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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

Ludum Dare 19

I’m going to enter Ludum Dare this weekend. It’s a competition where you have to make a game in 48 hours, based around a theme. Right now the theme voting is still going on, and will only be announced when the competition starts in four hours. I’m exhausted so I’ll be asleep by then, ready for an early start tomorrow.

I’ll be using Game Maker, and an amazing program I only just discovered while reading the Ludum Dare rules: sfxr. It generates sound effects according to some sliders you set, and you only have to click the preset buttons a few times to realise this or something similar is where all Spelunky’s sounds must have come from.

When you enter Ludum Dare, you can decide to go for the competition, or the jam. In the compo, everything must be your own work and the theme is not optional. Those games are rated by participants in various categories. In the jam, you can work in teams, take an extra day over it, and the rules are pretty loose – you just won’t be judged.

Unless the theme is awful, I’ll be going for the competition. Right now it looks like the forerunners for theme are Discovery, Depth and Containment, which I like a little, not much, and a lot, respectively. I thought I’d be okay with any theme, but some of the finalists are stuff like “Text input action game”, “Game based on a year” and, no kidding, “Don’t die”. If it’s any of those, I will almost entirely ignore them and maybe just go in for the jam.

I’ll probably blog my progress, and try to do a time lapse video. I may end up with nothing – I’m not fast, experienced, or good at judging scope yet, and I plan to eat, sleep and take breaks. My God have mercy on my soul.


Grill: More power to your arm! I'm hoping the theme is "themes" or something equally wanky.

Ludo: Best of luck, Tom! Even if you don't end up with a finished entry, it'll be fun to see the ideas, and manic "fuck fuck fuck there's no time" decision making process.

Phydaux: Good luck! I did a couple of these sort of code challenges back in the old days of QBasic. Good fun and full of stress as you rip your hair out trying to fix that last-minute game-breaking bug.