All posts


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

Preview: World of Goo

So there are these giggling little globs of goo that you can drag about with the mouse. If you place one near some others, it’ll form a wobbly structure by connecting itself to them with squishy struts. And about half an hour into playing World of Goo, the obvious point of comparison finally hits me: it’s Schindlers List. This is the game of Schindlers List.



I’m so freaking excited about World of Goo. The preview build 2D Boy sent us – despite being fundamentally a silly building game – left me breathless. It has this sublime, uplifting, wonderful conclusion. And it’s just the first chapter.

The main reason it excites me is something you’d never guess from Tower of Goo, its experimental predecessor. It’s the levels – each is a unique idea, a unique place, and a unique mechanic. In the one pictured above, you’re building downwards to reach albino goos in a dark cave, to wake them from their eternal sleep and bring them to safety.

The last games to do levels so well were Darwinia and Psychonauts – which I guess doesn’t put Goo in best-selling company. But the fact that it’s coming to Wii ought to help with that. And you. You ought to help with that.

Basically, in my preview, I ask you to buy it. You’re not really supposed to do that in previews. There’s no demo yet, and as I say Tower of Goo really suggests nothing of its genius. But if you do pre-order, you get the same first chapter I played right now – plus a, er, ‘Profanity Pack’. That’s it, that’s all I got. It’s beautiful, and fun, and it’s going to be one of the highlights of this year.

I probably shouldn’t go into marketing.

Update: Comments disabled for a bit, due to a weird spate of inept spammers who don’t even link or mention the site they’re spamming for.

WeakLemonDrink: Done.

Do me a favour and never tell everyone to kill themselves. Use your powers for good.

Rob: I can imagine it being bloody tricky on Wii.

ImperialCreed: Just pre-ordered the game this morning and am in love with it already.

Jason L: That sign in the last level? A damnable lie. 'You might have to leave some behind, it's OK.' No, it is not; I must have spent twenty minutes arranging to rescue every single last one.

The_B: I've said this before, but yes: I love that last level. So much of it is just pure joy, especially when you work the trick to completing it. It would be criminal to spoil it here or anywhere, but I will say it left the best kind of smile on my face afterwards.

...and then made me slightly saddened I would have to wait for the rest. But still!

Thomas Lawrence: I currently possess the 28th largest tower of goo in the world. This information pleases me no end.

Pentadact: You all rock. I'm away in Texas this week, so James will be a bit quiet. Am typing this on an iPhone in an Apple store. It is awkward.

Seniath: What was more awkward: using the iPhone to type, or having the Apple Store staff eyeing you up suspiciously?

Jason L: I haven't been playing this a lot. My Eiffelesque tower plans are too complex to actually start, I'm more interested in rescues anyway and I very quickly reached the mathematical limit of rescues on most of the levels. Tumbler is the only exception I know for sure; I estimate I could save two or three more Goos than I have. That's because a] a solution's optimality is less obvious and b] it takes so very long to try any new approach, waiting for multiple cycles of the tumbler's rotation. Today I was trying to replicate reported World of Goo crashes on my parents' machine, though, and messed around in Tumbler because it seemed to require the most intense processing of the levels my parents have unlocked.

I've discovered that under some circumstances a Goo in hand, so to speak, can be clipped through the tumbler wall. Drop it and it dies, but bring it up close to the wall and you can effectively nail your core to one wall - saving exceptional numbers of Goos via a cheater's exploit. A poignant moral diemmea!