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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

The Social Network

Written by the West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin, directed by Fight Club’s David Fincher, starring Zombieland’s Jesse Eisenberg, produced by Kevin Spacey for some reason, and perhaps the first and only film to co-star Justin Timberlake as the founder of Napster.

The fact that it’s about the founding of Facebook, which I’m aware is controversial but have no actual knowledge of, is ideal. “I will feel like I’m being informed about something I’m interested in,” I thought, “and be unable to refute any liberties the film takes with the truth, allowing me to enjoy it entirely.”

Yep, that happened.

The last Sorkin film I saw, Charlie Wilson’s War, was good but didn’t really have his stamp on it. Given that this is also a book adaptation, and also based on nonfiction, I figured that would be the case again. It’s absolutely not: the film opens on a conversation in a bar that would be utterly tedious if it were written by anyone else.

“Since we started on the topic of Final Clubs, I think I may have missed a birthday,” Zuckerberg’s girlfriend says, some way into it.

About a series of painful lawsuits, it doesn’t seem like an immediately funny topic. But right from the start, Sorkin finds masses to sink his teeth into: Zuckerberg’s morally bankrupt hot-or-not project, his withering dryness in the discovery sessions, his inability to stand in the same room as a Carribean themed party showing a loop of Niagara Falls.

The Social Network 2

And it’s strangely exciting. Knowing the world-changing degree to which the idea will ultimately explode makes their early celebrations of “600 members!” and the selling point of “exclusivity” tantalising to watch. And makes the ethics of the transgression all the more important.

As the film depicts it, Zuckerberg’s deception makes him absolutely guilty of something, and something we instinctively feel should undermine Facebook. But rationally, what’s shown in the film doesn’t constitute intellectual property theft. It’s just a sort of extreme breach of contract. If you had to convict him of anything beyond that, it’d be several counts of – as the film eloquently puts it – “trying really hard to be an asshole”.

Painting the whole thing as an attempt to impress an ex-girlfriend is mawking it up a little, but at the same time I do buy the frowny nerd rage it entails. Eisenberg does a great impression of the kind of balled up neuroses that really do drive a certain type of genius to do something spectacular with his good ideas. Whether that’s a hint of authenticity or just good acting, I don’t know.


Brand-Interact: When you are creative you can look better in pajamas......

Tweets that mention The Social Network, by Tom Francis — [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by rothman mcmiller, Larry King. Larry King said: "The Social Network" and related posts #Tech [...]

Bret: Well, this was the push I needed to watch.

Glad I did. Good film. Today was the best free money day ever.