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.
Last night I accomplished probably the hardest thing I’ve ever managed in a video game: going to hell and back in Spelunky. It only took 41 minutes, but it took me hundreds of hours of play – and about 3,000 deaths – to learn how to do those 41 minutes. Here’s the run:
To complete Spelunky, you just have to survive 15 randomly generated levels and then trick the final boss into killing itself. To get to hell, though, you have to perform a series of specific rituals in a specific order, using unique objects that crop up in different places each time, and then defeat the boss in a particularly audacious way to use his death as a stepping stone to the underworld.
And that gets you to level 1. Of Hell, the most dangerous world of one of the most danger-obsessed games around. Hell isn’t just a secret level, it’s a secret world, as big as any of the main ones. And at the end is an even bigger boss. Only by completing it and defeating him do you actually escape, and that’s what I did for the first time last night.
The interesting thing about this insane process is that I never read a guide to it. I heard about each bit of the puzzle by word of mouth, a stray screenshot, an accidentally read spoiler, or a Let’s Play that revealed more than I thought it would.
It’s a weird modern equivalent of folklore, an elaborate story about secrets and artifacts that’s passed from person to person by excitement. And those of us who pursue it have memorised every illogical step of the improbable tale. Some of it we’ve tried for ourselves, some of it many times. But until you make it all the way through, part of it is still legend, and that’s tantalising.
Remachinate: As you wrote in 2009, "In fact, it sometimes seems to be telling you in no uncertain terms to go to hell."
How unknowingly prescient.
Lily Fox: Secrets like this - and their discovery - feels like a relic of gaming long past, before the ubiquity of the Internet, before CD cover discs. When was the last time you learned of something as huge as this in a game by word of mouth?
Daniel F: Tom, you should mention also how the key items are inscribed on the door that opens to show you the menu screen. (In the original, were they drawn on the wall of the entry room?)
Tom C: Daniel F: I've never really paid much attention to the door before, but that's pretty cool - it even shows you which areas of the game each is in: http://i.imgur.com/A... ...pAXK6T.jpg
Michael: This run was amazing. It had everything: action, romance, pugs, pug romance. I'll definitely be picking it up on DVD when it comes out
Jason L: Of course, if you're quite lucky and a bit skillful you can skip the Eye and still pick up the rest of the chain. That seems like the most ideally tuned situation to me.
dh: Congrats, i watched :)
Found your site by googling tom pentadact (from the spelunky credits you lucky man)
Ninja Foodstuff: Wow, just wow! Spelunky is a game I'd love to play but at this point it just seems too intimidating. Seriously 4000 attempts? That's just incredible.
Jason L: The important thing about Spelunky is that almost every single one of them, right from the start, is interesting and usually funny. It is the antithesis of grind.
Daxar: I was watching a livestream last night where someone was attempting an eggplant run -- imagine doing all that run while holding an extremely fragile eggplant that breaks if hit by anything. This guy has been attempting this for weeks solid, and last night was the first time anyone has ever successfully done it in singleplayer. Suffice it to say that everyone in chat was super excited when he finally threw it at the final boss and finished the game.
sclpls: Congratulations! Of course, it's not over yet! Now you need to successfully do the eggplant run! ;-)
Colin: Awesome. I feel like a noobcake with 750 runs at the game but I've been to hell. Just nowhere near the final boss.
Did you see the article on EG with the 1st person to record an eggplant run?
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Deathrage83: I made it to the temple with all the necessary items and I guess it glitches because annubis was no where to be found on the first level of the temple. I also searched the second level and he wasn't there either. I've only died 1233 total deaths and I get better with each run so hopefully I'll make it to the elusive hell level soon enough.