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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

Easy A

Easy A

I remember hearing something vaguely positive about Easy A, but to be honest I watched it because I have a weak spot for trashy coming of age movies set in high schools. I wasn’t planning on ever telling anyone. I didn’t realise it was going to be excellent.

It’s nothing to do with grades – the title’s a nod to The Scarlett Letter. It’s about a girl who gets a false reputation for sluttiness, and decides to wear it with a corset and a Hawthorne reference. Accordingly she’s funny, smart, and like an unprecedented proportion of the characters, likeable. I’ve never liked so many people in one film before. This is her dad:

It wants to be an eighties feelgood movie – explicitly at times – but is slightly too knowing and witty to feel like one. So instead it just references them, somehow incorporating Say Anything, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off and the Breakfast Club into its ending.

The biggest laugh, though, was not a clever reference to anything.

Quiznos guy: Try the honey mustard chicken at Quiznos!
Olive: Not now, Quiznos!
Quiznos guy: You’re a slut.

Chris: Cool, is there a game of it?

Duncan: That's a wonderful trailer. It even has Zombieland girl in it! I think I shall watch this.

Tom Camfield: I felt a bit sad that there wasn't enough time to explore a lot of the interesting subplots (which I shall not mention to avoid spoilers) especially the romantic one.

Also, like a lot of films recently, a great absence of conflict: by painting people as mature and reasonable, the film doesn't have potential boyfriends storming out of rooms or couples screeching at each other... (I noticed the same kind of thing in I Love You Man and The Kids Are All Right, although each film wildly differs in quality) ...and while I'm sure a lack of conflict is a good and healthy thing, and probably more realistic than other depictions, I'm not sure how many movies can get away with it...

Tom Camfield: (Erm, by a lack of conflict I mean, "You have let me down" "I'm sorry" "I accept your apology" is a conflict, but not a very dramatic one... which I'm totally cool with, because not all conflicts have to TEAR US APART etc)

Tom Francis: I like that about it, actually. I'm not a big fan of people screaming at each other, particularly when most writers achieve it by making one character suddenly an asshole for no reason. Olive has a pretty big blowup with her best friend, which makes sense, and there's plenty of conflict between her and the bible bashers, the counseller, and a certain dude in a parking lot - which manages to be both scary and heartbreaking. I think anything more than that would have felt manufactured.

Tyshalle: This is probably a question more for a few posts down, but is there a particular reason you omit the dates from your posts?

Tom Francis: Just doesn't seem important to advertise. Look at the URL or hover over the headline if you need it for reference.

qrter: Doesn't that scene end with that wonderful throwaway line by the dad to the son - "So.... where are you from originally?"

Loved that.

Tom Francis: Yeah, that cracked me up. Couldn't find a clip with it though. This clip also sadly misses out a big chunk of his insane and uncalled for "I'd take a bullet for you" speech.

Ronin08: Has anyone else noticed how parents in movies are getting smarter and better these days? In the 80's and 90's, if they weren't the protagonist, they were an incompetent and kind of dumb about their kids. These days we're getting more parent's like Olivia's, and I'm kind of digging it.

Jonas: I watched it yesterday because I saw this and because my sisters kept insisting I do. They were right about Misfits, so yeah.

Honestly, I didn't think it all that great. The highpoint was definitely Stanley Tucci. He made me chuckle the most. As mentioned above, parents in these kinds of movies are evolving into a form that allows them to approach children on their level (with common witticisms and a laid-back demeanour between them), while still moving into embarrassment territory (usually by speaking of their sex lives).

Duncan: Thank you for prompting me to watch this, I really enjoyed it.

Flash: thanks for the prompt too. Passed this over but on your recommendation watched it last night with the GF and we enjoyed it. Better than most high school based movies... main actress was really funny and good at what she did.