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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

Terriers Again

I was pretty rude about the plot when writing about the pilot episode, but impressed by everything else. This is a quick update to say that, in the four episodes since then, that simple set up has changed dramatically every episode, and led to some superb twists and tense situations.

The pilot establishes a rich guy as the villain, getting away with murder, as if that’s going to be the overarching plot for the whole season. Instead it’s picked apart and inverted in a few episodes, and the jobs-of-the-week get much more inventive and entertaining as they unravel it.

Everything else I’m watching at the moment treats its series-scale plot with kid gloves, never daring to move it more than an inch in a single episode to preserve precious plot juice for the finale. Terriers goes at its own with a wrecking ball.

Basically my only complaint has been totally overturned, and unless I’m forgetting something big, this is the best new drama since Dexter Breaking Bad.

More ,

Pete Myall: Breaking Bad! You're forgetting Breaking Bad! The first two seasons are easily some of the best TV I've ever watched. I'm only not including the third because I haven't seen it yet.

I'm in total agreement with you about Terriers, though – I've never seen a show so solidly conceived right from episode one. It's a damn shame that it's only managed to attract about thirteen viewers. I'm almost scared to keep watching it because I don't want to get too invested in characters that are probably going to be yanked off the air in a few weeks' time. It's like asking somebody on life support out on a date.

Tom Francis: Oh yeah! I came to that late, so I had it mentally filed as super old.

UberSprode: I'd love this show even more if it didn't have the same curse on it as Wonder Falls and Drive, and Firefly.
Quirky new show breaks mold, produced by Tim Minear, airs on Fox, canceled before end of first season.

SenatorPalpatine: I watched the first five episodes in the past few days and this show is great.

Simon: On your recommendation I downloaded the first 5 episodes and watched them over the weekend.
Thanks for the tip, it's a great show!

Tom Camfield: I got bored during the first episode (exactly as the rich man was being set up as an evil man, but not, y'know, the kind of man who would throw out trespassers...). Which episode should I skip to so I can get a better feel of the show?

Andytizer: Thanks for post about this, I love the show.

I remember seeing Donal Logue in this fun film called Tao of Steve. He won some award at Sundance for it, and you get to see him in a fat suit.

Chris Evans: Thanks for mentioning this one Tom! Watched the first episode now and I am already hooked, seems good ;)

Jim Nathlich: Very very sad this was cancelled.

Tom Francis: Yeah. Had a feeling it would be, part of the reason it's so good is that it doesn't conform to any obvious 'hook'.

Satisfied with the final episode, though - more 'final' that most season finales.

Jim Nathlich: Agreed. I'd guess the writers knew that cancellation was a possibility, and wrote with that in mind.

The good: Plot, characters, and the actors doing some campaign work to get the word out on the show.

The bad: The name, and more importantly the lack-of-campaign by the rest of FX marketing to get the word out. Many people thought the show was about dogs.

The next: Hope to see these people in other shows and endeavors.