All posts


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

Lord I Just Don’t Care

I’ve been wondering when and how best to post something of Florence and the Machine‘s for a while, pretty much since I first heard them on Adam & Joe. I didn’t doubt it would be Dog Days, the exhaustingly energetic rollercoaster of a song I heard first, I was just waiting till they had something out for it to promote. I forgot that what they released could theoretically be better. They still don’t have an album, but this is Dog’s B-side: You’ve Got The Love.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

It’s tumultuous music, melodic but booming and insistent, the vocal a few shades more fierce and assured than a new artist is allowed to be. I like a lot of gentle stuff, but it takes something bold and sharp to grip me this firmly. Like Dog Days, every listen ends with my heart-rate just slightly higher than when it started, and my mood a little warmer.

Anyone else care to recommend something they’ve been getting into lately? The great joy of Spotify is that I can investigate tips when I get them, rather than forgetting about them for six years.


nine: You've heard of neko case, right? She's another redhead, so you can't go wrong there.
There are a lot of similar artists getting signed in the UK lately (small girls with big voices), but most of them are doing acoustic guitar only stuff, so it's less exciting. See: Laura Marling, Lisa Mitchell, etc

Xargon: I've been really getting into Kate Covington and Emilie Autumn of late. Both are highly listenable.

Pwnzerfaust: If you like Florence and the Machine, I think you might enjoy the up-and-coming artist, Adele. As fate would have it, she too sports a head of vibrant red hair.

Dave McLeod: If the Alphabeat kick has worn itself out, rejuvenate it with Das Pop. Saw them week before last; their history includes supporting Soulwax, Justice, and The Kills (all of whom if not recognized, are also recommended).

http://www.myspace.c... ...mythegreat - A very pretty, dirty Florence & The Machine
http://www.myspace.c... ...ionpitjams - musical valium
http://www.myspace.c... - Vampire Weekend with life.

Bobsy: I love Spotify. I'm incapable of listening to any radio other than Radio 4 because of the shear amount of interminable bullshit they throw in from vapid DJs and godawful Simon-Cowell-induced pop blather. So I go through very long periods where I'm entirely immune to popular music. You know, last night was the first time I properly sat down and listened to the Arctic Monkeys? It's that bad! Plus, I got around to listening to all the other Kaiser Chiefs songs I'd not heard already. They weren't as good.

The Poisoned Sponge: Listening to this song really reminds me of some of Blue Sky Black Death's stuff. They're very hip-hop/jazz, but some pretty powerful vocals. Also, my favourite song of the minute. ...A_ubhYgjAc

Palms: I've been getting into Bob Dylan recently, about 50 years too late... I only really like his early stuff, his voice is just so sincere and full of sentiment and emotion, it's beautiful stuff. V relaxing, and the lyrics are brilliant. A subtle poetry which is severly lacking in today's music.

Nano: Heard of a band called Maybeshewill? Might be a little bit heavy for your tastes, but they build up some amazing melodic moments, then crash down like an aural tidal wave.

Apart from that, you'd probably prefer Ampop. Best song being 'Youth'. Heartbreaking.

Must admit...I have a secret guilty pleasure in the song 'Paparazzi' by Lady Gaga. I know it's trite, but there's something about the harmonies the chorus that steal me. Don't look at me like that.

Jimmay: That... is fantastic. Good pull, Tom.

I've been listening to a lot of Minus the Bear. Their album Menos El Oso is one of those that you can put on and not have to skip a single song, it's great.

Jimmay: After another listen or two, I still think it's fantastic, but it's criminally short. I'll have to remember to check James after work so I can find the band online.

Smurfy: The Apples in Stereo are rather good. Lemon Demon is still forever my favourite music though.

Frosty Chives: Frank Turner. Frank Turner. Frank Turner. Frank Turner. Frank Turner. Frank Turner. Frank Turner. Frank Turner. Frank Turner. Frank Turner. Frank Turner. Frank Turner.

That is all.

Ispep: I recently rediscovered the shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine, great stuff to chill out to while also being musically and lyrically substantial... Florence has got a voice and a half though, the cover of the Beirut song Hospital Beds (the b-side on Kiss With A Fist)is rather good. I don't know if you've heard/heard of Lightspeed Champion but he's recording a new album atm, which should be good - as is the material from his mate "Frederick Blood-Royale" (of Les Incompétents fame)and his new-ish band - progressive indie stuff, very interesting... enjoy!

Rob: Ooh... time to raid Napster then. ON MY WAY!

Tom Francis: Cheers everyone. I managed to post this the night before a day I would mostly spend listening to an interview recording, so now I have a long Spotify list to start with tomorrow.

Nano: Not For Lack Of Trying is great, and gets bonus points for using voice clips from the Chayefsky film Network.

Roadrunner: The Source ft. Candi Staton's version is far better.
That person voice is....not working to say the least.

Roadrunner: And I forgot to add, something i've been getting into... Spotify "Jazzanova" and listen to thier latest album "of all the things" It's different to thier other stuff, and it was meant to arrive off amazon ages ago, but failed >:(

J-Man: Wow, spotify is great.
Good artist, eh?

Girl Talk or Mountain Goats

greatest song ever created of all time, ever.

The Lonely Island - Dick in a box

Random: @J-Man: You clearly underestimate I'm on a Boat, as it is clearly the greatest song of all time.

J-Man: Looking it up on spotify now... this better be good.
May I also point out I like all the Florence songs except Kiss with a fist.

Palms: J-man, I recommend watching it on Youtube rather than listening to it. The video set up to the song is what makes it.

Robert64: I can guarantee no-one will appreciate my tastes in music like I do. But if you feel suicidal you can try some of my favorite tracks:

Soulcube - Chris Su, Axiom and Optiv
Forever - Bad Robot
The End of Me - Black Sun Empire
You Don't Have to Run - Concord Dawn
The Ice Age - Concord Dawn and Chris Su
Anonymous - Syncopix
Tricks - Gridlok
Unexist - Jade

Roadrunner: Damn you indie fans! I feel so isolated. Excuse me, while I go listen to music without a whiny, angsty pre-pubescent 15 year old talking incessantly about girls he'd like to stick his wang into.
Atleast that's what it all sounds like to me.

DoctorDisaster: Uh, Roadrunner, you're thinking of emo. And making yourself look kinda dumb. Indie doesn't really have a defined sound; if you want to trash it you'll probably have to go after the fans or the people who make it.

Ispep: Indie was never a very good genre - like "alternative"
... alternative to what?
Never made much sense to me :P
also, check out The Knife, they're a brother and sister team from Sweden who make some sweet electro. Fun Fact: The song "heartbeats" by José Gonzales in that Sony ad with all the balls bouncing down the hill was originally by The Knife; and it was better. Check out the video for "We share our mother's health", it's some trippy stuff.


Let's try and keep it nice and not insult anyone's tastes...

EGTF: I'll give anything a shot, though 60-80's funk groove is where it's at for me. Plus I'm odd in liking Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle with you" as my song when I'm depressed. Hearing something so light hearted and corny I can't help but smile.

I feel left out as none of my music is from obscure artists. I really don't know where people find all these good sounding bands. Does liking well known bands like Fat Boy Slim and Jamiroquai make me a corporate whore? Ah well, no worries.

Belcher: Roadrunner: Except that most indie that I have listened to is happy and cheerful, quite frankly.

Nonetheless, "Indie" is a meaningless term, really. At least whenever it comes to musical merit and subject matter. Two Indie bands can be DRAMATICALLY different.

Palms: @EGTF
There's nothing wrong with liking popular bands. Most of the time there's a reason that they're popular, and that's that they're good. I love Muse for example, and my guilty pleasure is Feeder. It is nice to have some lesser known stuff though, like it's a secret or something. Elliot Smith is someone I listen to who isn't incredibly well known. You can't beat just one guy with a guitar if you want some emotion in music.

Of course if you want some REAL music, listen to some Beethoven. [controversial!]

baumsquad: Cymbals Eat Guitars. Best new music on Pitchfork and the main man is a close friend of mine. At the bottom of the page they have a track you can download. You can listen to more at:

http://www.myspace.c... ...eatguitars

nine: Faker are an Australian band that get the sound of pop rock 'only' nearly perfect, and are amazingly interesting as a result. It's like a reverse uncanny valley.

DoctorDisaster: @EGTF: Stuck in the Middle with You is one of my all-time faves, but I owe that entirely to Reservoir Dogs. If you haven't seen it, you should.

EGTF: @Palms: Classical is another guilty pleasure of mine. Which is strange, as I can't play a single instrument and am not musically atuned at all. But I can listen to it on its own, or enjoy playing a violent video game with it.

Reminds me, I need to make another gaming playlist.

@DoctorDisaster: Ah, but when listening to it I don't tend to have people tied to chairs and cutting their ear off.

Lack_26: Cant stop listening to 'My Boy Builds Coffins', thanks for the heads up of F&M.

Dave McLeod: Also, I have hugged Florence. This is the sort of thing I knew I'd be proud of one day.

Captane: Lately I've started listening to Sufjan Stevens, DeVotchKa and Animal Collective (You should definately check out their newest album, they share a few similarities with the Russian Futurists)

Oh and I also got the Big Lebowski soundtrack a copuld days ago too. Good stuff.

nine: I thought I'd mention that I just heard Dog Days on the only radio station worth listening to in this country

Little Green Man: I think the real problem with the track "Falling" is that on Spotify the Dog Days demo and Falling have each others names, so play the demo to listen to Falling.

Tom Francis: Yeah, I mentioned in the other thread that they're switched on Amazon's MP3 version too - wonder if Spotify rip from Amazon, or if it's a CDDB mistake and they both rip from there?

http://www.pentadact... ...ent-115159

Little Green Man: Its okay on the physical album, which is labelled correctly, but then the actual title along the side sleeve of the album is upside down. So when put upright with other albums you have to turn your head the other way around to read that particular album. It is quite odd.