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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

A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

A Disney animator named James Lopez once posted some character concepts for a 60s heist movie he wanted to make, and I just found them the other day, via Charlie Czechowski.

When you look at them, you immediately want to see it. I wanted to see it so much I wrote it.

This is just a short script – I outline some conversations instead of filling them in, and it moves very fast. It’s not quite a traditional heist movie format: I liked the idea of a small lady-heavy team, so I kept it focused on those three, in five acts. James specifically likes the way heist movies trick both the characters and the audience, so I did aim for that.

James based the two women on Jackie Onassis and Emma Peel respectively, so I’ve nicked those first names for simplicity’s sake. I’m calling the fella Henry. The main thing I left out was Emma’s guns: I felt like if she shot anyone, some of the levity I love about this visual style would be lost.

All the images in this post are by James Lopez, including this sweet title card – left to right, that’s Emma, Henry, Jackie.



A catsuited thief (EMMA) slips into view, deftly evading elaborate security.

She distracts a guard with a coin and slips past.

She arches and flips through a moving rows of lasers.

She cuts a hole in a bullet proof glass case with a fingernail gadget, and snatches the huge pink diamond inside.

As she turns to flee, she bumps into a towering security guard (BEN).

Behind him a man in a smart grey suit and glasses (HENRY) steps out.

Henry: Going somewhere?

Emma: Monaco, if possible.

He smiles.

Henry: I’m afraid it’s a fake. The real diamond doesn’t arrive today, I just wanted to see if our security was up to it.

Emma: Oh, I knew that. I’m here to test it! And boy, do you have some work to do.

Henry: Nice try. But you’re right – you came closer than I thought anyone could. What would you say to a job?

Emma smiles.


Henry is sat at a table, sipping coffee across from an empty seat.

An expensively dressed woman (JACKIE) joins him to discuss arrangements for the display of her diamond over breakfast.

Henry is formal and deferential, thanking her repeatedly for her generosity in letting his museum exhibit the stone.

Jackie seems just as eager to please, almost flirtatious, and is thrilled by the high drama of his story about catching a thief.

They argue over the bill, both insisting on paying, and end up leaving the full amount each.

As they turn away from each other to get up, both wince at what they’ve just spent.


Emma, dressed in an ill-fitting borrowed security guard uniform, explains her security ideas to a sceptical Ben.

Emma: See, guards are great, but they make your job too hard.

Ben raises an interested eyebrow. Emma’s obviously thought about this, and is getting enthusiastic despite herself.

Emma: I got past you with a coin. Now that only worked because the rest of the security was so lousy – if you put in some nice steel bars around that rock, no way I get through those before a sharp guy like you knows what’s up.

Ben nods, and is about to ask something when Henry and Jackie walk in.

Henry introduces Emma and Ben, and lets Jackie inspect their plans. Emma has drawn herself stumped by metal bars, being caught by Ben.

Jackie loves the deadly high-tech laser beams, and suggests more of them.

Jackie: Couldn’t we get rid of these ugly bars and give those poor guards the night off if we had enough electronic security?

Emma opens her mouth but seems unable to express how much she disagrees. Ben frowns.

Henry is torn – we can tell he prefers Emma’s idea, but wants to keep Jackie happy. He agrees to try it.

Emma: Oh please! I jumped through those lasers like a well-dressed gazelle!

Jackie: But that was because they were moving back and forth, wasn’t it?

Emma: Yes! So I ducked the first one and then-

Jackie: Well, if we had more, couldn’t they just cover the whole corridor at once?

Emma looks at her, mind blown.

Emma: Oh you monster.


Jackie enters her small apartment excited, twirling. She drops her bag and jumps on the bed, then winces at how hard it is.

She looks around, deflated. The place is tiny. She takes her wedding ring off, and goes to the closet. It’s empty.

Sighing, she goes to a laundry hamper. She picks something out, sniffs it, and wrinkles her nose.


Jackie, self-conscious in a nightie, loads a hamper of clothes into a washer.

She puts coins in the detergent machine, and comes up 5 cents short.

She reaches for her pockets, remembers what she’s wearing, then rummages among her clothes.


Comes back empty. Sits down on a dirty bench. Starts to cry.


1. MUSEUM – NIGHT Lasers everywhere. A shadow creeps up to them.

As she emerges into the glow, we see that it’s Jackie – wearing high heels and an expensive and restrictive black dress.

She walks up to the first set of lasers, touches the handprint scanner next to them, and the whole grid shuts down.

She walks nervously up to the glass case, heels echoing, and twists her wedding ring round to touch it to the glass.

Through the glass, we see a huge figure.

Ben clears his throat.

Jackie stands up straight, hides the ring, smiles innocently.


The lights flick on to reveal Emma sleeping on the couch. She sits up and shields her eyes from the light.

Ben sits Jackie down next to her and waits. Emma is baffled. After an awkward amount of time, Henry comes in, gets right to it.

Henry: Why on Earth would you want to steal your own diamond?

Jackie explains. She’s getting divorced, and her husband will get everything. But the diamond’s insurance policy is in her name – if it’s stolen, she gets its full value.

Henry sympathises, and agrees not to press charges as long as she goes ahead with loaning his museum the diamond.

He shakes his head and goes to leave. Something occurs to Jackie.

Jackie: Did you put on aftershave to come out here and arrest me?

Henry: … Did you just try to rob a museum in that dress?

Jackie: It’s the only black thing I have!

Henry: Hm.

Jackie: Hmph.

He leaves. Ben leaves, locking the door.

Jackie and Emma sit side by side on the couch wordless for a while.

Emma sniffs.

Emma sniffs Jackie.

Emma crinkles her nose.

Jackie: I know.


The TV is on, showing static, Emma and Jackie are sat slumped against each other on the floor. Henry walks in.

Henry: Right!

Emma springs into a combat pose, sending a technical manual for a safe flying across the room. Jackie starts, upending a bowl of snacks.

Henry pauses.

Henry: Right! Obviously we need to rethink security. Emma, we’re getting your cage.

Emma looks delighted.

Henry: Jackie, we’ll keep your lasers, but obviously we’ll have to take you off the security list – no offense.

Jackie brushes herself off.

Jackie: Oh, none taken.

Ben walks in.

Henry: Only Ben and I will be authorised to deactivate any security measures. And Ben, I’m doubling your budget – get new guards here for the last day of the show tomorrow.

Ben looks delighted.

Henry: No-one – no-one – is getting to this diamond.


Lasers everywhere. A cage. No guards yet.

A shadow creeps in. As it steps into the light, we see it’s Henry.

He’s about to deactivate the laser grid when a white glove comes out of the shadows and taps him on the shoulder.

Emma: Going somewhere?

Henry: Oh! I wasn’t, er… wait, what are you doing here?

Emma: Following you. There’s no point, you know. You’d never get through my cage.

Henry: I was just…

Jackie steps out of the shadows.

Jackie: (Brightly:) I’m here too! What are we doing?


Jackie: What?! Why were you trying to break into your museum to steal my diamond?

Henry’s about to answer, but Emma interrupts.

Emma: You know, don’t you? (Off Jackie’s blank look:) That it’s a conflict diamond?

Henry: A conflict diamond?

Emma: (Less sure:) Isn’t that why you’re stealing it? Because it was mined by child labour and sold to fund a criminal warlord?

Henry and Jackie look at each other.

Henry: Er, well yes, that’s obviously the main reason. But I was also doing it for Jackie.

Jackie: (melts) Awwww!

Henry smiles awkwardly. Emma looks sceptical.

Henry: And… (hardly worth mentioning but…) I might know a buyer.

He looks at them anxiously, gauging their reaction. Jackie’s hardly heard him, still beaming from the reason she likes.

Emma’s frown turns slowly into a wry smile.



Emma: If we’re doing this, we’re doing it for the right reasons. We keep only what we need, everything else goes to charity. Agreed?

Henry and Jackie: Agreed.

Emma: Good, so the problem we’re going to have-

Ben walks in. Everyone goes quiet.

Emma: (failing to sound natural:) So you see, Jackie, bars are like lasers, but made of metal! Which means you can’t turn them off!

Jackie: (much better at faking it:) I see!


Emma: So the problem we’re going to have is that we just spent three days installing security measures to stop every way in we could think of. Even if I could get past all of Ben’s new guards, Henry’s the only one who can deactivate Jackie’s laser grid.

Henry: And I’m as stealthy as a cow.

Jackie: Well, you don’t have to sneak, you’re the curator. You can just walk in and turn them off, can’t you? Say you’re testing.

As they talk, Emma sketches their ideas on a big blueprint of the museum – throwing the sheet away every time they reject an idea and drawing the next on a fresh one.

Emma: So then the question is, how do we distract the guards while the grid is down?

Henry: They’d be watching it like hawks – nothing’s more important to them than a potential security breach.

Jackie: So we give them another breach. I’ll sneak in just then, and get caught.

Henry: That’d work, but we can’t let you get caught. Insurance investigators are vultures – if they find out you tried to break in on the night the diamond vanished, they’ll never pay out. Ben wouldn’t tell them, but any of the new guys might.

Emma: I can. Afford to get caught, I mean. I’m on the first flight out of here when this job is done, so I don’t care if I’m wanted in the States.

Jackie: (seeing where it’s going) Oh! I can’t… I couldn’t actually do the stealing part. I’m as stealthy as a socialite!

Henry: Maybe you don’t have to. You two are the same height, the same build… Jackie, you’re a hairdye and a catsuit away from making a very convincing Emma.

Emma’s smiling at the idea. Jackie grabs her by the shoulders, eyes wide.

Jackie: Can I borrow a catsuit?

Emma: Oh, so you think my whole wardrobe is just a bunch of catsuits?

Jackie nods, still excited.

Emma: … Yes, you can borrow one of my catsuits.

Henry: So that just leaves the cage. Any chance you suggested that because you secretly have an easy way to bypass it?

Emma: (ashamed) No, sorry. It’s just what I’ve always thought museums should do. Even if we could get the keys, it’s a two man job to lift that thing, and cutting through it would take hours. I don’t know anyone who could get past that without raising the alarm.

The three of them just think for a while.

Cut to later, they’re still thinking. Emma starts to draw something, then scribbles it out. Henry holds his chin.

Cut to later. Jackie starts to say something, but stops. Henry hasn’t moved.

Cut to later. It’s getting dark. Henry hasn’t moved. At last:

Henry: … yes you do.



Guards, lasers, cage. Henry walks in through the main entrance.

Henry: Good evening, gentlemen. This is a surprise inspection, carry on as normal.

He walks around the room, peering at each guard suspiciously, pretending to check their identities against a clipboard.

Back at the entrance, we see two Emmas slip in and hide in the shadows either side.

The one wearing earrings – Jackie – looks to the other. Emma gives her the nod, and they slink off in different directions.

Henry reaches the laser grid. We see Emma’s silhouette flipping expertly between light fittings above.

Henry turns off the laser grid. Jackie knocks over a display case.

At the almighty crash, every guard turns to see Jackie doing a rather slow roll into the shadows.

Emma slips through the grid as they move to arrest Jackie. Henry waits to see her make it through, then turns it back on and joins the guards.

Henry: I might have known! I’ll take care of her, guys, you get back to your patrols.

He marches Jackie off in cuffs.


Henry shuts the door and gets the handcuff keys from his drawer.

Henry: (mock dismay:) Oh no, how did she get hold of the keys to her handcuffs?

He uncuffs her. She rushes to the window and releases the catch.

Henry: She’s getting away somehow! This’ll certainly explain how she manages to steal the diamond later tonight!

He walks over and helps her open it all the way.

Jackie suddenly stops, turns, grabs him by the tie and pulls him into a kiss.

Then slips out and drops down to the grass.

We watch her running off over Henry’s shoulder. After a moment of stunned silence, he calls after her:

Henry: She used her feminine wiles!

Henry sits down, his expression confusion and happiness.

He picks up the phone and puts on his serious face.

Henry: Ben, it’s Henry. Emma got away, dammit. (We don’t hear Ben’s response) Yeah… hey, head down to the diamond room – I wouldn’t be surprised if she tries again tonight.


Emma’s pressed against the wall on the diamond’s side of the reactivated laser grid.

In her hand, she’s clutching the huge, pink diamond itself.

The grid turns off, and she runs in – only to bump straight into Ben.

Emma: God dammit! How did you know?

Ben says nothing.

Emma: Alright, fine, here’s the diamond. I hope you appreciate the fake I left, it’s one of my best.

Ben looks at the cage, then back at Emma.

Emma just holds up a key and shrugs.


Henry’s on the phone.

Henry: You’re kidding. Alright, leave her with the guards, and put the rock back before you do anything else. Oh, and bring me the fake – I’d like to see if it’s as good as mine.


Ben hangs up and hands Emma over to two waiting guards.

Another guard joins him to take the diamond back.

Ben unlocks the cage, and with great effort, the two of them lift it off.

Ben takes the fake off its velvet cushion, and puts the real one back.

He inspects the fake for a moment, gives it a dismissive sneer and pockets it.

Cut to the cage being locked in place.

Ben and the other guard walk off-screen, back to the guards holding Emma.

We hear a series of blows and grunts, then boots sprinting away.


Henry’s on the phone.

Henry: You’re kidding. Are you alright? … Thank God. But why on earth would she steal the fake?



The diamond sits in its case, but now the museum is flooded with people. Jackie, dressed expensively again, strolls through them to inspect her diamond.

She looks at it for a long time, frowning.

Jackie: (loudly:) This is a fake!

Gasps. Muttering. Security descend.

Cut to an examiner, surrounded by police, inspecting the stone.

Examiner: Yup, that’s quartz.

Cut to insurance claim papers being filled out and signed.

Cut to insurance investigators interviewing Henry, Jackie, Ben.

Cut to insurance papers being stamped: APPROVED.

Cut to divorce papers being signed.

Cut to:


Emma, barely recognisable in expensive clothes and sunglasses, is waiting.

Henry approaches. Emma pretends to check a clock, then walks towards him.

She passes him a small black velvet bag as they pass, neither saying a word.

She boards a flight.

Henry takes a seat on a bench, and a woman in white, sat behind him, speaks without turning round.

Jackie: Can I see?

Henry hands her the bag. She opens it. She gasps.

She hands it back immediately.

Henry looks inside. It’s a rock – literally just a rock.

There’s a note. He reads:

Henry: "Sorry, couldn’t be sure you’d do the right thing. We’ll find our own buyer. Love, Emma… and Ben?"

He finally looks round at Jackie.

Henry: BEN?

Henry at a payphone. Dials. Waits impatiently.

Henry: Ben? … Well when did he leave?

Henry back on the bench, sat next to Jackie now, shaking his head.

Jackie: Ben!


Ben, in a smarter suit than usual, talking security with Emma.

They’re nerding out about ways to transport cash in local currency securely.

Cut to an exterior shot to show the front of their building: "Diamond Trust Children’s Refuge"


Jackie is finishing a speech on stage, about discovering her diamond’s awful history and using the insurance money to help with the problem.

The applause dies down as she returns to her seat, next to Henry.

He squeezes her hand and smiles. They both look perfectly happy for a moment.

Then Henry thinks of something, and frowns slightly and shakes his head.

Henry: Ben?


Jarenth: You're absolutely right: I do want to see the movie that inspired this concept art, and I want to see the movie you wrote out. And I'd love it if they were both the same movie.

I adore the smirks on Henry's face.

Jon “Bad Wasabi” Wood: That plot twist.

Fan: Take up scriptwriting Tom - Hollywood awaits you!

James Lopez: Hi Tom,
I stumbled upon your site here while searching for 60's Mod culture.

First, let me say how honored I am to find out that you were so inspired by my artwork to go so far as to write a treatment for a script!

I read it and I Love it!!!

I really like the feel of the relationship that you have developed between the three main characters. I feel as though it truly conveys the spirit that I was trying to portray through my artwork.

It also plays like a classic heist movie with the surprise twist/ending that is unexpected nut logical.

What else can I've made my week...Hell, you've made my year!!!

So, whaddya' say we make a movie! :-)

(You can contact me at:

Tom Francis: Fantastic, thank you! So glad you liked it. I've replied to your e-mail!

Wizardy: Great work! I honestly didn't expect the ending. I hope this gets made!

Ollie Clarke: Just saw this article on your site and bizzarely this is very much along the lines of a game im developing with some friends.

The style is very similar.
We hope to have it out next month. If you're interested please feel free to check it out and feedback is always welcome!


katy: i love 60s movies and i won't to make one!

Harun ‘Hercules’ Adinoyi: Wow! How did I even find this?

Well... honestly Tom, if you were inspired by J. Lopez's work, then you should know that this has inspired me...too.

I'm writing a screenplay titled The Heist and your treatment has really helped me. I haven't gone far with writing and I already have movie 3 studios in a battle for who makes the movie at the end of the day!

Have I said 'thank you' for being an inspiration? James Lopez, you too. Thank you plenty.

I'd like us to discuss more. Email me:

And hey... I, too, regret this already.

Malcolm: This is a great script, and really great concept art!

I really REALLY would like to see this movie if it came out!

Multifish: This... This is the sort of thing that crowd funding websites were created for, and why they got popular. My word, I would positively LOVE to see this! Young man, you need a team of animators and writers, stat!

GEO: Was this move ever made? I like to make it (not comertial pusposes). Contact me: giedrius(eta)

Bonnie Bradshaw: On Pinterest I found a picture of a lady standing with a leopard purse which looks a lot like myself. I wanted to see who owns that picture in hopes I would get permission to use it. I am a speaker for women who have low self esteem and I just wrote a book called She's UnStoppable so wanted to see if you owned that pic or knew who did ?