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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

The Nameless Mod Is Out, Apparently Great


I’ve been waiting for this enormous, surreal, self-referential net-culture conversion of Deus Ex for ages. It finally came out today, so I immediately carried on playing the game I was reviewing this weekend and then sat outside and wrote it up and then cooked a meal and watched a bit of TV and talked to Kim for a while. But then, right away, I read a review of it.

Richard Cobbett gives it an enormous and extremely enthusiastic write-up on his blog, which makes a good read while the 923MB file is downloading. Lead Designer Jonas Wæver often chimes in here on James, so I’m glad to hear his work wasn’t wasted. I’ll update this post once I’ve given it a fair shake.

If you find your reading and connection speeds are such that you finish Richard’s review some minutes before the mod itself has downloaded, I can recommend from first-hand experience writing a blog post about its availability and the fact that you haven’t played it yet. It leads immediately to enormous popularity and profit.

Update: I’ve played it! A bit. I did the whole training section and watched the intro in full, so I didn’t actually get far into the game proper in the time. I dig the manned security camera mechanic, whereby you can eliminate the guy watching the monitors to neutralise one.

It was actually a guy watching monitors who saw me when I was sneaking around the apartment vents, though, and I had to grab a screwdriver from his desk to stab him in the back of the head with as he set off the alarm. That screwdriver saw some pretty heavy use before I finally succumbed to the summoned security forces, so I think I need to up the difficulty. And not sneak around stabbing security guards with screwdrivers.

All very impressive, and Richard is right, it adopts the Deus Ex motifs well. The voice of the main character seemed particularly good, as far as I played.

Jonas: I will now demonstrate my amateurism by being the first to comment on your blog post about my project.

I am glad to hear you enjoyed downloading The Nameless Mod! I'm also pleased that you liked Mr. Cobbett's review, as I generally found it a positive experience as well.

And thank you for the namedrop. I may now die a happy man :P

Now I hope you'll excuse me as I go back to helping people get atrociously old Deus Ex to run on their ludicrously powerful quad core Windows Vista machines.

Belcher: Go Jonas!

Mobba: Jonas, will you marry me?

MartinJ: Oh.

Oh, God.

Ben Abraham: @Jonas

You mean to tell me that you've actually been able to get DX running on Multicores? I just give up in frustration and break out the old, busted up Pentium 3 laptop. =P

Archagon: Eh? DX runs perfectly fine on my Q6600.

Chris Evans: I shall be blogging about TNM later, then we shall see who has blogged about it better Tom!

Jonas: Mobba: If the dowry's right.

Ben: Yes, the original game has its flaws, but a guy called Hanfling has made custom launchers (new .exe) for all the old Unreal engine games, and we've packaged it with The Nameless Mod so it should work on multicores by default. It also fixes an issue with speedstepping on laptops.

Of course that doesn't stop people from getting the strangest errors, but I think the mod works for most people.

Chris: Fine I shall have to start obsessively refreshing your blog as well then!

Chris Evans: Jonas - give it time, I am working away hard on some uni work, something will appear sometime today though ;)

Jonas: I am a patient man, Chris.

But not that patient.


J-Man: ARGH my PCG cover disc won't work, and more importantly I can't get at blunt force trauma!

Oh, and what's this about Deus Ex?

Pentadact: BLUNT.

Must make a website for it at some point, I link one that doesn't exist in All Over this month.

J-Man: Oh please do. I'm gonna try using a different computer and put it on my network. Let's hope that

Belcher: @ Ben, I always just had to set the affinity to a single core. If you don't know how, it's easy. Just run the game, press ctrl-alt-dlt, right click the DX exe, click set affinity, and make sure only 0 is checked.

It might not work for vista / quad cores, but it's always worked for me (XP & Dual Core.)

Paul: Weird.I have Deus Ex GOTY edition, I installed widescreen patch and HDTP and everything works flawlessly, with core 2 duo 3.16ghz and gtx280 on winXP SP3.

I am looking forward to playing the mod, though I am gonna get to it later (I am in the middle of Crysis and GTA4 right now).

TooNu: 7 years......7 long years of waiting...I... will call in sick this week.

Qazi: I spent an hour listening to Chris the Critic(?) in the Fan Fiction Store talk about Deus Ex AI theory. My word, this mod is awesome.