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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.

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

Gunpoint Delayed To… I Don’t Know, Christmas?

Game release dates should probably be phrased as “I don’t yet know why the game won’t be ready in July.” I’m changing this for Gunpoint to “I don’t yet know why the game won’t be ready by Christmas.”

It’s going well now, actually. But here are the two things I didn’t know when I predicted July:

  1. Rewriting the collision system, which I had planned for, would take an amount of time I had not planned for. It would also send me quietly mad on Twitter.
  2. Integrating new art and animation, which I had planned for, leaves the game pretty much unplayable until it’s done. This, I hadn’t planned for.

2 means I can’t make much progress on the game’s levels while John is still working on the character art, because you can’t make what you can’t play. He’s burning through it super fast, though, and it’s starting to look awesome in-game. The player character, Conway, has just the right mix of super-spy suave and silliness. Here’s one of my favourite animations for him so far:

All the basic movements are already done for the player character, so all I really need is for one guard type to be jumpable-on and punchable-in-the-face. That’ll be enough to make actual levels that work, even if a lot of the poses and sprites are placeholder. As before, I really have no clue how long that part will take.

Meanwhile Fabian has been creating a gorgeous logo concept – one that combines an elegantly simple icon I can’t believe I didn’t think of, but in the context of a sumptuous image that gets across the rainy city atmosphere. I’m not quite ready to show that yet.

80% of development takes 10% of the time you think it will, and 20% takes 800%. It’s much easier and nicer working without fixed deadlines, so I’m not worried about how long it takes. There’s no feature-creep: my idea of what the finished game will be has been fixed for a long time now, and we’re getting significantly closer to it all the time.

So let’s say Christmas, and I’ll tell you why it isn’t Christmas this Christmas. Sorry it’s been a while, by the way – follow @GunpointGame on Twitter for more regular updates and face-palming.

Dan Lawrence: Conway looks very suave on the monkey bars.

Still super excited for this, and reading more of your thoughts, struggles and triumphs in indie game development. Hopefully you are writing a secret diary on it somewhere.

JohnArr: All I'm saying is we make Conway into grey box that floats around and I can be done with the sprites, like, today. We'll pretend it's a metaphor.

Rei Onryou: I'd listen to JohnArr if I were you, Tom. He's an artiste.

dual_barrel: Don't care when it's finished. Very happy that the development is nicely underway and it'll be released someday, in all its glory.

Gunpoint <3, FTW!

aiusepsi: Glad you're making progress, I look forward to seeing it completed!

Stuff like this is exactly what makes me mad at people who rag on companies/people like Valve who will shamelessly delay a game. Knowing long something will take is a dark art indeed, and so much the better if you stay the course, and release it when it's done.

TooNu: Ahhh Gunpoint news, I'm glad you are taking your time with it becuase I have wanted to play this for a year now (?) and as it's the most anticipated game of the year it makes for even more life-excitement...oh yea after Deus Ex...and possibly Battlefield, maybe also Diablo...and guild wars oh and then ToR. Can't wait for Gunpoint though!

Gunpoint problem?

Don't post them here, I'm a useless idiot! E-mail tech support with as much detail about your system and the problem as possible, and they can actually do something.


There's a page about the games I've worked on, what I use to make them, and what platforms they're coming to.


URLs get turned into links automatically. You can use <i>HTML</i> but not [b]forum[/b] code.