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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

    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.)