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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

FUDGE Review

A Machine of Death story, by Kit Yona

The second story in the collection to take its title from a confectionary-related death that turns out to be irrelevant to the main characters. And like Flaming Marshmallow, that put me off it for a while.

Fudge is not quite a twist story, but the whole thing does lead up to a prediction, and the nature of the prediction is what gives it its punch. It doesn’t count as a twist because we don’t really find out what it means, only how it affects the protagonist. And then, Fudge ends.

That’s the other thing you can do with a short story – end on a note that is not so much “Oh my God what the fuck barbecue” as “Hmmm.” It’s good, and well-read by author Kit Yona in the podcast version, but personally I quite like to be all “Oh my God what the fuck barbecue.”

Machine of Death: a book that appears to be good so far. It’s now $18 whether you buy it from Amazon or Topatoco, and I think Topatoco have faster international shipping. The whole book is free in PDF form, and is trickling out steadily as an audiobook in podcast form. My story for it is online here.

More ,

Kit: Thanks for the thoughtful review - the title was a sticking point from the beginning. Obviously if we went with the prediction itself, like the others, the nut-punch at the end gets telegraphed. I was okay with it, but the editors decided to go with 'Fudge' instead and I'm okay with that too.

Tom Francis: It's Kit! Hi! Yeah, it might have robbed it of some of the impact if the prediction had been the title - I did like the lingering menace it leaves by being vague but specific enough to do some damage. I guess you'd also lose the build-up, which is pretty tense.

I can't help trying to predict the endings - and particularly the predictions - in this collection. I thought yours was going to be nastier, or at least nasty in a more immediate fashion. It's a good sign that I'm constantly wrong.

Patrick Rose: I've only read the first few stories, and yours was the most shocking Kit. Great twist.

Listening to Yahtzee read his was entertaining as well, I heartily recommend that. When's yours Mr Francis?

Bret: His was "exploded".

It's a good one.

Patrick Rose: As in, when is his recording for the podcast?

Tom Francis: No idea I'm afraid, nor do I know who's reading it.

Jaz: @Kit: Should have called it "Nut-punch".