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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

Replaying Oblivion, Kinda Glad They’re Redoing The Faces For Skyrim


Jaz: I can't wait until 5 years after Skyrim, when the incredible new faces look this shit to future-us.

GaGrin: Oblivion's people looked fugly on release. Not bad art, just... ugly.

Rei Onryou: I was reading your original Oblivion review in an old PCG on Tues. Don't think face fugliness was mentioned. Although, most games at the time were relatively fugly anyway, so this was still better than all the rest. Hell, I remember having to run most of the graphics settings on medium at release!

Those were the they weren't...

Tom Francis: "Their facial animation ranges from basic to non-existent, and some of their faces are downright ugly (including that of Patrick Stewart's character, sadly)"

Wasn't a huge deal to me then or now, though.

Caleb: This is probably 50% of why I stopped playing Oblivion after one hour.

The other half is that I didn't realize there was a fast travel system. D'oh.

I need to go back to Oblivion at some point :/

Jackrabbit: Yeah, the faces always worried me. No matter how young the character was supposed to be their faces looked crumpled.

TooNu: They all have pudding faces. Big doughy faces where their complexions look see through and a bit like the senator in the first (terrible) X-Men movie when he comes out of the water onto the beach.

I didn't like Oblivions faces nor their chatter.
"Good to see you!"
"I hear the king is dead, a sad day indeed"
"They still have not caught the Grey Fox"
"Well bye bye"

GaGrin: It's a side effect of having randomised faces from a range, you end up with a "grey goo" effect, especially if the extremes of the features aren't really well defined. None of Oblivion's facial options allow pronounced, square, or sharp features - so everyone looks round, flat and as TooNu says, "pudding"-y.

Which is sort of a big deal when you're dealing with characters you're supposed to remember, and hopefully recognise by sight when they're wondering about and you need to find them again.

Rei Onryou: Someone remind me never to question Tom's omnipotence again.

SnuffyTheEvil: Fortunately, you can make the rest of it look pretty nifty with OBGEv3, OBGE Liquid Water and a few dozen texture packs.