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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

Top 100 Musings #1: Battlefield 2


With four people in a room, on the same team on an empty map, throwing themselves from one flying vehicle to the next, Battlefield 2 is the most fun you can have without drugs. But how much does that count towards its greatness as a game, given that you’re not really playing the game?

The_B: Ok, excuse me while I get over-philosophical here...

If a "game" is something that we "play" then, even if we are not sticking to the rules of the original "game", are we still not playing a game, or are we playing different game?

To that end, should indivudal "games" that are in the box be classed as such, or are they simply the foundation on which we make our own "games" from the world/enviroment provided on the disk?

Example: Oblivion. Sure, I could do the story, do the quest, whatever. Or I could set myself my own goal of attempting to run through as many Oblivion portals as I can wearing nothing but my dignity? I'm a still playing a game, yet it's not one the designers hard coded into the game. And, as a result, it's also only my own self satisfaction from "completing" my "game".

That's also a hell of a lot of speech marks. I'd format this thing into paragraphs, but I'll mess it up. End of rambling.

Tom Francis: I think of it as 'not playing the game' in BF2 because it feels like it wasn't designed with that type of screwing around in mind. But it may have been. Oblivion was definitely designed to let you mess around, and even some of the ways you can break the game must be things they were aware of and decided not to fix. I'm probably just being hard on BF2, though - they're certainly aware that people do this stuff.

The_B: Well, maybe Oblivion is a bad example then. The next example that did come to my head however, is that of Speed Running, - there aren't that many games with that mode hard coded (Tomb Raider Legend being the only recent example I can think of) but it has a massive following - even if that is a player-made game mode at it's most basic level.

Although as you say, should a game be marked higher or lower for what it lets you do, or what it doesn't let you do? And then, is it being marked as a "game" or an "interactive enviroment"?

(Thanks for the formatting by the way)

Graham: I think speedrunning, stunt-doing and box-collecting (as per HL2 DM) are just side-effects of the mechanics in these games. As such, they're indirectly considered in the greatness of a game when those mechanics themselves are rated.

More plainly said, the stunts done in Battlefield 2, in the office, are possible because it has planes and boats and jeeps and huge maps. All that would be considered when reviewing or numerically placing the game in the world of PC gaming.

So the potential for crazy antics can't help but be recognised when we say BATTLEFIELD 2 IS NOT QUITE AS GOOD AS YOU THINK IT IS.

It's about three places worse than that.

Peter Hopkins: never really got into the BF games, as much as I like period games I didn't like BF, nor its sequel. And the 3rd – well, lets not go on too much of a rant but please design studios come up with original idea, not take from Quake Wars and repackage with strogg-less environments (//end rant). – Sorry I have a nice history with Q series (mr P will understand here, don’t like rips)

Found BF environments sparse, bland, designed too much for vehicle combat rather than multiple use levels (on foot etc.) COD1 – much nicer and dead good esp. in an office ïÅ

FinalSin: I like this idea. I like it because it reminds me of when I used to play Command And Conquer when I was... ooh... eight or nine years old. The Slovakia level as the GDI was so much fun for me, because I found a way to pen the computer into their own base, allowing me to act out my own stories on the map.

Over and over again, I'd send in commando teams and rescue them with chinooks. I'd stage mass clashes in the tiberium fields, or rescue prisoners of war from their SAM site facility to the south. It wasn't - to use a tacky phrase - "The way it's meant to be played", but it was using the game world to have fun. And that's one of the best things a game can offer you - a second way of playing.

I've been like it ever since, really. Following the main gaming thread is great. But the reason certain games are special is because you can use your own imagination to inject something of yourself into the game. The difference between Oblivion's NPCs and my A-Team in Half-Life 2 is that I made the drama between my resistance fighters myself, whereas Bravil's inhabitants are plonked there, fully-fleshed out. My team of City 17 liberators were, in part at least, my own creation.

It's a furry, fluffy side of gaming that's a guilty pleasure. It's like singing into a hairbrush. Or using a pool cue as a lightsaber.


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).

scott: I think bf2 is relly good becuase u get 2 kill people

scott: soz 4 spelling really wrong lol

scott: EA need new maps 4 bf2

ben new: yea i now

scott: hi admi & all

scott weaver: hi scott
i love bf2