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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

What A Shame

People being a chaotic, belligerent, vicious lot, it’s rare for anything publicly defacable to remain pure. But the comments section for this video is just such an oasis of uniform brilliance, some 238 random people all being genuinely funny rather than trying to stand out or one-up each other. What little rebellion there is among the commenters – the few that add smileys or add incorrect punctuation – is quickly Thumbs-Downed by dilligent voters, and will soon fall below the default viewing threshold.

If you’re signed in to your YouTube account when you click this, by the way, I’d love it if you could help preserve this rare and beautiful social event by contributing, or showing the Smiley Rebels the business end of your virtual thumb. They are a dangerous and subversive splinter faction that must be stopped.

Update: God damn it! I hope the dribbling hicks who just broke this didn’t come from here. Jesus, has that meme ever been funny? Since, like, the nineties? What a shame. We need two more people to thumb the dunces down and they’ll disappear from public view. Can you help?

I just discovered today that the User Reviews for a gallon of Tuscan milk sold by is a similarly superb collaborative work of a straight-faced communal sense of humour. I hope there are loads of these Everyone’s In On It havens dotted around the net. And I hope that some day Andy Baio bags and tags the phenomenon like the Attenboroughesque social-tech naturalist he has become. I leave you a milk review by Buster Foyt:


“This milk worked well when I first got it, but within a few days it wouldn’t hold a charge. I called their customer service department and, I don’t know if it’s in Bangalor or Ireland, but I couldn’t understand a word that they said and they began to scream at me.

“Finally, though, they sent me another one – but that wouldn’t hold a charge, either. I’m beginning to wonder if this is truly meant to be a portable product. I still haven’t been able to retreive my email and the video is murky.

“It’s a bit heavy, too, to wear on your belt. The good news is that it keeps your hip cool during this sultry summer weather – for a while.”

Nuyan: What a shame..

Grill: Amazon Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed:

JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser / Tank
3.7 out of 5 stars (187) $19,999.95

Fresh Whole Rabbit
3.9 out of 5 stars (22) $38.50

Uranium Ore
3.8 out of 5 stars (118)

Horizon Organic Reduced Fat Milk, 8-Ounce Packages (Pack of 18)
4.3 out of 5 stars (34) $25.00 (TRAITORS!)

betty - Color for the Hair Down There! Blonde
5.0 out of 5 stars (1) $19.75

Wedding Chapel - 10 x 18 With Wood Roof

Tom Francis: For a party with consequences.

The_B: I'm trying to decide if that or the hiakus were the funniest. My currently vacated spleen says both.

Man Raised By Puffins: There are some amusing Amazon user review pages dominated by b3tans out there too, off the top of my head I can only remember the BiC biro and the "A Whole New World" (the, presumably, abysmal album by Jordan and Peter Andre) ones.

Charlie: The JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank has some equally fantastic reviews

"I'll admit it. Shopping for a personal tank can be a bit daunting. Many times in the past I've purchased overpriced, so-called "battle tanks", then driven them into battle only to be wrecked in ten minutes by the first blow off of some insurgents home-made morter.

But not this baby, no way.

This tank R-O-C-K-S! Literally- the 400-watt sound-system keeps me rockin like a crazy man as I'm dishing out justice commando style. Wow. I just can't say enough. And the kids love it, too- imagine the look of terror in the eyes of the enemy as I'm dropping off my kid's team to their soccer game. Shock and awe, my friends, SHOCK AND AWE!

I had NAO install the optional GPS-guided white phosphorus missile system, and talk about *SWEET*! Burn baby burn!!!

Oh, it also has plenty of room for groceries, and if you need to like move a loveseat or something it'll fit if you use a little bungee cord.

The only real negative with this tank is that it shows up on radar a little more than I like (although there is a polyresin graphite stealth model available). Also, the included spare isn't full size.

Overall, a great tank."

treY: Overall there are quite a few people that ruin the flow of the Youtube-vid. I watched it often the last two weeks and about every 10th comment is something like "RUINED" or "Oops" and, you know, other funny stuff. But they all get deleted ASAP ]:-)

Tom Francis: Excellent, that's good to know Trey. I'd mailed the poster to ask if he'd had to do much maintenance to keep that thread 'pure', but hadn't heard back yet. I'm glad this isn't the first defacing, and that it'll likely get eradicated properly.

CloakRaider: This is why the internet is such a brilliant thing. Sometimes it's just general spam, but every so often you come across a fantastic little gem that keeps you laughing for ages.


North Korean FAQ anyone?

4. Can I work in North Korea as a teacher/interpreter/(other)?



Official God FAQ.


John: It's a shame they clamped down on the 'Penetrating Wagner's Ring' Amazon reviews, some of those were golden.