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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.

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: The Movie Script

British Airwaves

You’re supposed to feed a cold and starve a fever, I think, but I’m not sure what you do if you have a cold and a throat so sore that you can’t swallow food without hitting something and saying “Motherfucker!” afterwards. So far I’m dosing Halls, Lockets, Oraldene, 300% of my RDA in Vitamin C and Zinc and 200% of my RDA in sleep – to no avail.

I’m blaming British Airways, this time, for sitting me next to a door. a) Why would you put an Expensive Class seat somewhere too cold for human survival even under a blanket with the heating on maximum, and b) shouldn’t the doors on a plane be, like, airtight? Might my freezing be a symptom of a rather more serious problem at umpteen thousand feet? The two things BA can’t seem to get right are sending your baggage to the same hemisphere as you and an in-flight entertainment system that actually works. If they’re also failing to maintain hull integrity, I’m not sure they even qualify as an airline anymore. ‘Airborne torture wagon’ might be closer.

Are flights in one direction faster than in the other direction because you’re so high up that the air you’re flying through isn’t quite rotating on the Earth’s axis as fast as the ground? Because that’s kind of awesome if it’s true.

Anyway, since actual remedies aren’t working and pretty much everything causes an equal amount of pain now, I’m coiling up with chorizo cheese on toast, a flagon of coffee and a Damages triple-bill. I’m slightly gay for Tate Donovan.

ImperialCreed: I've just recovered from a simialr infection - I had two golfballs in the back of my throat that looked suspiciously like tonsils, and the pain was near unbearable. Anyway. Prescription drugs are the way to go, so get thee to a physician lest you know someone who has some spare Clavamel pills lying around. Which I do, in fact. But you can't have them.

Tom Francis: Heh. Saving them for a good night in? The only other thing I have in the way of medicine is a bottle of 12 year-old Armagnac. It hasn't quite come to that, yet.

Iain: Theoretically, flights from East to West should be slightly faster than flights from West to East, because you're flying contrary to the Earth's direction of rotation on it's axis. I'm sure the effect is pretty negligible, though, because of considerations like the conservation of angular momentum. I'll have to have a think about frames of reference, the effect of the speed of the Earth's rotation on the airplane's effective ground speed and the like and try and figure out how big the effect is... but I expect it's probably minuscule.

Tom Francis: A few people assure me it's just headwinds. How dull.