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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.

  • Grant: Thanks to the start of this video, I’ve just now noticed that during the static flickers while staring...
  • Ben: Great analysis. During the lab sequence in the Prey intro, you were looking around for tells that Morgan is in a...
  • 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...
  • 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

    Why Terriers Was Axed

    “Based on what these people saw in those two episodes, the FX-centric viewer just rated it lower in areas such as intensity, suspense, sexiness. When you talk to the USA-type viewer, they rate it lower than their favorite shows because it’s not a land in which every babe is hot, and the sky is incredibly blue, and everybody lives in an apartment three times as big as they could legitimately afford, and everything comes out great in the end. What we ended up with—and this is a much more nuanced and complicated answer—was a show that somehow fell between two brands.”
    FX president John Landgraf

    Depressing as that is, it’s nice to see the president of the whole network take significant time to explain the exact logic by which they axed Terriers. And while it is a bad name, and showing anything dog-related inevitably hurt it, he’s a pretty clear thinker about statistics and their significance. There’s even something refreshingly scientific about the way he breaks down his job, and his capacity to influence the outcome. It’d be nicer to think there’s a massive audience for smart stuff with no obvious hook and some evil middleman was stopping it reaching them, but Landgraf’s elaboration is more likely to be tough truth than an easy lie.

    “If the answer is as simple as change Terriers to Beach Dicks and take the dog off the poster, and it’ll quadruple its audience, then I’m being dumb in not picking it up, especially since it’s such a good show. I did my best to answer that question, and unfortunately the answer was resoundingly no, that’s not likely to create a different outcome. Because for whatever reason—that’s disappointing and not entirely fathomable—people just don’t want to watch this show.”

    Cheers to Chris for the link.

    Chynes: I didn't know anything about the show except for those generic teasers, which told me absolutely nothing. I watched one episode on your recommendation and was hooked. A really fantastic show. It's a shame it won't be coming back, but that was probably the best ending we could have hoped for.

    Chris: I never really got hooked, or even truly loved the show: it was the sort of show where every couple weeks I'd remember I had a couple episodes queued up to watch, and I'd watch them. I did like it, though; it was always worth watching, I thought the writing was good and there were plenty of surprises, and the season finished strong: in fact, rather than wait a week to watch the last episode On-Demand, I bought it on iTunes so I could watch it sooner.

    I'd say the weak promos probably hurt its chances a lot, and the main character looking like a stinky homeless guy probably didn't help. And some shows, no matter what, just don't find an audience. I bet if it had a chance on DVD before cancellation, it probably would have had stronger numbers in season two, but alas.

    SenatorPalpatine: God dammit.

    At least it had an amazing ending scene.

    IvanHoeHo: I watched the first episode on your recommendation and was rather underwhelmed as it was so mostly predictable and the characters uninteresting.

    I was going to give it another chance but then I also started Life on Mars AND The Larry Sanders Show, both of which completely hooked me before the half way point. Maybe I'll do it after this lot. (but then, I'll probably just end up re-watching the early Top Gears... just remembered that they were rather entertaining)

    circadianwolf: This show was generally brilliant, although consistently the most amazing thing about it to me was how it handled Internet culture. Most mass media is hamhanded about the Internet at best and technophobic (with good reason) at worst, but Terriers always seemed to completely take it in stride without ever being overbearing (i.e. Laura the "blogger").

    I didn't expect it to continue, though; the style and leads are just not attractive to a mass audience at all. Really interesting to read the exec's comments though. Seems pretty honest.

    UberSprode: Go back and read my comment on your previous Terriers post.
    Totally called this.

    RIP Terriers « Mana's Menagerie of Maniacal Mumblings: [...] Terriers was a cool show. It is with sadness that it has gotten axed by FX on December 8th. Here’s a great short post by Tom Francis on its death. I always thought network presidents were out of touch with reality (you know, like everyone with [...]