXHR Open area

What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

Heat Signature Natural Numbers

Natural Numbers In Game Design

Pharma Header

Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

Writing vs Programming

Make A Game Tutorial Thumbnail Featured IMage

Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

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

Her Story banner

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

Invisible Header

What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

Super Game Jam Header

Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

Shadow of Mordor Header 2

What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Heat Signature Talk

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX


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

Murder, She Wrote

The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

Heat Signature Wide 2

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

Heat Signature Floorplans Header

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

Gunpoint Steam Workshop

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

Distance Header

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

The Magic Circle

Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

Floating Point Blog Launch

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

Floating Sine

Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point


What’s Your Fault?

Hoplite banner

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

Gone Point

Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

Heat Signature Thumbnail

Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

GRappling Hook Thumbnail

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

Alien Swarm Heroics

A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

FTL Story

One Desperate Battle In FTL

Spelunky Banner

To Hell And Back In Spelunky

Game vs story graph

Games Vs Story 2

Gunpoint Breakdown

Gunpoint Development Breakdown

Max Payne 3

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

This is how you die

My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection


Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

Skyrim Diary - Frostmere

Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

Mainstream Games

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


A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

Dark Messiah

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot


Arguing On The Internet


Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Stealth Games

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?


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

Suspicious Manifesto

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

What Makes Games Good

Seat Quest

A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

Beneath Suspicion

Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

Open Worlds

An Idea For A Better Open World Game

Level Up

A Different Way To Level Up

BioShock Ending

How I Would Have Ended BioShock

Meet the Spy

My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

Football Manager

Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

EVE Assassins

EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

GalCiv 2

My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary


I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

Machine of Death

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

Blood money and sex

Blood Money And Sex


A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

First Night, Second Life


SWAT 4: The Movie Script

LA Confidential


Genre: noir thriller.

Stars: Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, James Cromwell, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger, Ron Rifkin.

Plot: three Mexican kids are arrested for a coffeeshop massacre, but neither the straight-arrow arresting officer nor the violent colleague he hates so much think the case has been solved. Meanwhile, a reknown but low-ranking cop with ties to a popular TV show investigates a smut lead he can’t work out, but which he’s starting to think is connected.


Why It’s Great:

  • Not only is it based on a James Ellroy book, it’s a superb, Ellroy-esque version of it – despite not being written by James Ellroy. Ellroy himself commented, in very much his own words, “I can’t fucking believe it.”
  • Ellroy-esque means mind-bogglingly complicated, subtle and dark. Typically for him, LA Confidential hinges on human weakness and corruption, scandal, drugs, ambition, revenge, hollowness, regret, and anger.
  • The three leads and James Cromwell are incredible – the best performances I’ve ever seen from him or Spacey, both brilliant at their worst. The idea of different personality types coming together in the face of a greater evil is hardly novel, but their personalities are so profoundly convincing that it still feels like a revelation. It also helps that the moment Crowe and Pearce realise they’re on the same side, Crowe is in the middle of beating Pearce’s head against the corner of a filing cabinet. In the end, it’s a friendship that arises when it becomes clear they don’t have time to hit each other anymore. And it only becomes jovial when they’re both convinced they’re going to die.
  • In fact Cromwell is probably the star of the film, as the brilliantly conceived Captain Dudley Smith, the only common thread in the three books and perhaps Ellroy’s biggest character. His key moment in the film – you know it if you’ve seen it – is extraordinary cinema.
    The 40’s LA atmosphere is impeccable, and the whole thing has an amazingly sylish elegance.
  • The action is so expertly directed, so immediately gripping and volatile, that a simple hotel shoot-out makes The Matrix’s lobby scene look pathetic. These are gunfights that respect the fact that line-of-sight means death for one or the other party within a second. Death is vicious and sudden. Every shot has a serious, brutal consequence.



Scandal-Rag Journalist: Patchett's what I call 'twilight': he ain't queer and he ain't red. He can't help me in my quest for prime sinuendo.

Coroner: Stomach of the week from a motel homicide: the unemployed actor had frankfurter, french fries, alcohol and sperm.