All posts


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

Mrs D Mrs I Mrs F-F-I, Mrs C Mrs U-L-T


If you keep up with these kinds of things – Norwegian electro-pop – you’ve probably already heard Annie’s obnoxiously infectious I Know Your Girlfriend Hates Me. While that was getting its deserved round of blog applause, I was only just discovering her four-year-old first album. It’s almost cockily smart, sharp, sugar-crusted pop, anomalous in a debut. Amusingly, I now discover she’s billed as “The Kylie it’s cool to like”.

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.

With this track, it’s all about the speed-rhyming spellouts, and to a lesser extent the cute anachronisms of the chorus. I think I could like hip-hop more if the lyrics were about people ringing one another’s bells.


Knimoax: What the are you doing with your blog? I thought I had creative difficulties. :)

Freakinswiit: I think the lack of comments is attributed to the fact that this has nothing to do with Spore or TF2. Still, interesting song though, which is odd for me saying that since I mostly just listen to rock. I might even add this to my playlist.

Hermes: Annie is excellent. I know many people who only got into her after hearing the short sample from Girl Talk's Night Ripper album last year. Speaking of which, new Girl Talk is killer. ...ima.ls___/ (you can get it for free but I suggest you donate the $10 like I did)

Tom Francis: Music week! You missed the memo?

Freakinswiit: I think it's that girls make guys shy. Still, let's get a Team Sporetress 2 reference in here and see what happens.

Tom Francis: Hermes: thanks, I'll check it out. I'll donate if it's good - I like that system.

Dan: I think this may have gotten very few comments due to it being about some random Norwegian pop singer...but I could be wrong.

I've downloaded her album and I'll have a listen. Your music taste is usually spot on I've found, so hopefully this won't be a disappointment.

One last thing. Don't pay $10 for that Girl Talk album. You'll end up wasting your money.

Tom Francis: Of course, it's now one comment away from the coveted "Most comments on a Music post since September 2006" award.

Hermes: @ Dan

The newest Girl Talk isn't as addictive and excellent as the previous but it is still very good. Gregg Gillis (he who is Girl Talk) is on his own label, $10 is a small price to pay and worth it. Also Annie is not just 'some random Norwegian pop star', she's quite a popular and respected artist who happens to be Norwegian. Would you say Royksopp is just some random electro Norwegian band?

On the subject of Norwegian artists some of you may already know Erlend Øye he of Kings of Convenience and Whitest Boy Alive. Additionally two excellent norse hip hop acts: Apollo and Timbuktu.

Hermes: Also I like that you include music on this blog, it's quickly becoming a convenient stop where my interests in gaming and music meet. So please do continue despite what others might say. Perhaps you could edit in a spore creature ogling the fair Annie or a TF 2 turret in the background for the banner pic, that's sure to satisfy everyone.

Dan: Well if the latest Girl Talk album isn't as addictive and excellent as the previous Girl Talk album then definitely don't pay $10 for it because my opinion of Girl Talk comes from his first album which I didn't really enjoy.

I wouldn't say Royksopp were a random Norwegian band because I've heard of them and I'm pretty sure most people have. I don't think most people have heard of Annie.

I don't know why I'm defending myself though, because when I called her a random Norwegian pop singer I wasn't saying it in the derogatory sense you obviously thought I was.

Thus begins a flame war.