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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

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