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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

24: Drink When…

  • Someone annoying is kidnapped.
  • A terrorist informs another terrorist that “Everything is proceeding as planned.”
  • A terrorist assumes Jack is dead.
  • The person in charge of CTU makes a bad call.
  • Jack goes rogue.
  • Jack is fired.
  • Jack is arrested.
  • Jack breaks out of CTU.
  • Jack is reinstated to CTU.
  • “Protocol.”
  • Someone gives a hopelessly vague order (“Take precautions.” “Make something happen.”)
  • Someone gives a redundant order (“Proceed as planned.” “Execute the next stage.”)
  • The president screws up a common phrase (“Keep me closely posted.” “We’ll cross that bridge when the situation presents itself.”)
  • Someone at CTU has to go behind their boss’s back to help Jack.
  • “We don’t have time!”

Graham: You need to specifically drink when the following happens:

Jack beats up a member of CTU.
Jack threatens someone with torture.

"I'll tell you wh--"

Grill: Also; neck the pint every time Jack dies.

erdniS: - "Chloe, I need you to get me access to...!"

- Jack only JUST misses the terrorists and screams "Damn it!"

- They bring in the torture doctor in the questioning room

Rodafowa: - Somebody asks how long something will take.

- The answer comes back, "about fifteen minutes".

- Or someone asks how long before something happens.

- And is told "within the hour."

- A terrorist gets killed by his own boss.

- A suspect who's CTU's only lead in their current investigation gets killed.

- If a terrorist suspect who's CTU's only lead in their current investigation gets killed by his own boss, drink double.

- Jack Bauer says "there's no time!" in an exasperated voice.

- Or "that's too long!"

- Or "I need it now!"

- Or "what are you talking about?"

- Something bad happens that Jack Bauer just fails to prevent, and looks stunned as we cut away to an ad break. After the break, Jack is still standing with the exact same expression, having apparently just stood there like a bloody lemon for three or four minutes doing absolutely nothing.

- If he then immediately leaps into action, berating all and sundry for not realising how little time there is, for taking too long, for not giving him stuff he needs now and/or for not properly explaining what they're talking about, drink triple.

- Jack asks for something to be sent to his screen.

- Someone in CTU asks someone else to "open a socket."

- Or to transfer something to a terminal.

- Or uses the word "bandwidth".

- Or says "I'm putting you on speakerphone!"

- Everyone at CTU is told that something is their only priority.

- CTU foils a terrorist threat that was their only priority, but then discover it was just a cover for an even bigger threat. Which is now their only priority.

- Somebody gets kidnapped.

- An attractive woman turns out to be a ruthless terrorist.

- Somebody makes arcane but cooly military-looking hand-signals to their partner while sneaking into a terrorist base.

- Despite obviously having a supply of armour and automatic weapons on-hand, despite being surrounded by people who're sensibly wearing helmets and carrying the biggest guns they can lay hands on, Jack leads a raid equipped with only a bulletproof vest and an automatic pistol.

- CTU gets infiltrated by someone working for a terrorist.

- A member of a CTU backup team whose name hasn't been mentioned gets killed.

- A member of CTU's staff is escorted to a holding cell by burly security guards.

- The head of CTU is replaced by somebody else. Honestly, between the fact that security ensigns on the starship Enterprise had a longer life-expectancy than your average CTU field op, the constant threat of being dragged off to a cell and having seven shades kicked out of you by your own colleagues, and that even if you DO somehow last long enough to get promoted you're likely to be relieved of your duties after being in the job for less than ten hours, it's a wonder the place ever manages to recruit anybody at all.

- Jack disobeys orders.

- Or tortures somebody for information.

- Or has a warrant put out for his arrest.

- If he disobeys orders, tortures someone for information and has a warrant put out for his arrest as a result, just go ahead and finish the sodding bottle.

Jelli: Only to be tried during the first series. E

Jelli: Only to be tried during the first series. Everytime Jack says the phrase 'My wife and daughter' 'I just want to get my wife and daughter back' 'I just want to know my wife and daughter are safe' 'my wife and daughter have been kidnapped' 'my wife and daughter are being held hostage'.

Dante: -Every time someone who fancies Kim is brutally maimed/murdered.

Yes I know this was from ages ago, but I was watching 24 recently and... ah hell, no-one's ever going to see this anyway.

Sam: I saw it Dante, I saw it.

Dante: I saw that you saw it

Tom Francis: THIS ENDS NOW.

x25killa: *necks a pint*

Tom Francis: The Fringe just beat 24 for vaguest order ever:

"I want everyone doing everything."

Dinger: So drink every time anything happens.

Jaz: Wow. Turns out I really did know everything I needed to know about 24.

Tom Francis: "within the hour" is a good one.

Soon, too, we're going to need one for when the person people are unfairly suspicious of turns out to be evil after all.

MartinJ: Every time Jack breaks a CTU keypad to lock himself inside a room.

(You gotta wonder who's the manufacturer of those, they've gotta make a lot of money for supplying CTU with new ones all the time.)

Mr Bubbles: When Jack says "You have to trust me."

And also when a mole is revealed at the end of an episode because they ran out of cliffhanger endings.