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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.

  • Grant: Thanks to the start of this video, I’ve just now noticed that during the static flickers while staring...
  • Ben: Great analysis. During the lab sequence in the Prey intro, you were looking around for tells that Morgan is in a...
  • RoboLeg: this game would be PERFECT for mobile, and I’d happily pay 10 bucks or so for it.
  • Jepp: 1) Please keep critiquing games by building new ones :) 2) The non-hand holding, simple systems integrating...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • 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

    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.