All posts


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.

  • html color: This is the information I am looking for. This article is clear and easy to understand. I’m...
  • Grant: Thanks to the start of this video, I’ve just now noticed that during the static flickers while staring...
  • Ben: Great analysis. During the lab sequence in the Prey intro, you were looking around for tells that Morgan is in a...
  • 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...
  • 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

    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.