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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

    Not Lasting

    “ is a service that records what you listen to, and then presents you with an array of interesting things based upon your tastes — artists you might like, users with similar taste, personalised radio streams, charts, and much more.”

    I guess my only problems with it, at the moment, is that it doesn’t record what I listen to or present me with an array of interesting things based on my tastes – artists I might like, users with similar taste, personalised radio streams, charts, or anything else.

    It’s installed two plugins – one for Winamp which Winamp doesn’t recognise and which doesn’t work, and one for Media Player which Media Player recognises but which doesn’t work. The only time it understands that I’m listening to anything at all is when I use their dedicated player, which doesn’t know what to play me because it doesn’t know what I like. When it finally did play something I liked, I discovered there’s no way to tell it I like a track once it’s finished playing. It knows I heard it, but all it seems able to do with this information is display that fact on my profile page.

    What on earth is this thing? What does it actually do? I keep hearing it compared to Pandora, but the way Pandora works is that I tell it what I like, it plays me things it thinks I might like, and I tell it whether or not I do. So far every stage of that process appears to be impossible with

    felix (last/): well the trick is that everything you listen to we assume you like and

    felix ( (did I hit return instead of backspace just now) ... everything you skip i.e. don't listen to you didn't like.

    this data is enough to build your profile and recommend you stuff later. you can also love and ban songs that take your particular fancy in either direction. we don't want you to give feedback all the time as that is too much work. we like observing.

    as to getting it going, try the "tune in" tab on the client. search for some artists you like and will play you similar stuff.

    so far the handholding, hope you get the hang of it. otherwise there is some more info on
    have fun

    The_B: Tom, I'm quite suprised at you for not being able to get Last FM working. But then I forgive you. Because I'd be a stuck up bastard if I didn't...

    Well, the first thing is that it's just had a bloody redesign, which confuses things a bit.

    Anyway, why is the plugin not working on WMP? HAve you configured it correctly first by going to Tools>Plugins>Options>Background>Audioscobbler plugin>Properties?

    The_B: (Oh yeah, one of the changes means you now have to accept friends and stuff so, yeah...)

    The_B: Gah. I just checked and since they updated it they've also now changed the way you configure it... Erm, OK - is "Enable scrobbling" enabled?

    Tom Francis: Cheers Felix. I give up, though. Scrobbling still doesn't work for me even with a fresh install of the latest Winamp and, and the dedicated player keeps saying "Not enough content" even though I've added about thirty bands. It also forgets them all when I close the window. I despair!

    The_B: Probably a stupid question. (Don't hurt me) but you have allowed the plugin past your firewall, and you have inputted your username and password into the plugin correctly?

    Grill: Ah, you have to listen to a couple of hundred songs and you also have to wait a couple of weeks. It does work eventually though and it's worth it. :) Not tried the Winamp plugin but I've got the Media Player one working on three pretty varied computers.

    Jason L: How about iRate? It's a bit clunkier in the transparency department, but the rating's truly collaborative as opposed to a simple numerical match. I'm loving it.

    Jason L: Aw, dammit. I'm sorry, please clean up my stupid HTML mess.

    Timmargh: The plug-in works fine on my *cough*Mac*cough*.

    Tom Francis: Heh, your broken html didn't get through because links get held for moderation, and then I approved it without checking it. Fixed now. seems to be working this machine at work, although only for about half of what I listen to. I suspect it uses ID3 tags, and I typically do not. The tracks I have here mostly do.

    Alex Hopkinson: Yeah I think Scrobbling requires ID3 tags to work. I found the MusicBrainz tagger worked really well to automatically tag up my mp3s.