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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.

  • 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

    Welcome To Site Six

    I seem to redesign this place at the start of every year – boredom with the old design peaks just as the winter break hits with the spare time to fix it. This new design is mostly just a visual jiggle, but I’m counting it as site number six because it’s no longer called James. I’m not good with titles, obviously, so it doesn’t really have one anymore – it’s just my blog, or if you need something more unique.

    I’ve sort of decapitated the old design:

    It felt flabby and basic, and those black bars bothered me for no good reason. The new one fits more on the screen, and is a bit smoother. You’ll notice I’ve brought it bang up to date with the hottest web trend of 2003 – very slight gradients. A few other things are new:

    • Infinite scroll: it loads the next bunch of posts when you scroll to the bottom. It doesn’t currently tell you it’s doing this.
    • Like button: fucking Zuckerberg. That ugly little thing is so goddamn hard to put on any non-white page without making it hideous. I can’t resist them, though – they’ve been awesome on the PC Gamer site for letting us know the difference between pieces that people want to respond to, and piece people just… like. Without something filling that role, you never really know when you’ve done something right.
    • Category tabs: browsing by category was a little obfuscated in the last design. I wanted to put them front and center for the sake of people who don’t care about games, since that topic often dominates this place a bit. Of course, which category link do the vast, vast majority of people click on? Games. They look at my site about games and think “Goddamn it, this isn’t enough about games! ONLY GAMES!”

    As ever, please let me know what you think and if anything isn’t displaying right for you. I have some tweaking to do and presumably a lot of bug fixing, though it doesn’t look too disastrous so far.


    Anonymous: Looks nice.

    Glad the color scheme stayed. Always liked it.

    K5 Josh: I chuckled at "Recursion.png."

    Chris: Posts need dating.

    Bret: But that takes the game out of the thing.

    Always fun to try to guess.

    nine: When I like something does it show up on my Facebook profile? I've not clicked them before because I dont want to spam my friends.

    Nano: @nine - It does show up on your FB profile when you like something. Just showed up on my feed...

    Tom Francis: People can see it on your profile, but it doesn't usually come up in their feeds unless they specifically look at your page or go to the Recent Items list. Facebook seems really keen to hide them away, presumably to prevent spamming/viral stuff.

    You can see the date of any given post in the URL. I've never put them in the posts themselves, wasn't totally convinced of the need. Open to persuasion though.

    Ankr: Hey Tom. Really like the new-ish look and feel of the site. Best of luck with your other projects!

    Lack 26: I shan't be using the Like button, because, well, I'm very easily amused and like everything. So just take it as read that I'll enjoy anything you post.

    The new site took a minute or two to get used to but the infinite scroll and having the sections at the top really work. Although I kind of miss the black-bars.

    Also, when are we going to see 'musings on the nature of reality' posts again?

    Chijts: The navigation/tabs bar at the top rubs against the status section. I'm using Firefox but that's about all I can tell you. Could just be something out of whack my end. It seems to be correct in the picture of site six though.

    Chijts: Oh yea and Happy New Year to anyone who wants it.

    Tom Francis: Doh, of course! I noticed that in testing and forgot to fix it - it happens if your browser window is less than 1280 pixels wide. Cheers, I'll take a look.

    Nonomu198: R.I.P. James

    Tom Camfield: Huh, I never knew you could like something using the facebook button, without it appearing on facebook. I might "like" more things now.

    Tom Francis: Fixed the category bar bug now, and made it highlight the category you're looking at. Also abandoned the 'Notebook' name, it was too vague. That section is Philosophy now.

    Anonymous: Sites looking good, as ever. I'm really liking the "scroll down load new posts" feature, as it saves me clicking through pages and pages whilst searching for old posts.

    Plumberduck: Rest in peace, James. You were a charmingly confusing thing to call a blog by a man named Tom.