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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

Heroes Of Medicine

I usually play a class to whom Medics are little more than helpless witnesses to my crimes. But now that Valve have successfully bribed me to play more Heavy, I have a newfound appreciation for the power of a good physician. I’m not a talented Heavy, but any time one of these chaps stuck with me, it was over for the entire enemy team. We never lost.

So while it is not in a simple Heavy’s power to grant a medical degree, I can thank you by taking screenshots that make you look awesome. And with a hearty YOU DID WELL.


[PCG] Tim

Tim is a Kritzer, and responsible for my first proper Uberkritz combo. We only killed a few people during it, we three, but the sight so terrified the enemy that they huddled into their spawn room. A further five of them were cut down there after the charge wore off, thanks largely to the high crit chance our recent massacre had given Natascha.


[PCG] Graham

Graham and I stormed back and forth so rapidly on Badwater Basin one lunchtime that the 12-strong enemy team seemed to be immaterial. For one round we never left the cart or died, breaking my all-time points record and dominating many.



roBurky is a combat Medic, which means if he ever does run off to pursue some meandering foe, you can relax in the knowledge that he can work a dark magic with that Blutsauger and resolve the situation faster than if you gave waddling chase yourself.

donkey for president

Donkey For President

I don’t know who this chap is, but he chose to stick with me for more than one round. This tends to be the secret to Heavy-Medic dominance – waiting for each other when you spawn. If your respawn cycles get out of sync, it’s rare to reunite because of the abundance of needy injured and juicy minigun targets scattered all over the map. WE MAKE GOOD TEAM.

lack 26


James regular Lack is also ein Kritzkrieger, a profession that’s become markedly more potent since the charge time was significantly reduced. I was spewing sparkleslugs frequently enough that Supreme Soviet, for being Ubered 50 times, was one of the first Heavy achievements I earned.


My Sandvich

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My chewy friend doesn’t really help me survive situations that would otherwise kill me, he just saves the time it takes to trundle over to a medkit or wait for a small one to respawn. It probably annoys Medics, but I’ve found it effective to chomp him while being healed if I’m seriously injured, since the restoration rate stacks with the relatively slow post-damage heal of the Medigun.

His main virtue, however, is that he replaces the shotgun. Technically this is a disadvantage, but it makes it so abundantly clear that the class should never have had one in the first place. Valve were so nearly fearless in making the classes utterly distinct, common shotguns were their only timid choice. The Heavy’s much more interesting to play when he has no instant-fire mid-range weaponry, and only his fists as a backup weapon.


Post-script: I think I may have fixed the CPU overload errors that have been screwing with James intermittently recently, with a little help from Bluehost. If they’ve now stopped, the problem was the spectacular size of my comment spam folder. If you have a notion of how much disk space raw text takes up, you’ll understand my full meaning when I say that Spam Karma had caught seventy megabytes of robo-comments. I hadn’t told it to delete old ones entirely, so every time any php script queries the comments SQL table – well, my logs state that one query yesterday afternoon took 1,014 seconds to complete.

If they persist: fuck.


roburky: Best James post ever.

Dante: Clearly I haven't been playing Medic enough lately.

Not that I'd be on here if I did, as I rarely stick with one player through thick and thin. In fact my medic playstyle would be best described as 'cowardice'

Sam: I prefer ubering pyros, nothing is as scary as an ubered pyro right in the middle of your entire team.

dartt: I love playing medic, it's got a somewhat relaxing quality to the way it flows. Trotting along behind your big daddy and spotting the corners to stand behind, the angles of attack to defend yourself from. I've come to liken it to Geometry Wars in that you swoop from clear space to cover until your earn your screen bomb, the ubercharge/kritzkrieg, and wipe out everything in sight.

One of the future updates should definately include a buddy taunt so the medic and heavy can stand among the dead and give each other a high five.

roburky: That's what I thought, Sam. Then I turned around one day to see Pentadact charging over my medic's corpse with crackling glowing boxing gloves and a face of absolute rage.

spuzman00: dartt: That's a great idea, but it would totally screw me up whenever I play medic, because I would end up going around high-fiving everybody and not actually getting anything done.

Newt Pulsifer: You make good blog!
Damn, hope your overload errors have gone.

Arse: Worst James post ever.

Rosti: I've found a whole new love for the Kritz if only because it makes sense to defensively lay an Uber-equivalent on a heavy. Up 'til now I've had a bad habit of earning a charge with a heavy before finding a more fragile (preferably high scoring) player to make invulnerable for a breakthrough. Which is to say, on an individual level my medic style is mercenary but at least the whole team gets dem healz.

On the flip side, I can totally agree that being a heavy is so much easier with a medic in tow, and not just for the "I AM BULLET PROOF" sound bite. The whole game shifts from one of careful planning to rolling over anyone foolishly wanting to be in sight of you.

Newt Pulsifer: @Arse
Oh, come on!! This picture of the heavy+sandvich is 1337% leet!

Chijts: Awesome pictures man. I especially like Lack_26's.

Inferno: Good ol' Roburky.

Connor D: I had quite a good run with you the other day actually Tom. Nice tight round on Goldrush where at the second stage we timed an uber with another Heavy & Medic combo, which climaxed with us winning the round. Unfortunately though, not winning stage three, cause not enough people would PUSH LEETLE CART.

DoctorDisaster: I should find whatever server you play on. The people sound like fun!

Roburky, I love that comment. I nominate it for best comment ever.

Devenger: I have to disagree with the style this post encourages.

As Medic, loyalty should be based on situation. If your team has a low turnover rate and isn't suicidal (especially when playing defense), favour healing injured retreaters more (when there's enough of them) and pass buffs to classes who need them, like Soldiers, Demomen and Heavies, when there's no injured in range, whilst getting towards the injured. A team that spends no time hunting medkits is a confident, fast-moving team who is applying the most damage per player possible, and a team with high enough morale not to get broken and play Engineer if they lose a couple of points. Do multi-ubers on the attack to get everyone confident and surprise the enemy.

If you do get stuck with a team of suicidal Pyros, Heavies and Soldiers, yes, it's time to apply favouritism. Never miss a MEDIC! call, but never shy from combat either unless our heal target is dead. And tow a Kritz to give a faster, less team-requiring edge onto two-man attacks.

Ah damnit, I did the long part-post comment thing again. Forgive me. Medics who won't leave their Heavy make me angry. ;(

Lack_26: Woo, I got mentioned. Also you're right, I do love my Kritz. I still can't believe that time when we emerged round a corner on Badwater, perfect Kritz and then... BOOM! We both blew up, that made me sad. Still, that was a good game.

DoctorDisaster: I dunno Devenger, I think those two styles are perfectly compatible. I'll wait at spawn for hitters I know can and will protect me, but if they're buffed or not under fire I heal everyone around me. This turns the two of us into a flash point for a rolling offense; people quickly learn that if they follow us around, health and backup are always close at hand.

Heavy: Where is new post, sandvich?! MEEDDDIIIC!!

Lukasa: Stepping into the fray, I think Devenger kinda has a point here. As a long-time medic player, I find that I'm much more effective if I spread the heals around a lot. I always designate a 'main' heal target, as one to keep my gun on in an idle moment or to have the main heals on in a firefight.

But, if I ever see an injured player, I consider it my duty to, at the very least, heal them to the point where they can continue to fight. If I have time, I'll buff them as well. Furthermore, in a moment where there are several of my team around, but no enemies, you'll find me buffing everyone but my main heal target, as he will have my heal ray on him from the moment the dooky hits the fan.

This behaviour tends to worry the guy who I was healing, as I am actually often NOT healing him. But, if there are two heavies in front of me, and only one of them is getting hurt, I should be healing that guy, regardless of who my 'heal target' is. Any medic who could easily have helped someone live and lets them die should be furious with himself.

Also, while I'm on the topic: scouts need to stop jumping around if they want heals. Stand still so I can target you, foo's.

Tom Francis: I'm with the Doc: sticking with one player doesn't have to prevent you from tending to the incandescent and badly wounded when he's not in immediate need of healbeams. But for the partnership to be truly devastating, it's best that the Medic not run off to oblige unseen Medic-callers, spend ubers elsewhere, or prioritise anyone else while the main patient is under fire. I think even when you're doing more healing and saving more lives that way, it's no substitute for the backbone that a loyal partnership provides the whole team. Even with a mediocre Heavy, a good Medic can turn that duo into something unstoppable.

Sam: Completely off-topic but FUCK, Badwater Basin on defense spy owns all.
Seriously, I was getting like 7 people in a row and living to get some more later. And I'm a shit spy.

Zig13: EVERYONE must watch 'Meet the Sandvich'

Jason L: Oh dear. Images of doooom here. If you need a test page for layout changes, I think this is it.