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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

PC Gamer, November 09

The issue of PC Gamer that’s just come out is one I’m uncommonly pleased with. In it, I get to:

Fallout3 2009-08-05 13-10-50-71

Recount my horrible, agonising quest for a bent spade covered in shit in Fallout 3: Point Lookout (Now Playing)

Champion about thirty of my favourite mods in a feature by me, Graham and John, and take what must be among the most inherently comic zombie dismemberment shots of my career (50 Essential Mods)


Finally vent my mounting exasperation with multiplayer games for being rubbish 50% of the time, and propose a few ways people could keep killing each other without anyone having to lose (Devil’s Advocate)

Geek out about game engines, celebrating their increasing failure to look significantly better (Special Report).


Use the word ‘bat’ ten times in a single sentence about Batman: Arkham Asylum, which I liked for three reasons and resented for one (Review)

Turn ninjas into forest animals by stabbing and beating them in Mini Ninjas, which has absolutely wonderful character profile videos and lets you use your hat as a boat (Review)


Write a script for the pilot episode of CSI: Azeroth, which was supposed to be about figuring out how wild animals came to possess money and forks, but went off the rails and turned into something else entirely (It’s All Over)

It’s buyable (in Europe and the US now, it seems?) here.

Rankaratar: Strange, in Australia that magazine's called PC Powerplay. Wonder why they changed the name?

Aftershock: I'm fairly sure that PC Powerplay is a completely separate magazine... If it is an offshoot, it's news to me.

FraktuRe: PC Powerplay is a 100% Australian magazine, completely separate.

Nicomallo: Current issue PCGamerUKs are always ridiculously expensive in Australia. Sounds like I'll be getting this one anyway.

Lack_26: It was a rather good episode, I haven't had much chance to read it since I've been out most week (freshers week).

I did especially like the CSI: Azeroth script.

Iain “DDude” Dawson: Epic Bat-review, and loved the extra life story. Then the mod feature made me dissapointed I own concole Fallout... *sigh*

ZomBuster: Great magazine but..

He puts the glasses/goggles on not off!

Pod: Do you still ever play TF2? :(

"Nicomallo: Current issue PCGamerUKs are always ridiculously expensive in Australia. Sounds like I'll be getting this one anyway."

They're ridiculously expensive in the UK as well ;)

Jazmeister: I just bought two of the last one.

Ludo: Aha, I always try and guess who does the It's All Over and a certain hilarious Swat 4 script on this very site provided a clue. Great Issue, for all the above reasons and the voice acting feature.

Smurfy: I bought PC Gamer now I have no bawls I'm suing you

Jonas: Thanks for the TNM mention, Tom! Because of this, I'll forgive the persistent absense of a full 4-page review... for now.

Roadrunner: Oh man, I love PCZone!

J-Man: Hurrah for PC Format!

Lack_26: Boys, we got traitors; get the pitchforks.

Ging: Hurray for Hidden getting mentioned in the top 50 mods! Yet another reason I should get on and do more work on it!

Nano: You are now old.

SIbilantjoe: @Ging: Please do, I've had a great time playing your mod, and it could definitely benefit from a touch-up.

Jazmeister: And the Hidden should quip like the Spy and scream like the Hunter. And unlockable hats, natch.

Roadrunner: so uhh....What's everyone's Myers-Briggs type? :D
I ask because I did that "what kind of gamer are you quiz." I don't have the link, but I'm a 'Socialiser-Survivor', and find Myers-Briggs more interesting than gaming :p

EGTF: Socialiser-Mastermind, which sounds like something a heartless PR person would put on their CV. Tempted to take it again and really think about my responses, but then I might end up with something a Harry Potter enthusiast would put on their CV.

Lots of good stuff Tom. They just needed to put in your Gal Civ Diary, Eve report and your Deus Ex first level playthrough and called the mag PCFrancis for that issue.

Roadrunner: Does working for a magazine work the same was as being a journalist for a newspaper; you get paid depending on the amount and/or quality of your articles? I've also wondered.

By always I mean since I was thinking of it in a Physics lesson earlier.

Actsub: @Pod
Don't you want to contribute to Pentadact's wages!? :d

Jazmeister: @Roadrunner: He's an editor, so I'd assume that it works just like an editor for a newspaper, except he doesn't have to think up ways to contort the truth so it makes people angry enough to buy a newspaper.

Tom Francis: I get paid a monthly salary, as do all our staff. Only freelancers are paid per article. I know some blog empires pay their full-time writers by the hit. Accordingly, their sites tend to be rapidly updated and predominantly lies.