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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.

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

The American Public Announce That Tom Francis Is Right

And Elect Yet Another White President

If we’re going to keep calling him the first black president, at least a few of us should be acknowledging that he’s exactly as white.

Update: found the Gore Vidal interview clip:

Original post:

So this guy is now the most powerful person in the world:


BBC Interviewer: Doesn’t he have a problem, though, in that expecations will be stratospheric, that people will expect him to walk on water, and no politician can do that?
Supporter: He’s black, he’s white, he’s old, he’s young… he can walk a little bit on something.

I said he’d win by at least 10%. There are still some big states to go, but at time of writing the very least he can possibly win by is 25%. It’s going to be a lot more than that.

The BBC coverage was a hilarious fiasco, riddled with awkward pauses, confusion, and an eternal quest for some footage of disappointed Republicans. It was capped off by an utterly extraordinary interview with Gore Vidal, whose answer at one point was simply, “I don’t know who you are.”

Anyway, for me the election was effectively over when this happened:


Akirasfriend: Personally, I loved watching David Dimbelby ramble his way through the whole thing. I didn't even care that much, other than passively supoorting Obama, before I watched the BBC coverage. By the time they'd gotten to 4AM I was anticipating California and Washington for Obama and getting all giddy.

That 3-pointer, though... Wow. Who needs an electoral college after that?

Itrade: Dang, I was eating lunch when it happened, so I just missed it. I hope they show a repeat of his acceptance speech.

spuzman00: Eating lunch? I'm about to go to bed!

Still, this makes me happy. I wish I had placed a bet similar to yours, Tom. As it is, I'll just have to deal with my new president being exactly the guy I've wanted since before the primaries.

Tux: I really don't know what the BBC were up to, their coverage was shambling and hilariously unprofessional. Thank god for CNN! Also: Obama=Win

Niteowl: Honestly, the BBC has crappier coverage than CNN, America elects a not-entirely crooked president? What gives?

Lack_26: I couldn't keep awake, I was listening on radio 4, so I was lying on my bed. Bad move, spent most of the next 3 hours after 2 am, drifting in and out of sleep, I woke for a couple of minutes at 5:25am, but had missed the speech. But still, I caught a fair bit. When I last woke up a 7:15 and heard that Obama had defiantly won, it was like Christmas.

Lack_26: Oh yeah, the BBC radio 4 coverage (well, what I remember) was excellent, can't comment on the TV coverage.

Justice: This is a good day indeed. Go Obama!

Iain "DDude" Dawson: Any time so many people are happy at an election result I get suspicious, but nonetheless, good luck to Obama.

Rei Onryou: A competent president? How did that happen? I'm glad Obama won. I was rooting for him once since he became a presidential candidate. Plus, who wouldn't want a President that gets nothin' but net?

"I think that's all I should do."

Yes. Yes it is. All presidential decisions should be based on basketball. Next up: the slam dunk decider for the credit crunch!

Waste_Manager: Hooray and general elation!

Lack_26: Everyone at school was really happy to day, there was just a feeling of general relief and elation (well, in post-16 anyway, we don't much mix with the lower uniformed years).

Newt Pulsifer: Amazing interview!!
Thanks, Tom!

Sheepye: Personally, the decision was moot for me. I am English but with an American girlfriend, which I guess means I have a bit of an insight? Despite McCain been severly misrepresented in Europe, he wasn't that bad a choice. Him and Obama are as bad really, just a case of deciding the lesser of two evils (I do like Obama, but general shadiness and his inexperience put me off him somewhat).

Basically, it worries me that America voted for Obama on the basis of idealism and the wish to change it's image to the rest of the world, rather than on his presidential values and capabilities. It might just be useful that idealism though for helping him initially, just have to see if he does good with it.

However, time will tell, and I can't be bothered to start serious political debate where I'm going to have to go into the murky waters of indepth detail and opinion. Instead, a rather more humorous view is summed up for me at the daily mash -


The last quote in particular from that article is something to warm the cynical comedic threads of anyone's heart : "If your life is such that you're placing all your hopes in a politician, then may I humbly suggest you get yourself a crate of superlager and a cardboard box and stop wasting everyone's time".

Always enjoying the website as usual, thanks Tom.

Jason L: I usually don't like, but my favourite comedy about USE2K8 was Cracked's time-travelling interviews with McCain and Obama: http://www.cracked.c... ...year-2012/

peterd102: Politics is Bunk. If the government was scaled down, a group of 12 rational people to decide everything. The world would still work. Stop worrying about it and enjoy life.

Alex Holland: Sheepeye - I sort of agree that McCain wasn't that bad, and that indeed both candidates were an improvement on the last run. However, Sarah Palin really -is- that bad, it's not a good idea to elect the oldest non-incumbent candidate for the US Presidency when, if he should cark it, an anti-enlightenment, willfully-ignorant fundie would get the nuclear button.

No idea how much this will effect me, but even if Obama's foreign/economic policy is as bad as Bush's, at least he'll sound eloquent and intelligent when discussing it, rather than like some retarded cowboy.

On a tangent, Bush was widely rumoured to enjoy the odd white line in his wayward youth, and Obama has also admitted trying cocaine at University. No wonder they call it Washington District of Columbia.

peterd102: I heard this great comment about Obama, he was asked if he tried 'weed' and he said yes, they asked did he inhale? and he said "That was the point".

DoctorDisaster: I also agree that McCain wasn't as bad as he looked, although it's his own damn campaign's fault for suppressing everything likable about him. However, I'm afraid Sheepye's "insight" falters when he suggests that I voted for Obama based on idealism and image. I think it's great that the rest of the world will hate us a bit less based on our choice, and it's nice to have a president who can inspire you, but those aren't the factors that drove me or the other Obama supporters I know to vote for him. These are the Obama virtues that meant the most to me:

-Community organization (confers practical leadership skills by forcing you to work with loose coalitions of self-interested parties whose goals may or may not overlap all that much)
-History of consulting experts with practical experience and insight into problems he faces as a leader
-Rejects polarized politics at a fundamental level
-Transparency exemplified in the two memoirs he authored
-Signifies a fundamental shift in race politics
-Perfect temperament for a national leader (and a genuine sense of humor!)

"Yes we can" is great, don't get me wrong, but I like a leader who actually knows HOW we can.

Ninja: Looks like from that video of the basketball, he shoulda skipped the electoral college and went straight to the electoral NBA.

Lame I know.

Dan: Ninja, that is the greatest thing I've ever heard.

Alek: Just so you know, the Gore Vidal video is now private on Vimeo.