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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.

  • RoboLeg: this game would be PERFECT for mobile, and I’d happily pay 10 bucks or so for it.
  • Jepp: 1) Please keep critiquing games by building new ones :) 2) The non-hand holding, simple systems integrating...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • Spaceman Moses: One-eyeing this on my phone from the depths of my covers I lazily ask: what do you mean XCOM2 clarity...
  • kripto: For what it’s worth, I also like Morphblade more than Imbroglio. Although, to be fair, I’ve also...
  • 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

    SWAT 4: The Movie Script

    EVE Assassins

    EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

    “The simultaneous ambush and galaxy-wide hangar theft inflicted financial damage upwards of 30 billion ISK – $16,500 US dollars at’s prices. The value of the stolen assets utterly dwarfed the original fee for the job. And yet the only item the Guiding Hand’s anonymous client requested for himself was the cold, dead body of the target. It’s safe to say this was personal.”

    A prompt two years after it was originally published, my story about the Guiding Hand Social Club assassins is finally (legally) online. At the time a lot of bad J-PEGs of it cropped up online, and since we didn’t actually have a website of our own then, we tolerated the ones that actually bothered to note the piece came from PC Gamer. But now it’s in actual html and – in a column of that width – about as good as I can humanly make it look.

    My favourite bit of it, inevitably, is the bit I didn’t write: the responses to the heist from the Intergalactic Summit. Eve players reacted to the hit with genuine disgust or admiration, but also stayed in-character. So their comments are coloured with wonderful subtexts drawn from Eve’s backstory about the slavery of the Minmatar, and subsequent rebellion.

    Coupled with Eve’s extraordinarily evocative character portraits, it gives each commentator such a strong and believable personality that, reading it, I find I can imagine exactly what kind of voice each of these people would have, how they would deliver their judgements.


    Look at Zhou Yu! He looks like Jesus. Of course he’s appalled. He’d talk like Neil from the Young Ones, by the way.


    Look at Nanus Parkite! He’s wearing aviator shades – of course he’s unimpressed. And if you look closely at the full-size version of his portrait, you can actually see his eyes behind the lenses: they’re keen and angry, matching his Godwin-fulfilling disdain for the Guiding Hand.


    Look at Zaridin! That smarmy, crisp-lipped villain. Of course he loves it, and of course he’s reserved and eloquent in his praise.


    And man, look at Eddie Gordo. Can’t you just hear his thick, exotic accent? He speaks in simple, black-and-white truths, with the weight of suffering behind them. He’s the only one who doesn’t see this as a discussion of methods: he doesn’t care how it was achieved, only that the people who enslaved his race suffered.

    In fact, check out Istvaan Shogaatsu, leader of the most vicious band of contract killers in the universe:

    It kind of shows, right?

    It’s baffling to me that a five-year-old space game still lets you create the most human and distinctive player-designed artificial faces. Why can’t we make faces like this in games where we actually have a body and face rather than a spaceship, where we can walk around and see other people’s? Instead, three years later, we get a blockbuster character-driven RPG in which the emperor of the world looks like this:


    Anyway, that other site I’m working on – this one. It’s coming. It’s remarkable just how much progress you can make, and how quickly, without even coming close to finishing. I’d add that I am close to finishing now, except that I have felt close to finishing for around three weeks. It seemed nearly done half-an-hour into the process. I suddenly have a newfound sympathy for games that miss their release dates.


    Grill: Yeah, Septim's nose needed real work. As did all Oblivion's facial animation TBH. However, I've gotta say that all those Eve faces look like psycho-killers to me, except for Eddie Gordo.

    roBurky: The portraits of Istvaan Shogaatsu, Arenis Xemdal and Mirial are probably the most recognisable portraits in Eve, having been splashed all over print and the web from this story.

    Cian: You're probably aware of this yourself, but those faces will soon be attached to more than forum posts. It's a while off yet but Eve will be expanding into station enviroments with characters walking around their personal hangars, communual enviroments and their own Corporation quarters. I can't wait to see the 'actual' size of my ship in comparison to my character or hanging around in the bar chatting with other Mercs.

    Tom Francis: Awesome. I'd heard ages ago that CCP had let slip they'd like to do this one day, but didn't know if that was anything more than idle musing. Will you be able to walk around your ship? That's always what I wanted to do: stand on the bridge and look out at the nebulae on those long trading runs.

    Istvaan Shogaatsu: Well, this is a blast from the past. I owe you a beer for that article, Mr. Francis!

    Tom Francis: No problem Istvaan, but I make it a rule not to take drinks from contract killers. Learnt that one the hard way.

    Sam: It would appear that, for myself at least, the link to the full article redirects to the CVG home page; for anyone else who happens to want to read the article, it can be found here:

    Tom Francis: Cheers for spotting. Fixed. Looks like CVG don't accept article specific URLs without the www now?

    Emergent Gameplay: Gamers Gone Wild: [...] This is just one example of the economy-gone wild of this game. Here’s another. [...]

    lighted business signs: Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe this website needs a lot
    more attention. I'll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the info!