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.
Diego: I’m trying Google Drive for a while now and it...
Rossco: Great work Tom, the game is looking better and better...
Jason L: In May when he played it but LPs take work and space...
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.
If you’ve been following my many Far Cry 4 videos over on YouTube you already have an idea of what I love about it, but if you’re interested, here’s the bit of the latest Crate & Crowbar podcast where we compare our impressions. I’m not the first Tom who speaks, I’m the one saying “I think it got off to a pretty shaky start”.
Don’t let me forget that I plan to do a ‘How to fix Far Cry 4′ type post at some point, too.
Sometimes I’ll recommend you a particularly great episode of a podcast I listen to. Feel free to recommend your own in the comments! I probably don’t have to tell you that Serial is great.
Co-star of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead talks to Marc Maron about what he was doing before all of that, the nature of which you would probably never guess. On the party where he first met Simon Pegg:
“I was nervous to meet him. He was this stand-up comedian, and I was the funniest waiter at Chiquitos. We circled each other all night, until finally we were outside on a roof together, and we just did impressions at each other, for hours. It was like the duelling banjos.”
Edit: as with any interview podcast, skip the intro until you hear the guest. It’s like 14 fucking minutes here.
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.
Super Game Jam is a documentary series on Steam that films two developers per episode, working together to make a game in 48 hours. It’s discounted to $15 for the whole series right now, which is 5 half-hour episodes, the 5 games that were made in them, and a bunch of extra scenes and music from Kozilek and Doseone.
Episode 5 just came out tonight, and it’s me and artist/designer Liselore Goedhart making SimAntics: Realistic Anteater Simulator. We were given the theme of ‘Simulation’ by previous jammers Cactus and Grapefrukt, and told not to make SimAnt. So we simulated an anteater instead.
Third-person open world action and stealth game, with Assassin’s Creed free-running and Arkham Asylum combat. You’re in Mordor, it’s full of orc-like Uruks, and for reasons that were probably explained in all the cut-scenes I skipped, you have to use them to get to the Black Dark Lord Hand – who I gather is a ruffian. Continued
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