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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

    Relic Announce That Tom Francis Is Right

    Tyranids Are In Dawn Of War II, And There Are Screenshots

    It takes a lot to make me completely forget about TF2 at time like this, but this’ll do it:


    The Tyranids are in, they’re beautiful and they’re huge:


    As I said back when no-one believed me, the last trailer completely gave it away: the explanations for that descending cloud of spores the pessimists came up with were just hilarious. It’s a cloud of orks. It’s a warp storm, only lower, and brown, and made of spores. Gamers seem to have a limitless capacity to believe the worst.

    The reason Tyranids are a big deal, at least the reason they were always my favourite Warhammer 40,000 race, is what they’re made of. They’re not glistening pus like other aliens, or tissue paper insects. They’re clean pale bone, hard and sharp as diamond, acting as one conscious many-bladed machine.

    In other news, Valve Announce That Tom Francis Was Right To Say That The SomethingAwful Secrecy-Impaired Testers Were Right About The Sandvich, And That Tim Edwards Was Right About The New Video.


    Chijts: The biggest problem for the sandvich in my opinion isnt the 4 sec usage, its the lack of a secondary when your ammo runs out on your mini. It doesn't happen often as enemies tend to do a thing called dying, but I've found at times it can't be helped.

    J-man: I wonder if they put in a custom taunt for the sandvich...

    roburky: Do you think the inclusion of the sandvich was as a result of people's suggestions of the sandwich? Or were they already working on it when they made the heavy ideas blog post? An edible sandwich that you had to taunt to use was something I suggested and debated on another blog.

    Pigbuster: Apparently they increased the Kritzkrieg recharge rate from 10% to 25%.

    I still like your idea better, but maybe this'll make it a better option to switch.

    Ludo: This is exciting.

    From everything I've heard about DOW:2 it seemed as though Relic were focussing on creating smaller more concentrated fights with a few squads that level up and grow independantly - which is completely opposite to the Tyranids, who favour overwhelming swarms and troops of mindless drones, slaves to a greater Hivemind. This means they'll have to operate quite differently as a faction if they're going to be playable, which opens up rather exciting possibilities.

    Expensive armour and pretty loot aren't going to mean anything to the swarm, instead -in line with 40k lore- I suspect they'll be stealing the genetic material of their victims. A squad of Genestealers who take down some Terminators could harvest their genus, and perhaps mutate, becoming bigger and more adept at taking down heavily armoured foes in the future.

    It looks as though they've nailed the look, and with the levels of violence present in DOW, and evident in the brief clips of DOW:2, the Tyranids are going to be terrifying.

    Seniath: I've played maybe one real game of W40k in my entire life, so my only real exposure to the 'nids has been what I've read on Wikipedia, yet I'm still excited. Must be my irrational love of chitin.

    Ludo: A new trailer in which there is only war! And Tyranids! And war-related explosions! Woo!

    http://www.gametrail... ...38613.html

    Tom Francis: Ooh. They look amazing in parts of that, and a bit ordinary at others. There are some scenes there that actually make the game look ugly - no lighting, suspiciously smooth ground, over delineated models.

    But the big stuff is going to be amazing.

    Sam: WOOO
    They look amazing, but with graphics like that I doubt you're gonna be able to field huge hordes of nids :(

    Sam: Also if you look at that trailer of the spores there's clearly and 8 pointed star of chaos...
    Maybe chaos will be there too?

    Ludo: It's nice to get out of the grey war-riven blasted cityscape look but there's something a bit OTT about the jungle environments, a bit of a technicolour mushroom forest vibe. Now I've never been one to diss mushroom forests, but it doesn't quite suit a grim future of eternal war.

    As for Chaos, they are a massive presence in 40k and I'm sure their time will come. Maybe they'll appear as an unplayable menace as the Necrons did in Winter Assault. It's unlikely there'll be more than four playable races in one game so we'll have to wait for the expansion packs.

    Also - first sight of tanks in DOW:2, and with the shift in scale they look properly huge. Hopefully Relic will take some of the things that made tanks so fearsome in Company of Heroes and apply them to DOW2 to make them more ... is 'impactful' a word? Okay, 'more badass' - yeah, let's roll with that.