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.
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David Joost: Hello, Tom. We sent you an introductory invitation...
TeaDrinker: I would say that having heat signatures should be...
There’s a new Deus Ex game coming, and there’s a trailer for it! It was all we could talk about last night on the podcast, until we’d covered it and moved on (about 32 minutes) to talk about other things. Listen to know my, and their, thoughts!
I’ve just got back from sixteen days of travelling: first to the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco, then to the indie game show Rezzed in London. I was showing Heat Signature to the press at GDC and to the public at Rezzed, but events like these are also huge meetups for a bunch of geographically separated friends – and people who are very likely to become that. So it’s been more pleasure than business, and the evenings have been as hectic as the days. Continued
One cool thing about having been a games journalist is that there’s a detailed public record of some of your favourite personal gaming experiences. I came across my write-up of the first time I played Skyrim, at a preview event, and re-read the whole thing. I’d forgotten what exactly happened, and reading the story of my adventure like this actually captured more of its magic than just firing up the game again. The game no longer has what I got from it that day, but the story does.
I’d forgotten how amazing the first 10-20 hours with an Elder Scrolls game are. Such a sense of adventure, freedom, a beautiful country to explore, a personal journey where the little stories you encounter get tangled up in the systems of the world as they react to your reckless decisions. Waiting for a storm to pass. Holing up in a shack for the night. Finding something amazing.
That build skipped the intro, and I start by turning 180 in an attempt to explore off the beaten track – it’s funny to realise the walled-off town I ‘discover’ up the hill was Helgen.
We discuss DA:I on the latest Crate and Crowbar podcast, and since it’s also up on YouTube, I can embed specific bits. The Invisible Inc chat at the start overlaps a lot with my post here, so let’s skip straight to Dragon Age, which I played for about 30-40 hours over the break.
I have thoughts on why the combat still feels murky after all this time, my experience switching from Casual to Hard, my lesbian Inquisitor trying to seduce the only two straight women in Thedas, the difference between this and Mass Effect, and the one great thing that’s the same.
As before it’s Tom Senior you hear first, I’m the one who pipes up at 44m55s.
What Works And Why is a thing where I dig into the design of a game I like and try to analyse what makes it good, hopefully to learn from it but also because I love this stuff.
A turn-based stealth game with randomly generated levels and no savegames. You have two secret agents with different special abilities, and you choose from offices of varying difficulties and rewards to break into and steal money, equipment and abilities. You break in by carefully peering round corners and doors, ambushing unwitting guards with your tazers, and hacking security devices from a special vision mode.
If you want a better idea of how it plays, I recorded myself going through one mission, and talked through my thinking and how the game works.
If you’ve been following my many Far Cry 4 videos over on YouTube you already have an idea of what I love about it, but if you’re interested, here’s the bit of the latest Crate & Crowbar podcast where we compare our impressions. I’m not the first Tom who speaks, I’m the one saying “I think it got off to a pretty shaky start”.
Don’t let me forget that I plan to do a ‘How to fix Far Cry 4′ type post at some point, too.
I think if I embed a YouTube playlist, I can make this post always show the latest Heat Signature trailer even when I change it in future.
Super Game Jam is a documentary series on Steam that films two developers per episode, working together to make a game in 48 hours. It’s discounted to $15 for the whole series right now, which is 5 half-hour episodes, the 5 games that were made in them, and a bunch of extra scenes and music from Kozilek and Doseone.
Episode 5 just came out tonight, and it’s me and artist/designer Liselore Goedhart making SimAntics: Realistic Anteater Simulator. We were given the theme of ‘Simulation’ by previous jammers Cactus and Grapefrukt, and told not to make SimAnt. So we simulated an anteater instead.
Third-person open world action and stealth game, with Assassin’s Creed free-running and Arkham Asylum combat. You’re in Mordor, it’s full of orc-like Uruks, and for reasons that were probably explained in all the cut-scenes I skipped, you have to use them to get to the Black Dark Lord Hand – who I gather is a ruffian. Continued
I’ve been away the last two weeks, showing Heat Signature first at Fantastic Arcade in Austin, then at EGX in London. I’ll show you what that all looked like below, but first I’ll embed my EGX talk so you can play that and look at the photos during the boring bits. From about 5 minutes in, you can see Heat Signature with some of the new art and music. Continued
I’m drunk to announce that Gunpoint is in the Humble Indie Bundle 12! Best of all, you get it no matter what you pay. No! Best of all is what else you get if your generosity stretches to the princely sum of ten dollars:
What is not a game, this is just an alarming selection of stuff. And for the first time ever, there’s also a $65 special edition that comes with a load of physical goods like:
This has been in the works for a loooooooong time, and it’s only thanks to the hard work of the guys at Abstraction that we have Mac and Linux versions of Gunpoint to make us eligible to be in one. I’m particularly delighted to be in this one, with such extraordinary company (two BAFTA winners!), because the biggest upside for me is the sheer number of people who’ll hopefully get to try our game. And when Gunpoint is nowhere near the headliner, lots of those will be people who might never have tried it otherwise.
Heat Signature will be playable at two different events next month, in the UK and the US!
I’ll be at both events to talk you through it and answer any questions with “I don’t know,” “No,” or “We’ll see.” I’ll also be doing some form of presentation at each, probably involving playing the game myself and explaining my plans.
Earlier this year I also made a game with artist and designer Liselore Goedhart, in which two players steer the tongues of anteaters and battle each other like disgusting slithery light-cycles as they compete for ants. That’s SimAntics: Realistic Anteater Simulator, and it will also be playable at Fantastic Arcade!
Someone named Tomasz Waclawek is making a side-scrolling stealth game, with mouse-controlled jumping, set in office blocks with smashable windows, and which he himself describes as a “Gunpoint ripoff”. The game is called Ronin, and it’s time I did something about it. Specifically, it’s time I did a Let’s Play about it, because it’s really fucking cool. Continued