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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

Pandora’s Checkbox


Pandora, the brave internet radio system that tries to play new music you’ll like based on tonal qualities it shares with your favourite stuff, needs another button. At the moment you can tell it you love the song or hate it. You can also skip it without specifically expressing a dislike, which is handy when a song is your sort of thing but not quite what you feel like listening to at the moment. But increasingly I find I need one that says “Never, ever play anything like this ever again. But God damn this is good.”

Because it ignores all social stigma and other people’s opinions, because it’s quite often right, and because I’m playing it on my speakers in the office, it’s choices are sometimes a little embarrassing. It’s like someone suddenly pointing at you and saying “Somewhere, deep down, you’d quite like the fucking Cranberries.” No matter how fast you skip it, everyone knows who that was, and that it was picked for a reason.

I fear Pandora’s ambitious experiment may be doomed by fickle human whims, though. I loathed the first song it played to me when I rediscovered it recently, and when I went to give it a thumbs down, discovered that I’d already given it a thumbs up the last time it came on. Mind you, it’s just started playing Duran Duran, and it does have the appropriate button for that.

Tom Francis: Case in point: Andrew WK - Pushing Drugs. I never want to hear anything like it again. But put it on again, it's awesome.

Pushing drugs.

Grill: C'mon, *everyone* likes the Cranberries. Zombie, zombie, zombie, eh? They don't write lyrics like that any more.

(There's laws against it.)

bob_arctor: Well it fell at the first hurdle for me. The Aliens were not to be found. I don't care if they are a niche for only those who like the Beta Band, their EP is the most condensed goodness I've found in ages and ignorance is a crime!

I'm not working for them. They're just really good. Thanks to the Botherer for alerting me to them.

Damned Pandora. Not much of a box.