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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

This Month In Terrible, Part 1: Anti-DRM T-Shirts

To fight the good fight against the evil legions of Digital Rights Management that are currently making it impossible for anyone on the planet to enjoy music, people who like to steal things have banded together to come up with a T-shirt design that will shame all multinationals into simply cancelling their copy protection plans and releasing all of their music for free, ceasing to exist in the process. Some highlights:

anti drm tee shirt contest design

Ohh, now I get it!


anti drm tee shirt contest design

Quite a reasonable point.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

I- no hang on, what?


anti drm tee shirt contest design

Ahh. Right. Well, I think this is clear enough. DRM must be stopped to save the king of puppet-berets from pointing to the trolley of film reels.

The only thing I’m still not sure of is what would actually happen if you did cut the string in this diagram.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

Whatever they’re paying the guy who came up with this, it’s not enough.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

The gentleman’s protest.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

When those suits see this, it’s gonna blow their minds. “That’s- that’s what we were! All along!


anti drm tee shirt contest design

I don’t get this one. Is the dove music, and he’s been locked up but can still fly somehow, or has the dove stolen the padlock of DRM from the olive tree of music and is now taking it to the trash out back?


anti drm tee shirt contest design

Intellectual property regulation? Sir, I refer you to my cock.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

As a satirical acrostic backronym, this only really fails by one letter.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

This may actually be the best diagram ever drawn. I hadn’t realised before how many games and documents from space were simply bouncing off our atmosphere because of the Anti-DRM padlock. We should get rid of that thing. I don’t know why the Australians even built it.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

Yeah! Let DRM out of the cage that is music! Music is killing DRM!


anti drm tee shirt contest design

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but preventing me from copying music is a little like raping me.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

I think we can all agree with whatever the hell this means.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

See, because it’s like, DRM is the three-legged green-eyed Giraffe of Dismay, and the RIAA is the elderly man riding it, and that makes people with fans dance like John Travolta.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

Yes. This is just like that.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

And we all know how rubbish disabled people are.


anti drm tee shirt contest design

Isn’t that just kind of annoying?

Bobsy: I haven't giggled that much in ages. Well done, sir!

Tentaculat: Wait a minute. That's not rape, that's the Heimlich Manoeuvre! Look, the Green guy is obviously choking to death... and DRM guy is saving his life. Hooray for DRM guy!

Timmargh: Haha, good stuff.

I was going to write a small essay about the fact that I took offence at the "disabled people are rubbish" comment until my live-in carer pointed out that I am, in fact, a crap crip. The bitch is always right ...

Tom Francis: Heh. That design got a depressing number of votes, so I think if anything it needed an even more offensive summary of its bigotry. The even scarier part of the equation is that it appears to create a person.

Dabs: I lolled. Although as you say, the disabled person design and Martin Luthor King Jr. comparison were more depressing than anything else.

Dabs: Luther, even. I've been confusing him with Lex again.

SenatorPalpatine: I want the "DeaR Me!" shirt badly.