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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.

  • 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...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • Spaceman Moses: One-eyeing this on my phone from the depths of my covers I lazily ask: what do you mean XCOM2 clarity...
  • kripto: For what it’s worth, I also like Morphblade more than Imbroglio. Although, to be fair, I’ve also...
  • 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

    Supreme Commander

    Another trailer of this has just been released, mixing some new game footage with an interview with Chris Taylor. Taylor’s one of those virtuoso game designers: all zeal and vision; and it’s always a pleasure to hear him talk. He has Quentin Tarrantino’s characteristic spluttering urgency in trying to describe all the cool things he wants to tell you about as quickly as he’s thinking of them. I got an absolutely wonderful but almost entirely useless interview with him at a party in Beverly Hills a few weeks before E3, in which he spent around half the time trying to explain the hydraulics of the system by which the leader of the Cybrans – a brain in a jar – could move around his tank of preservative by thought alone. I guess a brain in a jar does everything by thought alone. But it was as hard as ever not to share his enthusiasm.

    The other reason you should watch this is that I’m still convinced it’s going to be the best thing ever. Chris says it’s hard to go back to limited-zoom RTS’s after being able to back all the way up to see the full map in SupCom – he’s putting it lightly. I’ve had a headache (manifested in my middle finger) from banging my cranium against that glass ceiling ever since first seeing the game. I’m a particular fan of the long-game, in general – I play out every important phase of DEFCON in real-time, much to the ennui of my opponents, and I’m always straining against the interface of a game to put my plans into action. That’s been most of the challenge of the RTS for a long time – synchronising assaults, tending to the progress of your base and telling it what to build next, exploring the map click-by-click with your forward groups. All three of those things can be defined from moment one here, which is a brave move. What if those were the fun? DEFCON succeeds by doing the opposite – automating less, forcing you be a frontline general by doing everything yourself. But SupCom’s usability enhancements are doing something equally appealing: promoting you. A Supreme Commander cares not for caretaking work. The interface between you and the game world is now a lieutenant in your army: you tell it what you need doing, and it takes care of the particulars. It flatters you somewhat by assuming you have higher things on your mind, grander schemes.

    I came late to Total Annihilation, only playing it properly when it was already ancient. What’s almost as striking as its brilliance is how little it has influenced since – the RTS took nothing from its sublime formula, ignored every innovation except its least interesting one: 3D terrain. Playing it now is like uncovering an alien artifact that fell to Earth long ago – you can’t ignore how old it is, but that doesn’t explain how it can be so far in advance of everything we’ve done so far.


    Jason L: Brother! Someone else whom I "know" gets TA!...though I bought it on release, got in embarrassing fourteen-year-old forum flamewars with Dark Reign 2 fans, and played it on my poor choking 16MB P90 :) It really is puzzling that people still haven't implemented so many of the innovations it left lying around, ten years later; I've barely been able to play an RTS since. Homeworld's story and reasonable attempt at command tools pulled me through, and if you haven't played Battlezone it's brilliant and has the same "useful assistant" feel to its interface and AI - albeit in a vastly different tactical setting.

    I feel this is at least a bit related. Games as "lead users" for computer-human interface advancement: ...ution.html

    Jason L: Er, just Dark Reign I guess. Of course, which one's remembered now? Ha-hah!

    Jason L: I just ran across your comments on Quartertothree thanks to a Google gang slightly aglay. I'm sorry to hear that the game's still a Tier 3 race like TA's Bertha dynamic, but I think I still prefer that to the lack of power, size or subtlety in most games. For the experts the answer is that he should've been hurting too much to get the killer tech before you could react, and for cheerful incompetents like me, it simply doesn't matter.

    Diane Quirk: Great