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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.

  • 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

    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.