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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 don’t recall where I was when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, but I think I’ll always remember that I was sitting right here in the office when Nintendo renamed the Revolution.

Jason L: Yeah. I know both, and I'm reminding myself right now that it's just a games console, just a games console.

I mean, what? GameCube (second-best console name ever, after the Dreamcast) dying because of a "kiddie" image? Years of grooming third-party relationships for a more adult-friendly image this generation? Huge success among older consumers with the DS? Any bells? Guys? Hello?

I'm saying this everywhere I can post: I'm just going to keep calling it the Revo until they somehow force me to do otherwise. Their marketing idiots can go drown for all I care. It could be our own little Nintendo Revolution.

Tom Francis: A games console named after urine.

The_B: The bit that cracks me up in the press release:

"Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii."

Come on everyone - let's Wii together!

Tom Francis: Actually, this Wired article in defense of the name is pretty convincing:

Peter Hopkins: *sighes*

Jason L: Yes, something like "Wii" would have been great, Mr. Wired Writer. But "Wii" isn't. When your product makes Joe Sixpack snicker as he passes it in Wal-Mart, or when you're homping for the "Wii" to become the cool console for Christmas, something's wrong.

It's actually as simple as this: I could easily have gotten behind "Wi". That evokes the English word, is unambiguous to pronounce, does not specifically evoke toilet humour, and is equally dynamically nonsensical. It would have been a thousand times better.

Tom Francis: That's a good point, actually - it's the double-i that makes it sound more like 'wee' than 'we'.

Peter Hopkins: Have you seen the video of the logo? although I'm unsure of the name, the animatic video is very Nintendo. Really not looking forwaard to the time when you have to walk into a game retailer and ask: "excuse me, may have a Wii please?"
Stock phrase - "Sorry Sir, the company doesn't have customber toilets, haa haa haa"

Lithilk: I see no problem with it. Easy to remember for being plain stupid and all that.

roBurky: I think part of the problem is that we is not a noun. If you use that sound as a noun, it can only mean wee.

Peter Hopkins: The best thing for this is to wait for E3 :) ok so Nintendo claim its legit. but is this punk'd???? best form of advertising = word of mouth

meaning = to recognise our product, start something up that isn't genuine and get people talking about it. Move on... this maybe a complete wind up, from what I've heard (and only as hear say) many legalities have not be registered. does this not strike as odd....

then again it maybe true and I'll eat my shorts if it is. :)

roBurky: It's also the name in Japan and everywhere else in the world, though, where wee does not mean urine. If Nintendo were planning it to be a wind-up, it'd be a bit mean on everyone who doesn't speak english.

Jason L: Yeah, that little conspiracy theory's already been addressed. As far as I know, Nintendo hasn't out-and-out lied to their customers for the last decade, unless you want to count changing their minds on DS. Trademarks take time to be registered.

Every indication is that Wii was cooked up in Japan, with Japan as the primary target market, and the English-speaking departments are just having to put the best spin on it they can. Who knows how they had to lobby to do the announcement early and let us simmer down before E3.

Dave: i think it is a games felxablility AS a game that adds to the greatness; while you could stick to the actuall objectives OF the game i.e., capture all the flags, kill all the enemies, the fact that it lets you do OTHER things in place of those adds to and changes the way one thinks of a "game". i would consider it to be "playing" HL2 even if i am only seeing how far i can launch that baby doll in the begining using the see-saw and some bricks because it is a part of the "game" that i am playing and even though i should be busting Combine heads in i am taking the time to mess around in the environment while playing. i would just never say to someone, "yeah, i'm throwing babies around in Half-Life 2" no, i would tell them i am playing HL2, but i'm just throwing a toddler around in a basket (and seeing how many bullets i can get the Combine to put into it, lol).

Dave: uuuuuuhhh, this was supposed to go with the BF2 pic and that games conversation. . . i have no idea how it ended up here.

but then again i agree with the "just onw i" thing

Tom Francis: Update: I am now officially used to the name. It got said a lot at E3, so I think most attendees have had its humour value hammered out of them.