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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 Newsroom

That leaked Aaron Sorkin script I wrote up a while back is now a show, called The Newsroom. It goes behind the scenes of a nightly news show with a grouchy celebrity anchor, and revolves around him, his new executive producer and the crew. This means I would watch it religiously even if it wasn’t a Sorkin thing – I have no particular interest in the news, but every show or film made about it seems to be great.

Newsroom, though, has been panned. The only piece I’ve read that was positive about the show ended on a bizarre and contextless account of an exchange that makes Sorkin sound like a patronising sexist prick. Particularly bizarre given his work, which typically mocks sexists, features some of the best female characters on television, and even has them competently discuss their differing takes on feminism.

Weirdest of all, Newsroom does seem sexist. It opens with the male star dressing down a female student for her dumb question about America, in which he takes pains to use “sorority girl” as a pejorative, imply she couldn’t possibly be politically engaged (despite her presence at this political debate), and claim America was the greatest country in the world back when “we acted like men”. If it’s meant to be a sexist character rather than a sexist writer, it’s awkward that a) he’s the protagonist, b) he’s so obviously acting as the writer’s mouthpiece at the time, setting up the manifesto for the show.

Most of the reasons to dislike Newsroom stem from that character, Will. His opening meltdown speech is half great (“America is not the greatest country in the world”) and half terrible (“But it used to be”), and that’s as close as we ever get to a reason to like or care about him. Some reviews object to the amount of preaching – I think the preaching itself is excellent, but when it does get old, it’s because people are having to preach at Will, to persuade him to stop being so pathetic.

Despite all that, I really like it. I’m not convinced Sorkin actually is sexist, I think he’s just misjudged how some of this stuff sounds. And I don’t think Will is going to be a problem forever: once he’s on air, we finally see his virtues.

The emerging news story and the crew’s frantic reaction to it is exciting and inspiring for exactly the reasons it seemed to be in the script, and that’s what I’m expecting more of. News is important, and live TV is tense – it has the potential to combine the virtues of his last three shows. It also has the potential to focus on the kind of emotional stubbornness that made Dana and Casey’s relationship get old in Sports Night, Matt and Harriett eternally tedious in Studio 60, and Will so hard to like in this pilot. I’m optimistic it won’t.


TychoCelchuuu: He's not sexist, he's just misjudged how "America was better when we acted like men" sounds? I don't see how that's anything other than sexist. At best he's unwittingly sexist.

Jason L: The character's definitely sexist. He said Sorkin might have misjudged the extent to which it sounds like the authorial voice rather than the character's.

Athatar: Not sure if you have seen this, but the Nerdist has linked a vid demostrating Sorkin reusing lines in many of his shows. Now this is most likely unintentioned but it demonstrates why his shows always seem to have a "deja vu feeling"


ThirteenthLetter: I suppose if you like having clapped-out conventional wisdom rammed down your throat, you might enjoy Sorkin's work. Other than that, not seeing the appeal.