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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

Quick BioShock Warning

If you’re anything like me, the first thing you do with a newly installed game is delete the interminable publisher logo movies. You’re told BioShock is by 2K three times each time you start it, and have to read unskippable copyright blurb in four different languages – so much of it they have to split it across two separate unskippable screens.

You can delete them with BioShock – the movie you hate is first alphabetically in the Content/BinkMovies folder, and called 2KG_logo_720P.bik. But for God’s sake, open that folder in a very small Explorer window. Remember those three words I was talking about, the ones that ruin the game? Two movies lower down in that folder are called exactly that. Genius.

Also, if you install the game on one machine and don’t need it there anymore, uninstall it properly – especially if you’re going to reinstall Windows or format the hard drive. Each time you install it uses up one of your Activations, and you’ve only got two. Each time you uninstall it gives you that one back. So if you just delete the folder or reinstall Windows, you lose that Activation forever. Genius.

On the plus side, I hear the game’s quite good.

Tom Francis: Ooh, look out for the System Shock 2 hypo noise early on. Only just spotted it.

The_B: This weekend is going to be the longest of my gaming life.

And by weekend I mean - entire time until I can afford to upgrade enough to play BioShock.

Jonty: Hypo noise? Where?

Alex Hopkinson: Deleting that movie file sounds like a job for the trusty command prompt then, rather than explorer. Do you happen to know if it can be safely deleted in the Steam copy as well (with no "I shall now re-download your entire game without asking you!" side effects)?

The_B: Alex - I'm not certain how well this will work from a fresh install, but in theory, right click on BioShock in your My Games list, then click "Properties" and select the Updates tab, then change it to "Never update this game" or something like that.

Altough as I say, not sure if it will work.

Bobsy: I hate everyone who this doesn't happen to.

DuBBle: I'm waiting for the lodge that holds my mail, and my Bioshock pre-order, to open up... 90 mins to go damnit. Thanks for the warning.

DuBBle: My mind is refining pure rage. The activation failed and customer support are in no hurry to reply. FURY!

Tom Francis: This has just become an utter disgrace. When you're planning this stuff, and you get to the part where it won't always work, and that'll leave legitimate players locked out, you have to have the kind of people in the room who'll say "Damn, we can't do it that way then." I don't know what room it was or who the people were, but somehow the attitude became "Oh well."

This makes me angry.

DuBBle: Perhaps the people in that fateful room derived apathy from an arrogant observation of their game's brilliance. I've got the silly thing working now (customer support replied after four hours) and I don't think their attitude was "Oh well", more like, "Oh, hell, they'll forgive us for anything once they experience Rapture".

Graham: I was just looking through the video files in that folder, and it turns out there are three endings.


Tom Francis: 'Kill' and 'Harvest' looks like different takes of the same ending to me. Is that what you meant?

Graham: Yes. I'm just wondering by what means you get one rather than the other.