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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

    A Weak Russian Sunset

    It’s Sunday night, but I’m on holiday! I am spared that awful Sunday night feeling, somehow so much worse than Monday morning, when I realise that I actually like my job. I wasted the first two days of my holiday sleeping ten hours a night to recover from my three-week binge of sub-five-hour nights and an inescapable drowning feeling. The only upside of that sorry cycle is that I get the wholly wonderful song Feather By Feather stuck in my head, by the increasingly wonderful Smog, largely thanks to the gallingly wonderful opening verse:

    You spend half of the morning
    Just trying to wake up,
    Half the evening
    Just trying to calm down.

    The reason I’m telling you of all people this is that losing an irreplacable chunk of the next day – particularly in winter – gives things a weird, sad atmosphere. I’m waking up to weak yellow sunsets, a beautiful but incredibly bleak light that seemed to last all day in Moscow. Hang in there a little longer, we’re approaching the point now. There’s a map in Battlefield 2142 set in Minsk, Belarus, and the sky texture captures this exact sight, light and feel magnificently. I find myself loading it up, alone, and flying a futuristic airlift craft to the top of a skyscraper to get out and admire the view. It’s built for forty-eight players, but the testers have stopped playing so there are no multiplayer games going on. Not that I’d want gunfire spoiling the mood.


    By divine coincidence I only just this week realised how much I like Two Dots On A Map by the Russian Futurists, another gem from the Fluxblog mines. Not only does it have ‘Russian’ in the band name, but it’s also magnificent, majestic, sweeping and unbearably sad. I don’t know what the backing vocals are saying, but the last lines are:

    If we knew we were dying,
    Is this how we’d leave things?

    I choose to hear “If we knew we were” as implying that we are, but aren’t facing it. Which is true, and awful.

    I actually thought this mopey wistfulness might be a sign of age, but I just now found a text file on my hard drive describing exactly the same thing, written by me in 2002. So I’m just repeating myself, which is worse.

    So… I think I was trying to lead in to the subject of game-music associations, which are brilliant. My favourites:

    Half-Life 2 and The Great Destroyer, by Low: two of the best things about planet Earth released at the same time – it was a good November. To this day I’ve never actually listened to Low while playing Half-Life 2, because I like Half-Life 2’s in-game music, but I alternated between the two so reliably that the connection forged nonetheless, and now I can’t stop at those weathered, deserted seaside shacks overlooking the glassy sargasso without hearing the exultant Walk Into The Sea, nor whack that childless dangling tyre with a crowbar and not hum a few bars of California. This is another sad one, isn’t it?

    System Shock 2 and Cobra And Phases Groop Play Voltage In The Milky Night, by Stereolab: ba-ba b’dow b’dah. Bubbly futuristic electro-pop played over paranoid dystopian futuristic action RPG. I subconsciously reconciled the two by identifying this album’s off-kilter jauntiness with the hollow optimisim of Xerxes’ pre-recorded broadcasts to the long-dead crew of the Von Braun. Good save, subconscious!

    Deus Ex and Voodoo Wop, by Clinic: itchy stompy scary medical drone punk played over a nocturnal interactive conspiracy theory? Well, they’re both uneasy, inaccessible and dark.

    Hitman: Blood Money and Deep Cuts, by The Knife: sheer coincidence, I assure you, that I got into these at the same time and that the last screenshot I posted of Hitman was of cutting someone deeply with a knife. There’s no connection between music and game beyond the violent overtones – The Knife aren’t even that sinister, a lot of the songs are upbeat or simmeringly sexy.

    Yeah, so they’re a little sinister.

    craigp: That would make an awesome halloween costume.

    craigp: Actually, riffing on any of the costumes 47 wears in game would make awesome get-ups. Is anyone having a party this year?

    The_B: The thought of you guys all wearing bald caps in the office is slightly disturbing. I approve.

    Well, except Ross. Maybe he can be a victim or something...

    Jason L: Feather by Feather, aside from its inherent excellence, is also eerily and consistently devastating for anyone who loves the anime Haibane Renmei. I assure you.

    Jason L: ...except I now find out that the songwriter and I have vastly different opinions on what the song means. Drat. I shall have to forget with all speed.