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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

Come In

So this is the new layout I’ve been tinkering with. There’s still some tinkering to do, but it’s very time-consuming tinkering about fancy niceties for which I have long since lost my enthusiasm. The only major thing missing is a box with links to friends’ blogs, but the way I wanted it to work relied on some highly unstable technology that I’m not going to be able to code robustly anytime soon. It involves tachyons.

I was going to talk you through why I’ve done some of the new bits, why I scrapped some of the old bits, and why it’s slimmer. But it’s kind of late, and I’m kind of burnt-out on thinking about it now. I’ll edit that stuff in later – for now, let me know what you think, and have a listen to this while you look around:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


The_B: Oooh. Initial impressions: Very very nice. I like the subtle changes to the visual look, familiar while a lot tider. I shall poke around some more, but consider me updated and a big thumbs up thus far.

Jason L: Very nice. Feature requests/bug reports:
- It'd be nice if category titles were links to their categories, in addition to the links at the top. I'm pretty sure this is how I got to categories before.
- Currently article titlebars don't play nice with wrap on Win32 Firefox - the text pops out above and below the bar. May not be worth fixing. Example 'Two New TF2 Maps...' in a 1100-something pixel window.
- This one would take some work - could there be a comments log page at some point? Currently there's no way for non-Pentadacts to tell if other people are saying interesting/infuriating things without going to each article. Super bonus points if it got a separate RSS.

Tom Francis: Thanks, to both. I now have the motivation to actually attempt to fix the IE problems instead of, say, shooting myself four times in the neck, as was my plan a short while ago.

1. Yeees. This is exactly the sort of thing I like to do, but I didn't know I actually mentioned the Category names anywhere but in the top panel now. Except Links, which I did mean to make a link to the Links link. Link. Will do that.

2. Ah. Funny story - that one story has a different title in the prototype version of James I was using at the time I made this. Pretty funny, I think you'll agree. Ha. My solution to this is just going to be to never, ever write a title that long again. I checked that "I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome" fits without wrap at 1024x768, so I'm taking that as my maximum.

3. That's what I hoped to achieve with the Latest Comment box on the left. If I ever get expandable-panels working, I could make that stretch out to show the five latest or so. Or I could just add an RSS link, which I think is actually incredibly easy.

Tom Francis: omg fixed. It was one of those problems that looks vast and disastrous but is actually tiny. And it was caused by a piece of code that I have removed THIRTEEN SEPARATE TIMES now. Also, every link in that entire module had reverted to the old URL. It's like time flows backwards for Wordpress, and every change you make eventually just unpings and goes back to the good old days.

Tom Francis: Okay, version 2.51 now live: Links is now a link to Links, Last Comment is a link to the RSS feed for Comments, as is the new 'Comments' link in the RSS panel. Long title shortened, IE compatibility fixed, and Archives shifted slightly to improve sidebar loading times.

The_B: To quote the great Doctor John Zoidberg: "Hurray!"

Jason L: Wow! The Flash does games blog design!

ImperialCreed: Well done Tom, digging the new tweaked look. One minor quibble, as I write this comment I note that the label 'E-mail' doesn't appear on the same line as the relevant field, instead appearing straight after the 'Name' field on the same line.

Anyway, well done.

Pentadact: Well spotted. From my permanently-logged-in-as-admin ivory tower, I don't usually see those fields, so I hadn't tested it at every res.

ImperialCreed: Verily, I have the eyes of a hawk.

In a jar somewhere. Really.