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Game development








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.


By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

  • Grant: Thanks to the start of this video, I’ve just now noticed that during the static flickers while staring...
  • Ben: Great analysis. During the lab sequence in the Prey intro, you were looking around for tells that Morgan is in a...
  • RoboLeg: this game would be PERFECT for mobile, and I’d happily pay 10 bucks or so for it.
  • Jepp: 1) Please keep critiquing games by building new ones :) 2) The non-hand holding, simple systems integrating...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

    Postcards From Far Cry Primal

    Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

    Kill Zone And Bladestorm

    An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

    Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

    What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

    Natural Numbers In Game Design

    Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

    Writing vs Programming

    Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

    New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

    What Works And Why: Nonlinear Storytelling In Her Story

    My Idea For An ‘Unconventional Weapon’ Game

    From Gunpoint To Heat Signature: A Narrative Journey

    The Cost Of Simplifying Conversations In Videogames

    What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

    Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

    What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

    Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX

    What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

    The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

    Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

    Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

    Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

    Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

    Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

    Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

    Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point

    What’s Your Fault?

    The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

    Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

    Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

    The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

    A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

    One Desperate Battle In FTL

    To Hell And Back In Spelunky

    Games Vs Story 2

    Gunpoint Development Breakdown

    Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer

    My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection

    Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

    Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

    How Mainstream Games Butchered Themselves, And Why It’s My Fault

    A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

    The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

    Arguing On The Internet

    Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

    Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

    E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

    The Suspicious Developments manifesto

    GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

    Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

    Understanding Your Brain

    What Makes Games Good

    A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

    Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

    Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

    An Idea For A Better Open World Game

    A Different Way To Level Up

    How I Would Have Ended BioShock

    My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

    Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

    Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

    EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

    My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary

    I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

    My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

    Blood Money And Sex

    A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

    First Night, Second Life

    SWAT 4: The Movie Script

    Great Moments In Television, 2016

    These are all suspiciously recent so this is probably only the best three moments of the last few months, but that does at least mean I could get clips. Until they’re taken down. I put them on Streamable in the hope they’ll stay up longer, which has the side-effect that they loop when they’re done. Shrug emojii.

    These are not spoilery except for The Crown, in which nothing really happens. Continued

    The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

    My life has changed in many ways since working for my own company, but perhaps the biggest is that I can now watch Murder, She Wrote over breakfast and/or lunch. This is great, but it’s also ingrained the show’s weirdly specific formula in my brain, and now I feel I must write it down. The following is how about 70% of its episodes go – the exceptions are kind of nuts. Continued

    The Good And The Bad Bits Of The Newsroom

    Aaron Sorkin’s current show about a TV news show was panned by reviewers, but I quite liked its first episode and thought its problems were fixable. The reviewers had seen the first four. I now see what they were talking about.

    It’s such an extraordinary mix of exciting potential and staggeringly clumsy writing that I’ve had trouble stringing together a sentence about it that uses the word ‘but’ fewer than five times. So I’ll give up on a coherent overview and just list the things I like and don’t like. Continued

    The Newsroom

    That leaked Aaron Sorkin script I wrote up a while back is now a show, called The Newsroom. It goes behind the scenes of a nightly news show with a grouchy celebrity anchor, and revolves around him, his new executive producer and the crew. This means I would watch it religiously even if it wasn’t a Sorkin thing – I have no particular interest in the news, but every show or film made about it seems to be great. Continued


    “You let Messer get away?”
    “One of your boys let Messer get away, I got the driver. Besides, these boots aren’t made for running.”
    “And yet chasing fugitives is a marshall’s primary function.”
    “It’s ironic, isn’t it?” Continued

    Discovered In 2011: Boss

    Boss is the evil West Wing: a political drama about a powerful figure concealing a degenerative illness, but one in which no-one is likeable or trying to do the right thing. It’s still about smart people working hard to do their job well, they’re just terrible, terrible people with horrible, horrible jobs. Continued

    Adventure Time

    Years back, Craig linked me to a pilot for a cartoon about a boy and a shape-shifting dog voiced by Bender from Futurama. It was eight minutes long, and amazing. Here it is: Continued

    The Shadow Line Lines In The Shadow Line

    The Shadow Line is finished now, and it was good until it got a bit wanky at the end. It’s nice to have something with a plot that genuinely requires some processing between episodes, and the cast has made me a fan of four of five actors I’d never seen before. Continued

    Game Of Thrones, The Shadow Line, The Killing, Running Wilde

    Chris’s blog is reminding me I haven’t talked about what’s on in ages. Here’s what I’m watching and why. Continued

    Aaron Sorkin’s Next Show

    Aaron Sorkin is the guy who wrote A Few Good Men, The West Wing seasons 1-4, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and The Social Network.

    Graham: I’m reading the pilot script for Sorkin’s new show. I will send it to you, but as a preview, simply close your eyes and imagine that Aaron Sorkin was writing a TV show. Bingo! You now have all the contents of this script in your head. Continued

    Why Terriers Was Axed

    “Based on what these people saw in those two episodes, the FX-centric viewer just rated it lower in areas such as intensity, suspense, sexiness. When you talk to the USA-type viewer, they rate it lower than their favorite shows because it’s not a land in which every babe is hot, and the sky is incredibly blue, and everybody lives in an apartment three times as big as they could legitimately afford, and everything comes out great in the end. What we ended up with—and this is a much more nuanced and complicated answer—was a show that somehow fell between two brands.”
    FX president John Landgraf Continued

    A Minecraft Diary And My Black Ops Review

    The first entry of a Minecraft diary I’m starting just went up on PC Gamer – it’s just a short one to start with, but this might turn into a long-running thing. It’s about playing with a sort of permanent death rule: if I die, I have to delete the whole world and everything in it, then start again from scratch in a new one. It’s also starting from when I first played the game, so I know virtually nothing about how it works. The next entry will go up first thing tomorrow, and it’ll probably be every other day from then on. Continued

    Phineas And Ferb

    This made me laugh.

    Povenmire and Marsh still found themselves fighting for some of their more surreal material. In several episodes, for instance, a character named Major Monogram interjects—apropos of nothing—the phrase “Ever since… the Academy.” A Disney executive quickly flagged the line, arguing (correctly) that it was utter nonsense. Povenmire assured him that it was exactly the kind of nonsense kids would parrot to one another at school. In fact, he felt so confident, he told the executive he expected to one day hear children repeat the line. The skeptical exec pledged to give Povenmire $100 for every time Povenmire heard it (unsolicited, of course). Continued

    Death Note

    Almost anything that features a master criminal fancies itself as a battle of wits between him and the star detective. In practice, all that usually means is the bad guy leaves no evidence, then blunders into an obvious trap by the cop. Death Note actually is a battle of wits, though: the entire series revolves around two people desperate to eliminate each other, but prevented from doing so directly by the complicated mathematics of suspicion, guilt and uncertainty. Continued

    Terriers Again

    I was pretty rude about the plot when writing about the pilot episode, but impressed by everything else. This is a quick update to say that, in the four episodes since then, that simple set up has changed dramatically every episode, and led to some superb twists and tense situations. Continued