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.
Stephen: Wow, sweet! Hope the testing comes along nicely....
Kirk Mitchell: Eric, this is some superb stuff! Gorgeous...
Bec: Ah, Murder She Wrote. It ran daily at around 7.30am in the...
The last few days I’ve been doing a game jam with Liselore Goedhart, being filmed as a documentary series called Super Game Jam. It’s been loads of fun, surprisingly chilled, and we’re really happy with the game we made. We finished it yesterday and let people play it at the London Game Space last night – fantastic to see people laughing so much at something that didn’t exist two days before. Continued
Update: whether you join the beta or not, you may get a Gunpoint update that wants to install some standard installery stuff: a particular vintage of DirectX, VC++, OpenAL. The new engine needs to make sure these are all there, and they can only be turned on globally, so everyone gets ‘em. Won’t interfere with anything, but it will fix the no-music issue some might have had with the new beta.
We’re nearly ready to release an update for Gunpoint that’ll add Steam Workshop support to let you share your custom levels, and hopefully fix any remaining technical issues people are having with the old build. Continued
So Floating Point’s a game about using a wire to swing through randomly generated spaces smoothly. When you do, avoiding obstacles and picking up speed, everything about the game tries to celebrate and reward that flow state: you glow, the music picks up, the collectible bars in the level get more valuable, and grow tall so they’re easier to hit.
One effect I fancied but considered low priority was some kind of trail: maybe particles or sparks or something. So I had a quick look to see how hard this would be in Unity, and discovered something called a Trail Renderer. I tried it, and it looked like this: Continued
My game about swinging through randomly generated spaces has spilled out from a game jam entry, to a four-day game, to a week-long game. This is a series of three video blogs talking about interesting things that happened in its design.
Here’s my previous video showing the game itself.
I’ve been designing and trying various ways for you to make progress towards your objective in Heat Signature, and four bad iterations have led me to a surprising conclusion.
We use the phrase ‘your fault’ in a way that’s different to the sum of its parts. A fault can be any kind of problem, defect, or undesirable property. ‘Your’ just means belonging to you. If you have very unsteady hands, that’s a problem of sorts, and it’s yours. But if I hand you a full mug of coffee and you spill a bit of it, if you apologised, I’d say “It’s not your fault!”
Your faults are not ‘your fault’ if you’re born with them, if they’re forced on you, if you didn’t know about them, or a whole variety of other conditions. Language forms organically and messily, and it only makes sense to talk about it in generalisations. But the most prevalent trend I can see in the types of faults that are not ‘your fault’ is this: they’re the ones you can’t reasonably change. Continued
I got to go to the BAFTA Games Awards, whenever it was that that happened! Feels like six months ago, but I think it’s about three weeks. Gunpoint was up for Best British Game (against GTA V and Tearaway – lol good luck) and Best Debut Game (against Gone Home and Stanley Parable – lol good luck), and it was nuts to see our game up on the giant screen during a black tie awards event. But mainly, it was just nuts to be at a black tie awards event. Here are some things that happened: Continued
I’ve been obsessed with iOS/Android randomised tactical combat game Hoplite ever since Zack Johnson told me about it at IndieCade last month. You’re a Greek spearman descending the randomly generated levels of the underworld, and you have to deal with the steadily increasing demonic population you find there by moving carefully across a hex grid turn by turn, calculating each move to slash, stab or stomp them without letting them get a hit in.
Each level has a shrine that grants a choice of upgrades, letting you incrementally design a perfect build of complimentary abilities until depth 16, at which point they run out completely and you just see how far you can get with what you’ve built.
As the difficulty ramps up from there, the way your chosen abilities play off each other to let you overcome the endlessly increasing challenge becomes elegant, then balletic, then sublime. These calculated chains of sweeps, leaps and thrusts let you dance through a minefield with precision and grace, felling everything around you. It’s hard to fully explain how neat, clever and satisfying it feels – so I made a GIF. Continued
I don’t have an opinion about Facebook acquiring Oculus for $2 billion, because I don’t know enough to be confident of how it’ll play out, and that’s usually when I stop having opinions about things. But I do have some thoughts about some of the arguments being used on either side. Continued
Yesterday I tweeted from the Heat Signature account about avoiding a tricky problem with homing missiles by just increasing their acceleration over time – I called it AccelerationAcceleration. Today, Coriolinus replied to say that the scientific name for this is actually ‘jerk‘. This is amazing, and so is the Wikipedia page about it. Continued
The next thing I wanna let you do in Heat Signature is take the helm of an enemy ship and fly it yourself. But right now, things go very screwy if you’re on a ship as it accelerates. So I’m redoing all the relative velocity code to make sure the contents of a ship stay stable while it’s jerking around.
I was testing the new code just now, and headed for a small ship to dock with it. Continued
Updated! see bottom of post.
Heat Signature is a game about randomised space ships that you can sneak aboard. These ships have a randomly generated interior of connected rooms and corridors, and crew that patrol those rooms.
Right now, there’s no pathfinding: the crew roam randomly. At some point, though, you’ll be able to set off alarms or cause other disturbances that the crew should run to. So the problem is: how do find a route to that room? Specifically, how do they find the shortest route to that room? Continued
IndieCade East was lovely. It’s a convention in New York, held at the Museum of the Moving Image, consisting mostly of people giving talks about games or showing their games. For example, Zack Johnson talked to Margaret Robertson about the crazy 11-year history of his still actively developed web game Kingdom of Loathing: Continued
The way Heat Signature randomly generates its ships at the moment is very basic – I’m new to random generation, and I don’t polish or improve things until all the other systems are in.
Its process for the ship’s shapes is probably obvious from the video: Continued