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Game development








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.


By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

Heat Signature’s Launch, And First Player Legend

A Leftfield Solution To An XCOM Disaster

Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

Postcards From Far Cry Primal

Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

Kill Zone And Bladestorm

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

Natural Numbers In Game Design

Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

Writing vs Programming

Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

What Works And Why: Nonlinear Storytelling In Her Story

My Idea For An ‘Unconventional Weapon’ Game

From Gunpoint To Heat Signature: A Narrative Journey

The Cost Of Simplifying Conversations In Videogames

What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX

What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point

What’s Your Fault?

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

One Desperate Battle In FTL

To Hell And Back In Spelunky

Games Vs Story 2

Gunpoint Development Breakdown

Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer

My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection

Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

How Mainstream Games Butchered Themselves, And Why It’s My Fault

A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

Arguing On The Internet

Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

The Suspicious Developments manifesto

GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

Understanding Your Brain

What Makes Games Good

A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

An Idea For A Better Open World Game

A Different Way To Level Up

How I Would Have Ended BioShock

My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary

I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

Blood Money And Sex

A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

First Night, Second Life

SWAT 4: The Movie Script

To Hell And Back In Spelunky

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

Spelunky Strategy Guide: Finding And Defeating Anubis

Spelunky Explorers’ Club

Each day, Spelunky generates one set of levels that’s the same for every player. Each day, we play them. Some of us make videos of our attempts. You can browse mine above (click the listy icon in the top left), or see everyone’s on the blog we set up at

On the rest of this post are the earliest dailies we posted. Continued

Comparing Notes In Spelunky’s Unique Daily Adventures

Spelunky is out on PC again! The fancy version this time, and with a new feature that is obsessing me more than ever before. Every day, there’s one set of randomly generated levels that’s the same for every Spelunky player. Everyone gets one try at it, and when they die, that’s it, they can never play it again.

The scores for each person’s attempt are ranked, of course, but I don’t really care about that. The reason it’s so fascinating to me is that it takes a generative game – one that’s different every time – and gives it one of the most appealing things about pre-scripted games: being able to compare notes with your friends. Continued

A Successful Spelunky Run

After 223 failed attempts, I have completed the Xbox version of Spelunky. Here’s what happened. I’ll name some enemies and items involved, but won’t spoil how I defeated the final boss. Continued

Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

I’m so amazingly goddamn rich. A string of gold-studded and jewel-encrusted Mine levels led straight into the Jungle, where two levels in a row left a Bone Idol trivially close to the exit. I barely had to nudge them to get out $40,000 richer, long before the ghost they trigger showed up. And now I’ve found the Black Market. Continued

Spelunky Tips

Spelunky is now out on console box, and is awesome and everyone loves it. I’ve played both versions a ridiculous amount, and brother do I got some tips.

Doubt Yourself

Lots of Spelunky’s mechanics are simple in principle but really, really, really hard to reliably master. When figuring out what route is worth taking, factor in the risk you might screw up and get hit by something. Continued