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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


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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