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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

I Eat What I Slaughter


Hot Chip, who sound like a fifties phrase for expressing pleasure at your current situation, are kind of exciting. I’m listening to a song from their latest right now, one I’ve listened to maybe five times before, and I just caught myself flicking through my Firefox tabs to see if one was auto-playing something else underneath because it sounds so completely unhinged.

Oh wait, actually one of them was: I forgot I fired up to see if this same track was on there in full, and it is. Every post a rollercoaster!

The best I can do for a genre is glitch pop – it’s bouncy and infectious, but frequently revolves around some catastrophic audio error that ought to grate but doesn’t. This track, Shake A Fist, just outright breaks halfway through, then explodes, then spends the next few minutes trying to pick the original melody back up out of the shrapnel. Once it does, the shakey reassembly of that simple tune layered over the aftershock of its bizarre phase shift is weirdly comforting, like an old friend returned.

This is not a musical convention I’m familiar with, so as I say, it’s kind of exciting. Even in the fairly straightfoward opening track, the key word of the chorus “weather” is chopped into progressively looping chunks, so his voice stutters the length of the word like a backfiring hatchback on a traintrack. His voice is kind of whimpy, too, so it jars compellingly with the gusty things they do with it.

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I get to give you quite a lot to go on if you’re interested in Made In The Dark (which sounds to me like a polite way of saying “ugly”), because although Fluxblog no longer carries Shake A Fist (though his write-up is still great), has it to stream, I’ve uploaded Bendable Poseable (my favourite, above), and someone on YouTube has already done precisely what I was going to do: recorded himself Audiosurfing the opening track, Out At The Pictures. “The Pictures” is olde English for cinema.

He’s playing it on a harder mode than I would dare and doing a lot better than I would, but he still screws it up twice. I don’t really like the harder modes of Audiosurf – the stress of getting overwhelmed interrupts your attunement to the song, which for me is the whole point. So I’m glad this dude beat me to it. Thank you, er, LethaLImpuLse? It seems like every time I have to address a YouTube poster by name on James these days I have to precede it with a nervous hesitation.


Thomas Lawrence: Agreed about the harder Audiosurf modes. Except that I really suck, so almost all of the modes count as "harder" to me. Pretty much all I can manage and actually get anywhere is Mono and Mono Pro, and there the frustration involved in hitting the first grey is, well, frustrating. Boo on scoring systems that penalise you heavily for one mistake.

Why's that video guy avoiding the white blocks early on? I thought whites were basically free points?

Sam: Thank you. I now love this band.

alfred beilin: hello happy new year to yous all
alf beilin