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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 Greatest Team Fortress 2 Update



Out Reach: But it's so adorable that they don't understand the eternal reward and the dead ringer :D So many backstabs....

booshmee: Your Eternal Reward + Dead Ringer is the meaniest thing you can do to newbies. Once you've got that initial backstab (and thus disguise) they just don't understand what happens, sometimes even when they're right behind you. And the Dead Ringer... oh, the Dead Ringer. They ACTUALLY believe they've killed you! Wow!

Moni: I've got 800 hours clocked on TF2, and I have the Eternal Reward and the Dead Ringer, I still don't know how it works.

Alex B: Moni: As soon as you're damaged with the Dead Ringer equipped, you'll cloak and a dead body will appear at your location. Your target will assume you're dead, and continue on. You decloak, stabbing them with Your Eternal Reward. You then take their identity, as you've killed them.

Tom Francis: Using both at once is pretty much Hard Mode. Reward leaves you unable to disguise until you get your first kill, and the Dead Ringer makes such a loud noise you need to decloak miles from anyone. So then you've got to run those miles behind enemy lines with no disguise.

If no-one on the enemy team knows what the Dead Ringer noise means, of course, it'll work.

I never got the hang of the Reward - the penalty seemed far too great. I crafted mine to make a Big Earner, which is incredible with the Dead Ringer.

Andrew Doull: James: That's why the Saharan Spy set gives you silent decloak. Also you can cloak with the Dead Ringer at will provided there is somewhere conveniently high to fall from.

Michael Riley: I actually find that it's harder to play. Usually, you can assume that people are around the same skill level. Now however, it takes just a few good players to really tip the scales in favor of one team or the other. And there's nothing you can really do about it until everyone can work as a team better. Guess that means that the team-based design is working...

LeSwordfish: Ashamedly, i still find myself near the middle of the leaderboard.

In my defence, heavies everywhere.

MartinJ: I agree with Michael wholeheartedly. I was always near the top of the board in public servers, and I still am but overall I find it hard to lead a team to a victory simply due to the number of complete newbies. People who for example have no idea how a sniper works or what a heavy is good for, charging with a sniper into a group of soldiers or exposing the back of a heavy to any spy, literally inviting them for a backstab.

It's a little frustrating because as I usually play a spy, whenever I get a good few rounds going and I get to the top position these newbies automatically assume that spy is the best class to rake in kills and they also switch to it, and I've found it's incredibly hard to get a balanced team (class-wise) at all lately.

Out Reach: ahhh the cure of "the top player is class X, I should go class X as well!" total bane of any spy :\ You get a great run and go to the top, but then next round there are so many allied spies being bloody obvious, they spend 1/2 the time showing the enemy where you are.

Also Yeah, Eternal Reward + Dead Ringer works wonders if you take the full Saharan Spy set, silent dead ringer decloak is just monstrous.

Tom Francis: Is it really silent? The description just says reduced, so I figured that'd be quiet for normal cloaking but still quite loud for Dead Ringering.

I really want that, but man, I hate set bonuses. I don't want that gun, I don't want that hat, I got my own thing goin' on.

Madness: I've never been a fan of the Eternal Reward, but my Spy play revolves around the use of my Enforcer anyway. I use the Dead Ringer, and it's bloody useful, but I tend to get more gun kills than backstabs, and I like it that way.

Madness: Also, the L'Etranger is a crock of shit, in my opinion. Just not my bag at all.

Madness: And I apparently, am in love with commas, this morning.

I like, speaking like, the Shatnerator.

Chris Livingston: Yeah, I was in a cp_steel match with a bunch of new players and some pro was absolutely dominating with the Dead Ringer. Steel, naturally, meant all the new players were completely lost, and they didn't know how the Ringer worked, so it was just a slaughter. And shouting "Dead Ringer" doesn't help because they don't know what it is. So I basically just had to abandon the objectives and run around double-killing the same damn Spy all night. Still. Fun.

MartinJ: I had a terrible round last night on koth_nucleus where the enemy team had a medic, a heavy and two scouts (an ideal setup for that map, at those numbers) and no matter how hard I tried nicely (and later, not so nicely) explaining to my teammates that we really need at least SOME similar classes (a soldier, a pyro, or a heavy or something), they all kept playing (very bad) snipers and spies.

I eventually managed to convince them after about 10 lost rounds, and all of a sudden, we started winning - with pretty much still the same teams.

Jackohbite: It's good when you get a bunch of new players who listen to your advice and start doing really well. Then you feel like you legitimately know something about the game, no matter how many times you got backstabbed playing a scout (43 at last count).

Delacroix: Hoo boy, if you thought spy was bad to newbies. Sniper is even worse. It's saying something if you can spawncamp the first stage of Egypt by sitting on the scaffolding around the first CP by alternating between spawn exits (and you're not a particularly good sniper).

The way they move straight for you is almost hypnotic, as is the way they unleash four spies on you, three disguised as you with your colored dot where their head should be (the heavy's head is higher than the spy's. try aiming at the top of a disguised heavy! And basically never disguise as heavy yourself).

Ultimately, whatever sensenation of uber-super-awesome-cool skills you will feel playing with the new blood quickly drains away and you're left with a team of copycats who want to try steal your thunder. They might want to try steal fire from the gods first, sheeesh I only wish they would try to soldier rush rather than sniper or spy rush.

I don't think I've felt more like a badass since this new update. It's like kicking a puppy I know but...

verendus: On the downside, there have been so many new weapons introduced since last I played I can scarcely tell the difference.

verendus: The difference between the new weapons, I mean. Clearing up the ambiguity there.

Stick: The upside to all the wannabe mass-murder Spies? I haven't had this much fun as Medic since the Early Days. (Slice, dice, put head on ice, etc.)

... mind you, having to tell people over and over "nooo, it's not HAX, go read up on the Dead Ringer" is getting a bit dull.

Out Reach: Yesterday got 100 points in 1 round (2nd place got 30) meanwhile today got 30 Kills: 1 Death XD

http://i23.photobuck... ...please.png

I know it will not last... but it's just amazing how innocent everyone is... it's like the days before mass paranoia, where people didn't turn around suddenly for no reason 1/2 way through the backstab animation.