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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

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.