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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


    For a while there NaNoWriMo was consuming my spare writing time, starving this blog, but then I stopped doing that too, and now the less creative pass-times that I engage in to avoid Wri-ing my No-vel are replacing posting here. Shame, because I enjoy posting here, and I don’t enjoy writing my NaNoWriMo book. Curiosity: SATISFIED.

    Meaning, I no longer have novelist ambitions. I fundamentally disagree with the format. I don’t read many books myself. The only thing that excites me about the form is that anyone can do it on their own, but now I realise I can’t. Most of all, I don’t like it. I feel like a fraud, covering for the fact I don’t have any real ideas, I don’t honestly care what this character looks like or how he phrases things, I’m just making stuff up to get the story over. I haven’t decided whether to give up entirely or just try truncating it dramatically – I still like the idea behind my novel, but it no longer seems novel-worthy. It could become a short story, though I’m too late for WriAShorStorWe.

    Anyway, I am a bit late with this news, but I’m now officially a professional writer. The new disc ed, James commenter Graham, is settling in well, and I am making words from magical brain waves instead. It is very cool. More than the change in the type of work, what I’m looking forward to most is being able to pitch ideas for features and the like without the grim dread of involuntarily volunteering to write them, thereby neglecting the disc for just long enough to create a chronic crunch period out of thin air. One random idea I had this week – last weekend, actually, in preparation for my first day as a writer – just paid off dramatically today. I have fantastic new information on the next games of two of my favourite developers of all time that no-one else in the world has. I keep studying the screenshots of one of them, gleaning new joy out of tiny figures or details that hint at wonderful aspects of the game. The other, by N creators Metanet, is less specific and unillustrated, but will feature at its heart a mechanic I have loved since almost the start of my gaming life, and only ever seen attempted twice before – both with brilliant results. Metanet are more talented and intelligent than the developers of either of those games, so this is going to be something super-special.

    I can say absolutely nothing revealing of either, so I apologise for teasing, but my excitement is desperately seeking an outlet here. The full skinny, also known as the straight dope, will be in our next-but-one issue (the next to hit the shelves has already gone to press).

    BBC Six O'Clock News

    Also in Awesome this month, I was visible on the BBC six o’clock news last night, in the background of an interview with the Deputy Editor of Edge magazine, for some reason conducted at a PC Gamer desk. Mr Walker theorises that this is because the story would otherwise be largely true, so some form of misleading element had to be manufactured. We propped up our latest issue and plastered stickers all over the desk beforehand, so we ‘pushed the brand’ appropriately. You can watch it here – I do have a link for a better quality video that doesn’t require the hateful RealPlayer, but it’s at work at the moment. If anyone has it, could they comment?

    The BBC are bravely covering games more and more, but this report rather suggested that they should attempt to grasp the English language first. If Hugh Pym’s last few sentences made sense to anyone, could they draw me a diagram? And has anyone ever seen an ‘internet site’ that was made of cardboard bushes in a physical room? I know it’s easy to get your language in a twist when talking about the metaverse, but shouldn’t their reporters at least be told what a website is before they go on the air? Anyway, I’m not really complaining, except in the sense that I am. My forehead was on TV. Someone even recognised me and e-mailed us.

    Tom Francis: I could address the question of why they were interviewing Margret, but I'm still not convinced I know myself. It was in 'relation' to the story I cover in my This Is Hardcore column in the mag next month, in which I also explain that it's a bit of a non-story. Eat it, BBC!

    craigp: I feel linked to.

    Rossignol: Greatest forehead on TV!

    Jason L: This is probably too late to help people who've already read the post, but I can try! I don't have a link to your alternative media file, but I do have one to Real Alternative, which allows playing all RealMedia files without the stuffing-a-tapeworm-in-your-RJ45 bit. There also exists a "Quicktime Alternative". Though Quicktime is nowhere near as buffoonish and fascist as RealPlayer, it does like to grab some file extensions and QuickAlt allows no nags and full-screen playback. Both also include Media Player Classic - MPC is one of the top two or three video player programs available on Windows.

    With a forehead like that, you should be on Star Trek.

    Graham: I'm settling in well!

    Sindre: Thank you for the Realplayer alternative. Finally!

    I friggin loved the PC Gamer planting, man. That's deliciously cruel of you, but still very funny.

    PS:If it's groovy with you, can I link to your blog from mine?

    Richard: I slog on with NaNoWriMo, hopeful that the ultimate satisfaction of hitting 50,000 words will be enough to offset the pain and sacrifice it's taking to get there.

    As for the BBC story, aren't you slightly miffed that while you got your forehead in shot, Graham managed to get his whole headphone crested noggin in there?

    JohnMid: Tom, it's a shame you've hit a wall with NaNoWriMo (stupidest psuedoacronym ever), but I'll admit to being secretly relieved in a way that even professional writers (as you are now, officially, and gratz, wewt and all that to you) can stumble, if not fall, at the same hurdles that defeated me every time I tried to do something similar.

    So I'd say. If you've got 20k-30k that would make a story you'd actually like to read youself, stuff the 50k target. Don't let the means become the end just for the sake of it.

    Jason L: You've seen real info on Defcon. You bastard. :) I'm on the fence until I see it in action - Introversion has yet to put a foot wrong, but I've been burned by missile-trading games before...and their AI programming's not exactly famous.

    Amirul B Ruslan: Heh. I finished NaNoWriMo, making it the youngest Malaysian ever to do so. It was a pain, yeah, but damn! the satisfaction.

    I forced people to read my book. My godmother's doing it now, in its printed-binded glory.