Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint about rewiring things and punching people, 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 articles like these for PC Gamer. I'm now prototyping two new games, Heat Signature and one about grappling hooks.
Pentadact: If only there were a Radiolab episode about this.
Pentadact: Cheers! Right now collision is done per-pixel...
BadBannana: Hmm, Arstotzkan Coffee actually sounds really good...
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
This is great, people keep linking me to things I wrote ages ago and forgot about, so I can link them here. Snowskeeper Ferenczy points out this, something I wrote very fast after a game of Alien Swarm one night that seemed necessary to report.
This has obviously been the best year of my life. When working on Gunpoint got tough towards the end, and the amount of sustained effort required exceeded my intrinsic determination, I made a guilty little list of all the things that releasing a game might improve about my life in the best-case scenario: Gunpoint motivation.txt. Nothing on it was anything like as good as the reality. Continued
The podcast I am party to, the Crate and Crowbar, now has a forum. On it, Gunpoint artist John Roberts has started a thread for tales of people’s in-game adventures, starting with a good one of his own about FTL. And someone else mentioned an old story of mine from that game. I don’t think I ever linked it here, so I will now:
I’m thinking about posting these Let’s Play style videos as shorter, individual highlights rather than recording every moment and putting it all up in long sequential chunks. Well, shorter than 50 minutes. That felt like overkill, and it also meant I felt weirdly guilty if I wanted to do something that’s boring to watch.
Here’s what Risk of Rain is like. It’s a randomised shooter thingy, and here I’m playing as one of the classes you unlock later on, the Engineer. More thoughts on why it’s good.