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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


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.