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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

The Shadow Line Lines In The Shadow Line

The Shadow Line is finished now, and it was good until it got a bit wanky at the end. It’s nice to have something with a plot that genuinely requires some processing between episodes, and the cast has made me a fan of four of five actors I’d never seen before.

But a lot of characters felt the need to laboriously explain how the plot related to the broader themes the writer intended to touch on, some could not leave a room without valedicting six to ten separate times, and more than ever before, they would not stop trying to get the words ‘shadow’ and ‘line’ into the same sentence.

OK: “I might have a shadow on a line” is part of the plot, and if you tell me that’s the real cop lingo for an inside man on a drug deal, I can’t dispute it. But it’s so close to the title that no-one can hear it without a reflexive immersion break of, “Hey, that’s like the title of the show!” And it isn’t actually the title of the show.

I mean, it doesn’t explain it or give it any extra meaning. If a shadow is an inside man and a line is a drug deal or recurring drug deal, what’s a shadow line? A sentient drug deal that agrees to tell the police about itself?

So it gets painful when they mix four or five of these mentions with awkward references to “crossing the line”, “finding the line”, and subsequently attempting to “walk the line”, all while having to “live in the shadows”, “run to the shadows”, or “write significant-sounding dialogue for a show named The Shadow Line. From the shadows. Line.”


Bret: Ever seen Justified?

Title drops fairly often there. But it's worth it, because Raylan Givens is great fun.

Timothy Olyphant, just being charming and shooting criminals.

Jason L: Werll, grammatically a shadow line could be a 'line' that's run by a 'shadow'.

I finally saw LA Confidential yesterday; that makes this the second time in 24 hours, and in 29 years, that I have seen a person use 'to valedict'.

Tony E: Damn it, Tom, you go too far. There's a line, and you've just crossed it. And now, standing on the other side of that line, you've got between it and the sun in some way.

Dan P: I'm bemused at the praise that Shadow Line has been getting. I couldn't even make it past the first episode as some of the writing drove me up the wall. Off the top of me head -

The 'tough' sergeant belabouring the "You're a word beginning with C" line past the point of incredulity.

The boss walking into the office where he works every day and saying "Oh, you can't smoke in here any more" and chewing a pencil. A pencil that gets close-up camera focuses. Several times.

The commander and Gabriel going to visit the dead-eyed parents and the commander offering him a lift. Because, you know, having driven there seperately I'm sure Gabriel just wanted to leave his own car there.

Personally I thought it felt horribly strained. Did it get better, or if I hated the first episode would I have hated the rest?

Jonn: You forgot to mention all the corresponding "light" references, starting with the first scene of the series. Also, it's fun to try and figure out which characters on each side of the line are mirrors or references to each other. Starting with Jay Wratten vs. Honey. Giggling, amoral near-sociopath vs. grumpy, upstanding cop. Bede Vs. Gabriel: Lawful Evil vs. Neutral Good.

It's not realistic, Dan P., but I found it interesting. I hear that a lot of people found it pretentious. Let's just say your mileage may vary.

roBurky: I didn't get through the first episode. I couldn't find anything to care about.

zee chen: Hated it. Totally hated it. Depressing, all the good people are murdered and it was horrible and dark.
I thought it would redeem itself but it never did. I do not want to live a world like this one.