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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

Round Up Of Contemporary Television Dramas About Two Women Who Switch Identities

There are a lot of these, and I think I’m watching them all. Let me know if I missed one, I will watch basically anything with this concept.



Woman 1: daughter of a wrongly convicted terrorist.
Woman 2: juvenile offender.

Why switch? Both need a fresh start. Which should mean that switching achieves nothing, but oh well.

Is one of them rich and the other poor? Yes.

Does one of them find she’s better at living the other’s life? Yes, both.

Does one of them fall in love with the other’s boyfriend? Yes.

Does one of them turn out to be in terrible trouble despite their perfect-seeming life? No, actually.

What’s the quirk? This is the only one where the two women aren’t related and don’t look alike: they switched identities when they were young and no-one knew them.

Ridiculousness: actually quite low – they switched when neither had much of a life to slip into, so it’s believable that everyone they know now accepts their stated identities.

Fun: low, it takes itself pretty seriously.

Actually any good? Quite. Awful narration, but lead character is pleasantly vicious.



Woman 1: drug abuser in the witness protection program.
Woman 2: her twin sister, an affluent socialite.

Why switch? Socialite vanishes, presumed dead, witness uses her identity to hide from pursuers.

Is one of them rich and the other poor? Yes.

Does one of them find she’s better at living the other’s life? Yes.

Does one of them fall in love with the other’s boyfriend? Yes.

Does one of them turn out to be in terrible trouble despite their perfect-seeming life? Haha, yes.

What’s the quirk? The switch isn’t mutual, which leads to some awkwardness.

Ridiculousness: extreme. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s only way of expressing nervousness is to speak while rapidly exhaling and looking down, but everyone seems OK with this. A federal agent is actively investigating the disappearance of her identical twin by repeatedly interviewing her, finding her weirdly unfamiliar with her own life, and never suspects a thing.

Fun: absolutely – probably the silliest both in feasibility and sheer barrage of major, untenable plot developments.

Actually any good? No, terrible. But in a fun way.

The Lying Game

The Lying Game 2

Woman 1: sweet kid in a bad foster home.
Woman 2: her twin sister, an affluent high school socialite.

Why switch? Socialite asks twin to fill in for her while she goes hunting for their birth parents.

Is one of them rich and the other poor? Yes.

Does one of them find she’s better at living the other’s life? Yes.

Does one of them fall in love with the other’s boyfriend? Yes.

Does one of them turn out to be in terrible trouble despite their perfect-seeming life? Not really.

What’s the quirk? It’s the rich one who wants the switch, at least initially.

Ridiculousness: medium. She doesn’t really attempt to act like the entitled jerk she’s replacing, and she’s trying to fool her sister’s adoptive parents every day. But since the rich sister is out of town, there’s not much awkward clashing.

Fun: yep, in a high school drama sort of way.

Actually any good? Not really.

Orphan Black

Orphan Black 2

Woman 1: deadbeat rocker mum.
Woman 2: I enjoyed the moment this is revealed, so I won’t spoil it. Safe to say she has money, though.

Why switch? The mum is broke, wants money to run off and make a fresh start with her daughter.

Is one of them rich and the other poor? Yes.

Does one of them find she’s better at living the other’s life? No, to a hilarious extent.

Does one of them fall in love with the other’s boyfriend? Not as far as I’ve seen.

Does one of them turn out to be in terrible trouble despite their perfect-seeming life? Yes.

What’s the quirk? Again, I think they’re best left unspoiled. There are several.

Ridiculousness: high.

Fun: enormously. Milks all the drama, humour and panic imaginable out of a single identity switch.

Actually any good? Yep, brilliant. Freakishly good performances from the lead, mad plot, fun characters, lots of mysteries.

Ankur: Glad you mentioned Orphan Black. It's the best thing I've seen on TV for a very long time. But they burn through story so quickly (a very good thing) that I'm not sure where they will go in season 2 (unsure if this is a good thing).

Also, what do you make of the latest episode of the Newsroom? I'm not convinced by the new format, but guess it could get better.

Johannes: Note that if you google for Orphan Black, Wikipedia will instantly reveal the plot for you in the first sentence, so DON'T DO IT!

Tom C: Legend, Orphan Black has been getting a few good reviews, so I'll add it to my weekly watch list. Cheers T-dawg

Adrian: For the "small bites": There's an episode from the television show House ("Alone") that features a similar theme, as well as an episode from CSI: NY ("And Here's To You"). And from real life, if you're interested: the story of Whitney Cerak: there was a two-hour special about it on Dateline NBC, another hour on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and it was also featured on the Today Show.

BTW, Tom: sorry for the spam, but how can I contact you in official matters regarding The Gunpoint??

Caleb: Here in Canada, Space channel spoiled the main twist of Orphan Black during the commercials they aired during the run-up :/

On the other hand, they didn't say anything regarding my favourite twist: Appearances by Max Headroom actor Matt Frewer!

INespañolporfavor: I only know The Parent Trap (ss), and I have to assume that everyone knows them... You have to do a game with that argument (?

Daniel: So I'm not the one who noticed :) this happens almost every 1-2 years, almost all networks coming out with shows almost at the same time, ranging from thematically similar to identical. I also pretty much agree with your verdicts.

Revenge is a great show. I don't mind the narration. Some actors are a bit over-the-top, but there are enough good ones to give you a break. And I like how morally ambiguous is is.

Ringer... Gellar just shouldn't act, she was never any good at it. The story was ridiculous, but in contrast to other similar shows, at least it was paced well. Things kept happening instead of repeating.

I couldn't bear a lot of The Lying Game. It started out okay but became too Teenie even for my tastes very quickly. I missed Orphan Black, only saw the pilot. It seemed okay -- it's rare for shows with BBC involvement to be a full miss. But I saw it was listed as Sci-Fi, which is probably why I stopped watching. I can't stand sci-fi and fantasy, so if it's too "out there", I will end up not caring for it anyway.