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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

Thief Deadly Shadows

Thief: Deadly Shadows Development Quotes

I love these – files developers make of things said during development, taken out of context. This one, via Randy Smith, is for Thief: Deadly Shadows, and I’ll paste my favourites below. For reference:

Randy is Randy Smith, designer on Thiefs 1, 2 and 3, went on to design Waking Mars.
Emil is Emil Pagliarulo, who did the Dark Brotherhood quests in Oblivion, was the lead designer on Fallout 3, and a designer on Skyrim.
Jordan is Jordan Thomas, lead designer of Thief 3, did the Cradle level, Fort Frolic in BioShock, lead on BioShock 2, writer and more on BioShock Infinite.
Terri is Terri Brosius, voice of SHODAN, and writer on Thief 3 (thanks Nat).

And the others I don’t know from their first names.

Terri: It’s like ‘Honest Earthman’. It’s like the name an alien would make up to blend in with human society. ‘I’m Frank Terran. No need to be suspicious of me!’

Randy: (RE: Linkin Park’s Xbox deal) I love it when ‘artists’ fake enthusiasm for whoring themselves out.
Mike D.: Hey, I AM happy to be working on this fish beast thing for Thief!

Emil: (holding one shoe) Oh, sure, I can get my map running on the projector. I mean, I can only find one of my shoes, but…

Ian: it’s just like real life.
Like if you were leaning and I shoved a big bookcase under your arm.
What you’d do is move to a bigger room and try to shake the bookcase off.

Serg: The other thing we can do is just skin a dog. So… if you can imagine a dog with make-up on…

Jerome: Yo, he’s Warren Spector
The gameplay injector,
Eatin’ other companies like Hannibal Lector
Warren: You be stylin’. (leaves)
Jordan: Okay, I think it’d be best if you never do anything that causes Warren to say that ever again.

David: What were you going to say dude?
Jordan: I was going to say “I need to get in my requisite Flesh Slam in for the day,” but that just would have sounded bad.

Jordan: Randy, you’re notorious for flying out of your body, passing through a wall, spinning wildly and then complaining that you’re confused.

David R: So, if you were a nine-foot fish-person-monster, what sort of treasure would you have in your aquatic realm?
Elan: Um, stuff that floated down, or remnants of my previous civilization.
David R: What if you could only have coins, forks, or bowls?

Dave K. (looking at source code): So over here, in the BlameUnsolvedMurdersOn() function–
Wendy: That is the coolest function name ever. They should have that at the FBI.

Matt W: How’d the killing spree go?
Dave K: Good. Nobody ever stopped fleeing.

Nat: Hey, I think "Terri" would be Terri Brosius voice of SHODAN and co-writer of Thief: Deadly Shadows. :)

Tom Francis: Mobygames says you're right! Cheers!

Ray: Always loved the Quote Scrolls in those games – although not sure if these came from a different source later on. It's one of the more fun ways to implement a "look behind the curtains". I'm curious as to what that function does, though ;)

Devlosirrus: Could the "Mike D." in the second quote be Mike D, or Michael Diamond, of the Beastie Boys? I can't recall any instances in which Garrett fights a fish beast, though there is a frog beast in the first and second games. Did Mike D do some kind of uncredited work on the frog beast? Or did they originally plan to have staged rap battles between Garrett and a fish beast of unusually smooth flow and funky-freshness?

I guess we may never know.

S-writer: Fish beast is most likely Kurshok from Thief: Deadly Shadows. Because this is apparently Thief: Deadly Shadows developers quotes. Not the first two Thieves.

kinkywizard: This reminds me of shift clicking credits in fallout... good days... oh look, pez.