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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.

  • Grant: Thanks to the start of this video, I’ve just now noticed that during the static flickers while staring...
  • Ben: Great analysis. During the lab sequence in the Prey intro, you were looking around for tells that Morgan is in a...
  • 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...
  • 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

    Status Report

    Gone dark lately because a) I have a lot to organise, b) I have a lot to play, c) the next thing I was going to post I’m not sure I should post, and d) the thing after that would be about Spore again, and quite big. So here’s something quick and self-indulgent: stats!

    • The seven feeds to which I am the only current subscriber on Google Reader (update! Cross-checked with Graham and Google Reader gives slightly different subscriber figures to different people. Nice one, Google!): (Graham’s public bookmarks – seldom updated, but always worthwhile)

      Upcoming releases for user Pentadact (Soundamus – much-needed idea, but get cluttered with so many re-releases and embarrassing people I only listened to that one time that I might unsubscribe)

      James Comments (also three times more active than any other feed I’m subscribed to)

      roBurky (fairly infrequent, but all good stuff so far)

      1Fort Screenshot Gallery (I think more of Chris Livingston’s army of fans would be subscribed to his screenshots if they were aware it was possible)

      Comments on your photos (because Flickr’s homepage says “NEW comments!” even when I read them a week ago)

      Zeno’s London (my cousin’s blog, a literary agent and a great writer. It was great while it lasted, but he recently procreated so all content will likely be replaced with baby photos from now on)

    • Among James readers – the only demographic I have stats on – Chrome is close to overtaking Internet Explorer. Already more people use it than Opera and Safari put together. Meanwhile, Firefox is as dominant among James readers as IE is among the internet at large: a huge 70% share.
    • Eight people read James on their iPhones. One person reads it on his PS3. I applaud him.
    • By a very narrow margin, most people reading this sentence have never been here before. ‘Sup?
    • I have forty-three nearly-finished posts in my drafts folder.
    • We’re coming up to three thousand comments. It’s hard for me to contemplate that without part of my brain prolapsing.

    Chris Livingston: Damn! I only have thirty-three nearly-finished posts in my drafts folder. Once again you have bested me, sir.

    I was all into Chrome but now I'm back to Firefox, because Chrome doesn't recognize line breaks in Wordpress for some reason. So if I save a draft it presents it back to me as one big block of text. If they fix that, I'll come back.

    Ledundead: Chris, do you think that's why 1fort wouldn't letus do those killbar things for a while? .../1fort.png

    spuzman00: Glad to see that you're still alive. I was worried something had happened.

    SenatorPalpatine: I'm glad you're still here as well. I'm a chrome user, very happy with it. Can't wait to see what will happen to it later on. (it's only what, a week old? two?)

    Thanks for the update, looking forward to more stuff. (Though I don't care much for the Spore stuff.)

    Personally, I want to see more of the random audio clips. And whatever else you feel like posting. :)

    Octaeder: Hmm, that user reading through a PS3 was probably me and it was only to show a friend the Sackboy spore creature in Field Studies 5. Anything more strenuous on that browser tends to make the eyes bleed.

    roburky: Heh. "fairly" infrequent? There's only been one new post since I first linked anyone to it.

    Tom Francis: I tried to avoid making it sound like a criticism, because of course infrequent blogs are the ideal ones to subscribe to.

    Mr. Brit: I have read James on my PS3 and my iphone! Win!

    Kazill: I'm currently test running chrome, and so far, it kicks ass. It's fast, efficient, and nice looking.

    Also, I'm one of those people reading this on an iPhone, only actually it's an iPod Touch. They can't tell the difference yet.