All posts


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

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

I’ve decided to let people play this prototype of my Grappling Hook Game at IndieCade East in New York next month, partly to force me to focus on what it really needs to be a playable game. After a week and a bit, here’s what I’ve got.

There’s now a second character who can cut through glass, and the grappling hook character can pull them up and swing them around to get them where they need to be.

The test level now has three buildings and five stealable objectives, just to give a feel for some situations and spaces that might come up. Obviously these buildings would have armed guards and staircases rather than holes in the floor. These won’t be the only two characters, either, though you won’t have to take them all to every job.

I don’t know if the game will be multiplayer – obviously that would be cool, but it all depends how hard that is to do. It will definitely be designed for single player first.

It’s starting to feel cool, now. Dangling from a rope to break glass or snatch things feels very heisty, and that’s the main thing I want to achieve at this point. It’s going to be interesting to balance that with the silliness: the grappling hook is just sort of inherently nuts, and leads to wacky stunts that don’t look realistic but are sort of hilarious. I’m not gonna worry about that clash until it really feels like a problem – there will be fall damage, and that might make some of these hilarious deaths rather than repeatable madness.

I’m posting occasional shots from development on Twitter.


anothercommenter: I'm getting a kind of Gunpoint-y vibe from this, is this intended to be a sequel? Either way it looks great, I'm really looking forward to playing this.

commendablecommentator: Just please promise me that you have a safe cracker guy, who is depicted as fat, cigar smoking, and wearing a cap. Also, the fatness could be part of game mechanic. He is hard to haul upwards maybe or something.

Xavier: If you get any free time in between games, you should make one or two unity tutorials.

Mark: Looks very interesting.

Local coop would be pretty easy to do implement, but I'm not sure how good the grappling hook would work using a gamepad. But internet coop is still very doable. There's a multiplayer tutorial here. ...ture=watch
Or you can ask me, I'd be happy to share some knowledge.

One thing that sounds a bit troublesome, is that with coop, puzzle design is quite different. You probably don't want a player just hanging around waiting for others to do their thing untill it's finally their turn.

Looking forward to the next iteration

Dan: Looks good, reminds me of the commandos series and that is no bad thing!

Can already see potential for a variety of levels in this.. Jailbreaks, bank robbing, jewel thieving. Awesome

Vartul: Hello. Firstly, I loved all your articles on PCGamer(I fell down my chair laughing at the Hitman Absolution article), and will definitely play gunpoint some time. :) Also, I love grappling hooks. I was sadly disappointed by Bionic Commando Rearmed as there was no jump. You must have jump. That'll give the player mobility and momentum with the grappling hook. Also, I think that the second character could be doing much more. Her mobility should not be restricted by the other player. Perhaps you could do something like mutual dependence? Also, please do make this game! I love the physics of the grappling hook! You could make this a stealth game more focused on mobility with the player(s) being chased by guards(some of which could have their own grappling hooks) after a theft and what not. Oh, the possibilities. I would be really delighted if you even consider any of my requests.

Alex: I'm loving this !

Can't wait to see the finish product, There is really a lot of potential here :)

Mike Z: Tom, I have been wondering as I have been following this if you focused on learning C# to start or are you just picking up what you need as you go along?

Trevor: I'm sure you have more things planned for this game, but if you're making it as you described, a stealth game where trying to avoid guards and climb up buildings, it'll basically feel like Gunpoint with only one gadget.

Zaki: This game looks really awesome, but I do have to admit that I like Heat Signature a bit more.

gnounc: TomF, dividing up specialties for puzzle stealth and switching between characters sounds a lot like the lost vikings. You should play through at least a handful of lost vikings 2 (a childhood favorite of mine), I suspect that will help you a ton. Multispecialists hests also smacks of monaco, a game I'm sure you're already familiar with.

Zetsu: Hoe make that the rope has a collider / hitbox?
Is the rope a LineRenderer?

Geetings Zetsu

Jason L: Rope collision covered in http://www.pentadact... ...-slacking/

iestyn: What if the other player WAS the grappling hook?

So you alternate the two players, swinging end over end. The first player grabs the ceiling, the second player swings under them and grabs the ceiling further on, then the first player releases and swings below, etc - it would feel kinda like the two hands of a monkey swinging from branch to branch. Controls could be as simple as 'grab/release', and you could add 'extend/contract' to finesse momentum by adjusting rope length.

5crownik007: Blublejshfuwbbllubulu
I seriously can NOT wait for these games, I mean, Heat Signature, and This! and all the other stuff! You are a treasure trove of good ideas.