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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

New Ritual

It’s been a good month. I’ve spent most of it chronically exhausted from nightmare-induced sleep deprivation, ill, or feeling like I’m drowning in a treacle comprised of my own meaningless words, but still somehow a good month. Despite feeling like I’m getting nowhere with anything, I’ve written twenty-six pages of articles for the next issue to hit the shelves, and two of them have been the result of investigative digital tampering to acquire information no-one else has, something you could almost call journalism if it was about something serious. It wasn’t; it was about robotic aliens and death Gods; but that just made it more fun.

Now I’m sitting in my newly tidied room listening to the bluesy new Cat Power with my window open and bare feet, freezing slightly but enjoying the night air too much to do anything about it, and idly researching a link between avian flu and a fictional virus dreamed up last millenium.

I used to have a ritual, once I’d finished the disc each month, of stopping at Shakeaway for a carrot cake milkshake on the way back from delivering the masters to the postroom. Since I’m no longer a disc editor, I’m enstating a new ritual for when my work on an issue is done, based on a throwaway line by Amy Gardner from the West Wing:

Amy: I fought you, I lost, I went home, took a shower, had a drink. You know what I do when I win? Two drinks.

This month: two drinks!

Graham: Revisionism! There's revisionism going on here!

Tom Francis: Feel free to correct the quote if you remember it better.

Graham: I was actually referring to the other post you made, but have since deleted. As far as I know the West Wing quote is accurate.

Jason L: Actually if you're tricksssy Tom hasn't (yet) deleted anything per se - he's just broken the site's navigation so there are no links to some categories. Manually plugging the old values into the categoryname bit of the URL will still take you to the listings. For example, here is a link to all the TV shows/comments, not just the top four.

Unless you're referring to Classic James, which I was fortunate enough to wget three days before it vanished and still haven't gotten around to semi-with-permission mirroring. As soon as I have an X server again I'll try to put it up and link.

Graham: I was actually referring to a single post that originally followed the one we're commenting on, but which no longer does.

I feel that I probably shouldn't have drawn attention to it.

Tom Francis: Okay, so you're all talking about different nutso things about this site. The post Graham's talking about, Jason, really was deleted. I knew I'd delete it when I wrote it, but I was drunk and couldn't adequately justify not posting it to myself at the time. It wasn't anything interesting, just an idle stream of Sorkinisms. You now have full permission to upload whatever wherever - it's pretty clear I'm not going to get round to it myself. And as for old posts not being accessible except by trickery, that's just because I can't make archive pages work, and everyone complains if I put everything on one page.

Tom Francis: But thanks for reminding me - I meant to change the category headings on the left to link to all posts in that category. Now they do.

Jason L: Wrong again - darn and sorry. Navs fixed - yay and thanks!

Bobsy: See, this is the sort of discipline I don't have. If I missed my goals of a month, I'd have the two drinks anyway, and a third to quieten the guilt.