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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

Battlefield 2 Stats

I’ve now killed a thousand people. I’ve died fifteen hundred times doing it, but I’ve saved three hundred and fifty lives along the way. It’s taken me forty-six hours. I’ve won a hundred and one games, and lost ninety-one. That makes me a positive influence. If you see me on the enemy team, you should think “Uh oh, they’ve got Tom. That makes them more likely to win (than they would be otherwise).” I’ve killed twenty-four people with the knife in seven minutes of using it. My single worst-performing map – the one on which my win-to-lose ratio is lowest – is the one that comes up most often in the rotations on the servers I play on. I am cursed.

Battlefield 2 stats are interesting. More interesting is the game itself, my love for which was rekindled tonight when trying out Special Forces. Virtually nothing that’s new in SF had a bearing on the match, so it was basically just a revival. I hadn’t played online for months because Craig, Steve and I had discovered how much fun it was to try aerial stunts on a private LAN server – jumping from one helicopter to another in mid-air, for example. It’s completely different to the normal game, but somehow replaced it in my affections, leading to total neglect even after we stopped really doing the stunts thing too.

Tonight I played Medic, as I always do. I’ve spent less than fifteen percent of my time as classes other than the Medic. Sorry, it’s hard to shake the stats thing. It was a spectacular, incredibly tense and fiercely competitive game tonight – me, an excellent player on my team, and the star player of the enemy team all jostling for the top spot, all pretty sure we’d get a medal (Bronze, Silver or Gold) but all extremely ‘interested’ in which one it would be. I began swearing a lot, even though I was ahead. But somehow my complete jerkishness when playing Battlefield 2 never detracts from what I’m actually doing to get this score up – killing bad guys and saving lives. That remains an utterly pure, deeply instinctive and almost medatative act. When I see a black bar – a dead ally – the defibrillators come out seemingly without me moving my fingers, and he’s resurrected and his foes killed in almost the same motion. Even as I ask the enemy if they like that, cocksuckers, ha, didn’t think so, I care profoundly about the friend I’ve just saved, drop him a medkit in case he gets hurt again, respond to his manly “Thanks man,” with a stoic “You got it.”

I am a pure force, tipping the balance in our team’s favour in both ways – giving to one, takething away from the other. And I score one and a half points per minute.

Jason L: Jerkish Defacement Time!

Of course, that's not quite truthful - I would never pay money to add JetSkis, ATVs and Batropes™ to Battlefield anyway - but tsk tsk. They don't housetrain themselves, you know.

Jason L: Ah, wise move Mr. Chan - your lack of image tags has thwarted me and made me behave.

XXXXXsniperXXXXX: i killed tousand of peapol butt my stats never gett saved i dont know why.. Can anybody help me????

Tom Francis: You killed a load of people but got no recognition? You my friend are beyond help.

XXXXXsniperXXXXX: what is ping???? my ping is to low and to high.....