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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

Reasons To Freeze To Death

John Walker lauded my musical taste when he heard The Mountain Goats coming out of my speakers a few weeks ago, but in fact it was not my doing. Soma FM’s consistently excellent Indie Pop Rocks (But College Rock Sucks) station was choosing my music at the time. I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t even noticed that a particularly good song was playing, such is the usual standard. But I have now investigated, after he enthused so keenly, and lo, they are le awesome.

Rainy – before you ask – wistful, impossibly pretty acoustic indie folk, is how I would crudely characterise it. It made me think of Molasses and Neutral Milk Hotel, but they have all the earnest charm and arcane lyrics of The Decemberists and when they get silly, as they do on Dance Music, it’s as much fun as when Jeffrey Lewis does. If you don’t know who any of those people are, you might not like them. But since you can get an MP3 right here, you don’t have to risk it. And if you do like it, check out all those other people. The linked track, You Or Your Memory, is one of the softest, but firmly a grower and my current favourite. Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod is a close second.

I’m basing all this on their latest, The Sunset Tree, since that’s all I know. That’s what you should get, by your preferred method, and listen to immediately. I haven’t found myself so absorbed by the atmosphere of an album since discovering the Ugly Casanova one a few Christmasses ago. It’s one to get lost in.

Tom Francis: Hm. Should that be 'la awesome'?

John W: I can't not add:

The Sunset tree is his first autobiographical album, which makes it all the more harrowing when it's harrowing, and all the more hopeful when it's optimistic.

Normally, and he earns the word with his nine million albums, he invents a group of characters and then writes an album telling stories about their lives. Also, The Sunset Tree is the third studio recorded album on 4AD. Go back before that, and you should, and they're all recorded on cassette.

John: Very nice site!