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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

He Looks Truly Mortified


Sorry Peanut, I know you were in the middle of your own taunty thing. But I had to try the Heavy’s kill-o-taunt.

I’ve also been punching people’s blood out a lot more lately, and can now see the point of the KGB. If you’re not familiar with Team Fortress 2 and its unlockables, that sentence may have sounded strange.

Having the Sandvich cleverly lures you into the business of punching, because your fists are now your only backup weapon. That in turn makes you realise it’s more viable than you’d expect, and suddenly the idea of getting a bonus for doing it is rather tempting. Five seconds is a long time in 100% critsville – switching to Natascha and spinning up probably only takes one and a halfish.


Chijts: Remember those crits stack too so if you kill a guy with the KGB you get 5 sec crit.. kill another before those 5 secs are up and it adds. So I kill another guy (because I am the "1337z0R") in 2 seconds I now have 7 seconds. I don't think it's very likely though.

Dante: Did you just get that on the PCG server Pentadact.

You killed me a lot there, it was not my best game.

Pigbuster: The weird thing about the Heavy's "POW!" taunt is that it actually has a small amount of range, so rather than having to be right up close like for the Pyro, you can instantly kill someone 2 yards or so away.
Just in case anyone didn't know.

ZomBuster: I love Heavy duels. I go on those achievements servers just to do that. And to eat sandviches.

SenatorPalpatine: Poor Peanut... you cracked his hard outer shell and exposed his softer inner self to the hardships of the world and the dangers of heavy taunting. :(

I can't really play the heavy achievements that much, I'm busy with other games, and I refuse to farm (I farmed Pyro, no others). But it's something to look forward to for when I do have time.

J-man: I farmed 'em. Not ashamed of it either. I intend to write a peice defending farming and submit it to ubercharged or summin'.

Anyway, Natascha sucks. It means the Heavy is only effective against scouts, spies and pyros (slowing 'em down, stopping them getting close, and preventing them escaping), the sandvich is great, but overpowered, you eat it in about 2 seconds, not 4. The KGB are far superior to the fists, which contradicts Valve's idea of releasing equal-in-power-but-alternative weapons, but they're still fun.

Thomas Lawrence: Off-topic: Just got done reading 'Plan B'. It's hilarious, well done :).

Tom Francis: Awesome, thanks Thomas. I didn't realise it was in people's hands already. I'll make a proper post here once it starts going online.

Lack_26: Well I'm a subscriber to PCG so I got it this morning, but only found it in the packaging about 5 minutes ago, so it's sitting next to me demanding to be read, best give into to it.

J-man: IS the new PCG our already? I didn't see it in Tesco or any of my newsagents.

J-man: OH FFS. Man I'm crap at typing. The 'IS' should be 'Is' and the 'our' should be 'out'.

J-man: ... there should have been a comma after 'Man' and the ''is''

Lack_26: @J-man, no it won't be out in shops till next thursday. Subscribers get it a week earlier, and a discount, and free stuff, basically it's worth it.

Tom Francis: You don't really need to correct every typo with a new comment, J-Man, we'll cut you some slack. Yep, in shops Thursday, the first entry might go online before then to tease it.

Lack_26: Just finished reading it (well I was doing lots of other things in between reading), and, well it was awesome. Your species was basically America.

Sam: You should have let the drengin get their godly eyes eaten.

Sam: BTW, who would win, a Bongolian Ultraprawn or a Peace Bee?

J-man: Hmmm.. do you get one of those 'OMGPCG' or 'Tanks: like angry houses' shirts if you subscribe?

Secondly, I feel like a dick if I spell or use grammmar incorrectly, especially since I often yell at other people for it.

Thirdly, thanks for adding me to your friends list, Tom.

Fourthly, Natascha sucks.

Fifthly, I really gotta stop numbering my points.

Thomas Lawrence: Re: Plan B - There's one problem though, which is that a lot of the images came out poorly or not at all. I'm not surprised - Gal Civ 2 is a very black game - but be prepared for commentary of that sort. Unless my copy was very unusual.

The prose is nonetheless sparkling and hilarious.

Tom Francis: Yeah, no kidding. My prose IS sparkling. No, I mean about the screenshots. We knew they'd lose a bit in the printing, but I think we undermisunderestimated how much.

Little Green Man: Yeah that was an awesome book, but then I love everything you write. And the screenshots were terrible...