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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

Seat Quest 2010: The Lounge

This is part two of my adventure in seats. Part one is here. I reserve the right to use unrelated photos to break unsightly blocks of text.

Club World isn’t first class, but it makes it hard to imagine what is. Do their seats go beyond horizontal, into back-breaking reflex angles? Do they face out into the open air, to guarantee three miles of leg room? After the champagne, three course meal and brandy you get in Club World, is there a heroin course?

At the airport, a thought occured: I wonder if this gets me into the lounge? I’ve travelled with people who have lounge access before, and it’s a mystical experience. It’s like being given a gigantic apartment, stocked with well prepared food, good espresso machines, a great wine rack, and a full selection of classy whiskeys, cognac, gin and cocktail ingredients. There are no staff, no prices, no explicit rules – you just help yourself.

Directions pointed to the ‘BA Conchord Lounge’, which led me to a fat man by the only door no-one in the airport was heading to. I wasn’t really sure how to say “Does my undeserved, unpaid for, random upgrade ticket get me in here?” with any degree of class, so I just showed him my boarding pass.


I noticed they’d written ‘BLUE’ on it, to make sure no British Airways staff mistook me for a Silver, Gold, Platinum, Sapphire, Diamond, Uranium or worthwhile member. I’m only a BLUE member because BA’s Executive Club is the worst RPG in the world. Every year, they steal all your experience. It’s not if you haven’t used it in a while, and it’s not because you’re not close to levelling up. I was a few points off Silver Membership, I’d used it a month or so back, and was about to use it again when BAM. Zero XP.

Blue does not get you into the BA Lounge, but Club World, I reckoned, would. The fat man, in one of the most expertly polite and helpful rejections I’ve received, explained that the Club Lounge was downstairs, then ‘back on yourself’. I pointed beneath us to confirm. He nodded.

When I actually got there, I realised it wasn’t just below where we’d been standing, it was actually in the same building. He’d made me walk two hundred metres just to avoid using the entrance reserved for Conchord members.

It was a sort of multi-story complex of lounges, and every path you takes leads you quickly and easily to the Conchord Lounge you’re not allowed into, unless you’re constructed from over 70% gold.

Luckily, a well-dressed man ahead of me helpfully blundered into every false turn towards the Conchord Lounge before realising, and redirecting himself towards the lowly Club one he and I were only good enough for. I tailed him at a safe distance to avoid each mistake.

Pretty soon, it became clear that the Club Lounge was actually above the Conchord one, making the fat man’s misdirection all the more cruel and bizarre. This general lobby area is open to everyone, only the 2D plane dividing it from the main concourse is exclusive to Conchorders.


The Club World one, marked by a life-size statue of a horse with a lampshade on its head, was just as I remembered it. And just like the Conchord Lounge, which we’d passed on the way up. Leather chairs, low coffee tables, free internet, huge sofas, wine, whiskey, brandy, gin, vodka, cognac, armagnac, chilled beer, and two hundred meters of buffet: crusty rolls, brie, pastrami, pasta salad. Other, more pungent pastas and other, more confusing rolls.

I was doing calculations in my head as to the order and quantities in which I could eat and drink these things without being ill. I’d need to avoid caffeine, since I planned to pass out on the plane, but I formulated a way to cram in pastrami and brie rolls, hot chocolate, fusilli and feta salad, gin and tonic, and the most expensive whiskey I could find that I hadn’t tried. Something old and tasting deliciously of oppression.

By the time I saw the signs, it was too late. The signs said “Ice-cream”. They signpost their ice-cream. But I was already out of both time and capacity, and slightly drunk.

At the gate, there was a ‘fast track’ queue for boarding, and my heart sunk when I saw that yes, it was for Club World passengers. I’d have to use it, it’d be ridiculous not to, but I’d also have to endure the “Asshole.” stares of everyone waiting.

In fact, though, with only one boarding pass scanner, the fast-track queue ended up moving slower than the public one. I was relieved, then, after a while, actually a little indignant.

The guy in front of me started bitching about it loudly to the person ahead.

“Asshole,” I thought.

Next: I actually fly.


Devenger: The few times I have flown on a giant winged sky craft in my short life, I've never even discovered any of this complication, let alone worried about it. Getting on the sky craft seemed the most important part of the magical journey; beyond that, there was but MP3 player music and sleeping on awkward chairs.

Though, from what I've heard... Sky-craft-travelling with BA? Really? Hmm.

talon03: You should send this all to Irrational once it's finished, maybe they can work it into the first level/intro of Skyoshock

westyfield: "Club World isn’t first class, but it makes it hard to imagine what is."

They're basically the same, except first class has fewer people and comfier (more padded) seats.
The steward who was sorting out the food offered - with a dead-straight face - to peel someone's banana for them to save them the effort.

@talon03 - they'll probably start it off in a submarine to compensate for the intro to Bioshock.

Tim E: Lounges = free wifi and a bacon sandwich. It's basically paradise.

Although, at home, I can make my own bacon sandwich, and use all the wifi I can eat.

I should stay at home more.

Jaz?: These are great.

I'm running out of punctuation marks to put at the end of my name. I have to vary it constantly or your blog tells me to calm the fuck down.

James, by Pentadact: Calm the fuck down Jaz.

Seat Quest 2010, by Tom Francis: [...] The Lounge. More Seat Quest 2010     [...]

A Story Of Plane Seats And Class, by Tom Francis: [...] Next: The Lounge. [...]

Jabberwok: The line part resonated, because now they have TSA Pre-check, which is basically paying money to not stand in line, and not be subjected to the level of security that is supposed to make us all safer. I signed up for it to get through the terminal with my family, and it made me feel like such a jerk.