All posts


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.

  • html color: This is the information I am looking for. This article is clear and easy to understand. I’m...
  • Grant: Thanks to the start of this video, I’ve just now noticed that during the static flickers while staring...
  • Ben: Great analysis. During the lab sequence in the Prey intro, you were looking around for tells that Morgan is in a...
  • 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...
  • 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



    Really, really like the look of this. New York City is my favourite place on Earth so far, and this doesn’t just look like it, it feels like it. Of course, my favourite thing about NYC is that the people are a) diverse and b) frequently shockingly nice, and the defining feature of the 3D GTA games has been that the people in them are a) a handful of clones and b) incessently and predictably hateful. So that’s probably not going to work out.

    But this is the first time since we were last in Liberty City that a GTA game hasn’t been garish. It looks serious, sombre. Try to picture a Vice City or San Andreas trailer with that music. This looks majestic. However amateurish the combat and missions have been in GTA games, the one thing they do with professional aplomb is storytelling. If they’re choosing to tell the story of a slave-trading (bride-selling?) Russian immigrant, they’ll tell it with the appropriate gravity.

    They told Vice City’s Scarface tale with appropriate style, and San Andreas’s homecoming with appropriate attitude. But in Vice City I was a mealy-mouthed prick, and in San Andreas I was a sad, stupid little man. If I can’t be the mute blank slate in a leather jacket I was in GTA3, a depressed and amoral Eastern European is still a dramatic step up.


    Dabs: I want to play this more than any other game I've ever wanted to play. This'll be the reaosn I finally pick up a 360 or PS3 and the decision which will be exclusively based upon which version is the stronger product. There's some discussion going on regarding the finer details of the trailer over on Preys-World, if you're at all interested:

    http://forum.preys-w... ...;start=240

    Dabs: I want to play this more than any other game I've ever wanted to play. This'll be the reason I finally pick up a 360 or PS3 and the decision which will be exclusively based upon which version is the stronger product. There's some discussion going on regarding the finer details of the trailer over on Preys-World, if you're at all interested:

    Dabs: I want to play this more than any other game I've ever wanted to play. This'll be the reaosn I finally pick up a 360 or PS3 and the decision which will be exclusively based upon which version is the stronger product.

    Tim E: I think Dabs really, really likes it.

    Dabs: Just a tad. I would happily sacrifice Valve to play this right now.

    Sorry for the triple post also - obviously feel free to delete the bottom two.

    Tom Francis: But then Tim's joke wouldn't work. And if I deleted that, I'd have to delete your response to it, and this response to that. It would be a catastrophic deletion-cascade. Tell you what, I'll fix one of the 'reaosn's.

    Why the delerium, anyway? Did you prefer the previous GTA games to the Half-Life games?

    The_B: You know, I was pointing the exact same thing out to my flatmates today: this does appear to be the first GTA game that doesn't seem as "cartoonish" as the others. On one hand, it makes me slightly excited to see the series grow up.

    On the other hand. Well, we already have the NYC politicians up in arms for no real reason already. I think that speaks for itself.

    Dabs: Needless to say it's a difficult comparison. I've never made it a secret that I'm fanboy-mad about both, although if I was put back in time 8 years and someone told me you can either play no Half-Life games from now on or no more GTA games, I'd not hesitate to wave Gordon off. I love GTA's 'make your own fun' freedom, its sense of humour, its scope, the cars (their variety, how they handle ... as a car nut, I'm especially about the cars). There's so much about it that I love and so often I could keep returning to it, if only I had the ocean of available time required. As great as Half-Life and Half-Life 2 are, the things they're good at are far fewer in number and the amount of entertainment that you can reasonably draw from them is far less, in my own experience at least.

    I feel pretty safe saying that when I play Episode Two, I'll love it for its 6-hour duration and will be satisfied when it's over but I know that when I play GTA IV, I will love it even more and for months.

    Dabs: Also, speaking of IV specifically, it looks especially incredible. Liberty City, and by extension GTA 3 as a whole, was comfortably my favourite of the post-GTA 2 GTAs, and as you've explained well yourself, this looks, by quite a long way, even better - "majestic". Also, whilst I wasn't immediately sure what I made of the character, an Eastern European ex-human-trafficker is intriguing enough for me to have faith in Rockstar North that they'll be able to do his story justice.Basically, I just think this game has massive potential based on that teaser and what excites me is that it's RN who'll be exploring it.

    Tom Francis: That quote was hilarious. "Crime? In New York City? Oh, you and your games!"

    Dabs: It was the "selling pornography to children" to "advance in the game" one that got me. Someone remind me which mission that was because I'm a bit foggy.

    Graham: Part of me is glad they're bringing the franchise back to grit, to its core legitimacy and the kind of charicatured reality we saw in GTA3, rather than Vice City or San Andreas.

    Another part of me is hoping telephone boxes still vocally squiggle when you answer them, and that the Russian isn't as sulky as he appears in the video. Someone needs to tell him to cheer up.

    All parts of me are hoping they fix the combat, make the missions more fun, and give you actual agency over the city.

    Rob: I'm sure they'll fix the combat, it's been on the critical nag list since GTA III and if they don't get it right this time (despite the fact that similar games since like Saints Row and Crackdown have also got it wrong) then I don't see Rockstar's critical cadre remaining entirely positive.

    I don't think the characters in previous games were clones - unless you're talking about the pedestrians, etc, which was surely only a technical neccesity. The speaking cast of all the GTAs have been witty and vibrant like no other series. Uniformly hateful, perhaps, but that's the particular slice of life it's trying to portray, and I'm sure that however amazing NYC is it has just the same amount of hate in it as anywhere else.

    I think that the gaming public (and surely yourself) is easily able to distinguish between real life NYC and Rockstars own inflected Liberty City version. It has always been based on it, and bared a strong resemblence, and I think now that they have the hardware to do it justice, they're going for an even more accurate take on it because this can only allow them more accurate satire, which is ultimately their game.

    It's the right time to get serious, and I'm pretty sure they'll do it without disrespecting anyone or thing that doesn't deserve it.