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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.

  • RoboLeg: this game would be PERFECT for mobile, and I’d happily pay 10 bucks or so for it.
  • Jepp: 1) Please keep critiquing games by building new ones :) 2) The non-hand holding, simple systems integrating...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • Spaceman Moses: One-eyeing this on my phone from the depths of my covers I lazily ask: what do you mean XCOM2 clarity...
  • kripto: For what it’s worth, I also like Morphblade more than Imbroglio. Although, to be fair, I’ve also...
  • Hitman header tunnel

    Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

    Far Cry Primal Thumbnail

    Postcards From Far Cry Primal

    Snowball jack header

    Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

    Kill Zone and Bladestorm

    Kill Zone And Bladestorm

    BAFTA Featured

    An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

    Sectors Header

    Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

    DXHR Open area

    What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

    Heat Signature Natural Numbers

    Natural Numbers In Game Design

    Pharma Header

    Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

    Writing vs Programming

    Make A Game Tutorial Thumbnail Featured IMage

    Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

    New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

    Her Story banner

    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

    Invisible Header

    What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

    Super Game Jam Header

    Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

    Shadow of Mordor Header 2

    What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

    Heat Signature Talk

    Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX


    What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

    Murder, She Wrote

    The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

    Heat Signature Wide 2

    Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

    Heat Signature Floorplans Header

    Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

    Gunpoint Steam Workshop

    Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

    Distance Header

    Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

    The Magic Circle

    Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

    Floating Point Blog Launch

    Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

    Floating Sine

    Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point


    What’s Your Fault?

    Hoplite banner

    The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

    Gone Point

    Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

    Heat Signature Thumbnail

    Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

    GRappling Hook Thumbnail

    The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

    Alien Swarm Heroics

    A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

    FTL Story

    One Desperate Battle In FTL

    Spelunky Banner

    To Hell And Back In Spelunky

    Game vs story graph

    Games Vs Story 2

    Gunpoint Breakdown

    Gunpoint Development Breakdown

    Max Payne 3

    Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer

    This is how you die

    My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection


    Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

    Skyrim Diary - Frostmere

    Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

    Mainstream Games

    How Mainstream Games Butchered Themselves, And Why It’s My Fault


    A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

    Dark Messiah

    The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot


    Arguing On The Internet


    Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

    Stealth Games

    Why Are Stealth Games Cool?


    E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

    Suspicious Manifesto

    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

    What Makes Games Good

    Seat Quest

    A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

    Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

    Beneath Suspicion

    Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

    Open Worlds

    An Idea For A Better Open World Game

    Level Up

    A Different Way To Level Up

    BioShock Ending

    How I Would Have Ended BioShock

    Meet the Spy

    My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

    Team Fortress 2

    Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

    Football Manager

    Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

    EVE Assassins

    EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

    GalCiv 2

    My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary


    I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

    Machine of Death

    My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

    Blood money and sex

    Blood Money And Sex


    A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

    Second Life

    First Night, Second Life

    SWAT 4

    SWAT 4: The Movie Script

    Maybe Back Up Your Google Stuff?

    This tale of abruptly losing a Google account without explanation, via roBurky, made me realise I should be backing this stuff up. Not so much because “It happened to him, therefore it will happen to me!” Just because the story makes you realise how boned you’d be if Google did shut you out, and how absurd it is to have total faith they never could. In all probability someone hacked this guy’s account and did something bad without his knowledge, in which case it has nothing to do with anything he did.

    If you try to explain how much stuff you’ve entrusted exclusively to Google, then replace the word ‘Google’ with any other company name, it starts to sound terrifyingly stupid.

    Backing up is surprisingly easy, though. You can’t do it via that weird Data Liberation Front thing they keep shouting about – that’s just for, like, status updates and Picasa for some reason. But for mail and docs, the two things I care about, neither method is hard.


    The simplest way to have a local copy of all your Gmail is to install a mail client like Thunderbird, which is free and quite pretty these days, and tell Gmail to let you download it with that. Click the cog in the top right, go to Mail settings > Forwarding > Enable POP for all mail.

    If you go with Thunderbird, the next bit is weirdly easy. It asks for your e-mail address and password, and then figures out what all the POP and SMTP servers should be automatically. Last time I messed with that stuff, you had to actually make a phone call to find it out. I am old.

    Then you just check mail, and you’ll have about 20,000 new messages. Any time you want to update this backup, fire up Thunderbird and check again.


    Google now has an in-built way to back up all your documents. Right click any one of them, and sneak past the two battling context menus to find the Download option.

    In there you’ll find an ‘all items’ tab at the top – click that and you can pick what formats you prefer for each document type, then click a big download button to receive them all in one big zip. Surprisingly it was only about 300MB for me (1,000 odd docs).

    Digging through all this old stuff has reminded me that for a brief golden age, a group of us managed to introduce “Snakes on a Plane” as a general expression of nonchalance – a sort of “Whaddya gonna do?” As if to suggest that in a world where snakes can be encountered on planes, anything less troubling is trivial.

    Person 1: I’m not even dressed yet.
    Person 2: But you got home before me!
    Person 1: Snakes on a Plane.

    Marc: Turns out Thuderbird's default setting is to sort mail oldest first. I didn't know that when I read the first unread message in my inbox, an email from an ex-girlfriend of mine saying how nice it was to see me last friday night. A night I have no memory of. So thanks for that minor heart attack Tom.

    On the upside I now have a decent email client. Goodbye Windows Live Mail!

    Tuuvan: Thanks for the PSA, Tom.

    One thing you didn't mention were contacts, which are extremely valuable (I know I use Google contacts almost exclusively). To backup those, click on "More Actions", select "Export", select the group of contacts you wish to save and the file format (I'd recommend Outlook CSV because it would be the easiest to access offline).

    Dzamir: Or just go to this link:
    And download all the data together as a zip file.

    dr_demento: Actually, the Data Libaration Front website has this exact advice on it for getting your data off Gmail and Docs, as well as all the rest of your data. It's only the 'Google Takeout' all-in-one download which is limited to status updates, Picasa, contacts and profile data (which is what Dzamir's link is pointing to).

    This twitlonger thing is a great warning against putting all your eggs in one basket, but if you're going to then Google is certainly the best basket - there aren't many that make taking your eggs out this easy.

    Madness: Leaving your eggs in any basket except your own seems to be risky nowadays. Just banking doesn't look as safe as it once did.

    Przybysz: The one problem I'm having with this Thunderbird program is that it's capping me out at 3499 inbox messages. That puts me around September of '09... Anyone else having this problem?

    Przybysz: Well nevermind then, the problem resolved itself...

    Morne: Lost all your Google files? Snakes on a Plane, man.