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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

The Middleman

A few good ways to win me over, if you’re thinking of making a TV show with just me in mind:

– Female protagonist I don’t hate. Wendy Watson hereby joins the other… three.

– A character who doesn’t take half a fucking hour to get over every surprising turn of events. Writers! The stuff you’re writing didn’t really happen, so watching your characters refuse to believe it happened is not actually terribly entertaining for us!

– Conversely, disbelief at just how idiotic your plot is makes them highly entertaining.

Middleman Bullet Time

– Max Payne references.

– Scenes where a character starts to say something about what we’re seeing, then thinks better of it.

– Ultra-mild curse words, ideally accompanied by a character who actually does swear her face off at the appropriate times. Somehow that makes the gosh-darnits seem extra mild.

– Ending an episode with a Russian Futurists song. This one was laser targeted at me.

Dante: I too have been watching The Middleman, thus fueling my suspicsion that you are, in fact, me in disguise.

Guessing game, three female protaganists you don't hate... I figure one must be Veronica Mars.

LaZodiac: I'm sure you've noticed, but all of the pictures but Bullet Time are RedX.

Tom Francis: They're not pictures, they should be YouTube clips. Still working for me - anyone else?

Jason L: All working for me.

Pwnzerfaust: All work for me.

And just letting you know that you have convinced me to watch television again. I hope you're proud of yourself.

BullDozers: all the clips are down now (13:30 central european on 20.7.08)... i cant believe that ABC doesn't realize that they're getting a free ad campaign with these clips.. (cue anti-corp rant).

I watched the first 3 episodes. There are some weak moments and while I get it that the joke repetition is intentional, i think the show could use more variety... but it's not bad. thanks for introducing it.

Tom Francis: Still working for me, 13.36 CET. I have been noticing that all over the place, YouTube clips are reporting "This video is no longer available" as if it's been pulled, when what it actually means is YouTube timed out because it's under huge load. But that wouldn't entirely explain LaZodiac's phenomenon here.

BullDozers: Yea, you're right... works again, so clips weren't pulled. What is the world coming to!!?! what will happen to us without youtube??? oh, the humanity.

Jason L: I bet it couldn't possibly be people uploading Dr. Horrible to Youtube in anticipation of its disappearance.

J-man: Can't see any of the pics, just that white square with a red X.

Tom Francis: If someone who's seeing Xs could try this link and see if it works, that might edify things: ...ur0SJTT-w#

Thomas Lawrence: They all work for me.

I've heard mixed things about this Middleman show, Tom. Other than the things you cite, is it actually, you know, good?

H: I'm seeing Xs but that link you put up works.

The_B: Red X's here too, and while the link works, it doesn't fix it when returning here at all.

Tom Francis: Thomas: Yes. It's knowingly tacky, gleefully pulpy and openly nonsense, but it has a sense of fun about it that I find in very little else. And I like everyone in it, which is rarer still.

It says something that the best laugh of the latest episode is a fourteen year-old girl dying. I'm not sure what, but something.

Dante: The theme tune is also great: ...zYZIwpji1I

Particularly the chorus of "Middleman!" at the end.

Yub Yub, Commander: Thank you thank you thank you for posting this! I finally have another show to watch, now that Doctor Who is done for another season!

and what you said above: "It's knowingly tacky, gleefully pulpy and openly nonsense, but it has a sense of fun about it that I find in very little else. And I like everyone in it, which is rarer still." is a SPOT ON description of the show.

"No more monologuing, or I'll Swiss-cheese you on principle."

Tom Francis: Heh. And wasn't the latest episode fantastic? The Prestigous Egon Spengler Award For Excellence In Physics. And Middleman fighting like a girl. And the frat boy's performance throughout.

Yub Yub, Commander: Another thing: Brilliant episode titles.
"The Pilot Episode Sanction"
"The Manicoid Teleportation Conundrum"
"The Ectoplasmic Panhellenic Investigation"