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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

Machine Of Death Needs Your Help Next Tuesday

So, the short story collection I’m featured in will be out on in the US shortly. Woo! No confirmed UK release, but postage is about £5 for us Brits. We would particularly love for you to buy it on October 26th – next Tuesday. Here’s a truncated explanation of why, and why it’s taken so long, from editor David Malki:

We talked with six different agents who fell in love with this book; one even fell deeply in love and tried her hardest to sell it to anybody who would listen. One editor at a publishing house told us “Let me be blunt: I love this premise; I love this project; I want to read this book […] the sample stories included in the proposal are really very strong, and if they’re all that good, then this is a genre anthology of high literary quality.”

But it was 2008, 2009. “The economy,” we were told. “And it’s an anthology.”

And we live on the internet enough that we knew we could sell this book.

On October 26, we want to send a message that a little project dragged kicking and screaming from “crazy idea” past “it’ll never work” all the way to “By God, they actually did it” can make a big splash. We’re internet people; you are too. We want to prove to all the people who said “this will never sell” that that’s all that matters.

Did you know that on any given day, an bestseller only sells a few hundred copies? Sure, they sell a hundred copies a day for weeks and months on end, but what we’ve learned is that it only takes a few hundred sales on a single day to become an bestseller.

We want Machine of Death to become a Number One bestseller for exactly one day. October 26.

It would be awesome if you could spread around this link, that date, and click Attend on Facebook so we can see how many people are planning to buy. I’ll post again on the day to remind people and say ‘Woo!’ again. Thanks!


icouldbeahero: This is something I could do...I will need reminding though...

Davie: If I somehow find out how to convert the money in my wallet to money on the Internet in a timely fashion, I should be able to help with this.

Pepelusky: Please, a reminder would do well exactly on october 26, i think most of us uses RSS readers.

Wowbagger: I guessing you want it to be Oct 16 by crazy US moon time? If so us Brits will have to be careful to remember the time difference :/

Tom Francis: 26th, but yeah. I'll put up a reminder at 8am that day UK time, so that it'll be the 26th everywhere in the continental United States (and moon) by then.

Wowbagger: Oh man, I thought I finally had a use for my bookcase time machine that brings books from last week into the present

EGTF: Who illustrated your story in the end Tom?

Coded One: I'm interested in purchasing the book, but do I need to buy it on release day to contribute to the bestseller list? I'd much rather just pre-order it.

Tom Francis: I'm afraid you do - it's technically out now, so ordering it before then won't be a Tuesday sale. Feel free to ignore the whole plan if you prefer though.

EGTF: Jesse Reklaw, of Slow Wave - http://www.slowwave.... ...e=10-10-02