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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

Month In Links: December

This is a thing I do now. Most of this stuff I mentioned on Twitter, but it’s not an ideal channel and I don’t like that I never link stuff here anymore.

Craig Mullins’ extraordinary BioShock 2 tribute art: ‘1959’. The first image in years to immediately become my desktop background at home and at work. I love that he can make such a concealed place feel spacious and calm, and it makes me want a game where we see Rapture in its glory – even if it has to be without the people. He’s a concept artist who’s worked on Halo, Fallout 3 and one of the Matrix films.

Hard On, by Withered Hand. The name would have put me off, but this came up on shuffle when I was going through Said The Gramaphone’s songs of the year. I love the friendly advice tone of the lyrics.

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Amazon customer reviews of a steering-wheel mounted laptop desk: everyone’s a comedian, most of them pretty good ones.

Man earns every World of Warcraft achievement: I won’t link it, but this was one of those strange stories where the only thing about the story isn’t true, and the people reporting the story all know it isn’t true. If it were mainstream sources, you’d assume it was ignorance. If it were the guy himself, you’d assume it was mendacity. When it’s disinterested parties who know their stuff, you can only imagine its borne of some kind of news desperation. It’s okay, guys, there’s plenty of news out there that actually did happen! You could report that! Long story short, he hadn’t got every achievement: a bug caused his total to be reported one higher than it is. The story therefore becomes: …

The Onion named Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind their film of the decade. An interesting choice – it would have been easy to go with There Will Be Blood without really thinking about it. They also make a good case for their equally surprising #2, another film I love. My list would be Memento, Serenity, Adaptation.

Just Cause 2 Vehicle Stunts Trailer: on top of everything else, I’m really excited by how good Just Cause 2 feels – the first game was only really fluid when you were parachuting. Here vehicles seem to have that same smoothness and momentum. Watch for the awesome jump at 2m52s.

Just Cause 2 Island In Chaos Trailer: Worth it for what he does after the end titles.

Jonty explains the London Underground’s mysterious Inspector Sands. I love codes.

Star Trek Online gives you ridiculously good in-game stuff for pre-ordering at various places. The worst use of game content and development time – as bribes to take sides in the puerile retail wars. Got me so annoyed I started an argument about it, which’ll be in the next issue of PC Gamer.

IGN’s Rogue Warrior review: “the hit detection is extremely hit or miss”.

A Claptrap in a tux. I just like this shot. I still haven’t played any of the Borderlands DLC.

Andy Dufresne is tweeting the Shawshank Redemption in first person, in order. “Oh dear God.” is a common update.

There really is a gnome of Noam Chomsky. Sad news via @icouldbeahero.

LightBox’s Trent Polack finds there’s a thread on the Avatar forums to help fans cope with the depression of returning to the real world after the awesomeness of the movie.


Cute but dark short by a Pixar animator, via Waxy.

roBurky notes that Calvin and Hobbes did the ‘where’s the future?’ joke everyone’s been driving into the ground back in 1989. As an eight year old, I don’t think I was actually tired of it then.

@ex0’s stupendous Captain Forever ship: like a flying cathedral made of rainbows and pain.

Facebook is now the size of the entire internet ten years ago. The average Facebook user spends 55 minutes on it a day.

Dante: Eternal Sunshine or Memento would be my favourite film of the decade, I'm a big fan of most of those you mentioned, aside from There Will Be Blood never really did it for me although I think LA Confidential was in the nineties.

Also, that ship is totally amazing, I have no idea how he had the patience to do that.

Tom Francis: Duh, you're right of course. Fixed!

Lack_26: That ship is a thing of beauty. I've been having more success than I usually manage with a long battleship design now, although as mighty as your broadsides are, you're still very vulnerable.

I did like the short by the Pixar animator, also it shows how closely I follow your twittering that I pretty much remember most of these.

Chijts: "a flying cathedral made of rainbows and pain."

I somehow need to fit that into a conversation somewhere.

Thanks for linking that Avatar gubbins, it makes me feel all warm and tingly that there are people out there more pathetic than me. Am I the only person who thinks the blue creatures look like some poor deviant art character drawn by a 13-year-old who's into WoW?

Chijts: P.S. if you liked Alma you might like these energetic octopusses: ...kjNfFaYl4M

Lack_26: @Chijts, haha, that was brilliant. It's amazing how good a short with no speech can be.

Preedy: God damn that avatar thread is funny!

TooNu: Yea that ship was awesome, I am still trying to build a hulk of green/alpha parts. It is work in progress but fun :)

And how do you come across an amazon page about some steeringwheel tray? a bit odd to just discover it.

Boxcars: On the offchance that you don't have enough links and want to enjoy something insanely delightful... I recommend this: ...FOIdhaJLo8

Jason L: Hm. Interesting. I'm not sure I'd go as far as 'good', but interesting. If it had been entirely alternate rather than alternate and obfuscatory, I think it would have crested the hill.