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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

Fallout Girl: Anywhere But Megaton

(Megaton spoilers)

Fallout3 2008-11-13 22-53-32-93

You can tell a lot about people by the armour they wear, and the stuff I prised off the cold bat-battered bodies of the first people I met outside the Vault was classified as ‘Painspike’. The outside world is not hospitable.

Still, I was determined not to just head straight to the town of Megaton like everyone else. All anyone seems to talk about is Megaton this, Sheriff that. I wanted my experience to be different, so I doubled back and headed in the opposite direction. After being shot at by flies (?) and mauled by molerats (!), I finally came to a sheer wall, hopefully some trace of civilisation. I circled it until I came to the entrance. It was Megaton.

Fallout3 2008-11-13 22-53-35-76

I took immediately against the place. The Sheriff was annoying and made no sense – apparently he doesn’t trust me, and the reason no-one’s ever defused the bomb is that he doesn’t trust any of the locals, but he invites me to try. I find this guy’s Vault Loyalty lacking.

Fallout3 2008-11-13 22-53-57-32

I ignore him and head to the bar, where I’m told the proprietor has some information I need. I run into him on the balcony outside. He’ll tell me what I need to know for 100 bottlecaps. I tell him to fuck off. He’ll tell me what I need to know if I do a job for him. I tell him to fuck off. He’ll tell me what I need to know for 300 caps.

There’s an option, at this point, to ask him what happened to the 100 cap deal. I didn’t take that option. I chose to exit the conversation, wait for him to turn round, then put a rusty kitchen knife I found in a toilet between his eleventh and twelfth vertebrae.

His body spasmed a little, and I had time to snatch his computer password from his pocket before it slipped off the threshold and plummeted to the city below. If you’re going to be a dick, don’t do it on a balcony.

Fallout3 2008-11-13 23-12-48-71

On my way out from breaking into the barkeeper’s office for the info, I run into a man who wants me to blow up the entire town of Megaton.

Hm. Okay.

Fallout3 2008-11-14 12-00-12-15

More , ,

Bret: You know, at least Chris had the courtesy to pretend to be reasonable. You know, for a cannibal slaver with more murders to his record than most people have jaywalking charges.

Belcher: But! But! What about all of the missions and fun to be had at Megaton!? D:

spuzman00: Eh. Sounds reasonable to me. I mean, the barkeep IS a dick. He should have learned to be nicer to his customers, then he'd still be alive.

Mike: The barkeep reminded me of Al Swerengen (sp) as portrayed in Deadwood.

Friendly, but ultimately a dick.

Ben Abraham: Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it.

Bret: On the other hand, the deputy is a robot.

Can you kill a city that would deputize a robot? Is your heart made of stone?

Jazmeister: Its like those people that live on Mt. Vesuvius, though. Ask them what they think about the active volcano they live on, and they shrug. Stupid fucks! Shouldn't live near a bomb then, should you?

palker4: I hope you going to blow up that nuke it is very rewarding nice mushroom shaped cloud a lot of bottle caps and some other bonuses. About that bar proprietor you could have wait until he'll go sleep and steal his password. If you blow that place to oblivion he will be dead anyway.

Roadrunner: Hey, Pentadact, you should do a post where you look at all your commenters blogs, and give a ultra-brief mini review of 1/10.
(My god, we are so desperate for more views...)

Also in FO3, don't people need to eat/drink? I just wish there would be a game so realistic, if lets say for example, someone was talking you to and you began walking around, and jumping on tables etc, they would turn around and say..."what the HELL are you doing?!?"

Tom Francis: Just so you know, the way it works here is that your probability of getting linked is given by the worthiness of what you post, divided by the number of times you've specifically asked for a link. At this point you'd have to pen the next Treatise of Human Nature to be in with a chance.

AlexW: Don't divide by. That way one request for a link has no difference. Put the worthiness in a scale from 0 to 1, then subtract the number of times they request a link.

Jazmeister: My blog is here as an identifier, like a social networking site without the social network. It's there incase it's needed, not as a promoter; my blog isn't set up to promote me. Back when we all used to just add to an endlessly growing html journal, it was much more fun; lots of close-knit pockets. Of course, I was 15, and 90% was just crying. We've knocked it down to 50% crying now.

Also, that means you're dividing by zero.

Oh shi-

Noc: @AlexW: Nah, that system works, because a "Hey, link me plz?" post isn't very worthy at all to begin with, so the number starts out properly low. Multiple requests only compound the problem, not create it in the first place.

But on the other hand, if an interesting and relevant comment on a subject contains a link to somewhere interesting or informative enough to be worth reading, and adds significantly enough to the discussion that it's worth another blog post on its own . . . then there isn't really a problem to start with. It's just someone being helpful and informative.

LaZodiac: Amazing. Just amazing. I should rent Fallout3 again and start over as a twisted evil person.

x25killa: You call that being evil? Pfft, I baseball bat the guy using V.A.T.S system over a fence, nick items from his dead corpse, shoot down everyone who was hunting me down for killing a local asshole, killed some more locals, destroy the sheriff using frag mines, killed EVEN more locals, had some beer, killed more, nicked keys, stole items, did missions for moria, complete missions, shoot moria in the face, left town, KA-BOOM.

And the robot? Well, I made it shut up with a kunckle duster.

And in game.

DoctorDisaster: See, I'm playing a generally good-natured character, but I allow for lots of self-interested moral lapses when I can rationalize them. Usually this amounts to stealing ammunition from people too inept to put it to good use, demanding extra money for dangerous services, and in one case letting a firebreathing ant experiment continue because DAMN that queen looks tough.

In the case of Moriarty the 300 caps guy, this meant grinding his annoying Irish face into chili with a chainsaw.

And how the hell did an "Irishman" end up in the D.C. wasteland, anyway? Good thing I cleared up that particular plot hole. YOU'RE WELCOME, BETHESDA.

Matt: @noc
You still get divison by 0. Just use q/(r+1) instead or q/r.

Also, LaZodiac: You only RENTED Fallout 3? It's a very long very big RPG. Did you somehow think you'd be done with it in a week? That's like renting a frigging PC.

LaZodiac: Hey, I'm only 16 and I plan to finish school first. I'm jobless, and I fail at Keyboard controls, and the only Game Pad for the laptop costs around $50.

I wanted to try before I bought. If its any consolation, I have a birthday a month after Christmas, and I'll be getting it then.