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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.

  • RoboLeg: this game would be PERFECT for mobile, and I’d happily pay 10 bucks or so for it.
  • Jepp: 1) Please keep critiquing games by building new ones :) 2) The non-hand holding, simple systems integrating...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • Spaceman Moses: One-eyeing this on my phone from the depths of my covers I lazily ask: what do you mean XCOM2 clarity...
  • kripto: For what it’s worth, I also like Morphblade more than Imbroglio. Although, to be fair, I’ve also...
  • 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

    ALMOND Review

    A Machine of Death story by John Chernega

    A lab assistant charged with one of the first machines of death refuses to test himself, while everyone around him succumbs.

    Pure pleasure to read – or in my case, listen to. It’s the longest story so far, but every time reader Kevin McShane (who sounds excitingly like Peter from Fringe) pauses for more than a second, you’re hoping it’s not going to end.

    The whole story is a log, that rapidly devolves into a journal, written in a friendly and clear-headed style. The watch-word of this collection has been ‘refreshing’, and what’s refreshing about Chernega’s protagonist is his almost complete lack of curiosity. He’s curious about other people’s predictions, but he’s one of the few characters in the book so far not even tempted by the prospect.

    His diary charts the escalating public reaction to the machines, covering some of the same territory as my own, and I’m honoured they didn’t just scrap mine when they read this. ALMOND plays much more with the machine’s enjoyably sinister ambiguity – when it starts giving more than a few people GOVERNMENT, you know something interesting’s about to go down.

    Some predictions are clever enigmas that are unraveled during the story, others are unexplained and seemingly unexplainable, and others seem to be openly fucking with you. That’s important, because the tension the story builds hinges on the narrator inferring a personality to the machine – one that becomes increasingly infuriating to him.

    It has a punch, but doesn’t conform to the usual twist-story structure: the set up is almost immediately before the payoff, which prevents it from risking anticlimax. The voice, humour and escalating intrigue don’t need a giant question mark hanging over them to keep the story compelling throughout.

    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 ,

    Phydaux: "The voice, humour and escalating intrigue don’t need a giant question mark hanging over them to keep the story compelling throughout."

    Yes, this.

    One of my favourite stories in the book (I'm only half way). It had an end that I had imagined at least one of the stories would have. Even still, I didn't see it coming. :)

    Octaeder: Yes, so far this is the one I keep coming back to as one of my favourites. I'm glad the ending was a simple as it turned out as well, because anything more unusual wouldn't have fit.

    Lack: This one is certainly the best I've listened to so far and I'm sure I'll be revisiting it. I really like the way it handled the rising tensions and leaving the listen/reader to fill out the gaps between entries (much like a real journal, if you've read your own or someone else's).

    The 'Government' bit was excellent, I'm glad that at least one of the stories has done this (others might have, I've only listened to the ones on podcast so far, despite the book sitting on my desk I'm almost unwilling to read it. Bit like the machine of death and its predictions).

    nine: My fav story of the bunch I'd say.

    Jason L: About two-thirds of the way through MoD, I wondered if I was going to see a serial killer who used the end sting of this as his gimmick/fetish. I'm a little surprised I didn't, but I have no doubt there were a dozen among the submitted stories.

    Tom Francis: The other thing I forgot to say: particularly in the audio version, it sounds a lot like a System Shock 2 log.

    Bret: It does, now that I think about it.

    Which is fun. Always enjoy being a bit late to the end of the world.

    Sam: One of the best ones I've listened to so far, it was really well read. Brilliantly dark, too, especially with the final moments.

    sQUEAKYfOAMpEANUT: Please forgive this completely unrelated query, but I was wondering if you ever planned on reviewing the DLC for Mass Effect 2 like you did with TF2's content. I'm really interested to hear your opinion on it.

    Tom Francis: I reviewed Lair of the Shadow Broker: http://www.pcgamer.c...

    It's alright.

    Other people reviewed the others in PCG, haven't played them myself. So far they're really struggling to come up with something I want to play - Shadow Broker was the right concept, but it was pretty humdrum as ME2 quests go.