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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

The Saddest Goddamn Thing

I ordered my elf mage to move somewhere, accidentally told her to attack my dog. This kills the dog.


Mike: That is the saddest dog I have ever seen. Eeyore-levels of 'Not this bullshit again' in those eyes.

Chris: That owner doesnt look too happy about that, especially holding that axe

Tom Francis: Edited to clarify: it was my dog. My mage went on to kill all of the orcs, too. I was just trying to pickpocket them, but whatever.

When I left, the only orc outside said "Most of my clan are in the longhouse." May have some bad news, dude.

Joe R: Are the companions useful in Skyrim? I've not used one yet apart from the housecarl Lydia, she was a melee fighter like me, but sometimes she used a bow and once she shot me in the back. Then at some point she got replaced for a specific quest and now I don't know where she's gone :( Would be nice to have some badass mage around with me though. Out of all the enemies I've met so far, mages seem to be the nastiest for a melee fighter like me to deal with.

Espcially those ice ones, by the time I've reached them my HP is in tatters, and the lightning ones are pretty evil as well.

Tom Francis: They are, but you have to be a bit careful if you're a stealth character. I generally tell mine to wait outside when I clear a dungeon, so they don't bungle my stealth kills.

My mage is pretty amazing - in every fight she summons a Flame Atronarch, then shoots Ice Spikes with one hand and Lightning Bolts with the other. I got her at the shrine of Azura.

randomnine: Yeah, the companions are useful, especially to tank damage if you've got a fragile build. And then, you can give them enchanted weapons and they can use them without using up charges.

I found Lydia sitting upstairs in my house in Winterrun. If you haven't bought a house, maybe she'll be in the keep.

Midget52: That wasn't a very nICE thing for your mage to do.

Korolev: I agree with Midget52. Your companion killed your dog in front of you? That's..... cold.

Joe R: Still not found Lydia anywhere. When I do I'm gonna kill her so hard. I mean who the hell does she think she is? She's MY MINION DAMMIT

sQUEAKYfOAMpEANUT: My weirdest moment so far went something like this:

After completing the Tamriel equivalent of The Hangover, getting extremely drunk and then running all over the province to figure out what happened to me the previous night, I entered a dungeon, and after killing some mages, I enter a portal to a magical grove and talk to Sanguine, the Daedric Prince of Debauchery. He gives me a magic rose, and then teleports me back to Whiterun. Somewhat confused, I head back to the dungeon to clear it out and collect any loot I may have missed the first time.

When I return, Sanguine is just sort of...standing there. Not doing anything that you'd typically expect a demonic prince of depravity to do, just loitering around in a smelly dungeon full of dead mages in his spiky, organic-looking armour. Baffled, I walk away and pick up a better set of gauntlets than the pair I currently have, tossing the old set on the ground. Then, even more strangely, Sanguine runs up to me and inquires if I'm going to use the armour I dropped. Then I walk into the portal again, and am trapped in the magical grove until I reload a save.

Chris: He sounds like a deprived prince of debauchery to me.

I'd like to read more stories like Squeaky's, anyone else got any?

Mobba: I have a mage companion, the chick from winterhold, she too can summon a fire Atronarch, which is extra awesome because I am a summoner/archer. I gave her a fire bow, and now any fight is 2 archers + 2 fire atronarchs vs some poor s.o.a.b. I was having a nice chat with an orc once, soon as I left my companion shot him. I giggled and continued on my adventure. Another time, my own zombie (you can usually beat them to death and they won't mind) suddenly turned on me.

Mobba: Chris, I've had some funny moments.
During a fight I (or one of my minions) shot a guy and he flew back about 5 meters and landed sitting up in a chair at a table.

I was out wanderlusting, and came accross some wolves, so I started at them with my bow, trying to take them out before they got to me. After the fight I walked passed where I first saw the wolves and there was a fox with one of my arrows (summoned ones) through his head.

Similar experience to Squaky's. I dropped a bunch of armor near the skyforge to sell later, then as I'm going down the stairs an npc runs up and goes "I saw you drop some armor, mind if I take it?" so I was like "sure no problem" he walks up, picks up 2 items, then walks over to me and goes "here, you dropped this" and gives me a mace.....

Plenty more fun moments, I just can't remember them all, and now I really want to go play some skyrim. gtg

Moogle: Saddest moment:
I needed to level enchanting, so I was out hunting with my soul trap bow. I'm about to fire the killing blow on a mob and Vigilance (dog bought from Markath), who was a little hurt from the mob, jumps up just in time to take the arrow to the back of the head. _Schluuup_ *cries over filled soul gem*