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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


“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.