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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


Best not to know much about this film going in, so I’ll be vague.

  • I thought it was going to be primarily about madness, and I’m glad it wasn’t.
  • I thought it wouldn’t make sense, and I’m glad it did.
  • I thought nothing would happen, and I was glad something did.

It’s not a twist film; the quirk occurs early and almost casually. But it keeps dodging expectations by straying close to clichés is has no intention of treading in. That makes events feel natural rather than contrived, which is disarming.

Also on the positive side, it’s awesome.


Timmargh: I've been wanting to see this since I saw the first teaser trailer. Nearest cinema to me showing it is in Birmingham, but I'm guessing it'll be worth the travelling.

Dante: Wait, it's showing in Birmingham? Where?

I was about to complain it wasn't showing anywhere near me.

Captane: Looks really good, so is the whole cast 1 guy or do other people come in at some point?

Plumberduck: The majority of it is just Sam Rockwell. But Kevin Spacey plays the voice of his robot sidekick, and there's a bit of interaction with other characters.

You make an interesting point, Tom. I can remember four or five times that got tense watching it, expecting some twist, and then the movie either actively disregards it, or just leaves it to build. Really enjoyable.

Alek: Did you change the first picture in the post? Oh well.

The text in the Image with "Bay 01" on the wall immediately recalled System Shock 2 to me, for some reason. God, I loved that game, just played through it again.

LaZodiac: I've never heard of this movie. Must be a british thing like In Bruges.

I'll be picking this up, like In Bruges, once it hits the bargin bins in good ole Canada.

Tom Francis: It did come out in the US first, but if the release was as lousy as over here, it may never have been shown at your local. We had to drive out of town to a poignantly weathered cinema outside Bristol to see it.

Alek - yes, I changed my mind about whether or not the first image was clear enough to spoil anything.

LaZodiac: Yha, our theaters are to busy showing two diffirent versions of two movies, they don't have time to take in "foot note" movies.

On that note, the new management at the theater sometimes places the Rocky Horror Picture Show, so you never know what might show up there.

Palms: I live in seeing this film requires either catching a plane to the UK, catching a boat to france or downloading it illegally and watching it on a tiny screen. Why the HELL is the cinema here showing 6 showings of transformers 2 a day, and neglecting actual good movies.

Ludo: Actually hunted this down and watched it today, it's very good. As nice as the lunar vistas are, I don't think you'd miss too much viewing on a small screen, Palms.

I found it quite sad, a mood helped along nicely by that lovely recurring piano motif. It feels very human for a film set on the Moon and directed by David Bowie's son.

y3k-bug: Palms: Are you referring to Jersey as in New Jersey in the US?

Palms: I'm referring to Jersey in the Channel Islands unfortunately, y3k. =(

I'm sure there are plenty of places to watch it in New Jersey but here, there is only one cinema (although that one cinema does have 13 screens and therefore, no excuse not to show Moon at least once a day.)

Agent_Smith: I saw this at SXSW 2009. Went in with no expectations and was completely blown away. Awesome movie. I'd love to watch it again.
Pentadact you make a very simple, but important review of the movie.

You can find out if the movie is near you here:
http://www.sonyclass... ...dates.html

Josh: It's a real shame it doesn't come out in Australian cinemas until October

Bret: Saw it at a local art house place. Really good. The handling of the robot buddy was excellent.

roBurky: I want a Gerty toy.

Bret: With or without a "Kick me" note?

dejanigma: any word on when this crap will hit a shelf? I hate theaters and never go to them, even for my most anticipated movies... and this one is way up the list.. are they ever going to ship this on plastic?

bob arctor: In Brum you will be able to see it at the Electric on August 14th, or you can go up to Star City, it's at the Vue there.

Palms: I don't like the Electric. I understand the history behind it, being one of the first cinemas in England, but I found the sound was poor and the screen quite small (although sitting in a sofa in the cinema is pretty cool.)

bob arctor: I've never been. It's £12 a ticket and I'm a student. Easy choice.

Ludo: Ah the Electric, do they still sell beer and cakes there?

Dante: Not just beer and cakes but (last time I went) beer cakes!


Loved this. Although as someone else pointed out, it's a very sad movie.

I quite enjoy how it's almost delving into the ethical problems of the future and making us think about that. I think the only movie in recent years to compare it to is Gattaca. The type of movie where it was less about the sci-fi and more about how people are affected by futuristic scenarios. Very old school sci-fi.

One problem for me though was the little twist. The viewer doesn't know - technology wise - what is capable in the movie, so we don't truly understand how the characters are feeling when the little twist pops up. (We don't know that they're aware of clones, for us it's a mystery as to what is happening, but to them it must be pretty clear they are clones when they meet each other.)

One thing I enjoyed about the movie was that it left so many little mysterious questions for the audience to comprehend. For example, did the version of Sam Rockwell on earth know he was cloned? (Maybe I misunderstood this?) Why did his wife and daughter make videos for him if there was just tons of his clones up there and not the original Sam Rockwell? etc...

Dante: SPOILERS Obviously

I think the idea was that he did one full term of service on the moon, and then they cloned him and played the clones the videos he'd been sent. I don't think he does know.


Actually, I was reading on the IMDB that apparently in the videos his wife never actually mentions he is on the moon. She says things like "this has been really good for you."

So you can kind of work out that the video messages are from the time where he was seperated from his wife and the reason he sees an edit is because the company has cut a bit out that will make it obvious to him that the message wasn't meant for someone on the moon!

I think I'll have to watch this movie again as I imagine there's a lot of stuff like that to pick up on. I also reckon it'll lose some of its appeal second time though due to knowing all that will happen.

Roadrunner: I saw Moon and Pelham 123, Pelham 123 is better in my opinion, although both worth seeing. If you liked The Inside Man (Also with Denzel Washington O.o) Pelham 123 should appeal to you, if you like a more psychological thriller as opposed to action thriller, go see Moon.
Unless you can see both.

Bret: Roadrunner:

You are wrong.

Moon is better. This is science.

Dan: Science!

Fullbleed: Science! Energy! Science! Energy!

Roadrunner: It's like House MD or The Wire?
I know people say The Wire is the best tv show ever, but it's really not. The plot is sometimes too complex.
But yes. That too is SCIENCE v CRIME.

westyfield: I just saw this film (in Bath, incidentally. I wonder why it wasn't on there when Pentadact saw it?) and I have to say it was FANTASTIC. Go see.

Lack_26: It just got released on DVD here, saw it in DVD releases in the Telegraph, went to HMV at lunch and brought it without having a clue what happens (I haven't read a word about it other than your recommendation to see it). I'm so glad I did, it's a really, really good film.

Aeneas: Finally got to see this yesterday on the magic of DVD. The slowest but best movie I have seen for a long time. I assume that the sam clones die after three years so the one on earth can only be the original.

Cpt.Average: Just finished watching it at 1.30am. This is an example of why I favour sci-fi as a genre (despite the 80% or so thats worthless) - good sci-fi is REALLY good and extremely unpredictable. It has a pedigree that allows for not always letting the good guys win, which raises the suspense potential immeasurably.

Thanks for the recommendation =)