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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.

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

Fallout Girl: Striking Out

Previously, on Fallout Girl.

Fallout Girl 3

At some point during my peaceful reign over Tenpenny Towers, I found myself chainsawing an old man in the neck. In his office, which for some reason he’d kitted out like a doctor’s surgery, I found an old tape of someone talking about androids. Specifically, an escaped android who’s looking for a doctor to have a little work done. Ah, that’s probably it – he was a doctor. I knew there had to be some explanation.

I’ll be honest, I don’t much care where my dad’s gone. He was a nice enough chap to have around when I was growiing up, but I’m sure he’s got a good reason for striking out on his own. Jesus, I’m what, twenty eight? I’ve been living with my parents long enough. Besides, he’s quest-critical. The worst that could happen is that he falls over for a while.

So I didn’t have much interest in Fallout 3’s main quest. But I had a lot of interest in an escaped android. The tape wasn’t much of a lead, but I headed out from the safety of Tenpenny to investigate it all the same.

Fallout3 2008-11-03 23-06-32-07

What I found, almost immediately, was a raider camp. Slipping down a mountainside I sniped a lookout’s arm off with Tenpenny’s rifle, then ploughed through the two entrance guards with my baseball bat. Inside it was a fairly small warehouse, but a hole in the wall lead to a huge cave complex beneath. Decked out like a nightclub. I snuck around it smashing people with a sledgehammer and planting landmines in their pockets until I came to a friendly man named Smiling Jack. Jack wasn’t a bandit like the others, he was a weapons merchant with an enormous arsenal who didn’t much care who he sold to. I put a landmine in his pocket and took it all from his corpse.

Fallout Girl 2

Tenpenny’s rifle was immediately obsolete. I had laser rifles, laser pistols, grenades, missile launchers, flame throwers, and something called The Terrible Shotgun. But it was on my way out that I found the jackpot: The Fat Man. A handheld nuclear warhead launcher. Handheld, but not light – its weight tipped my haul over the humanly haulable limit, and I was slowed to a crawl. Usually this would be irrelevant – I could just fast-travel home and ditch some stuff. But I’d slipped in with a minimum of fuss, which left a maximum of enemies still roaming the camp. No fast travel till they’re dead.

With a sadness I set the Fat Man down on a step and set about disintegrating the camp’s inhabitants. It turned out they had a Goliath caged up, which I left well alone, as well as some slaves. Since I was going to have to kill all their captors anyway, it seemed rude not to set them free, so I unlocked the pen. See? I can be nice.

Fallout3 2008-11-03 23-11-10-40

Slaves don’t have any weapons, of course, but they’ll snatch any they find on the ground as they run, so they might be of use against the last few guards too. One nabbed a Chinese Assault Rifle from the nearest pile of radioactive ash, and the rest ran gratefully off in the direction I’d just come from. The direction I’d just come from after dropping the Fat Man. Fuck.

Am I really going to have to do this?

I shot the armed one first, figuring he’d turn on me when I started gunning down his pen-pals. I caught the next one in the back with a critical laser blast, atomising him as he ran. The third exploded entirely of his own accord – either a landmine I hadn’t seen, or a missile launcher lurking behind the shacks. But the final slave was too far away to hit with my fancy new rifle. I had to pull out Tenpenny’s Sniper for its superior accuracy. Three feet from the Fat Man, 40% chance to hit.

The shot ripped his right leg off at the knee, sending him pitching forward in a sprinkler-spurt of blood face-first into the dirt. All was still. The Fat Man was safe.

I’ll be nice tomorrow.

More , ,

:): ’ll be honest, I don’t much care where my dad’s gone. He was a nice enough chap to have around when I was growiing up,

frothy: i forgot all about that android quest. damnit. here i come fallout, you thought i was done with you, but i'm not even close to finished.

Palms: Aw man. That reminds me of when I *SPOILER* Killed everyone in paradise falls and saved the slaves. However there was one old slave who was obviously senile or something and kept saying things that made no sense...I had no choice but to kill him. For his own good.

Jason L: It encroaches further! 'Led to', an thou think'st it meet.

Mr. Brit: I freed a slave, enslaved him, collected caps, rinsed and repeated. I also thought terribly clever for shooting the generator with a sniper rifle thereby freeing the behemoth and letting it kill all the raiders, whereupon I wandered in and oneshotted it with a silenced pistol.
With Smiling Jack, I sold crap to him until he had no caps left, blew off his head, stole all his weapons and devoured his corpse. I also tried to carry his head with me to put on my bedside table but I couldn't get it through the door ¬¬

Cartho: Yes more Fallout girl!
You play Fallout 3 like me, in that no action is too base, no character above being brutally slaughtered on a whim.

I swear F3 has exposed some dark traits in my character that a shrink would be deeply concerned by. Like that time when I saw a slave being chased by a slaver (he had obviously escaped), so I murdered the slaver, took all his stuff, and then beat the slave to death just after he had thanked me for saving him.

What did you do at the end of the vault when Amata is being beaten up by that guard? I ran in and blew the guard's head off, and then blew her dad's head off too. She seemed really annoyed about that - god know's why the guy was a dick who was threatening to have her beaten.

Maybe it was having her dad's head splattered all over her Vault 101 jumpsuit that rubbed her up the wrong way

Half Loaf 2: Your series has inspired me to create a series In where I explore the capital wasteland. Click on my name to see the progress so far. It is a little rusty seeing that its my first time blogging and it will seem like an inferior remake, but please give it a try.

Half Loaf 2

Half Loaf 2: Your series has inspired me to create a series In where I explore the capital wasteland. Click on my name to see the progress so far. It is a little rusty seeing that its my first time blogging and it will seem like an inferior remake, but please give it a try.

Half Loaf 2

Edit: Sorry forgot to add the website

Dr. nerfball: Normally I'd try and be the voice of reason and justice and whatnot here and say "Oh, you shouldn't do that, you should do *insert nice example here*." But honestly, after every single person in the wasteland seems to think I'm there to blow their heads off, I honestly thought, "Well screw it, I might as well do what they want me to do, right?" So now the entire of Megaton, Ten Penny Tower, Rivet City, Paradise Falls and Vault 101 are all dead. And I walked away whistling along to Three Dog's music, who I'd killed as well, when he started calling me evil. Maaan...there's probably something wrong with me huh?

Oh, by the way, did anyone else find *minor spoilerz ahead* The Vault 77 jumpsuit in Paradise Falls Barracks? *end o' spoilerz* If you've read the fallout comic done by the penny arcade guys, then it's really quite a funny lil' thing to find.
Linky linky! (sorry, couldn't be bothered geting a hyperlink =P)
http://fallout.beths... ...rcade.html

Lack_26: I have one thing to say about Fallout 3: God bless the Enclave, that is all my sweet America. You know, once I moded them a bit so they liked me, that and Enclave Commander.

But I've got a vanilla game on my the better computer, I love this game so much. Although on that save I'm a really nice person, I just cant quite get round to being mean/slaughtering people.

Joe Doe: Just a comment: You cannot fast travel when overloaded!

Cheers and happy crippling

Tom Francis: Nerfball: wow, somehow I missed that entire series. It's great.

Joe: yeah, I discovered that after I'd killed everyone. I think I ended up making two trips, rather than any hard decisions.

Tom Francis: Cartho: I think I saved her. I was pretty nice to Amata, until I returned to Vault 101 later. Spoilers: At the end of that quest, she was all, thanks for saving my life three times and making me queen of all I survey, but you have to leave forever because you're causing mild discomfort. Sorry, but I have to put pragmatism before friendship. So I put pragmatism before friendship too and ate her dad.

ZomBuster: Pff was it worth it? I got like 12 fat mans piled up next to my fridge in Megaton. But to be honest, I wouldn't let any slave get in there either.

Cartho: @ Pentadact
Heh, yeah I was nice to Amata too, we were best mates, me sticking up for her infront of that arse Butch, but she seemed very miffed by me killing her dad
I aint been back to the vault yet

Chijts: I haven't finished F3 yet, I have 3 characters on the go at the moment. Same thing happened in Oblivion, although I must have gone through 6 or so before I decided to do the main quest properly.

I find it very hard to not be a goody-two-shoes (which I'm kinda glad about). I can only be evil if it's in a completely anarchic way, which I find odd considering it's just a game. After blowing up Megaton and hanging out with Ten Penny and Mr. "Overacting" Burke, killing them all felt rather pointless. There's a certain satisfaction in killing those two though.

MartinJ: I usually just get bored of the game at some point, save, kill everything and everyone in my nearest surroundings, quit the game and don't touch it for a few weeks.
Then I go back... and the process repeats.

Chijts: lol actually I do that too Martin.

Pentadact, can I ask what kind of stats you've gone for? You seem to use any weapon to hand, so either you don't care about your stats or you put everything into killing efficiently.

ZomBuster: Also lol at the twitter

LaZodiac: I love how everything you do in this game eventually helps you out with something, somehow.

You killed Tenpenny and stole his sniper. You eventually find better weapons, yes. But, without Tenpenny's sniper, you'd have a slave thats alittle angry his friends are killed, holding a hand held nuclear bomb launcher. Thank god for snipers, and thank god for Fallout3's VATS system.

Plasto Joe: Palms, I did the exact same thing on my first playthrough. I have a feeling that's kind of the reason he's there.

EGTF: First things first, allow me to be anal grammar nazi and point out the typo "He was a nice enough chap to have around when I was growiing up".

Please dont hate me for thst.

After trying to blog like this I have to say well done to Tom, as it's harder than it looks to play revelantly, take good screenshots as well as make it funny and easy to read. Hoorah for Fallout Girl!

Jason L: Mote, eye, eye, mote.

But seriously, the preterite and perfect tenses and the passive voice are always 'led'.

Ronin08: Oh, hey, I found that slaver camp too...and decided to unleash the Goliath. More fun that way. Took a few nukes to take him down though.

And I recommend trying that "non-violent solution" to the Tenpenny tower quest on another playthrough...interesting results. I hated the results either way.

Rei Onryou: Welcome back Fallout Girl! I remember my fight against that Raider group (as the good guy). Cleared outside, cleared inside, didn't find the Fatboy (or if I did, didn't want to deal with its weight and equipment swapping), and went back outside. Proceeded to kill more Raiders, and out of nowhere, the Behemoth just came towards me. Either the generator got hit or the Raiders released him! Now that makes an interesting fight.

I've noticed that, post-Fallout 3, the choices in the game are very black and white most of the time. Yes, everyone's game is different, but if two different people completed every quest playing evilly, the quest outcomes (and most likely, their method of completion) would still be the same. I seem to remember the other Fallout games having more variety in quest completion techniques. Still a great game though.

Chris Livingston: I approached the Dad issue as if I felt he'd lied, abandoned me, and left me to die, so the purpose of the main quest was not to reunite with him, but to hunt him down and make him pay. Worked pretty well as a motivator for a not-so-nice character. While I couldn't kill him when I found him, my Terrible Shotgun did knock him unconscious, and I was able to loot his body for an ear. I figured that was close enough.

Roadrunner: You looted his body for an ear?
(And now for the worst pun in all of history.)
He never heard you coming.

you know, that pun doesn't even make sense and feels like I just shoehorned it in.

EGTF: That's rather eriee Chris. At least you could then keep one ear to the ground to listen for danger without putting your head on the floor. Maybe he beat you as a child, so it then works out as a clip to the ear for a clip around the ear. Maybe he was a friend, roman, countryman and he just lent it to you. Pin it to a wall and you could be like a hunter, keeping one ear pricked at all times. Also like a hunter in the trophy sense of it I guess.

Dont even get me started on non-sensical shoehorned in puns.

Mr Chug: By the time I'd got to there with my evil unarmed-only character I was a Psycho-addicted machine dealing out 50 damage a punch with over 200 stimpaks in reserve, so I used up 76 of them beating the behemoth to death with my bare hands. I considered that to be beating the game and haven't played since.

AlphaTM: Heh. I have two fallout files: One with a well dressed man who's basically the best thing that has ever happened to the wasteland, and one with a girl who goes about wearing a sheriff outfit and does the complete opposite.


Man: Paradise Falls: Killed everyone, freed slaves.

Woman: Paradise Falls: Works for slavers, sells slaves.

Man: Megaton: Did all sidequests, except for blowing it up.

Woman: Megaton: Massacred, blew it up

Ect. ect.

Jazmeister: I'm starting to get bored of Fallout 3 now, precisely because this good/evil thing channels all motivation into getting the most alignment points, propelling you furthest in your chosen direction.

If you have five choices in Deus Ex, you pick the one that suits you. If you have five choices in F3, you wonder which one the dev has attributed the greatest number of points; maybe you save and load until you get the best choice. It's a different process, one that has systematically flattened every situation I enter.

As my evil character, I killed a bunch of Super Mutants and then killed their slave. I didn't lose any Karma. I reloaded, killed them all again, then chose not to set her free. Lost Karma. Mission Comprete.

Mr. Brit: @Jazmeister, you realise there are very few direct rewards for being extemely evil or good. Some followers become available and people treat you different but that's all. I play however, I've done good things when evil and bad things when good, you just do what you want and get treated appropriately. I've only once gone out of my way to get more evil and that was to earn an ahievement by being evil at level 14.
Play as you want, face the consequences.

MartinJ: I guess what makes me lose interest in Fallou 3 so quickly is the lack of really likable/hatable in a good way characters. When Jaz mentions Deus Ex, it reminds me how I loved Paul, how great friends were the hacker and the doctor guys, and helping that hotel owner's daughter do what she really wants made me feel happy about my decision.

This doesn't happen in F3 to me. My 'dad' isn't really all that likable, as the game works of one basic premise: you have to like him. You have to find him because you need to see him, because he's nice... but you don't get to actually make that relationship! You only see him like three times while skipping through your childhood. And then, there are like what... zero major characters? Everyone dies quickly, the DJ at Washington is just annoying, companions are boring and don't tie up to the story. If Butch, or A... A... that girl went out with you and something happened, like a love triangle or whatever that could affect the story, I'd personally find the game more interesting.

Right now I'm on that ship-city finding my father and apparently he's just trying to build something that's going to revamp the wasteland or whatever. Not. Amused.

Jazmeister: I agree; of all the ways you can disagree with a parent, Fallout 3 includes just a few, and they left me feeling constricted. You're either a brat or an obedient gopher. I don't know, I just wasn't feeling the main quest, and when that happened in Oblivion, I'd just do a faction quest. There aren't any of those in F3.

@Brit: The world reacts very strongly to your alignment, which is my reward. I find it satisfying when raiders run away from you, slavers get out of your way, and the occasional bad ass offers to join up with you. It's also nice getting showered by gifts from grateful citizens, and attracting evil mercs. I just don't like that the good-evil meter. Life is complicated and there are many ways people judge eachother. I certainly don't add up all the good things you've done and subtract all the bad things; just one rape negates an awful lot of donations to Oxfam.

I liked the Sims 3 feature where you just pick traits. That was almost the idea behind perks in the original fallout, although they didn't replace stats. I tried designing a tabletop game that ran from traits, but the temptation to give them "ranks" was too strong. Was still fun though.

Mr. Brit: @Jazmeister, that I understand. Obviously the karmeter is a very flawed sytem, blowing up a town should never be negatable by donating to a church or giving water to beggers. From your other comment I got the idea that you went out of your way to specifically get karma either way and I was saying how that seemed unessecary when it's more rewarding to make the choices you want to and seeing the results.

Devenger: It takes this blog to make me realise I, relatively, fail at evil. Hmmmmph.

mcfiggy: Fallout Girl looks suspiciously like Sarah Palin and if you're trying to imply something then I would like to preemptively ad that it's brilliant

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