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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.

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

PC Gamer Podcast 24: Admiral Failure & General Vague

Discussers: Tim Edwards, Tom Francis, Craig Pearson and Steve Williams.

Discussees: Crayon Physics Deluxe, Saints Row 2, Mirror’s Edge, Dawn of War 2, Red Alert 3, real-time strategy’s problems, Penguins Arena, Pipe Mania, our picks for the best developer comma ever full stop, Railroads and Sins of a Solar Empire.

Subscribe: here.


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Seniath: Still no "I'm your host" Ross Atherton? He hasn't died, has he?

The Poisoned Sponge: Thoroughly enjoyable, even if Steve Williams is a big negative grouch. I mean, he's not Francis, after all.

Grill: I think he's working on Top Secret Projects. :-o

J-Man: J-Man needs his Atherton!

Jazmeister: He still manages to write the editorial. Lol @ "Ross 'Feratu'" in the mag, btw. Actually, wherever he is, he must be gaming.

Tom's face on Page 10 seems... well practiced. It was cool reading 20-21 after reading its genesis on twitter, too.

Roadrunner: Ross Atherton must of lost his job in the credit crunch :(
You guys should talk about characters who look similar to sar-


Jason L: Regarding the sensible AI thing, you guys might want to look at the Airborne Assault games. I'm not a competent devotee, but I picked up and played a copy of one of the early versions essentially by accident. Even in that early implementation like ten years ago, AA is the only game that's truly given me the 'feeling' that I was commanding competent subordinates who could interpret orders, and it's quite an enjoyable wargame for it. For me there are also traces of that feeling in Close Combat and surprisingly enough in Sean O'Connor's Windows Games' Firefight, which simply cannot have any meaningful AI. That probably tells us something deep about human perception.

Jason L: No, I'm wrong - Sid Meiers' American Civil War RTSes also have a good strong dose of it. But that's all. I think.

ZomBuster: I think I disabled the flashing window a week after the steam community was started.


Best software Developers: Sensible Software. I'll have to buy the mag to see if you put them in there, somewhere. If not: I HATE YOU.

Also, I think I asked this last time; but wtf happened to the PCGamerTop100?

Final point: Why did I immediately come here to say these things? I didn't even know you'd make this post.... Maybe I just hate the PCG forum?

ad_hominem: Best software Developers: Double Fine Productions. They may not have really proved themselves yet, but I feel like they're the developers with the most promise for the future. Anything involving Tim "Dance The Grim Fandango" Schafer is fine by me.

Remnant: That wasn't very funny.

Yet for some reason, I couldn't stop laughing. Damn it lol. It's like AustralianGamer podcast, if everyone had class and accents.

Jazmeister: Remnant: What do the Australian Gamers talk like?

Don't know about the rest of you scurvy dogs, but I always put it up louder than some game and play that. This time, it was Spore; worked well! I hope I don't still love Spore this much when larger-than-a-breadbox computers are a thing of the past.

Remnant: Jaz: The Australian Gamer crew, usually Yug and Matt (occasionally Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation), talk in a far less... civilized manner. Aussie accents, obviously, makes them seem far more casual - by comparison, that is.

They also go off on tangents FAR more often. There isn't anyone roping things in as much, so it goes to strange and hilarious places =) I recommend checking them out! To be fair, this is the first PC Gamer UK podcast I've heard, and enjoyed it, so I'll be looking back at their other ones.

KING: Currently listening to the US PC Gamer podcast.... it's dreadful. I'm only listening because they mention Vampyre Story.

KING: I listened to about 10 minutes or horrid, boring, rubish, monotonous Americans talking about games, then skipped through until I found the mention (it's around 55 minutes in). They say PCG UK gave it somewhere between 40 to 65 and they hate you for that.... I hate you for that. (I haven't played it yet).

Who reviewed it? Do they have a blog? ;)

DoctorDisaster: If there's anything being trapped in a workplace with a bunch of academics has taught me, it's that someone who participates in a discussion is a "discussant."

Being trapped in a workplace with a bunch of academics is less educational than you might think.

Tom Francis: I didn't review it, but I've played it and it is dreadful. This was only the demo, but the one puzzle I had to solve in it was so moronic that I described it to everyone I met for the rest of the day, getting a different combination of horror, mirth and disgust each time.

peterd102: ITs the first of these ive listened to, and i have no idea which voices belong to who, but no matter. I have to say i enjoy the base building mechanic as long as theres a reward at the end. SupCom for instance gives you the a challenging way to try and build your base up to an economically active level, then rewards you for your hard work and time by giving you immese units to attack with. When the base building isnt rewarded properly then it feels tedious.

Jazmeister: Peterd102: I love supcom, actually, and the base building there is justified. You *do* have to build factories if you're arriving on your tod with nothing but nanolathes and your ingenuity. Some games, though, it doesn't make sense. In the Warhammer backstory, space marines shouldn't have to manufacture a thing. The only thing they're short of is "relics"; when their God-Emperor veggified, it caused a Credit Crunch the likes of which we can only piss our pants in bed about. They can't manufacture a lot of the awesome weapons and armour, but the undead/possessed chaos marines are a handy source.

For a real time strategy, you just need strategy (which I can only loosely define as "tactics for motherfuckers") and uninterrupted time-flow. There's this tendency for the meaning of terms to migrate. Even "first person shooter" can migrate; I've heard people call portal an FPS, and yeah, you are shooting a glob of portal wax, but are you shooting the paint in MSPaint?

KING: It's weird that PCGUS would sort of... hate PCGUK's verdict on something. Maybe some people can put up with obtuse puzzles, but that sort of thing would drive me nuts. Anyway, a review isn't a damnit judgement, it's an exploration of the virtues and violations. Right?

Pentadact: Does a game get extra points if it contributes to your anecdotal database?

Jason L: That was one of the many genius conceits of Total Annihilation, to justify the base-building by inducing bottlenecks in the background story - which is pretty ironic, given that the story was obviously not a major focus of the game and there was no pressing need to justify the status quo at the time.

Smurfy: I read this post and realised I am a fool for not listening to the podcast and buying the magazine.

I now listen to the podcast and buy the magazine.