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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.

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

Homelessness In The Sims 3

Clever creative type roBurky has just put up the significant first chunk of an in-game diary/experiment/story he’s been working on: Alice and Kev. He’s made a father and daughter in the Sims 3 mismatched, homeless and destitute, then tried to manage their sad lives as best he can.

He’s updating it pretty rapidly, so subscribe to mainline it through your RSS vein.

Naturally it’s funny. But the grim honesty with which the Sims 3 ends up modelling the self-perpetuating consequences of being dispossessed in a dysfunctional family is actually quite affecting. That’s not something you often get in a game diary, and Robin’s quiet observational tone brings it out well.

Also pants.

J-Man: Oddly evocative.

Alex Holland: The constant green smoke rising from their armpits only adds to the sense of pathos.

Rabdsquirlz: So did he just give them an empty lot or did he lovingly craft something destitute.

Lack_26: Ah, this is rather good.

roBurky: Thanks for the link, Tom! I'm glad someone else likes that distant pants shot.

I'd been doing this as forum posts at Quarter to Three over the weekend, but people had been emailing me asking that I put it somewhere easier to link to.

Rabdsquirlz: I gave their home lot a couple of park benches, and then filled it with brambles and bushes like an overground abandoned park.

Bobic: Awesome

Cautiously Pessimistic: Excellent experiment, and the telling of it is well done. I'm inspired to try my own, though I think I'll only play the child and leave the adult to roam free.

Jazmeister: Aww, I thought for a minute the Sims 3 modelled homelessness. The closest thing I've tried is modelling a set of little detached houses on the same lot in Sims 2 and trying to get them to stay apart. It wasn't fun.

This is an inspired idea, and it's written really well! I love the bite-sized post length and excellent screens. Proper excellent web writing, sir, and I shall say so closer to the source in a minute.

waste_manager: That blog is exceptional. Makes me want to but the Sims but I just cant afford the £30 for a game I'm not even going to play much. *sadface*

IdleHands: Really enjoying this blog, not surprising since after reading RoBurky's Space Rangers article I immediately bought the game.

I did a similar thing to this when I started playing, I wanted to see if I could create a truly homeless character by never living in my own place. The NPC's really seem to take pity on you, I've been found rummaging in peoples bins or fishing in their ponds only to be invited inside, where upon I would knock up anyone I could and steal anything available to my grubby mitts. Yeah, I created a truly self-centered character, so much so I started to hate him myself.

Ludo: In an odd moment where gaming subculture popped its head into the mainstream press for a moment, there was a small article about Alice and Kev in the Metro this morning.

roBurky: Ludo: Do you mean their online article, or was it in the physical newspaper as well?

Ludo: It was in the physical newspaper in the entertainment section, in the top left corner of a right side page if I remember. I'm afraid the paper's in a bin in the middle of Birmingham somewhere so I can't scan & send it, but I'll keep an eye out for other copies.

roBurky: Wow.

Was it the same as their online article? http://theridiculant... ...-sims.html

If you could manage to get a scan, that would be great.

Dante: You know, the Metro carried a story on Omegle almost immediatly after Tom talked about it. I'm beginning to think someone from there reads this blog.

Bobsy: You know, you have copyright over those screenshots Rob. TAKE 'EM TO THE FACKING CLEANAHS!

Bumface the Brave: Dante: Actually, that article was posted by Tom Phillips. Doesn't someone of that name comment here occasionally?

Tom Francis: Congrats, roBurky! I'm assuming someone on RPS will link it eventually too. Deserves all the attention it gets.

roBurky: I mailed Kieron with it on Tuesday. I suspect he's saving it for the Sunday Papers, though.

This blog is turning into a full time job now. I spent all afternoon answering interview questions for a canadian journalist, and two hours ago it got tweeted by Felicia Day and consequently exploded in popularity.

I'm trying to set up a page of links to homeless charities while the site is still popular. Anybody have any suggestions for inclusion? Particularly in need of something on the US side.

Tom Francis: Awesome! That's huge.

Tom Lawrence: roBurky, I couldn't be happier for you that this blog has broken out in popularity in the way that it has.

Ludo: I did a search but I couldn't find the paper I'm afraid. The text in the paper was identical to the Metro website it just lacked the screenshot.

A couple of things on my blog got into the Sunday papers w/o newspaper coverage so this'll surely get a mention in the Sunday Papers this weekend. The Felicia Day link is a big win also. it's a great idea presented really well, and it deserves the attention, as it is excellent.

'Fraid as a UK fella I don't have any US homeless charities to suggest but kudos for reaching out to those charitable organisations. The best thing about the blog is that slightly melancholic angle, as Tom meniotned, it is funny, but there's something genuinely touching about their plight.

Keep up the great work :)

roBurky: Ok, thanks Ludo!

Bobsy: It's probably my duty or something to mention the YMCA as they're my employer and everything. Not 100% a homeless charity*, but they're pretty awesome.

But anyway yeah, they're fine people to have in a crisis.

*actually dependent on which local YMCA you're at, since each one is a seperately registered charity and has a slightly different remit - some being super big on homelessness, others shithot on gyms, and so on.

Bobsy: Oh, I guess this for the international umberella part of the YMCA:

Lack_26: I have the article here in my hand, I'll scan it as soon as possible if you want... just have to find the right plug.

Tom Francis: Odd. Alice and Kev was the latest story on the News segment of the official Sims 3 site when I looked this afternoon, but now it's gone: http://www.thesims3.... ...unity/news

Put it back, dicks!

roBurky: It's showing up on there for me.

My launcher seems to get a different news feed to that, but others say it shows up in theirs. I think it's maybe only the US players that are being presented with the link when they load up the game.

That link is where most of my traffic is coming from, but it goes to the first post of the story, skipping the intro, which has led to a few confused comments from people who don't quite understand what they're reading.

My favourite coverage, however, has been from the lovely Tom Chick, who was one of the people who encouraged me to put it onto a blog in the first place: ..._wetti.php

The_B: Yeah - it was there in my news feed before I went to work tonight (also a UK person) - unfortunately can't check now I'm actually at work, so no idea if it's dissappeared.

Also Tom: I'm suprised there hasn't been some kind of PCG Sim-cast after the success of the Spore one - surely PCG readers would love to share their creations with each other? (Although again, can't physically check how that would be possible, if it is.)