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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

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.