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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

This Is My Winter Morning Ritual

Beev: Can't count the number of times I've gotten fully clothed and then went back to sleep.

Jaz: Mine is to take a run at the shower and stay in it until it too is cold. Then I run for the blankets. I'm wearing a huge towel under a dressing gown under two blankets. One of the blankets is over my head, and I've pinned it to my head with headphones. It's all very attractive.

Zacmanman: It's nice to be in subtropical weather sometimes.

The_B: I have invested in a Slanket to ease transition from cold to hot. The blanket action means I can have it on my bed either underneath me or ontop of me along with my duvet, and the sleeves then aid in reaching for the cold clothes.

http://www.firebox.c... ...he-Slanket

Best purchase I ever made.

MartinJ: So I take it the UK hasn't heard of central heating yet? :D

Grill: When did this become XKCD?

Madness: I have exactly the same problem. I acted ike I was diving into a cold pool, and simply leapt from the bedclothes towards my clothes.

Buying a new, warmer blanket may have helped for in-bed warmth, but it makes the rest so much worse... x_x

Tweets that mention This Is My Winter Morning Ritual, by Tom Francis -- [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Francis, Citizen Helene and Clapton E5, Andrew Clarke. Andrew Clarke said: RT @Pentadact: This is now my morning ritual: [...]

westyfield: I put my clothes on a radiator, then go for a warm shower. After drying off using a towel that was on a radiator, I run to the other radiator (different room) and put warm clothes on. Then blow-dry my hair to heat my head up.

Skusey: I once tried folding up the next days clothes, laying them flat on my mattress and then putting a sheet over them so I could get warm clothes in the morning. All that happened was that I forgot about them, and couldn't find my favourite shirt for a few months.

Jaz: @MartinJ: I'd rather spend money on some woolly socks than spend much more money every month on burning lots of power to heat an entire house so that the small section my toes are in can be a little warmer, thanks.

Getting out of bed is easier if you pretend you're Andrew WK.

MartinJ: I don't know, here in Czech republic, the central heating can be directed into rooms separately - you just turn a knob in the room you want to heat up or turn it the other way to turn it off in rooms you don't need ... you understand my confusion when I read about this not working the same way in the UK!

Lack_26: You can have central heating directed to individual rooms, surely you live in the land of the Gods. (I didn't even know that sort of CH existed).

My ritual is an exercise in self-flagellation and cold floor-boards, actually floor-planks is more accurate, there's some pretty big gaps in them and it certainly doesn't help that it's a ground floor with so many windows.

Joe: Fucked if I didn't do this EXACTLY this very morning.

Jaz: I have this horrible space heater nailed to my wall in here, but i have a huge open plan living room/kitchen and one of the windows is single-glazed and poorly sealed. I'd nag my landlord, but I'm moving out in a few weeks. But yeah, that heater is terrifying. *puts on second sweater over the blankets*

Nano: Radiator pants cure all.

Lack_26: Does anyone know how many tea-spoonfuls of instant coffee I can get in a cup before it isn't soluble any-more, I would do it myself, but I've probably had enough caffeine this morning.

Wesman: This problem is compounded by the fact I sleep in the nude.

Pod: Ultimate solution: Go to sleep in your clothes.

EthZee: I usually use the bathroom/shower first thing in the morning. Putting on cold clothes isn't such a problem, then. Plus I don't know why but I find the idea of going straight from bed to clothes to be inherently dirty, somehow.

My main problem is getting up to go to the shower; I have three alarms (two alarms on my clock/radio thing, and the alarm function on my phone) and I have learnt how to disable all of them whilst semi-conscious. It takes a lot of willpower to stop myself going straight back to bed.

Crowbar: I actually manage to stagger out of the bed first. Then I delude myself into thinking I can just lie down for a while and get up in a few minutes.

Thankfully, it's only cold enough to require that for a couple of weeks in Brisbane.

Walternat0r: The only way to wake up quickly in the morning is to summon the willpower to throw off the duvet and lie demi-naked in the freezing cold. That soon gets you up and dressed!

Only managed that 1 day out of 5 this week though, rest of the time took me between 20-30 mins to get up.

Chris Evans: My trick, two alarms (both on my phone) playing some heavy metal music. Always snooze the first one (for 10 mins) and generally get up on the second (5 mins after the first) by throwing off the quilt and running straight to the bathroom for a nice quick hot shower.

If I snooze my second alarm then my first one will go off again five mins later and five mins after that my second alarm comes off snooze. Works a treat :p

Dan: Why don't you just go to sleep in your trousers then ya freak

Meanwhile in Australia...: I'm guessing you guys have cold winters up there.

Us? We celebrate christmas in summer. My morning ritual is something along the lines of that, except I wake up to hear my alarm go off and we use ice imported from the South Pole to keep us cool while we leapfrog over native wildlife (naturally inside our homes as well) to shady and cold spots.

We whip out the sweaters when it gets below 40 degrees (Fahrenheit maybe). In all seriousness, we never get days when it's too cold to warrant heaters, and those days that do usually involve golfball hail.