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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

Regarding Matt’s Location

This is one of those things I avoided writing about because I assumed everyone had seen it, but a quick poll reveals that very few of my friends have. It’s best watched without preconception or explanation, so first off, here it is (click the four arrows for full-screen):

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

It’s fascinating to read the comments on this, over at Digg or Vimeo. Those that respond most strongly to it often have no idea why – some find it hilarious but aren’t sure what the joke is, others cry and have no idea if it’s happy or sad. A few of us have been talking lately about how every time you travel, you come back slightly dismayed at how small and repetitive your normal life is. This is a sharp smack of that, but I consider it a good thing. If it makes us feel bad, it’s a bad feeling we need. It’s a spur for change, experimentation, or just a cool holiday.

It’s a particularly good thing for America, where supposedly 23% of the populace have a passport. Matt Harding doesn’t evangelise about it much, he just says “it’s important to know what the world looks like.”

That’s in a series of talks he did about the 2006 video (the one embedded is his third). Listening to a lecture given by a man whose claim to fame is dancing badly in a multitude of countries sounds unappealing, but I did it anyway and was riveted. It’s a travel diary, mostly – turns out five seconds of bad dancing isn’t the whole story of his visits to each of these countries. And the notion of getting paid – as he was the last two times – to tour the world and jig like a six year-old is magnficent.

Matt was a game designer. He wanted to make a game about animals in balls that smack into each other, but Microsoft shifted their focus to games about killing people. He said they could make a game where you’re aliens trying to wipe out the human race. His publishers said “Yes!” He said “I was kidding.” His publishers green-lit the game. Matt left a while after. That game is Destroy All Humans; it came out in 2005 and got 9/10 in Stuff magazine.

ab: Awesome. This one is by far the most affecting of the three, which I'm pretty sure is down to the music messing with your mind as your amazement grows over the scale of his stunt.

I sometimes wish I knew more about keys and scales and stuff, I keep hearing about how that shit has a profound affect on listeners.

HATRZ: When I first saw it, I hated it, thinking him an over-privilidged Richy Rich who could just waste so much time.

Then I found out he got sponsored to do this and let out a huge sigh of relief.

Lack_26: Wow, I envy him. I'd love to visit a lot of these places, and intend to if I get the chance.

Silky: I just... wow. He's dancing. I'm crying slightly. As you say, strong reactions and I don't know why.

I have to refute your claim of it just being sadness at, essentially, not having that in your life. My initial guess at my own reaction is that I've been a bit convinced of the generally awful state of things in the world at the moment, and that's just such a beautiful counterpoint.

But thanks for that. That's a truly wonderful thing.

Tom Francis: Yeah, I didn't mean that was all there was to it, just that it's one of the reactions it gets from me.

Bob Arctor: Very good, but no UK?!!!

Defragged: Bob: 23 seconds, Northern Ireland

Iain “DDude” Dawson: Yep, I was one of those people who has never seen the things that everyone has seen.

It was the same at school. The teacher would tell us, "the incedent that everyone already knows about must never happen again", and I would have no idea what was going on.

True story.

SenatorPalpatine: I had seen this and the 2006 one before. It's pretty cool. Sometimes it's easy to forget that the world is a really really big place, when you see the exact same places most days of your life.

roburky: I don't think this one is as powerful, with the dancing matt, the one constant between the pictures hidden in most of them, and a lot of the locations just a mass of dancing people which could be anywhere.

Chijts: London, England was also in there Bob. I liked the video, it made me smile. The bit in the demilitarized zone was highly amusing.

Tom Francis: Man, this whole thing turned out to be a hoax: ...chapter_04

Thomas “Padre” Lawrence: This damn thing still makes me cry every time.

Jason L: I still think he's hiding something. Has NOBODY noticed that if you take some of the letters from his supposed sponsor's slogan and add a couple, you get 'Phriday'?