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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


2000-2003: University of Southampton

Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, First Class

Doing maths and philosophy at the same time made sense to me, but then in a Relativity module I found out that simultaneity depends on your inertial frame, so now I’m not even sure I did.

My dissertation was on the ethics of teleportation by replication: scan, clone, destroy the original. Like in that movie I can’t mention, because it’s a spoiler for that movie.

2004-present: writer and editor at PC Gamer

Games Media Award for Best Specialist Games Writer in Print

I was assembling skateboards in a warehouse when a staff writer job opened up at PC Gamer. I didn’t get it. But later I got a job doing their coverdiscs, and successfully got myself demoted to writer a year or two in.

2012-present: director, Suspicious Developments

Finalist, Independent Games Festival Award for Excellence in Design

I entered Gunpoint into the IGF mainly to get feedback from the judges. Becoming a finalist was an extremely expensive accident: I tragically had to fly to San Francisco to attend the swanky awards ceremony and related parties.

The winner of the Excellence in Design category was Spelunky, the game that spurred me to make games in the first place. Even I would have voted for it.

TychoCelchuuu: So, is teleportation ethical? Does the answer just come down to whatever theory of personal identity we accept?

MrAndyDufresne: Is there anyway you could publish this dissertation? I think your readership would eat it right up.

Shaun: Chelchuuu, it's got to be unethical because of the "destroy the original" part of the process. There's only wiggle room for ethicality if the originals are just stored in stasis until the heat death of the universe or the "teleported" clone happens to die. That's for one-way trips, though.

With two-way trips there's a much simpler solution: Put the original in stasis, create a clone where it needs to be, have the clone do whatever it needed to do there, then upload its new memories into the brain of the original and destroy the clone. Actually wait no I just saw the flaw in that.

So yeah guess I'll agree with Andy about publishing the dissertation because I need to read it now.

TychoCelchuuu: Some people don't agree that destroying the original is unethical (the writers of Star Trek, for instance). And if it were obviously unethical it wouldn't have made much of a dissertation topic, right?

Sly: I know this is fairly redundant, but here goes anyway:
Yey Southampton!
I'm in my final year of engineering here and frankly this is the first time I've been excited about an alum from here (Aside from possibly Adrian Newey).
We really need to have you come down for a talk - after Gunpoint that is!

Gassalasca: This may sound weird, but to which primary and secondary school did you go to?

Jason L: A bit of previous discussion here: http://www.pentadact... ...-of-death/

TheDancingWalrus: I have thought about teleportation being essentially someone dying and another person being created, but -trying not to sound too philosophical- death is essentially just the severing of conciousness, isn't it? Every time you fall asleep or "lose conciousness" you die? No? You probably had considered that but I'm just wondering what your thought on it are?

Zekiel: Bloody hell Tom. Just came across this post while trawling through the archives of your excellent site. I did Maths & Philosophy at Southampton in the year above you. However I haven't yet made a wildly successful indie computer game sadly.

You didn't have Giampaolo as your tutor did you?

Your dissertation sounds fun. (Though I'm not sure any dissertations are fun while you're actually writing them)