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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

    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.