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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 Game I’m Not Making This Weekend: Red Snow

It’s Ludum Dare this weekend, a regular competition to make a game from scratch in a weekend. I don’t have two days spare, but I do have two hours and a cup of coffee, so I’ll pitch you the game I would make if I could.

The theme is decided by a vote, and ‘Alone’ won. However, ‘Kitten’ was also in the final round. It got more down-votes than any other theme, but I can’t help wanting to combine the two. Here’s my idea:


Top down view of snowy tundra. You are a badly drawn TINY KITTEN that scampers towards the mouse cursor, kicking up snow and leaving messy pawprints. It’s a zero button game: all you do is move the mouse.

If you stray far from where you start, you’ll run into a villager or two. They stop when they see you, and run to the north if you approach. They’re faster than you, so you can never catch up to them.

The further north you go, the more villagers you’ll see. They all run away to a village to the north, but if you get close to the village itself, they’ll flee that too. If you chase them, you’ll reach a cliff edge. The villagers will stop at the threshold, but if you come close enough they’ll throw themselves over to get away from you.

The other side of the ravine is a sheer wall of ice, in which you see blurry reflections of the villagers you’re chasing into the chasm. But your own reflection is wrong: far too big, dark and spiky. A rough silhouette of that more monstrous shape appears over your usual badly-drawn kitten avatar, and gets stronger the longer you spend in the presence of your reflection. Eventually, the kitten fades away entirely and you see yourself as the monster you are.

After that, there’s a small chance you’ll encounter smaller villagers who can’t run as fast as you. If you get close to one, you automatically pounce on it and rip it to shreds in a spray of blood, and you’re unable to control yourself until you finish devouring its remains. After that, any time your cursor is directly over a villager, you’ll accelerate to chase it down and eat it. The more you eat, the faster your hunting speed.

If you do kill a villager, there’s now a chance that the villagers you meet in future will throw rocks at you before running away. The more you kill, the more will try to fight you. The rocks knock you back very slightly, so if more than a couple are pelting you, you can’t catch up to them and have to run away.

After the first few, rock hits will make you bleed steadily, leaving a trail of blood in the snow. The bleeding stops if you eat a villager. If you don’t stop the bleeding, your monstrous image starts to fade and the kitten returns, still bleeding.

If you leave the villagers alone, or you kill them all, you’ll end up alone in the snow. After a while alone, your beast appearance fades and you start to see yourself as a kitten again. The screen gets darker as night closes in, and the kitten starts to tremble and turn blue. Eventually, its scampering slows to an unsteady crawl, it lies down, goes still, and is lost in the dark blue snow as darkness closes in.

“The feel-good game of the decade.” –



Segnaro: How poetic.

Inertia: I don't care if you don't have time. MAKE THIS GAME.

Jonn: James, what the heck sort of holidays did you have as a child?

BullDozers: I love this. Also the idea of games with a definite, and possibly very unhappy end. Like In Limbo, arguably. And no, Minecraft's *OMG END* doesn't count :-)

Veret: I used to like that quote about the fine line between genius and insanity. Now I know it's stupid; there's no line at all. What's it like in your head, Tom?

chequers: Now I feel terrible and I didn't even play it!

Aankhen: I’m with chequers. You’re a horrible person. D:


Jonas: I'm not playing anything that involves bleeding kittens, poetic or not :'-/

Caironater: I'll make it!

ThunderChunky: Has a very strong feeling of HP Lovecraft's "the outsider" to it... I think it would be interesting as an educational tool in primary schools to see which children are likely to become psychopaths as they grow older. Those that cry will be fine (if a little emotionally scarred). Those that giggle with delight as the first villagers tumble off the cliff should probably be euthanised.
Or something.

Pattom: If you don't have the time, Tom, then someone needs to make this. And there is indeed a strong sense of The Outsider here; I feel like you could make a fantastic game using some of that story's cues, especially while taking a nod from an essay about Hitman: Blood Money in this site's archives. The one where Tom notes that games can use environmental detail to color their protagonists.