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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.

  • RoboLeg: this game would be PERFECT for mobile, and I’d happily pay 10 bucks or so for it.
  • Jepp: 1) Please keep critiquing games by building new ones :) 2) The non-hand holding, simple systems integrating...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • Spaceman Moses: One-eyeing this on my phone from the depths of my covers I lazily ask: what do you mean XCOM2 clarity...
  • kripto: For what it’s worth, I also like Morphblade more than Imbroglio. Although, to be fair, I’ve also...
  • Hitman header tunnel

    Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

    Far Cry Primal Thumbnail

    Postcards From Far Cry Primal

    Snowball jack header

    Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

    Kill Zone and Bladestorm

    Kill Zone And Bladestorm

    BAFTA Featured

    An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

    Sectors Header

    Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

    DXHR Open area

    What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

    Heat Signature Natural Numbers

    Natural Numbers In Game Design

    Pharma Header

    Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

    Writing vs Programming

    Make A Game Tutorial Thumbnail Featured IMage

    Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

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

    Her Story banner

    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

    Invisible Header

    What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

    Super Game Jam Header

    Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

    Shadow of Mordor Header 2

    What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

    Heat Signature Talk

    Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX


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

    Murder, She Wrote

    The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

    Heat Signature Wide 2

    Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

    Heat Signature Floorplans Header

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

    Gunpoint Steam Workshop

    Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

    Distance Header

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

    The Magic Circle

    Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

    Floating Point Blog Launch

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

    Floating Sine

    Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point


    What’s Your Fault?

    Hoplite banner

    The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

    Gone Point

    Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

    Heat Signature Thumbnail

    Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

    GRappling Hook Thumbnail

    The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

    Alien Swarm Heroics

    A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

    FTL Story

    One Desperate Battle In FTL

    Spelunky Banner

    To Hell And Back In Spelunky

    Game vs story graph

    Games Vs Story 2

    Gunpoint Breakdown

    Gunpoint Development Breakdown

    Max Payne 3

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

    This is how you die

    My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection


    Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

    Skyrim Diary - Frostmere

    Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

    Mainstream Games

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


    A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

    Dark Messiah

    The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot


    Arguing On The Internet


    Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

    Stealth Games

    Why Are Stealth Games Cool?


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

    Suspicious Manifesto

    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

    What Makes Games Good

    Seat Quest

    A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

    Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

    Beneath Suspicion

    Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

    Open Worlds

    An Idea For A Better Open World Game

    Level Up

    A Different Way To Level Up

    BioShock Ending

    How I Would Have Ended BioShock

    Meet the Spy

    My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

    Team Fortress 2

    Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

    Football Manager

    Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

    EVE Assassins

    EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

    GalCiv 2

    My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary


    I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

    Machine of Death

    My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

    Blood money and sex

    Blood Money And Sex


    A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

    Second Life

    First Night, Second Life

    SWAT 4

    SWAT 4: The Movie Script

    Half-Life 2: Deathmatch

    The Basics
    Guns vs Filing Cabinets. Morons think this is the sequel to Half-Life Deathmatch and run mindlessly around spraying people with the feeble SMG. This is not that game. It’s a game where you fight two classes of enemies – cannon fodder grunts, armed with the standard Half-Life 2 weapons, and Gravity Jedis, artful duellists each with their own remarkable style which will clash with your own in a gripping battle of the titans. You, of course, are a Gravity Jedi. Aren’t you?

    The Appeal
    The raw physicality of it all. Shooting people with guns is a very hypothetical thing – unless it’s Soldier Of Fortune 2, you’re just clicking to make a hitscan check in code deduct HP from a hitbox until it turns into a ragdoll and gains some decals. If you fire a radiator at someone, you’ve fucking killed them. It’s immediately apparent.

    I was enthralled by this. I’ve been playing it from the hour it came out, and while most Half-Life 2 owners toyed with it then rejected it as ‘merely fun’, I haven’t been able to stop. As part of the delightfully evocative shared lingo of some of the PC Gamer writers, we often talk of ‘crushing’ our enemies – this is the game where you can actually do it. Crush. No armour check is made, no super-health can save them, they can scour the whole map for the best weapon in the game – they’ll find, when you Gravity Gun an eight foot metal workbench into their neck, that they had it all along.

    That ‘great equaliser’ element adds a beautiful twist to it. I am good at HL2DM, and when I’m at the top of the scoreboard, the idea that I got there with the starting weapon, the one everyone has all the time but doesn’t use, is uniquely satisfying. Only the élite stick to the Gravity Gun, and when you meet a fellow one the battle is extraordinary. Objects ricochet off each other in mid-air, rebound off walls and are re-caught before they hit the ground. Every piece of furniture, debris, wall-fitting and data storage device is vacuumed up and flung in relentless yet fluid exchange. Lesser players are smashed in the crossfire, casual shots catching them in the face, tables hitting the ceiling and dropping on them. It almost looks like an unhappy coincidence that everyone using a gun dies within seconds of entering the room, but there is something subtle but unmistakable in the way a Gravity Jedi moves, his instinctive feel for physics and his inhuman catching reflexes that renders him impervious to the hail of metal and plastic that pounds the rest of the room. When the first blow finally hits, it is the last – one is too busy catching the last throw of the other, or scooping up his next projectile, and a sink crashes into his skull. The victor stands up in his seat, punching the air. The defeated player shakes his head in deference, awe. Someone is as awesome as he.

    The Essential Experience
    The radiator kill. I could list my top fifty Gravity Gun objects without pausing, but top of the list is always the ridged wonder. Slim one way, broad the other, deadly both. Brutal mass, perfect ricochet, flat-surface slide factor high. Warm glow.

    roBurky: That a startlingly different experience to mine. I've tried Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, but attempting to use the gravity gun just gets me killed. A lot. There's never enough physics objects to be thrown, and the SMG invariably kills quicker even when you have an object ready and are accurate.

    Tom Francis: What are you throwing, medkits?

    Jason L: Further tests: Special characters ¿


    roBurky: Ok, on further inspection, I was just playing on crap maps with no objects around. Gravity gun wins.

    Tom Francis: Ah yes, HL2DM map makers don't have a clue how to furnish their maps. Even some of the official ones are too light on debris. Lockdown is my firm favourite, though the ground floor room in Overwatch is the most intense single area for Gravity Gun fights. Usually it's me down there crushing people, while a guy at the top camps the RPG and picks off those foolish enough to run around outdoors. We compete for kills, but never actually fight each other. We are of different worlds.

    Lithilk: In reply to the 'throwing medkits', thats actually where a majority of my deaths come from. My pc is old and objects in the distance fade. So when I aim for something heavy like a barrel thats far away, I sometimes end up picking up a small, useless object.