Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and a free one called Floating Point, about swinging around on a rope. I'm on a weekly gaming podcast called The Crate & Crowbar, I wrote these two short stories in the Machine of Death collections, and I used to write stories like these for PC Gamer. I'm now working on a new game called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships.
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I started making Heat Signature mainly to figure out if the mechanics would be as fun as they seemed in my head, so I built all its systems in the cheapest, fastest, simplest possible way. That worked – it’s now got to the point where I’m laughing out loud at something ridiculous happening most times I play.
But the slapdash way I built it has the following problems: Continued
The reason it’s been a while since I last showed off my space stealth game, Heat Signature, is that I want to use the next video to put out a call for artists and musicians to hire. So it needs to show enough new stuff that the press might cover it, people might share it, and it might get seen by more people.
Don’t apply for either of those jobs yet, though! The other thing I need to do before then is nail down enough of the game’s underlying tech to be sure of precisely what kind of art and music it needs. The way it’s coded right now is rather glitchy, so now I have to investigate whether it’s the fixable kind of glitchy, or the “Fuck this and try a different method entirely” kind of glitchy.
So I’m not going to show much of its current state, but I did put together a time-lapse of everything I’ve done so far: Heat Signature’s five month development in 2 minutes. Continued
(Screenshot by player QBAEY)
Floating Point is based on some grappling hook code I made for a game that I still plan to continue with some day. Since I was using version control for that, and hence for this, I have a log of every ‘commit’ I made during development: basically, all the times I felt my progress was worth backing up, and what that progress was.
With a bit of hackery, I’ve pulled out a list of those in chronological order to make a sort of diary of the game’s development, showing which days I worked on it and what I did. Obviously this contains some references to things only I’ll understand, but most of it’s in English, and it gives you an idea of how the game evolved and how long it took. I’ll highlight major developments or revelations, and add in when I tested and with how many people. Continued
The Magic Circle is an indie game in development by Jordan Thomas, Stephen Alexander and Kain Shin. It takes place inside an unfinished game, one you can see being built around you. And when I tested it, for reasons I won’t go into, my objective was to ‘Ghost the Sky Bastard’. Continued
Update: whether you join the beta or not, you may get a Gunpoint update that wants to install some standard installery stuff: a particular vintage of DirectX, VC++, OpenAL. The new engine needs to make sure these are all there, and they can only be turned on globally, so everyone gets ‘em. Won’t interfere with anything, but it will fix the no-music issue some might have had with the new beta.
We’re nearly ready to release an update for Gunpoint that’ll add Steam Workshop support to let you share your custom levels, and hopefully fix any remaining technical issues people are having with the old build. Continued
I got to go to the BAFTA Games Awards, whenever it was that that happened! Feels like six months ago, but I think it’s about three weeks. Gunpoint was up for Best British Game (against GTA V and Tearaway – lol good luck) and Best Debut Game (against Gone Home and Stanley Parable – lol good luck), and it was nuts to see our game up on the giant screen during a black tie awards event. But mainly, it was just nuts to be at a black tie awards event. Here are some things that happened: Continued
I’ve been obsessed with iOS/Android randomised tactical combat game Hoplite ever since Zack Johnson told me about it at IndieCade last month. You’re a Greek spearman descending the randomly generated levels of the underworld, and you have to deal with the steadily increasing demonic population you find there by moving carefully across a hex grid turn by turn, calculating each move to slash, stab or stomp them without letting them get a hit in.
Each level has a shrine that grants a choice of upgrades, letting you incrementally design a perfect build of complimentary abilities until depth 16, at which point they run out completely and you just see how far you can get with what you’ve built.
As the difficulty ramps up from there, the way your chosen abilities play off each other to let you overcome the endlessly increasing challenge becomes elegant, then balletic, then sublime. These calculated chains of sweeps, leaps and thrusts let you dance through a minefield with precision and grace, felling everything around you. It’s hard to fully explain how neat, clever and satisfying it feels – so I made a GIF. Continued
I don’t have an opinion about Facebook acquiring Oculus for $2 billion, because I don’t know enough to be confident of how it’ll play out, and that’s usually when I stop having opinions about things. But I do have some thoughts about some of the arguments being used on either side. Continued
Yesterday I tweeted from the Heat Signature account about avoiding a tricky problem with homing missiles by just increasing their acceleration over time – I called it AccelerationAcceleration. Today, Coriolinus replied to say that the scientific name for this is actually ‘jerk‘. This is amazing, and so is the Wikipedia page about it. Continued
Updated! see bottom of post.
Heat Signature is a game about randomised space ships that you can sneak aboard. These ships have a randomly generated interior of connected rooms and corridors, and crew that patrol those rooms.
Right now, there’s no pathfinding: the crew roam randomly. At some point, though, you’ll be able to set off alarms or cause other disturbances that the crew should run to. So the problem is: how do find a route to that room? Specifically, how do they find the shortest route to that room? Continued
IndieCade East was lovely. It’s a convention in New York, held at the Museum of the Moving Image, consisting mostly of people giving talks about games or showing their games. For example, Zack Johnson talked to Margaret Robertson about the crazy 11-year history of his still actively developed web game Kingdom of Loathing: Continued
Gone Home writer/designer Steve Gaynor interviewed me for his podcast on the Idle Thumbs network, Tone Control. In it, I guess we vaguely cover tone at some point probably, but also: Continued
I can now show you what my space stealth game is really about! As long as I don’t get spotted like three times in a row right at the start of this video. Watch that first if you care, if not, here’s the summary. Continued
I played Werewolf for the first time tonight, a game you play with just a few scraps of paper. I’ll explain what it is and the specific setup we played at the same time:
There were eight of us, seven played and Kim ran the game. She hands all seven of us a folded piece of paper that we look at and keep to ourselves. Written on it is our role, which will be one of the following – numbers in brackets are how many people are assigned that role. Continued