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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

    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