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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

Let Us Mumble You Through Our Supreme Commander Game

We finally got around to turning one of our many SupCom matches into a video you can watch. It’s the one written up in the latest mag, six of us versus two cheating AIs.


conVOX: Watched it, enjoyed it, is it the sort of thing we can expect more of in the future?

Diffractionman: Great battle, but your commentary and enthusiasm for every unit makes that video awesome. I want to jump back into SupCom 1's sheer brutality again. Even though it will mean learning how the economy works, there are so many fun units I haven't even built that just sound fantastic. Thanks a lot.

Thanqol: It seemed a bit of a curbstomping, all told.

westyfield: Please do more of these - as someone who is pretty terrible at SupCom, I found it very enjoyable to watch.

1stGear: Interesting, and SupCom's scale is quite impressive, but the AIs really weren't as good as you were selling them to be, or were just completely overwhelmed. The only person who really got hit was Graham, the Soul Ripper was a total bust, and when the end came, both bases were just immediately rolled over.

I'd love to see more SupCom commentaries but perhaps a bit more balanced, or with the AIs tweaked a bit.

Tom Francis: We got crushed by the single AI in the previous game, which is why its difficulty and aggressiveness were dialled down in this one. We're gonna ramp it up again and let it expand in our next one.

Jason L: Another in the 'thanks for trying but blah' column here, I'm afraid. I don't disbelieve that you were under threat, but the settings basically meant either you would crush them or they would crush you in a few minutes of activity at the end. No real targeted raids, no counter-vs-numbers clashes. That's more of a race than a game. And yeah, it doesn't help that an amazing mod to amazing AI for a game largely about resource allocation apparently can't run an economy. Positional problems are easy to forgive; resource planning and optimization are major roles for computers IRL, so it jars to see them bouncing off the bottom of their economies. The patrol routes were funny though.

Chris: I thought those routes were scary, it's like skynet or something.

Jason L: It doesn't have the advantage of you guys just playing it all the time anyway, but AI Wars is designed sspecifically around compstomp, specialised coordination and interesting decisions in all game phases.

Joe R: I wish my computer could run a really massive game of Supcom - it just crumbles when I try and do a 4 Vs 4 with AIs - not necessarily low framerate, but the game speed drops to the point where one second of in game time is like 30 seconds of real life - not fun.

Still an astonishing game though. Sup Com 2 may have had cool improvements and run better, but I simply loved the sheer diversity of units available in Sup Com 1 - especially Forged alliance. I loved how I could scramble torpedo bombers to take down an enemy fleet, but I could also use subs, surface ships, gunships, regular bombers or any combination of those.

Starcraft 2 may be well balanced for competitive play, but its obsessive focus on balance and counters has, for me, totally diminished the fun of it - Sup com is just pure joy incarnate, the ultimate "comp stomp" rts. More videos please!

Amazing SupCom game tonight – 7 of us vs a single AI. This is the base it built:, by Tom Francis: [...] you saw our final assault on the red base in the last big PCG game, imagine that being crushed. It didn’t even take them long to rebuild. Hopefully we’ll [...]