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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...
  • 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

    I Propose A Less Serious Vote


    When, inevitably, I become a super-villain (I find myself buying a lot of black clothing with high collars lately), this is how it’ll end. When my swarm of Gogglesharks march on Beijing, when my jetpack drops me gently in the thick of the clash of Tian’anman Square, bullets pinging off my power-armour, the sky black with my aerial drones, my image burned in phosphor over that of Chairman Mao, China’s Segway-surfing police force shredded like crispy duck.

    Someone – probably called John or Jack – will urgently command their technically minded sidekick to Google me, + “fatal weaknesses”, snapping that “There’s got to be something!” The sidekick, who will have spiky hair, a differently coloured shortsleeve outside his longsleeve and a name like ‘Skeeter’, will find this post.
    “I think I’ve got it! Routing it through the local police band… now!” And he’ll hit this play button:

    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 Gogglesharks will stop, mid-chomp, and point their eyeball arms quizzically to me. It will rain deactivated silver drones. Everything will stop dead for three minutes and twenty-seven seconds, forty hectares of carnage shakily frozen like the closing credits of a macabre sixties sitcom, the only sound the opening track from the latest Mates of State album Re-Arrange Us, the groans of the dying and the slightly squeaky wheel of a broken Segway whirring away. When it finishes, I will hang my head slightly and mutter “Okay, I’ll be good.”

    So begins music week on James! I’ve got a ridiculous amount of new stuff I’m listening to at the moment, so I’m picking a track from each a day and posting it here until I get bored or you get bored or I forget or the week ends.

    And just so you know, Jack and Skeeter, I foresaw this.


    Seniath: I thought weeks normally started on Monday (or Sunday if you're one of those weird types).

    Seniath: Also, how on earth have I not seen the Armoured Segway Division before?

    Ludo: Listening to that track and staring that image has just provided me with the most surreal experience of the month so far.

    The line "everything's gonna get lighter, even if it never gets better" rings so true when confronted with a hypothetical war between an army of goons riding seqways and a land-loving shoal of rampant gogglesharks.

    Alex Holland: The Segway Mounted Police (which I assumed were a photoshop until you provided that link) remind me of T-Rex from Dinosaur Comics - knock-knees and tiny little arms.

    It's vital that someone quickly releases an RTS with Segway Mounted units. That, or we've just solved the question of the Heavy's unlockable weapon.

    Iain "DDude" Dawson: Great idea. Nice song. This will make my week.

    Freakinswiit: This IS the only result that shows up when you Google "Tom Francis" + "fatal weaknesses".

    Tom Francis: Heh, I can't believe you looked that up.

    By the way, I just realised the Download link wasn't working - fixed now.

    Ludo: I've just discovered that this song has an amazing video. ...doYK9jOltQ

    Tom Francis: Ha. That makes every bit as much sense as Gogglesharks munching on police Segways.