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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.

Heat Signature’s Launch, And First Player Legend

A Leftfield Solution To An XCOM Disaster

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

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.