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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It’s Sunday, so I’m allowed to work on things that aren’t important. This started as a test for an idea I have of how to create a ‘wake’ that expands behind you, something I ultimately want to use to cut through some layers of cloud as you fly. But I accidentally made a cooler version of the existing contrail, so I tried randomly colouring it, and here we are.
Not sure what to do with it from here. I like everything about it except the end, it has what I call ‘fat tail’ problem: no matter how gently I tell the alpha to fade out, the final, big chunk of vapour always looks like it ends rather suddenly, like your ship just has this big fat tail following it.
I like the idea that breacher ships of different factions would have different contrail colours, though. And I think engine upgrades will probably affect this too.
Here are a million shots: Continued
My current task in Heat Signature is to tweak the airlocks so there’s room to put a closed door between you and the rest of the ship when you board. That way, you have as much time as you like to plan out your attack and wait till the guards are where you want them.
I needed the airlocks to clear 4 squares on the ship’s collision grid, to give you room to stand. But I hit a weird bug: some of them, maybe a third, did not clear. I checked the ‘clear grid’ function was executing on each of them, but still some of them ended up blocked. Continued
I let Eurogamer play Heat Signature and sat in the back seat to passive-aggressively criticise! It went great!
This is both a slightly better looking build than the last trailer, and a longer vid – shows the whole disrupt/isolate/capture cycle.
I used to be press! Now I’m a developer. So I’m showing them my game, and trying to figure out if what I’m showing is exciting. Here’s what that’s like. I would like it known that I really am saying ‘Alec’ when I refer to Alec but it sounds a bit like Alex because of a mouth thing. A similar mouth thing to when I appear to say ‘intereted’ right after.
Writing is like having a conversation with someone who can’t reply until you’ve finished.
Programming is like having a conversation with a robot who screams at you if you pause in the wrong place, electrocutes you if you change your mind, and explodes if you ever use the future tense.
After 7 months, 25 episodes, and about 16 hours of total running time, my tutorial series is complete! I talk you through making a game, from writing your first line of code, to releasing and selling it. It’s aimed at absolute beginners, it only uses free software, the tutorial itself is free, ad-free, the game we made is free, and it’s in fairly digestible 45-minute episodes.
Hope it’s of use! Here’s the game we made:
I also made a short montage of all the ways I fucked this video up in previous takes: Continued
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.
Tiny Design is a good blog about tiny design choices and why they were (probably) made. A lot of them are things you might not consciously notice, which made me think that there may be others you still haven’t consciously noticed. So here’s one you might not have noticed in Gunpoint! Unless you followed its development, because I tweeted about it 5 years ago. Continued
Here is a video blog about that, and how I’m changing how I think about working on it.
I was ill for a few weeks recently, and Ludum Dare happened during it. As usual I wanted the challenge of thinking up an idea to fit the theme, but couldn’t spare the two days to actually make something. The theme was ‘an unconventional weapon’, so I wrote up an idea but didn’t get around to publishing it at the time. Here it is! Continued
John recently did some new sprites for us to construct nebulae out of, and I couldn’t help tinkering with the way we randomly generate your galaxy to make use of them. The ‘galaxy’ is what I call the entire game world, and a single clump of gas clouds within that is a ‘region’. I started with generating a single region from these sprites, combining two colours, then tried generating a bunch of those to make a galaxy. The latter part turns out to look awful if you use more than a couple of colours, so for now they each have a definite theme. Continued
Heat Signature’s universe has been infinite since day 2 or 3, but until now you’ve only been able to see a meager 35,000 x 35,000 pixels of it at once. I knew at some point I wanted to let you see an overview of the part of space you’re in, a collection of vast gas clouds that I think is going to be called The Grove. But I wasn’t sure if this would have be a map mode or if we could zoom smoothly from one to the other. I’m still not sure if the latter is viable performance-wise, or even if it’s the right way to go, and the galaxy is ugly at the moment, but for what it’s worth I made it and here it is:
I tweeted about how I approached this as I went, here are those tweets: Continued
Many of you have been asking how the story of Heat Signature follows on from Gunpoint. We can now explain.
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