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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

Games I Don’t Plan To Make: Relativity Paramedic

I forgot part of the plan for this: your near-lightspeed space ambulance would also be indestructible and have perfect inertial dampening. So to decelerate, you just try to crash into all the debris you were trying to avoid as you picked up speed. So it’d go:

  • Accelerate away from planet – dodge debris!
  • When you’ve gone far enough fast enough, decelerate – hit debris!
  • Turn around.
  • Accelerate towards planet – dodge debris!
  • Crash into planet!


Eagle0600: This sounds like a decent mobile game. Especially the deceleration, which I'm going to describe with a word I stole from elsewhere: "Lithobreaking."

Eagle0600: *Lithobraking

Jason L: I think I've spotted a problem. We know what happens when a midsize rock going a few klicks per second hits a planet. If a relativistic mass hit a planet at relativistic speeds, there wouldn't be a planet left to cure anyone.

Coincidentally, I had never known of Queen's '''39' until a month ago. It's a melancholy sci-fi folk song about the twin paradox by the astrophysicist rockstar, what a world, and it is fantastic. I learned of '39 and Pokarekare ana at about the same time, and they tag-teamed my brain for five days solid.

(I learned of '39 thanks to Idle Thumbs' Kerbal Space Program stream. It's 3.5 hours long, but I feel it's worth watching if those who read this have time to watch things; I don't, but I've watched it twice and listened to it more. It's great both for Idle Thumbs content and for KSP LP. Part of that is that there's a punchline with a two-hour-long setup, taking the stream out in a blaze of glory.)

Philippe: Tom, I think you missed MIT's "A Slower Speed of Light" ...-of-light/

"These effects, rendered in realtime to vertex accuracy, include the Doppler effect (red- and blue-shifting of visible light, and the shifting of infrared and ultraviolet light into the visible spectrum); the searchlight effect (increased brightness in the direction of travel); time dilation (differences in the perceived passage of time from the player and the outside world); Lorentz transformation (warping of space at near-light speeds); and the runtime effect (the ability to see objects as they were in the past, due to the travel time of light)."

Daedalus: I really want a space sim that incorporates relativity. Also one that incorporates Newtonian Mechanics would be nice to ^^

Jason L: Not relativity, but check out Independence War/I-War 1 and 2 for some fascinating Newtonian space combat. You (mostly) command ships in the 100-meter class from multiple crew stations, with complex systems modeling, a unique point-defense shield system and a three-drive hierarchy. The first game and its superior expansion pack Defiance are pretty strictly linear and puzzle/gimmick-oriented, though with mostly fantastic puzzles, while the sequel is open-world.

Jason L: I'll add that I made myself nostalgic and went back to watch some of the pre-rendered cutscenes from I-War. They still hold up! At least, as well as they did at the time. The stupid (Mishima's decision) and ugly (people, President King''s voice acting) bits were so from the start, but they're fun to watch thanks to mostly good plotting and performances and a lively camera. Most of the presented sci-fi information gubbins is dense and plausible too!

On the other hand it's sad that these are still funnier, scarier, more interesting than most cutscenes 15 years on in genres more focused on human beings.

Also. the adversaries, the Independence Fleet, are typically referred to as the "indies". Cue much tittering.

Jonas: This sounds like an amped-up version of Hover (my favourite Microsoft game ever). I can't wait for someone to make it.

Jason L: Hah! Days later, ASSoL's devs release their framework.

humfuzz: Here's a really great relativity-centric game: http://testtubegames... ...aptor.html

It's a top down puzzler where you're a raptor travelling at near-light speeds. You have to dodge cannonballs using relativistic effects and solve colour changing puzzles, etc.

Jordan: Cool idea, gameplay sounds similar to Ridiculous Fishing though.