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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

Trust Me With Your Ears: Volume Six

A regular feature in which I ask you to listen to a sound file with no idea what it’s going to be. Sometimes it’s voice, sometimes music, once it was just a noise. This one’s not super-obscure, but it’s ages since I actually listened to it, and to this day I find myself humming it when someone says the word ‘online’. It is dorky in the extreme.

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.

Update! It’s not supposed to be all crackly and fucked up. But it’s sounding that way for some. See the comments for a link to the video.


Spy: That fuzzy background noise is getting on my nerves.

wowbagger: This is so dumb that I think I like it.

KaffN8ed: I found myself adjusting my speakers, before realizing that it was supposed to sound like that.


Roadrunner: Reminds me of Jonathan Coulton. But I bet there's alot of that kinda stuff about these days.

radomaj: Just as Roadrunner, at first i thought it was Jonathan, but after a couple of minutes it hit me: ze frank - the greatest man on the Web (sorry Tom).

Tom Francis: No problem, I agree.

J-Man: Hehehe... the bit about "taking the picture of you taking the picture of you holding the camera in the bathroom mirror" is actually incredibly accurate. Nearly all my female friends on facebook have endless photo albums of those.

Smurfy: Fix the motherflippin' sound quality you flippin' motherflipper!

J-Man: Sound quality is fine fo' me.

Littleedge: What is this song? It's actually really awesome.

Smurfy: ...3b3e1-nvJ0

My latest GTA IV machinima... but it's not an ordinary machinima...

Roadrunner: That is some damn fine machinima.

Smurfy: Gee whiz, squire!

Spy: Nice machinima Smurfy

But can you give us a bit of background on Dar's E-funeral? That's like the most amazing vid I've ever seen and I don't understand it.

Tom Francis: That was great fun. I like what happens if you play it safe at every turn.

Also: love Imogen Heap.

Littleedge: as Radomaj correctly notes, it's a song by internet vlog-o-star Ze Frank.

People with sound quality issues: buh? It really does sound fine on my machine. Try watching the video here.

SenatorPalpatine: I liked it.

Jason L: OK, there's something wrong with the player plugin then. I had thought it was just a (misguided) artistic decision until I went to the movie and checked out the MP3 file itself. Both of those play OK, but through the player here it's consistently screwed up.

It's so hard to describe sound-screwed-upness! There's this low-frequency electrostatic buzz that's present throughout the song and fills, then echoes every sound for maybe half a second. It hates bass the most - it's sort of like dynamic range clipping but at the low end? I don't have time to record it until tonight.

For extra fun, I checked out a couple of other Trust Mes and they're still fine - so there's just something about this file and maybe our browsers that the player really doesn't like. Firefox WinXP 2009032609.

Roadrunner: Jason L, Does the noise slightly echo, almost like a tiny tiny delay?

Smurfy: I built a new computer and it sounds fine now.

Tom Francis: Holy shit, that's a hell of a length to go to. I'll see if I can get a different version of it and re-upload. I should buy it, actually, didn't realise it was for sale until now.

Jason L: There's certainly something going on with the definition and frequency profile of the sound itself - it's not just a problem of superimposed noise - but I'm not an audiophile. It seems deeper but not timeshifted? There may be an echo, but if so it's very very fast and subtle. It doesn't sound anything like overzealous bitrate compression or destructive-phase channel muxing, the two MP3 sound problems with which I'm familiar. The superimposed buzz does echo on a macroscopic scale, which suggests to me that the problem doesn't fit in an MPEG frame and must be something external to the file e.g. the player's interaction with the browser and sound device. And again, having ganked the MP3 file itself it sounds fine when played with anything outside of the browser. No biggie.

Tom Francis: Try it now, I've just switched the MP3 with a different copy. Kind of an oxymoron, but might help.

Jason L: I may have been wrong about the echo; it's hard for me to tell, since the song has lots of echo by itself. Anyway, here's what it sounds like on my machine. ...x.mp3.html

Jason L: Wow, ninja'd. No, it still sounds the same after a complete browser shutdown and restart.

Jason L: Oh, and the new PCGPC plays just fine so it's not some grandfather clause.

This is why I don't read mystery novels.

Littleedge: I heard it fine (and loved it). And woah. Pentadact addressed me and answered my question. My life is complete once I get Chris over at First Person Shouter to do the same ^^

Keep up with Trust Me With Your Ears. Or any music, really. I've probably gotten half of the music you've linked (probably more).

Rev. Name Withheld: Awww, I thought it sounded real good with all the fuzz - like a low-grade WAV file. Realy early internet style.