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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

Yeah, Me Too


I’m the one on the left – a slinky Draenei huntress. I have no idea if I enjoy World Of Warcraft or not, but I’m definitely physically dependent on it at the moment. I think the reason it eats so much of our time is that they’ve hit upon the gaming equivalent of TV: something comforting and unending that requires little effort from you. You’re always progressing through it, consuming New, but it’s dilute New, tastes a little like Old, and you’re drinking it slowly.

I’m Sobaseki on Steamwheedle Cartel, and I’m only level 7. I’m in it for the pets – Rhianna was telling me about a Scorpid she had called Mexican Pete, after the way he waved his claws nonchalantly as he scuttled, and at that point I knew I would have to be a Hunter. I wanted to be a Blood Elf – the Draenei are a bit of a non-concept as races go – but my colleagues are all Alliance filth and I faced exile if I stuck to my Horde inclinations. I don’t have a problem with pets, like all interesting stuff being held off till level ten, but I wish they had enough ideas to keep that feeling of progression going through the later decades. As they get exponentially further apart in the time-invested stakes, the interest and value of their perks simultaneously plummets, and it’s kind of a lethal combination for me.

It’s a much more pleasant game to play once you fiddle with the controls a bit, I now discover. If you enable Click-To-Move, you still don’t get rid of the endless error messages during combat, but your idiot does now fix most of them herself. She still says “It’s too far away!” when told to attack a distant target, but now she actually moves in range and does it. Ditto for usable items and talkable NPCs. It’s also handy for making long journeys with single clicks, without having to hold anything down or risking going too far if you, er, alt-tab away. Which I have a tendency to do a lot. In fact:


Update: Okay, the preceding paragraph is also an update, but this is why I’m really updating: tonight I…

WoW 2007-01-25 18-20-46-29
Dressed up as a tree!

WoW 2007-01-25 19-58-02-50
Seduced a crab!

WoW 2007-01-25 20-10-24-60
Rode around on a big old elephant!

If they just took out the 80% of quests that are utter dross, it’d be a fantastic game. I still don’t have a proper pet yet, just a feeble cat I befriended, and christened Clawgasm. I’m torn between a better cat, a big ostrich, a small and rubbish crab, or holding out for something stranger. I’m leaning towards the small and rubbish crab.

Jason L: As the informed-but-hostile brother of one and friend of three WoW junkies, Burning Crusade is relevant to me in pretty much one way: we are all agreed that much of the high-level female Blood Elf clothing looks A. badass and B. really beautiful. Take note, other game designers: there is barely a thigh or a midriff, or for that matter a knee, in sight.

OK, that's a lie. Two ways. Upon making a facetious remark about use of "Holy Light" by what I assumed to be pagan Blood Elves, I was informed that the Blood Elves have captured and imprisoned an angel and essentially squeeze holy-juice out of it. This is cool backstory.