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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

Mixtape: Ten Tracks Mostly From 2010

About the only new music I got into in 2010 was Said the Gramaphone’s round-up of the best music of 2009. So a while back, I asked Twitter for help, scoured The Onion AV Club, sifted through Spotify lists, and then pretty much went with Said the Gramaphone’s round-up of the best music of 2010.

Since I’m embedding a bunch of tracks from their site, I’ll also copy their referral codes for the buy links so any kickbacks go to them.

Apologies to anyone who recommended me something that didn’t make this top ten – I listened to over 700 tracks over the course of three weeks, so it’s likely I overlooked some good stuff.

1. Tennis – Seafarer

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The gentle crooning of Cape Dory would have made as much sense in the forties as today, and it’s about the prettiest concept album I’ve ever heard. The whole thing is a half hour holiday to a series of remote isles, each track a different nautical adventure among deserted beaches.

Marathon is the track Gramaphone picked – an almost too-sweet finger clicking ballad about exploring a coastline, and my favourite at first too. I ended up prefering Seafarer for the way it keeps shifting – I lose track of the number of hooks, and every time I find myself humming Tennis it turns out to be just a different part of this song.


2. Joanna Newsom – Good Intentions Paving Company

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I’ve never disliked a Joanna Newsom song, but they’re all so gentle and nice that I can’t distinguish between most of them. This is the one with a hook, and like a lot of artists who don’t usually do them, she turns out to be brilliant at it. The sharp curl of the chorus catches so beautifully on the way she rolls her unstressed syllables – she’s like if Holly Hunter was an elf.

It’s still sweet, and funny, it just happens to be catchy as well. So much so that I’m even happy to sit around while it takes a few meandering minutes to wind down at the end.


3. Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill

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I love a song that can’t shut up, like there’s some itch in the vocal chords that tickles in every instrumental moment. Crown on the Ground was in last year’s Gramaphone roundup, but its poppiness is filtered through such a vicious assault on the ears I assumed the rest of their stuff would be something like a western Masonna.

Sleigh Bells are nicer than that, though, they just like seeing what your speakers can do. Rill Rill is a tumbling, clashing pop song with no unwanted teeth, which makes it the most listenable on the album. Elsewhere, Run The Heart has fun blending chorals with an oscillator and cutting in thick chunks of fuzz. Then Infinity Guitars jitters without momentum for most of its length before throwing itself through an unexpected brick wall of gut thumpingly thick noise.

They love to play with the texture of sound, and I love to hear them do it.

4. The Decemberists – Down By The Water

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The King is Dead feels louder and brassier than the stuff that got me into the Decemberists in the first place. But that gives high points like Down By The Water a big, crisp satisfying sound that’s just fun to have around.


5. Menomena – TAOS

I had never heard of these guys, I have no idea what TAOS stands for, I don’t like anything else I can find of theirs on Spotify, but this track… God yes. Just the right mix of powerful riffs, fearless vocals and self-effacing lyrics that slowly turn sinister as the insecurities reveal their source.


6. Matt & Kim – Good for Great

Beep beepbeepbeepbeep beep. Beepbeepbeepbeep beep. Beep.


7. Belle & Sebastian – I Didn’t See It Coming

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About the only one on this list I was able to figure out for myself – oh, Belle and Sebastian have a new album? You think I should listen to that? Good idea.

I Didn’t See It Coming is an anthem written to be shouted, a punch on every syllable, but sung as softly as possible. It’s really nice.


8. Cee-Lo Green – Fuck You

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I love Fuck You for its incoherent impotence. It’s not a song about bragging – despite a disastrous ‘official’ second video that manages to miss both the point of the song and the video that made it popular. It’s not about self-pity, it’s not about betrayal, and it’s not even about putting someone down. It has plenty to say about the girl he’s lost, but she’s not the point either.

The chorus is addressed to someone else – the guy – and it’s a chorus for when you know why you’re pissed off, you know who you’re pissed off with, and you have absolutely no point to make about it. You’re not like, “Oh yeah? Well she’ll leave you too.” You’re not like, “Oh yeah? Well at least I’m better looking.” You’re not like “Oh yeah? Well I’ll get rich some day and make her jealous.” You’re like… fuck you.


9. Hello Saferide – Lund

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A gorgeous band discovered via Duncan Geere’s excellent collaborative Spotify playlist: Sparse and Wintery. You can listen to the lovely Arjeplog there, and it was a close toss-up between that and Lund for my pic. Lund wins purely on music, that trickle of piano has a really distinctive atmosphere that reminds me of a time and place I can’t quite name.


10. Radio Radio – Nine Piece Luggage Set

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I can’t stand hip-hop that’s about self-aggrandisement, money, violence or sluts. I am 100% behind hip-hop that’s about suitcases.

I can only understand about half the Acadian French in this song, but enough of it is in English to suggest they are, on some level, mocking the puerile materialism that leads hip-hop culture latch onto random accoutrements of anachronistic wealth ideals. But I love it for being so beautifully deadpan that after a few listens, you actually kind of lust after a really nice piece of luggage.


Lack26: I basically agree with all of these, I wasn't even aware that the Decemberists had anything new out, I really should pay more attention. Also, thanks for posting that Standard Fare track the other week, love it, haven't seen it in HMV though.

May I also recommend Hesta Prynn, great with her music, great with her fans, I've been a fan since her Northern State days but she's released a lot of material this past year. Not sure if she'll be your cup of tea, but worth trying.

TooNu: Track 8 is played on the radio all the damn time here in Gothenberg. 0800 it's on, 0915 it's on, 1117 it's on.....

They don't edit it, or leave out any words. It's just on. I'm fucking sick of it.

TooNu: Though I am liking 1 and 3. I like 3 more than I like 1. I think i've listened to 1 more than 3 though.

Anonymous: Now, to be fair all of your songs are very good and whatnot, but to throw my pick of something I found last year into the mix (not that it's from 2010, oh my no) have a song so hilariously crude that it goes straight past immaturely vulgar and hits the funny point. At least in my opinion. ...ASP72P2vY0

I'll just be going now.

Dagda: The Glitch Mob was the musical discovery that grabbed ahold of my brain in 2010: ...7PM-UMVud8

Jason L: French is a magnificent language for rap, hip-hop and aggressive lyrical street patois in general, possibly better than English. At university I lived with a fraternity whose DVD player had the amusing bug of occasionally spontaneously switching to another language track and turning on subtitles. I remember seeing 8-Mile playing and literally not realising for ten minutes that that had happened; it still sounded like Eminem and Detroit. In lieu of time to seriously explore, my personal .FR rap touchpoint is still MC Solaar, tracks including
Gangster Moderne ...DuPwIGq3Nw
RMI ...HLmruEe4ak
and La Vie Est Belle ...hh-liBF2qk

Have you seen Joe Versus the Volcano? I had dimly remembered it from Betamax days as a goofy forgettable '80s comedy, but I recently rewatched it and was completely blown away. It is cuttingly, gaspingly, bleakly hilarious with a clarion production voice; if it's not a Gilliam film in some way, it's his lost twin brother. Highly recommended, but I bring it up because of this wonderful scene about...luggage. ...ljOj6GVcnQ

I don't have time to take RSS from all these music blogs, so omitting stuff I learned from you I learned most of my 2010 favourites from that loveable scamp Stuart Campbell:
Bruno Mars' 'Marry You' - not via him, via Glee actually, not linked because I'm sure it's been saturated to death there as here. I like it. Sue me.
Weezer - (If You're Wondering If I want You To) I Want You To ...DIzMGh94vo
Emphatically not a 2010 work, but linked in 2010 Age of Chance - Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Noise ...XPcvksCs5c
OK Go - This Too Shall Pass (with viral epic video) ...ybUFnY7Y8w
Gorillaz - Glitter Freeze (and several other tracks on Plastic Beach) beep beep bep beebeebeeep beep beep beep beebeebeep ...5JDqGNXxCU
Sigur Ros in general, but most of Agaetis Byrjun in particular, thanks to that Minecraft waterslide video ...Ot39sgEMic
Arcade Fire - Wake Up via 'Science Saved My Soul' ...6w2M50_Xdk
Lots of Flogging Molly. I know, right? I do live under a big rock, actually.
Atomic Fireballs:
Man With The Hex ...sAq7p-3TO4
Flower in the Sand [no link found]
and Swing Sweet Pussycat http://www.myspace.c... ...s/28891351
and most of the rest of Torch This Place make me want to move parts of me.

I was within days of a futile search for 'that techno/metal song with a demoscene rhythm from some ad or something' when I completely coincidentally dumped my Machinae Supremacy collection back on my player and discovered it was their Cryosleep, which nobody has used in an ad or movie ever. http://machinaesupre...
Other notables include Masquerade, I Turn To You, SIDology 3, Soundttrack to the Rebellion, and Gianna Sisters
http://machinaesupre... ...ases/fury/

From my attack on the archives of the inestimable Slacktivist, A John Waters Christmas gave me
The Coctails - First Snowfall (I think that's actually a saw!) ..._C6IZi5Z8E
and a social justice post gave me Robert Earl Keene's Merry Christmas From The Family ...37xPiRz1sg
In the holiday vein I also wound up with Tim Minchin's White Wine in the Sun. Minchin's stuff generally isn't pretty or nice, but at least as sung by Kate Miller-Heidke it's heartbreakingly sweet despite the taint of pedagogy. ..._IjhPpsIm8

From you, Gunfight Epiphany; 'nuff said.

I finally got off my butt and tracked down the hilarious but legitimately cheering Eurodance from an AMV called Bouncing Through the Years. I'm rather proud to say I failed, literally for years, to even notice that the video was about Gainax' decades of leadership in jubble animation...until I saw that the song wasn't called that, but Megaman by DJ Otzi ..._EfiymGVdU . On the whole, Otzi in exchange for retrospective skeeve has been a positive trade.

...and PPPPPP ...Id=9022444

Phew. Dump complete.

Jason L: Of course I forgot one important one - I think this was 2010...Madeleine Peyroux ...bbi6ZpS_uI ...kjjrdZemzk

omry.hanegby: Hey Tom,
TAOS (by Menomena) stands for
The Art Of Seduction.

They're actually a great band,
I don't know what's up on their spotify,
but you should look for a track called "The Pelican" (from 2007).

Jason L: I randomly went looking for the info on Marathon today, and discovered that Google says this page was once in the /music tag, but it now is not. Site 7 bug?