Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint about rewiring things and punching people, I'm on a weekly gaming podcast called The Crate & Crowbar, I wrote these two short stories in the Machine of Death collections, and I used to write articles like these for PC Gamer. I'm now prototyping two new games, Heat Signature and one about grappling hooks.
Pentadact: If only there were a Radiolab episode about this.
Pentadact: Cheers! Right now collision is done per-pixel...
BadBannana: Hmm, Arstotzkan Coffee actually sounds really good...
I’ve decided to let people play this prototype of my Grappling Hook Game at IndieCade East in New York next month, partly to force me to focus on what it really needs to be a playable game. After a week and a bit, here’s what I’ve got. Continued
This is great, people keep linking me to things I wrote ages ago and forgot about, so I can link them here. Snowskeeper Ferenczy points out this, something I wrote very fast after a game of Alien Swarm one night that seemed necessary to report.
This has obviously been the best year of my life. When working on Gunpoint got tough towards the end, and the amount of sustained effort required exceeded my intrinsic determination, I made a guilty little list of all the things that releasing a game might improve about my life in the best-case scenario: Gunpoint motivation.txt. Nothing on it was anything like as good as the reality. Continued
I’m working on the grappling hook game again now, and I’ve got the rope wrapping nicely around things, going slack when it should, and even making sounds. In this video I show you how that looks, then – with fair warning – get into how the code works.
Sounds from freesound.org
Retract noise: eelke
Grapple impact noise: taylorsyoung
The podcast I am party to, the Crate and Crowbar, now has a forum. On it, Gunpoint artist John Roberts has started a thread for tales of people’s in-game adventures, starting with a good one of his own about FTL. And someone else mentioned an old story of mine from that game. I don’t think I ever linked it here, so I will now:
Here’s the first video of Heat Signature, a temperature-based space stealth game I’ve been making the last two days. It’s about sneaking up on ships while keeping your ship cool enough to fool their sensors.
So you can jet around an infinite galaxy super fast, but your thrusters generate heat, and enemies can detect that from far away. The closer you want to get to them, the cooler you have to stay, and the more precise you have to be with your thrusters. And to take them out, you have to physically clamp onto their hull and shut down their systems.
GHGC is still my main project, I’m just taking a break from the brutal process of learning Unity to make something quick in Game Maker, where I already speak the language. How far I take this depends on how the next few features work out.
Made another video with the Huntress in Risk of Rain, this time with audible audio. She’s awesome.
Black Flag is really satisfying. Followed a treasure map, explored an island, shot a barrel.
I tangle with a strange ship my men refuse to board, leaving me to somewhat sneakily assassinate the crew by myself.
More of the randomised RPG-shootery thingy, this time as my favourite class: acid beast Acrid. And I meet a boss I’ve never seen before.
I’m thinking about posting these Let’s Play style videos as shorter, individual highlights rather than recording every moment and putting it all up in long sequential chunks. Well, shorter than 50 minutes. That felt like overkill, and it also meant I felt weirdly guilty if I wanted to do something that’s boring to watch.
Here’s what Risk of Rain is like. It’s a randomised shooter thingy, and here I’m playing as one of the classes you unlock later on, the Engineer. More thoughts on why it’s good.
Risk of Rain is kind of an action Roguelike: no saving, death means starting from scratch, and it’s all about combat. You’ve got four skills in an RPG-like hotbar, with RPG-like cooldowns, but it feels more like a shooter. You pump out damage rapidly and accurately, and you’re physically dodging enemy attacks to survive.
I really didn’t like it, and almost entirely because of a weird little message on the New Game screen. Continued
I’ve finally found the right blend of Unity’s built-in physics and my own custom equations to make the rope in my grappling-hook-game prototype feel strong, reliable and satisfying to use. I also added a lamp post and made some things blue.
If you want to hear about future updates, I’ll always post them on my Twitter.
Last night I accomplished probably the hardest thing I’ve ever managed in a video game: going to hell and back in Spelunky. It only took 41 minutes, but it took me hundreds of hours of play – and about 3,000 deaths – to learn how to do those 41 minutes. Here’s the run: Continued