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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.

  • RoboLeg: this game would be PERFECT for mobile, and I’d happily pay 10 bucks or so for it.
  • Jepp: 1) Please keep critiquing games by building new ones :) 2) The non-hand holding, simple systems integrating...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • Spaceman Moses: One-eyeing this on my phone from the depths of my covers I lazily ask: what do you mean XCOM2 clarity...
  • kripto: For what it’s worth, I also like Morphblade more than Imbroglio. Although, to be fair, I’ve also...
  • 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

    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'?