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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.

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: The Movie Script



“You let Messer get away?”
“One of your boys let Messer get away, I got the driver. Besides, these boots aren’t made for running.”
“And yet chasing fugitives is a marshall’s primary function.”
“It’s ironic, isn’t it?”

I really like Justified. Timothy Olyphant is a US marshall in backward Harlan County, Kentucky, but the show focuses at least as much on the local gang leaders. A white supremacist who finds god in prison, a plump store owner who acts as matriarch for a huge crime family, a sleazy security consultant who operates out of a caravan.

It conjours its own vivid version of this sunny, rural, booze-soaked culture bristling with guns and grudges. It’s a place where even the criminals – even the idiot criminals – address everyone with a folksy politeness, and speak in colourful euphemisms. And watching it feels a little like going there, to a part of the present day that feels like an older, slower time.

The store owner, Mags Bennett, was the main character of the excellent second season. The third’s just starting in the US now, and it’s already introduced some great new candidates for the role of lead antagonist.

moni: I quite like that Raylan has ascended to almost super-hero status. He walks into a room with guns pointed at him, he says something awesome, shoots everyone, and walks away.

I think the bad guys almost have super-powers too, like trick guns, and crazy buckets of lime.

Actually, it's almost Batman without the costumes.

Brian: Harlan is in Kentucky, brother!

But, anyway, yes! Justified continues to bring it. The best show on TV right to watch character actors be awesome in every single way.

Dan Thurot: I'm loving Justified. I was a bit worried that any new villains wouldn't be able to live up to Mags' constant aura of threat and control, but so far my fears have been allayed. Oh, and you're spot-on about the way everyone speaks: their drawling eloquence is sublime to listen to.

ff: Harlan county, KY

Tom Francis: Cheers, fixed.

Chynes: I only just recently figured out that the creator, Graham Yost, was also responsible for the excellent but short-lived show Boomtown. If you haven't seen that I highly recommend it.

Mikey Mike: It's a cool show but the problem with Justified, right, is that Timothy Olyphant is a badass and a smart guy who's rolling around town taking down total slack-jawed drooling angry-as-fuck-dumb-as-a-bag-of-shit morons.

It's like Superman beating the shite out of muggers. It's real hard to say "Man, Superman's cool, the way he batters those guys who are a million times weaker and dumber than he is."

I dunno. Feels like he needs an intellectual and physical equal to challenge him. I haven't seen it recently. Has that happened yet?

Chris: Boyd Krauter was (is?) a great nemesis, as was Mags. I don't think you need to have an exact evil copy of the hero to make them a challenge. What Boyd lacked in sharp-shooting he more than made up for in his insanity. Mags had enough charisma and smarts to be able to lead a gang and to not get caught. The security firm guy was just super slimy. Yes Raylan could just shoot them all but he can't do that, as he is trying to be a lawman.

sQUEAKYfOAMpEANUT: Hey Tom, I know this is entirely unrelated and you've been busy been a super-cool indie game developer, but have you had time to play the Mass Effect 3 demo? You're still one of my favorite gaming writers and I'd love to hear your opinions on it. I was a little disappointed, to be honest.