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.
Valentine: ALL OF MY YES.
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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
There’s a new Deus Ex game coming, and there’s a trailer for it! It was all we could talk about last night on the podcast, until we’d covered it and moved on (about 32 minutes) to talk about other things. Listen to know my, and their, thoughts!
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
One cool thing about having been a games journalist is that there’s a detailed public record of some of your favourite personal gaming experiences. I came across my write-up of the first time I played Skyrim, at a preview event, and re-read the whole thing. I’d forgotten what exactly happened, and reading the story of my adventure like this actually captured more of its magic than just firing up the game again. The game no longer has what I got from it that day, but the story does.
I’d forgotten how amazing the first 10-20 hours with an Elder Scrolls game are. Such a sense of adventure, freedom, a beautiful country to explore, a personal journey where the little stories you encounter get tangled up in the systems of the world as they react to your reckless decisions. Waiting for a storm to pass. Holing up in a shack for the night. Finding something amazing.
That build skipped the intro, and I start by turning 180 in an attempt to explore off the beaten track – it’s funny to realise the walled-off town I ‘discover’ up the hill was Helgen.
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.
We discuss DA:I on the latest Crate and Crowbar podcast, and since it’s also up on YouTube, I can embed specific bits. The Invisible Inc chat at the start overlaps a lot with my post here, so let’s skip straight to Dragon Age, which I played for about 30-40 hours over the break.
I have thoughts on why the combat still feels murky after all this time, my experience switching from Casual to Hard, my lesbian Inquisitor trying to seduce the only two straight women in Thedas, the difference between this and Mass Effect, and the one great thing that’s the same.
As before it’s Tom Senior you hear first, I’m the one who pipes up at 44m55s.
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.
A turn-based stealth game with randomly generated levels and no savegames. You have two secret agents with different special abilities, and you choose from offices of varying difficulties and rewards to break into and steal money, equipment and abilities. You break in by carefully peering round corners and doors, ambushing unwitting guards with your tazers, and hacking security devices from a special vision mode.
If you want a better idea of how it plays, I recorded myself going through one mission, and talked through my thinking and how the game works.