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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

Team Fortress 2 Update Reactions

This just went live, and makes me happy in several ways.

  • Added an option in the Options->Multiplayer dialog to filter custom game files being downloaded from servers


  • Fixed cases where ragdolls were falling through the world


  • Graphics optimizations for mid and low end hardware


  • Fixed players blocking doors in Well


  • Fixed engineer building in exploit areas on final caps in Well


  • Increased starting round timer to 10 minutes in Well


But my favourite Steam Update News – and I apologise if you’d hoped I might do something like a ‘Films of the Year’ post instead of this – was actually a little while ago.

  • Added effects to players when they earn an achievement, visible to other players nearby

Cool. But isn’t there an achievement for tricking an enemy Medic into healing you while you’re disguised? Would this not give the game away somewhat?

A few days later:

  • Fixed cloaked/disguised/disguising spy reporting his achievements to everyone else

Reason Valve should hire me #26: totally saw that one coming.


roBurky: Heh. I experienced that spy achievement one the day they put that in. Healed my soldier buddy as he ran past me. Fireworks go off above his head.

Needless to say, I decided he needed something amputated.

Tom Francis: The bonesaw is so awesome. I needed a screenshot of it in action today, so I hopped on PC Format's server and went on a rampage, expecting to die repeatedly before I got the money shot. Instead, I beat my record for consecutive Medic kills: 4.

I like that he doesn't attempt to saw them with it, he just kind stabs it, into their face. That's medicine.

Alek: "Fixed players blocking doors in Well"

Hm. Is this the bug that resulted in the TRIVIA TIME section of that one Team Fortress 2 Griefing Video?

roBurky: Killing as a medic is my favourite thing in TF2. It's like my elaborate plans to kill people with cargo haulers in Eve, I just love the ironic role reversal of it. I think my highest record is still 7 kills as a medic, though.

Spartacus Morbidia, Destroyer of Dreams: All of this is pure chocolate in update form. What other developer but Valve would do this? Perhaps Well will stop ending so often in those tiresome stalemates.

Stalemates were invented for France, not my Team Fortresses.

Tom Francis: Best. Username. Ever.