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.

  • html color: This is the information I am looking for. This article is clear and easy to understand. I’m...
  • 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...
  • 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

    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.