Hello! I'm Tom, I designed and wrote a game called Gunpoint. I've also written things for PC Gamer, I sometimes write short stories and stuff, and I like figuring out how to be happy. In my spare time I enjoy looking to the left and laughing at nothing.
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By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.
Here’s the first video of Heat Signature, a temperature-based space stealth game I’ve been making the last two days. It’s about sneaking up on ships while keeping your ship cool enough to fool their sensors.
So you can jet around an infinite galaxy super fast, but your thrusters generate heat, and enemies can detect that from far away. The closer you want to get to them, the cooler you have to stay, and the more precise you have to be with your thrusters. And to take them out, you have to physically clamp onto their hull and shut down their systems.
GHGC is still my main project, I’m just taking a break from the brutal process of learning Unity to make something quick in Game Maker, where I already speak the language. How far I take this depends on how the next few features work out.
I’ve finally found the right blend of Unity’s built-in physics and my own custom equations to make the rope in my grappling-hook-game prototype feel strong, reliable and satisfying to use. I also added a lamp post and made some things blue.
If you want to hear about future updates, I’ll always post them on my Twitter.
Yep, it’s got a grappling hook!
I have something in particular I want to do with grappling hooks that I’m not ready to talk about yet. But grappling hooking around is also part of a set of interactions that I hope are going to just feel really nice – to some extent this game would be about the pleasure of execution.
This is just a quick demo of how it’s working right now – shoddily, but well enough to give me an idea of how to refine it. I’m pretty pleased to have got this far in three days, despite still really struggling with some Unity stuff. Continued
This is a brief look at the pathetic progress I made by the end of my first full day working on what might be my next game.
I have 5 different ideas I’d like to do, but one in particular has been really exciting me, so I’m prototyping that first. If the prototype is fun, it’ll turn into my next game. If it’s not, I’ll prototype something else. Part 2 below. Continued
I feel terribly guilty about Gunpoint’s success, so I often wonder if there’s some way I can use what I’ve learned from it to help. The trouble is that offering any kind of advice seems to make people angry – people who aren’t in your exact situation feel like you’re ignoring their circumstances, criticising their methods or dismissing their struggles.
So maybe I can take some advice from myself and share my experiences and instead of my opinions.
Lately I’ve got to talk to a lot of developers at conferences and festivals, particularly ones who are working on their first indie game and have lots of specific questions about what we did with Gunpoint. So probably the most helpful thing I can do is give a kind of structured breakdown of Gunpoint’s conception, development, recruitment and promotion, then let people delve into whatever they’re curious about.
It’s not a guide to what you should do, it’s just a guide to what I did and how it worked out. Click a topic to expand it. Continued
My talk from GDC Europe is now online for free! It has slides so I don’t think I can embed it – I’ll just say the title again and you can click that.
My day job is now trying to fix things in Gunpoint and writing e-mails, both of which I’m pretty bad at, so in my spare time I’ve been learning Unity. Not making anything in particular yet, just following tutorials – my test project above has been charitably described by my friends as Thomas Was At Gunpoint.
I have a question, for anyone who uses Unity. Continued
I forgot part of the plan for this: your near-lightspeed space ambulance would also be indestructible and have perfect inertial dampening. So to decelerate, you just try to crash into all the debris you were trying to avoid as you picked up speed. So it’d go:
I did Ludum Dare once, where you make a game in a weekend, and it taught me loads about how to be ruthlessly efficient and cut things before you waste time on them. I’ve skipped every game jam since then, and every event except the IGF, to focus on Gunpoint.
This weekend, though, I’m letting myself do one. Because a) I made loads of progress on Gunpoint last weekend, and am very close to being able to show you a new feature I haven’t announced yet, and b) this will probably be the only chance I ever get to legally make an Adventure Time game. Continued
The theme for this weekend’s game-making competition is evolution. As usual, I’m gonna stick to working on Gunpoint but write up the idea I’d do if I had time to get distracted.
I think if you’re going to make an evolution game, you’ve got to actually model evolution. God knows gaming misuses that word enough – we need to repay science for every time a game has claimed some magical goo caused our character to ‘rapidly evolve’ into a superhuman. Continued
Another Ludum Dare, the competition to make a game in a weekend! Another weekend I can’t really do so! Instead, I worked on Gunpoint. But as before, I’ll tell you what game I would have made. The theme was Tiny World, and my game idea is called… Launch Craft. Continued
I never went to the Game Developer’s Conference as a journalist, but this year I took a week off and flew out to San Francisco on my own dollar to attend it as a developer. I was mainly there to demo Gunpoint for the expo crowds at the IGF Finalists Pavilion, but I was also invited to give a five-minute talk as part of the closing talk of the Independent Games Summit: the Indie Soapbox Session. Continued
It’s Ludum Dare this weekend, a regular competition to make a game from scratch in a weekend. I don’t have two days spare, but I do have two hours and a cup of coffee, so I’ll pitch you the game I would make if I could.
The theme is decided by a vote, and ‘Alone’ won. However, ‘Kitten’ was also in the final round. It got more down-votes than any other theme, but I can’t help wanting to combine the two. Here’s my idea:
Top down view of snowy tundra. You are a badly drawn TINY KITTEN that scampers towards the mouse cursor, kicking up snow and leaving messy pawprints. It’s a zero button game: all you do is move the mouse.
If you stray far from where you start, you’ll run into a villager or two. They stop when they see you, and run to the north if you approach. They’re faster than you, so you can never catch up to them.
The further north you go, the more villagers you’ll see. They all run away to a village to the north, but if you get close to the village itself, they’ll flee that too. If you chase them, you’ll reach a cliff edge. The villagers will stop at the threshold, but if you come close enough they’ll throw themselves over to get away from you.
The other side of the ravine is a sheer wall of ice, in which you see blurry reflections of the villagers you’re chasing into the chasm. But your own reflection is wrong: far too big, dark and spiky. A rough silhouette of that more monstrous shape appears over your usual badly-drawn kitten avatar, and gets stronger the longer you spend in the presence of your reflection. Eventually, the kitten fades away entirely and you see yourself as the monster you are.
After that, there’s a small chance you’ll encounter smaller villagers who can’t run as fast as you. If you get close to one, you automatically pounce on it and rip it to shreds in a spray of blood, and you’re unable to control yourself until you finish devouring its remains. After that, any time your cursor is directly over a villager, you’ll accelerate to chase it down and eat it. The more you eat, the faster your hunting speed.
If you do kill a villager, there’s now a chance that the villagers you meet in future will throw rocks at you before running away. The more you kill, the more will try to fight you. The rocks knock you back very slightly, so if more than a couple are pelting you, you can’t catch up to them and have to run away.
After the first few, rock hits will make you bleed steadily, leaving a trail of blood in the snow. The bleeding stops if you eat a villager. If you don’t stop the bleeding, your monstrous image starts to fade and the kitten returns, still bleeding.
If you leave the villagers alone, or you kill them all, you’ll end up alone in the snow. After a while alone, your beast appearance fades and you start to see yourself as a kitten again. The screen gets darker as night closes in, and the kitten starts to tremble and turn blue. Eventually, its scampering slows to an unsteady crawl, it lies down, goes still, and is lost in the dark blue snow as darkness closes in.