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.
Abe: After hearing that you played Covert Action, I was hoping...
Nick: ‘If only there were a Radiolab episode about...
Pentadact: Cheers! Right now collision is done per-pixel...
We use the phrase ‘your fault’ in a way that’s different to the sum of its parts. A fault can be any kind of problem, defect, or undesirable property. ‘Your’ just means belonging to you. If you have very unsteady hands, that’s a problem of sorts, and it’s yours. But if I hand you a full mug of coffee and you spill a bit of it, if you apologised, I’d say “It’s not your fault!”
Your faults are not ‘your fault’ if you’re born with them, if they’re forced on you, if you didn’t know about them, or a whole variety of other conditions. Language forms organically and messily, and it only makes sense to talk about it in generalisations. But the most prevalent trend I can see in the types of faults that are not ‘your fault’ is this: they’re the ones you can’t reasonably change. 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
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
For my parents’ birthdays, I made a physical version of the excellent iOS word game Letterpress. This makes me a terrible pirate, I hope no-one minds. I made this video to explain it to them.
I haven’t actually done any work for PC Gamer since March, and I haven’t officially left until tomorrow. But I’ve been there nine years, it’s the only full time job I’ve ever had, and I felt like I should mark its end somehow.
So on Saturday we had a Gunpoint-themed pizza and bourbon leaving party. And melon. It was thematically confused, but excellent. Continued
When the iPhone was announced, I laughed at the notion of spending SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS on a phone. You should imagine that laugh attenuating, bitterly, over six and a half years of me using the cheapest object Nokia can produce, until Gunpoint launched. Then I stopped, and thought, “Huh, I can actually afford to be one of the assholes who have these things now.” Continued
My second piece of published fiction will be out in July this year, as part of This Is How You Die: the second collection of stories about a machine that can predict your death. (My first was a story in the original collection, and you can read it here).
But! Editor David Malki is also Kickstarting a card game based on the same concept, and since it’s blown its funding goal by over 1000%, they’re releasing a few stories from the anthology to say thanks.
One of them is mine! You can read it now! Here it is!
It’s about a supervillain’s henchman tasked with the job of having their enemies killed in a way that doesn’t contradict their predicted deaths. It is called: LAZARUS REACTOR FISSION SEQUENCE!
If you can’t read it, go here.
I don’t argue on the internet anymore. The short version is: it usually gets hostile, and that drives everyone further away from changing their minds.
But I spend a lot of time thinking about whether there’s a way to contribute to a discussion without derailing it. Whether there’s some way of knowing, in advance, that what you’re about to say will make you look like an asshole, start a fight, or be outright wrong.
I think there is. Continued
It hasn’t rolled out to everyone yet, but for some, if you go to Settings in Twitter, you’ll get the option to download an archive of all your tweets.
Anyway, I got mine, and I wondered if I could use it to make old stuff more accessible. Continued
I wrote a feature for PC Gamer in which I look at each of the easiest tools you can use to make a game, and interview indies who’ve made great things with them. It’s the Indies’ Guide To Game Making, and I’ve just updated it with some more detailed answers we didn’t have room for in the magazine.
I am, but I haven’t finished it yet. I’ve learnt a lot so far, though, and at Minecon in November, I gave a talk about what I’ve learned so far, and what I’d do differently if I was making my first game today. Here it is! Continued
I don’t argue on the internet anymore, but I have some ideas on how to do it without defeating yourself and also human decency.
Update: This post now has a sort of sequel, suggesting ways to contribute to an argument without being an asshole.
Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, First Class
Doing maths and philosophy at the same time made sense to me, but then in a Relativity module I found out that simultaneity depends on your inertial frame, so now I’m not even sure I did.
My dissertation was on the ethics of teleportation by replication: scan, clone, destroy the original. Like in that movie I can’t mention, because it’s a spoiler for that movie.
Games Media Award for Best Specialist Games Writer in Print
I was assembling skateboards in a warehouse when a staff writer job opened up at PC Gamer. I didn’t get it. But later I got a job doing their coverdiscs, and successfully got myself demoted to writer a year or two in.
Finalist, Independent Games Festival Award for Excellence in Design
I entered Gunpoint into the IGF mainly to get feedback from the judges. Becoming a finalist was an extremely expensive accident: I tragically had to fly to San Francisco to attend the swanky awards ceremony and related parties.
The winner of the Excellence in Design category was Spelunky, the game that spurred me to make games in the first place. Even I would have voted for it.