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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

I Am Here







Hence the quietness.

Formerly Cpt.Muffin: What mysterious reason are you there? Are you adding kung-fu/yoga/starcraft mastery/an asian stereotype talent to your resumé?

If you really are in Japan and not a Japanese themed hotel then try the scorpion wine. Not that it tastes nice, just so you can say you drank wine with a scorpion in it.

Or go to the place where you get served food in minature toilets.

Or that other restaurant where you can catch your own fish from a big tank next to the tables and then have it served up for you.

Rei Onryou: If I had to stay in that room, it'd only be 5 minutes until I broke the walls/doors/everything.

Lack_26: Looks lovely.

Seniath: This would presumably have something to do with either this or this?

The Poisoned Sponge: I think he's training under Mai Pong Mau, the alleged greatest games writer ever to have lived. All his works are written on centuries old papyrus, so no one has ever read him. His writings are, however, renowned to be the best ever written. And so Francis must learn from him after serving him for three months, preparing his rice by picking up each individual grain of rice with his little toe.

Iain “DDude” Dawson: I like the way that, what I assume to be a lamp, has produced the effect that the section of wall behind the bed is an infinite void. If this is indeed the case, my advice would be to not go in.

I also originally thought that the table on the right was an anti-tank defence. This is what happens when you browse the internet before putting in your contacts...

The_B: See, he nearly told somebody accidentally after a beer. Now they've sent the Ninjas after him.


Jason L: Now that you mention it, Iain, the bed's lighting effect actually looks like a save point to me.

Dante: I ate a scorpion once, in toffee.

It tasted mostly of toffee.

J-Man: Still not an excuse for the lack of posts. And is the game Alien versus Predator?

peterd102: Do you stay far away from the paper walls seen as you have played SC: Chaos Theroy, scared of beign grabbed (which wont work with Vista for some reason, Yet Diablo 1 works fine - Damn Ubisoft).

Hmm, Is the quietness due to you pretending to be Sam Fisher, have you just hacked that computer?.. AH HA! It must be to do with SC, the bag of the recent issue show the distinctive Thermal vision of Splinter Cell, You have been discovered Pentadact! I know your game.

I really should stop letting my imagination run wild.

Chijts: That is the smallest bed I've ever seen. Good luck with that.

wut: That photo looks CGI for some reason.

MartinJ: Aw, man. I want that couch in my room.

ZomBuster: Mysterious..

Iain “DDude” Dawson: OK, so now I am confuddled. Is that an uncomfortable looking, very small bed as I assumed with the support of Chijts, or a couch as MartinJ says?

Or, third option, a Haggunenon, half-way between the two?

CloakRaider: So let's get this straight. Just how many ninja's are you fighting?

Cmdt_Carpenter: So if you're in Japan (One can only assume you are) this is hindering your internet capabilities somehow?

MartinJ: I'm pretty sure it's just a resting couch; and also the reason of Tom's absence.

He keeps resting.

Roadrunner: It's either a horrific tourist dump, or Kyoto.
Atleast your bed has a pillow. You beat me there.

Chris R: Ninja Gaiden.... 3?

It really does look like a CGI shot though.

The_B: I don't think he is in Japan. Or indeed the east, assuming my awesome stalking powers are correct.

Cmdt_Carpenter: The_B: Where else would there be such decorations? England? I scoff at the very idea.


Bret: No.

He's in...

Or something.

Jazmeister: lulz@Bret.

I think he is sleeping in a tiny, dwarf-sized bed. Maybe this is a first person shot? Would explain the flash-light thing.

So this also explains why he could update; that computer is like the typewriters in resident evil.

Maybe he's in the Matrix.

Tom Francis: This is the bed:


MartinJ: Those are hotel bed sheets and lamps if I've ever seen any.
The rest of it, though, doesn't seem so hotel-ish.

Tom Francis: What is up with hotel lamps? Am I right, men? I'm assuming the reason hotels never have main lights in the ceiling is to simplify the wiring, but why do the lamps they provide have to be activated by the most arcane and awkward means? These ones you have to reach inside the shade and twizzle a tiny black dial until it clicks three times past a mysterious threshold. Is there something wrong with the humble button that I'm not aware of?

MartinJ: I think they have these "special" lamps for "special" guests like you. If you know what I'm suggesting.

skizelo: Why is that building wearing a hat? Who would do such a thing? What's the point?

The_B: My assumptions are from data procured from what I assume was Mr Francis looking at my site from his dashboard. Unless someone else knows his password.


Lack_26: He is in San Francisco,
Quote from Twitter: "Found breakfast this morning by Googling 'best breakfast in San Francisco' and taking a cab. Zazie in Haight Ashbury, and it probably is.'

unless this is a devious form of mis-direction.

MartinJ: Gentlemen, prepare to board our airplanes, we're flying to San Francisco. And assassinating Mr. Francis on his couch.

(dibs on it)

Pixel Knight: Yeah, well I call shotgun!

Roadrunner: One Word. Belgium.

If I'm right i'll look cool, if i'm wrong it's okay because i've put this last sentence here.

Kazill: Which Olympus model is that guy holding? It looks like my SLR.

ZomBuster: That church is the Saint Mary Cathedral, and using the latest of highly classified software (google maps) I find out your hotel is Hotel Kabuki.

Oh I love doing this, give me a random picture and a vague location and I can find anything.

spuzman00: San Francisco! Right in my neighborhood!

Don't worry if you see some guy following you around. I won't hurt you (as long as you don't try anything).

Mahlen: In San Francisco, that church is known informally as "Our Lady of the Maytag", due to its resemblance to a washing machine agitator.

Hope you get time to see other neighborhoods.


Jazmeister: My lamps are like that.

And ZomBuster, that's not big, but it is clever.

Formerly Cpt.Muffin: How much of an international following does Tom have exactly? Feels like he could pop into Alaska and a commenter would turn up saying "Hey you're in my neck of the woods!". Guess it's one of the perks that come with being a respected journo. Or an international man of mystery. I'll let you decide.

Plus, I regret looking like a tit and jumping to the Japan conclusion before Tom put up those two other photos.

In effort to correct my suggestions, try driving around the sunny hills in a Green Mustang as part of a car chase with a Dodge? I'm not sure what else there is in San Francisco to do than get on trams and bump into Latino gangs. Pick up a hooker? Visit a pleasant neighbourhood? Secretly replace the lamps in your hotel?

Iain “DDude” Dawson: Well isn't this fun? You throw a few holiday snaps on the internet, and we prove our stalking abilities are well honed, and then, instead of complimenting a wonderful choice of hat (I want one!) we go straight to assassination.

J-Man: Tom! Be careful! Zombuster is sending the ninjas!

ZomBuster: I agree with Ian here, why would someone do that? It's horrible!

Blaahah: Definately Alien versus Predator.

Tom Francis: Right about Kabuki, creepily, wrong about something vs something. It's not a sequel or tie-in.

Little Green Man: STALK-SQUAD. GOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Little Green Man: Also is this Something versus Something completely new then? A completely new ip?

ZomBuster: Game studios located in San Francisco:

Double Fine
2D Boy
Lucas Arts
Eidos interactive
Popcap games

My bet is on Bookworm vs Peggle where you need to shoot pegs with letters on them in the right combination.

The_B: Tom Francis vs Creepy Stalkers. They're armed with The Internet, Tom is armed with an incredibly sharp pair of chopsticks. It's an ARG. They just didn't tell Tom yet...

Tom Francis: Heh. The San Francisco trip wasn't related to the something vs something game. That would be a tie-in, anyway.

Bobsy: Maggie vs. Hesletine: the ROCKENING

Only in San Francisco, huh? Huh?

ZomBuster: Ah too bad, that would have been a lot cooler to figure out.

Jebus: Pentadact, I'm guessing the lamp you mentioned clicks 3 times before it turns on because it is designed to be used with 3 way light bulbs. The ones that are like 50 watts, 100 watts, and 150 watts. Each click activates the next wattage and the fourth turns it back off. The hotel probably just put in regular light bulbs so the first two clicks don't do anything. Sorry if this was already answered, I only skimmed the comments.

Lack_26: This is un-related, but Pentadact might find this interesting (as would some others). It's about project KEEP, which is being done by the European Union, to make sure that all our old software (games, etc) can be protected against the march of time. More in the article (just click my name for the link).

Tom Francis: Jebus: interesting stuff.

Lack: interesting stuff.

spuzman00: That seems very interesting indeed. I wonder if KEEP would be able to provide support for, say, decade-old MMOs whose developers stopped providing servers years ago.

Chijts: That's a nice camera you are using there to take your piccies. Who would want that much salad for their brekky though?

MartinJ: Heh.

I thought that was lunch.

westyfield: Is 'Something Versus Something' the strategy game 'Stalin Vs. Martians'? And does that title make you want the game to be released, now?

(Click the name for more info)

Jason L: That was my immediate thought too, though he'd be off the developer's location by roughly .8 terrestrial hemispheres. Maybe the publisher's based in SF.

Jason L: Note: That was posted despite being fully aware of the previous post about the Twitter being unrelated to the trip. Speaking of divisions between hemispheres...

Cartho: Man that breakfast looks extremely good!