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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

Trust Me With Your Ears: Volume One

Sound is sort of a menace on the internet – we browse at work, we browse when we’re tired, we browse when other people in the house are asleep, and sometimes we browse shortly after watching a video whose sound was really really quiet, so we’ve turned up the volume really, really loud. And there are some sites, people and link-sources that you can’t trust not to point you to something loud, obscene, offensive, terrifying or Rick Astley. Even the venerable is guilty: Andy once posted one of those links where everything seems normal, then a giant zombie face appears and screams at the top of your speaker’s volume.

I would like James to be trustworthy. I hope that it already is for a small portion of the people reading this. So I’d like to leverage, possibly confirm, and possibly expand such a trust by occasionally posting sound files with absolutely no explanation. I think it would be nice to sometimes hear something without any clue what it’s going to be, only that someone thought it was worth sharing, and do so knowing that it’s not going to be a nasty shock.

They will sometimes be speech, sometimes just sound, sometimes music, but when they’re music, the music itself won’t be why I’m posting it. Music is too divisive, I want these things to be interesting or entertaining independent of your tastes. Sometimes you’ll find out what they are when you listen, sometimes they’ll leave you with no clue. I’ll wait a few days then explain what they were in the comments, so don’t read the comments before listening.

I hope you’ll also trust that I would not find embedding a Rick Roll at the end of this post even vaguely amusing.

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.


Iain "DDude" Dawson: That was awesome! Definetly giving you plus trust points.

spuzman00: Cool clip!

Was that from This American Life? Because it definitely sounded like it.

roburky: I think I've heard that before. Or maybe an identical story from another famous person. I imagine it's pretty common.

Tom Francis: If anyone can name the actor, I'll be impressed.

Jason L: You mean off the top of their head, right? The clip tells you one of his roles, and IMDB tells you who that is.

Newt Pulsifer: wow! that's sweet :D
definitely sounds like 'This American Life'. I couldn't name the episode, tough...

Andy Baio: Ahh, good ol' ZombieURL. No lawsuits yet!

Liam C.: that sounds like that guy from the O.C. Tate........donoven?

Punjab: Yeah, Tate Donovan.

Lack_26: Darn, I'm too British. I got embarrassed by just listening to this.

Liam C.: Ahh, donovAn, that's how you spell it XD

Chijts: Does that mean I'm not British enough? :(

If you can find more amusing bits like this last one it's by no means a problem.

Tom Francis: I'm going to trust that you didn't look it up then intentionally mis-spell his surname to make it seem like you didn't, Liam, and be impressed. He was ace in Damages.

J-man: James: Paragon+2

Ten-High Charlie: This sounds like it was on NPR. Was it on NPR?

Dan: It's from a This American Life episode. A one where they do 20 stories in 60 minutes.

Funnily enough I only ever listened to this episode of TAL because I was linked to it on this site.

Tom Francis: Hurrah, our first full correct identification! You get the points because you've virtually got the episode title - it was Twenty Acts In 60 Minutes.

I didn't link this specific episode before, did I? That would be awfully repetitious of me.

The points do nothing.

Dan: No, you didn't. I meant, you linked to TAL on this site. I then looked on the "favourite shows" bit then went straight for the 20 stories one as I thought that at least some of it would be entertaining. I kind of just thought of that episode of The Simpsons where there's a ton of tales from Springfield.

Another episode that is fantastic to listen to is the cruelty of children one, there's this great story about a man trapped down a well.

LaZodiac: The problem with Rick Rolls is not that they are annoying. Its that some people like that song. My two cents I guess.

Liam C.: Nah i wouldn't of spelt his name wrong if i actually knew it cause that would be over acting and seem rather obvious that i searched it. But now im in a tad of a pickle cause now i have said that it seems like i really searched it and over acted. But if im aware of the whole over acting thing then i probly woulda just said "dude its tate donovan". plus the way it's said makes it sound like an e and not an a so yar. now your gonna think i over explained myself and i'm lying XD

Tom Francis: Man, I was saying I believed you. Now I'm not so sure.

Liam C.: lmao. now no matter what i say it'll seem like i'm lying still. i suck with this explaning shit i'm just gonna give up.

Newt Pulsifer: Never gonna give up
Never gonna let down
Never gonna run around and desert
Never gonna cry

Tom Francis: I love this place sometimes.

Andrew: Awesome, totally embarrassing clip (embarrassing comedy is one I cringe at...egad, like The Office). Wow :D Didn't know who it was though. Thanks for sharing it Pentadact!

SenatorPalpatine: I love forward to more of these. It's a good idea.

Pod: I finally listened to this anecdote. The ending is fab.