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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...
  • 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


    I’m going to write a book in November. That sounds pretty ridiculous, considering I’ve never finished a book in my life (despite repeated attempts), and November – while not a short month – is not a reasonable time-frame. But I’m not the only one planning to do this, and nor am I expecting it to be a good book – more of a fictional blog. I’ve signed up for the pleasantly concatenated National Novel Writing Month, in which chumps and wannabes claim they will pen 50,000 words in thirty days flat. Interesting things about this are that the site itself tracks the cumulative word count of everyone involved so far, and a few of us are planning to launch our works in the extraordinary blacklibrary.

    You’ll notice I sound optimistic, and also that this patently isn’t going to work. True enough, but there is one not entirely unrealistic expectation that appeals to me: I might end up writing the story I have in mind into a novella, way short of the word minimum but getting to the ultimate point. The plot is something that rose from the ashes of my old book, which was floored by a fatal flaw in the sci-fi reasoning. This new one is a sci-fi private detective type of yarn, and not as fanciful in some ways as the basics of the last one, but larger in scale and more diverse. The weird thing about it is that I haven’t written a word. Usually I start these things soon after having the idea, then stop for months at a time after every chapter. I think the main thing stopping me from writing a book is the way that I stop writing books or don’t start them at all. Solving that would really help.

    Graham: I've been signed up at NaNoWriMo for a while now, but every year when November rolls around I say "No, I'm too busy this year; next year will be more convenient."

    I've yet to be correct on this front.

    Graham: Good luck to you, though. I meant to add that. Look forward to reading the results.

    Ian: I hear that.

    As far as I can see, the NaNoWriMo exercise is about a brute-force shock course in sitting down every day and getting the fuck on with it.

    Tom Francis: Yeah, I think more than hoping for a book out of it, I'd like to discover whether I'll always be glad I made myself sit down and type something. I always was before, but then that's because I only did it when I felt like it.

    James Lyon: I got coerced into doing NaNoWriMo last year. I've still not decided if I'll try again. It's...a slog. Really awful when you get behind for a couple of days and have to write double in one night to catch up. Fantastic, however, when you get a burst of inspiration and riff like a excitable auctioneer until you've exceeded your target by several pages.

    I'd advise you, though, not to look back on what you've written until the month is over. It's not worth the worry of re-editing your mistakes until you've reached the proposed word count. That's an achievement in itself.

    Mr Dan: After a little thought i've decided that i'm going to (try to) do this. The problem is i have the motivation of a snail. Like someone else says on Blackbored, i lose all willpower quickly. So i'll no doubt start and never do it again, or sign up to do it and do nothing.

    I've got an idea set out though. The "book" will basically be aabout a guy hitchhiking around the world and the adventures he gets upto on the way. This means i don't really have to think about any long running narrative. I can just write one thing that happened to him, then in the next chapter write something totally different that happened to him in his travels. It also means i don't have to write the book from start to end. I can write each piece in a country, and join up the stories in the right order at the end so he travels through the countries.

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