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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



The future is great. That’s actually kind of the outlook of Concerned‘s protagonist, trapped in the same Orwellian dystopia as Gordon Freeman but looking firmly on the bright side. But I mean, Chris Livingstone takes screenshots of Half-Life 2 using a free mod by a passive-aggressive sociopathic genius named Garry Newman, and makes a webcomic out of it. The result is that Chris, who is obviously a great writer but presumably not an artist in the traditional sense, makes my new favourite comic three times a week. Without the futuristic awesomeness of games and gamers, he might just be another writer who feels like he could probably do a webcomic but can’t draw. He would also have nothing to mock.

Concerned satirises Half-Life 2 with affection, though. The title refers to the protagonist’s pen-name – he’s the author of one of the letters Breen reads out on his compulsory telecast at the start of the game. That strip is probably my favourite of the many tie-ins with the experiences of Gordon Freeman, who presumably arrives a week or so later.

Probably not intentionally, the positive outlook of the main character also plays to my own subconscious desires to live in City 17. It says something about a game’s artists when they create a dystopia so beautifully it undermines the dystopian bit.

Dabs: OK, now that is seriously freaky. I was (honest to God) reading *just* that comic strip after seeing it linked to another forum, then thought I'd come here to see if Tom's added updates to his page yet. And Lo!

Seriously, what are the chances? Anyway, yup, it's a very enjoyable read all the way through for the discerning HL2 geek and the best HL2 comic out there (and there are a fair few good ones). Think my favourite is: ...2005-05-05

... just for the line, "Don't drink the water! It's $2.95 a bottle."

Tom Francis: Ha. I found it via Dave Johnston's blog a while back, but it was Craig who recently reminded me of its existence. I also like the early version of that line: ...edman3.jpg

Lithilk: Come on, the Gman is the best. I've always wondered where he disappears to. Now I know.

Rob: Wow, this is now my new best thing ever. Rarely laugh out loud at comics, so this must be pretty damn good. Or I'm just incredible geeky.

Thanks for the heads-up.

Graham: I'm nto really a fan, but I like http://www.hlcomic.c... ...2005-05-07 just for the Ferris Bueller reference at the end.

Dabs: "I also like the early version of that line: ...edman3.jpg"

Heh, I'd not noticed the index page before. I love the shot of him trying to flag down the Combine helicopter: ...ello2.jpg

Also, this sounds incredibly geeky but is it just me who's really looking forward to seeing him flat-hunting in Ravenholm? :)

Tom Francis: Heh, nope. I'm actually looking forward to the 'a boat' most, though.

Today's is ace.