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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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
I started thinking out loud about it on Twitter, but didn’t want to swamp your timeline with it, so I’ll paste what I said so far and continue it here: Continued
Update: This was originally a post to ask for help, but now that we’ve solved the problem I’m posting the solution for anyone who needs it, and changing the title to make it more searchable. It’s a function that lets you find where an object appears on-screen, so that you can use the DrawGUI event to draw interface elements over it or annotate it, useful for tutorials. Original post follows, updates and working script at the end! Continued
I’m doing a series of video tutorials to show you how to make your first game, using the free version of Game Maker: Studio. I’m doing about 1-2 hours a week, aimed at absolute beginners with no experience with writing code. I’m not a good programmer myself, so we keep things as simple, quick and easy as possible, cutting all sorts of corners that would make real programmers who work in teams cringe. But, that’s basically how I made Gunpoint, and that worked well enough, so here goes!
At time of posting the first week of episodes is up – three parts, totalling about an hour and a half. I’m also giving people leeway to experiment with what they’ve learnt, and if they like, they can send in what they’ve created and I can see which bits might fit into the project.
Here’s what Heat Signature looks like these days! The new art is by the multi-talented John Roberts, who also did art for our last game, Gunpoint. Next week I’ll put up a trailer to show all this in action. For those who haven’t seen it moving yet, there’s no break between inside and out: you zoom smoothly from the scale of these interior shots to the big-scale space battles.
When I have new shots in future, I’ll add them on this page and take down any outdated ones. Everyone has permission to use these shots in any articles or videos, print or online, as long as you make it clear what game they’re from. Continued
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.
I have long known that ‘Finite State Machines’ are a thing I should be using, but when I try to read up on them, the explanations are either hopelessly vague or incredibly specific to a language and situation I don’t understand.
I whined to Mike Cook about this, and he said something to the effect of, “When you read up about Finite State Machines, it sounds like they’re this one specific agreed-upon thing, but every time you talk to an actual programmer about them you’ll get a different version of what they are.”
But! I am determined to try them in Heat Signature, and I have just reached that point where there’s enough AI an animation stuff going on that I need some kind of system to manage it. So I’m going to explain how I plan to use one, and if you’re a programmer, perhaps you can warn me of any problems I’m making for myself.
If you’re not, or if you’re learning, maybe you’ll get something out of how hopelessly I’ve failed at this so far. Continued