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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



    Genre: forget about it.

    Stars: Nicholas Cage, Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper (the homophobic dad in American Beauty).

    Plot: tempting to say ‘forget about it’ again, but I’ll give it a go: a woman writes an article about a guy who steals rare orchids from nature reserves. The article is very popular, and a publisher asks her to adapt it into a book. She does, and calls it, like the article, The Orchid Thief. The book is very popular, and a producer asks screenwriter Charlie Kaufman to adapt it into a film. He tries, but can’t capture what he likes about it, and obsesses over his failure, ultimately writing first the entire history of the Earth, then himself, into the plot. Meanwhile, his admiring, friendly brother Donald takes up screenwriting himself, after attending a quicky course on it, exasperating his brother by coming up with lower-brow ideas typical of modern cinema and seeking Charlie’s approval. It’d take me about another paragraph of that size to explain the rest of the plot, then two or three more to qualify how much of it is actually true, and that the film he’s writing is in fact the film he’s in, which evolves dynamically as he, the character in it, makes decisions about how to save the screenplay he’s writing from either pretentiousness or never being finished. Instead, I just told you the plot of the plot summary I’d write if I was going to write the rest of this plot summary, but I did it rather cleverly within the plot summary itself, so perhaps I should have included the plot of the above plot summary before the plot of the rest of the summary, which doesn’t exist. I think I’m sooo goddamn clever.

    By the way, I wasn’t just mocking myself there to mirror the relentless self-deprecation that consumes Charlie Kaufman when he realises what he’s done, I really do think what I did there was pathetic. If I wanted to mimic his self-deprecation, I’d do something like… well, see the last section called ‘Something Like…’


    Why It’s Great:

    • Well, check out the plot.
    • Nicholas Cage – I’m so confused about how I feel about Nicholas Cage now that I can’t even remember how I used to; was he the annoying guy who always seemed to choose great films, or was he the basically decent actor who always got stuck in awful ones? Now that he’s been in Bringing Out The Dead and this, and I realise I really do like Con Air, I think I just plain like him. He’s fantastic in this, as both Charlie and Donald Kaufman, who spend a lot of time on screen together. You can’t make yourself believe for a second that they’re the same person, even though no attempt is made to distinguish them appearence-wise, beyond their wearing different clothes. The two roles would make a good litmus test for actors in general – can they make two identical-looking characters unassimilatably different? He can, and it’s a spectacular film, so he must be good.
    • It’s hilarious. Not just Charlie’s self-loathing and Donald’s awful ideas, but the insane turns it takes toward the end, and the whole absurdly self-referential interaction between plot and genre.


    A Quote: “Oh my God, I’ve written myself into my screenplay.” “That’s kind of weird, huh?” “It’s self-absorbed, it’s narcissistic, it’s solipsistic, it’s pathetic! I’m pathetic! I’m fat and pathetic!”

    Something Like… Oh my God, I’ve written myself into my plot summary. It’s smarmy, it’s arrogant, it’s demeaning to the film, it’s pathetic! I’m pathetic! I’m stupid and pathetic!


    Jason L: I've owned Adaptation for a couple years - I'm still trying to decide whether it's genius or self-indulgent artistic masturbation. Given that reaction's part of its intended effect, I guess that makes it genius...or does it??? Hard to argue with the Nicholas Cage thing, though - yes, this film should be shown to every aspiring performer.