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.
Captain Cyberion: So, I see that Ronin is finally out and some...
Daniel: That does sound like an amazing idea which could lead...
Kyle B.: Huh, so it got dismantled after all… I have fond...
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
I’ve been away the last two weeks, showing Heat Signature first at Fantastic Arcade in Austin, then at EGX in London. I’ll show you what that all looked like below, but first I’ll embed my EGX talk so you can play that and look at the photos during the boring bits. From about 5 minutes in, you can see Heat Signature with some of the new art and music. Continued
Last month I made a new video of my ugly prototype for Heat Signature and put out an open call for artists and composers who might wanna work on it. When I did the same thing for my first game Gunpoint, around 30 artists and 40 composers applied. For Heat Signature, 81 artists and 232 composers applied. This was extraordinary and flattering, then daunting, then impossible, then exciting once I finally had my decision, then absolutely horrible when I had to tell everyone I hadn’t picked. You don’t really know how many ‘313 people’ is until you have to say no to 310 of them.
My deep, deep thanks to the amazingly talented people who applied, it meant a huge amount to me that people of your calibre were interested in my thing.
Here’s who I picked: Continued
I’m drunk to announce that Gunpoint is in the Humble Indie Bundle 12! Best of all, you get it no matter what you pay. No! Best of all is what else you get if your generosity stretches to the princely sum of ten dollars:
What is not a game, this is just an alarming selection of stuff. And for the first time ever, there’s also a $65 special edition that comes with a load of physical goods like:
This has been in the works for a loooooooong time, and it’s only thanks to the hard work of the guys at Abstraction that we have Mac and Linux versions of Gunpoint to make us eligible to be in one. I’m particularly delighted to be in this one, with such extraordinary company (two BAFTA winners!), because the biggest upside for me is the sheer number of people who’ll hopefully get to try our game. And when Gunpoint is nowhere near the headliner, lots of those will be people who might never have tried it otherwise.
Just a quick update to say I am still going through the Heat Signature applications. Sorry it’s taking a while – if you didn’t see on Twitter, I got 81 applications for the artist position and 232 for composer. So I am endlessly listening to and re-listening to samples, rigging up makeshift dynamic music systems in-game to see what kind of things work, burying myself in reams of notes, and making impossible choices. Pretty soon I should be able to let applicants know individually where we’re at, and a while after that I’ll be able to announce a decision. The standard of submissions is amazing – the final game is going to be a thing of beauty.
Heat Signature will be playable at two different events next month, in the UK and the US!
I’ll be at both events to talk you through it and answer any questions with “I don’t know,” “No,” or “We’ll see.” I’ll also be doing some form of presentation at each, probably involving playing the game myself and explaining my plans.
Earlier this year I also made a game with artist and designer Liselore Goedhart, in which two players steer the tongues of anteaters and battle each other like disgusting slithery light-cycles as they compete for ants. That’s SimAntics: Realistic Anteater Simulator, and it will also be playable at Fantastic Arcade!