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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

The First-Person Observer

I don’t often write a whole post just to link a site – since Twitter, anyway – but Chris Livingston’s new venture deserves special treatment. The First-Person Observer is an online paper covering the issues that matter to today’s gruff, laconic videogame protagonists. It’s:


Health Pack Reform Divides Nation

Desperate, Marooned Astronaut Tries To Use Every Item With Every Other Item

Report: One in Four Children Born With Ability To Slow Down Time

Hostages Rescued by Courageous Racist

And it’s some of the funniest games writing I’ve read all year. It’s pretty easy to come up with the idea of an Onion for gaming, but it’s harder than you’d think to flesh it out, keep it varied, and avoid driving the joke into the ground. Hardcasual exists, but it’s pretty hit-and-miss and focuses more on gaming news rather than news from within games.

The stories above are just my favourites: impressively there’s masses more to read already. I don’t know how regularly he plans on updating it, but I don’t think it needs to be frequent to work. It just needs to stay this good.

n00bie51: This is great!

I was hoping the Health Pack Reform would touch on the issue of regenerating health and how it's pervading everywhere, but I see what he did thar.

Tweets that mention The First-Person Observer, by Tom Francis -- [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Francis. Tom Francis said: I wrote a bit more about - and this time actually read - The First-Person Observer: [...]

Jaz: He's really got something there. I wonder if he takes submissions? It's the sort of site that fills your head with ideas for articles. You could do an interview with the Shinra officer guarding the train station at the start of FFVII. "He'd run at me, stab me with his sword, then run back to where he started. He did it over and over again. It was horrible. I shot him four times and it just made him angrier."

It was nice to see twitter explode when he announced it.

Lack_26: I'm loving it so far but, it'll be interesting to see if he can continue to update it, I reckon Chris should put in a 'letters' page or something, so people can write articles or letters and submit them to him. After all, it takes more than one person to write a paper.

Oh yeah, and remember to check out the comments under the articles, it's worth it.

Mr. Brit: As much as I like Chris Livingston's writing, I can't help but feel like this will only last a month or two at the most. What there is though, is as always, brilliant.

Bret: Wouldn't be surprised, but he does seem enthusiastic. So, I suppose we should enjoy it while it lasts, right.

Chris: Wow, thanks for the hot link, Tom!

I've been asked a number of times already about taking submissions, and am sort of mulling it over at the moment. Everyone seems to think it would save me a lot of time to have multiple contributors, but I can't imagine anything more time-consuming than reading, editing, and rewriting other people's stories. Judging from some of the great comments, though, it'd probably be in the site's best interest to have people contribute. People are being really creative and funny, and have a lot of great ideas. It's probably ultimately going to depend on how long I can come up with ideas on my own.

Tom Francis: I've always said editing doesn't take longer, it just seems longer. Also it takes longer. It'd be cool to have a 'Featured comments' bit, so that immediately beneath the article you can have all the cool in-character / in-world comments people write, then let normal discussion all go on below that. That way people could write related pieces in there, and they'd have good exposure and endorsement from you if you liked them. But if you got more than you could read, they'd still be up there, just less prominently.

DoctorDisaster: @Chris: having a short list of reliable writers might be better than open submissions. Also once you've got a few good writers you can delegate the submission-editing duties to one of them.