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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

Not Being A Spy

Some people seem to really enjoy playing Team Fortress 2 as a Heavy, or a Medic. Me, I just like not being a Spy. Pretty much anyone but the Spy. It’s nothing personal, he’s just not for me. Not my kind of class, you know? I’m a straightforward type. A straightforward, red-blooded, red team type. Love that red team.

Hello, I am not a Spy.

For example, I really like just sitting here, next to your turret. I’ve got it. You can go off and build teleporters or something. Oh, my name? Yeah, that’s just a coincidence. I guess you and I think alike – after all, we’re both straightforward types, on the red team, the best team of them all.

I also really like being healed. So that I can better kill all the blues. That’s why their bullets don’t look like they’re hurting me, by the way – because of your excellent healing. Thanks, red team medic. You and I are on the same side; the red team. Just regular joes, fighting the good fight against the blue team, who are the enemy of us both.

No, I’m not going to fire just yet. Why don’t you go ahead? Maybe you can lure them with your Syringe Gun. I’ll mop them up just as soon as you walk ahead of me. Go, red team!

I'm a Sniper

Boy, it’s good being a Sniper too. Just us two Snipers, up here on the battlements. It’s a great view. I particularly like how we shoot at things, like blue guys, who we hate, because of the way in which we’re on the red team. I shoot at things all the time. Not right now, but usually.

I also turned off my laser sight. I didn’t like it. You know what I find helps? If you stand just a little way away from the wall, your aim improves loads. The wall really cramps your style sometimes. I don’t know if it’s an elbow thing or what, but just taking a few steps forwards does the trick. And staying scoped. Always stay scoped.

Sometimes things go wrong. Like this one time, all my turrets and dispensers fell apart one after the other for no reason. There were no enemies around, except this one dead guy who looked like a good ol’ red Engineer, but he had my name so I guess he must have been a Spy. Spies, eurgh. Who’d have them?

I'm an Engineer

It’s the same when I dress up as and really am the Medic, on the red team, as always. For some reason my medigun never really works properly, and pretty soon my Heavy falls over. I’m kind of new at this, but I enjoy it all the same. It’s kind of fun, despite the tragic loss to the red team; the best team, and the one that I’m genuinely on.

Whatever class I play, the maps have some spots I love to hang out. Under bridges and stuff. There’s a few backrooms in Well that are just cool to stand around in, then wander back out into the fight like nothing happened, which it of course didn’t. Yay red!

The only thing I’m not wild about in Team Fortress 2 is when my own team – the reds, my favourite team – shoot me. It doesn’t hurt, because I’m on their team, the red team, and there’s no friendly fire. But it hurts inside. Just the idea that my friends think I’m a Spy. A Spy! I hate those jerks.

In fact, here come the Blue team right now. I might just show them what I think of them by going over there. I think I can break into their Resupply room and get some health, which I don’t need. I found a powerup that lets me do that. BRB.



Inflatable Moron: Thanks to people like you all my Episode 2 anticipation has been transferred to Team Fortress 2!

October is taking it's damn time coming..

Grill: It's odd, Tom, because once when I was playing on the opposition Blue team against you, also not as a spy, definitely as a Blue sniper, I saw a Red Medic with my name running towards me. It was very confusing, but I guess I had an identical twin brother or something. Then I fell over and stuff; it was very discombobulating.

The_B: Today I ran down a corridoor and saw a fellow Blue engineer running towards me. I thought I'd help him by swinging my wrench at him, after all - he was sharing my name.

But then he fell over and seemed to disappear, leaving some red corpse I guess he was carrying...

Seniath: It's funny, we were playing on a server without FF turned on, and I bumped into you, my fellow blue player, in a corridor. Trigger happy pyromaniac that I am, I let off a burst of flame (I just can't help it sometimes) in your direction. Oddly enough, you caught on fire and then ran off round a corner. I thought that somewhat odd, so went to investigate, but saw no sign of you, just the slightly crispy corpse of someone wearing a red pinstripe suit. Creepy *cue X-File music*

Tom Francis: Then it is as I thought. The case is unsolvable!

Leo: The only time I'm not a spy is when I'm a scout. I never go heavies or engineers or soldiers or medics or pyros or demolition men or snipers, because they're all rubbish. Only the spy is brilliant. Scouts are less brilliant, but still brilliant.

I'm basically always dead.

J-man: I love being a spy. A red spy. Strangely my cloak doesn't work, I'll have to get that fixed. And I lost my cigarette case. And my knife. And sapper. And my new jacket is weirdly inflammable. And I've run out of ammo too. Huh.