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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.

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: 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.

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.