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TOM FRANCIS
REGRETS THIS ALREADY

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.

Theme

By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

Projects

What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

Murder, She Wrote

The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

Heat Signature Wide 2

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

Heat Signature Floorplans Header

Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

Gunpoint Steam Workshop

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

Distance Header

Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

The Magic Circle

Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

Floating Point Blog Launch

Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

Floating Sine

Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point

Fault

What’s Your Fault?

Hoplite banner

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

Gone Point

Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

Heat Signature Thumbnail

Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

GRappling Hook Thumbnail

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

Alien Swarm Heroics

A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

FTL Story

One Desperate Battle In FTL

Spelunky Banner

To Hell And Back In Spelunky

Game vs story graph

Games Vs Story 2

Gunpoint Breakdown

Gunpoint Development Breakdown

Max Payne 3

Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer

This is how you die

My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection

Clouds

Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

Skyrim Diary - Frostmere

Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

Mainstream Games

How Mainstream Games Butchered Themselves, And Why It’s My Fault

A-Rock-and-a-Hard-Place-Trio-Jan

A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

Dark Messiah

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

Arguing

Arguing On The Internet

Stealth Games

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

Violence

E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

Suspicious Manifesto

The Suspicious Developments manifesto

GDC

GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

Crosslink

Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

Happiness

Understanding Your Brain

What Makes Games Good

What Makes Games Good

Seat Quest

A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

Beneath Suspicion

Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

Open Worlds

An Idea For A Better Open World Game

Level Up

A Different Way To Level Up

BioShock Ending

How I Would Have Ended BioShock

Meet the Spy

My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

Football Manager

Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

EVE Assassins

EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

GalCiv 2

My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary

Gnome

I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

Machine of Death

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

AOL

A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

First Night, Second Life

SWAT 4

SWAT 4: The Movie Script

Introducing The Heat Signature Team

Last month I made a new video of my ugly prototype for Heat Signature and put out an open call for artists and composers who might wanna work on it. When I did the same thing for my first game Gunpoint, around 30 artists and 40 composers applied. For Heat Signature, 81 artists and 232 composers applied. This was extraordinary and flattering, then daunting, then impossible, then exciting once I finally had my decision, then absolutely horrible when I had to tell everyone I hadn’t picked. You don’t really know how many ‘313 people’ is until you have to say no to 310 of them.

My deep, deep thanks to the amazingly talented people who applied, it meant a huge amount to me that people of your calibre were interested in my thing.

Here’s who I picked: Continued

Humble Banner

Gunpoint Is In The New Humble Indie Bundle!

I’m drunk to announce that Gunpoint is in the Humble Indie Bundle 12! Best of all, you get it no matter what you pay. No! Best of all is what else you get if your generosity stretches to the princely sum of ten dollars:

  • Gunpoint, I just said that
  • Gone fucking Home
  • Papers fucking Please
  • Prison fucking Architect!
  • Luftrausers!
  • Hammerwatch!
  • SteamWorld Dig!
  • What!

What is not a game, this is just an alarming selection of stuff. And for the first time ever, there’s also a $65 special edition that comes with a load of physical goods like:

  • A T-shirt featuring all these games!
  • A vinyl record with a song from each of these games – in Gunpoint’s case, The Five-Floor Goodbye.
  • A floppy disk! I don’t know what’s on that!
  • A manual! I don’t know what it says!
  • Some badges, or pins if you’re American!
  • It comes in an actual box!

This has been in the works for a loooooooong time, and it’s only thanks to the hard work of the guys at Abstraction that we have Mac and Linux versions of Gunpoint to make us eligible to be in one. I’m particularly delighted to be in this one, with such extraordinary company (two BAFTA winners!), because the biggest upside for me is the sheer number of people who’ll hopefully get to try our game. And when Gunpoint is nowhere near the headliner, lots of those will be people who might never have tried it otherwise.

Update On Heat Signature Applications

Just a quick update to say I am still going through the Heat Signature applications. Sorry it’s taking a while – if you didn’t see on Twitter, I got 81 applications for the artist position and 232 for composer. So I am endlessly listening to and re-listening to samples, rigging up makeshift dynamic music systems in-game to see what kind of things work, burying myself in reams of notes, and making impossible choices. Pretty soon I should be able to let applicants know individually where we’re at, and a while after that I’ll be able to announce a decision. The standard of submissions is amazing – the final game is going to be a thing of beauty.

Heat Signature Poster Header

Heat Signature Playable At EGX And Fantastic Arcade

Heat Signature will be playable at two different events next month, in the UK and the US!

18-21 September: Fantastic Arcade at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, US
25-28 September: Eurogamer Expo (EGX) in Earls Court, London, UK

I’ll be at both events to talk you through it and answer any questions with “I don’t know,” “No,” or “We’ll see.” I’ll also be doing some form of presentation at each, probably involving playing the game myself and explaining my plans.

SimAntics

Earlier this year I also made a game with artist and designer Liselore Goedhart, in which two players steer the tongues of anteaters and battle each other like disgusting slithery light-cycles as they compete for ants. That’s SimAntics: Realistic Anteater Simulator, and it will also be playable at Fantastic Arcade!

And for EGX, I commissioned my friend and graphic designer Natalie Hanke (who I worked with on Distance) to create this spectacularly pink poster! Continued

Gunpoint Mac And Linux Ready For Testing

Update:

The game is now out on Mac and Linux!

Old post:

The fine folks at Abstraction have finally got Gunpoint working well enough on OSX and Linux that we’re ready for you guys to give it a try and see what breaks.

If you already own Gunpoint, right-click it in your Steam list and go to Properties. Under the ‘Betas’ tab, choose ‘maclinuxbeta’ and ‘OK’. The game should update.

If you don’t already own the game but would like to help test it on Mac or Linux, add yourself to this mailing list: if I can, I’ll get some time-limited beta keys to let you guys in too.

If you find any problems, post in the Mac or Linux support forums to tell us about them! Tell us as much as you can about your system, what you were doing, and what happened.

Caution! The Mac and Linux versions are in beta, so I don’t recommend buying the game yet if that’s what you’ll be playing on!

To make sure everyone has the latest fixes, the beta is Steam-only. When they’re ready, the Mac and Linux versions will of course be available DRM-free for people who bought here or on the Humble Store. And buying it from anywhere at any time on any of these three platforms means you own it on all three.

Ronin Header

It’s Time I Did Something About This ‘Gunpoint Ripoff’

Someone named Tomasz Waclawek is making a side-scrolling stealth game, with mouse-controlled jumping, set in office blocks with smashable windows, and which he himself describes as a “Gunpoint ripoff”. The game is called Ronin, and it’s time I did something about it. Specifically, it’s time I did a Let’s Play about it, because it’s really fucking cool. Continued

Projects

What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

This is a list of games I’ve worked on or am working on and the things people usually ask me about them. I plan to keep it up to date, so if you spot anything that’s no longer true please let me know! Continued

Murder, She Wrote

The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

My life has changed in many ways since working for my own company, but perhaps the biggest is that I can now watch Murder, She Wrote over breakfast and/or lunch. This is great, but it’s also ingrained the show’s weirdly specific formula in my brain, and now I feel I must write it down. The following is how about 70% of its episodes go – the exceptions are kind of nuts. Continued

Heat Signature Wide 2

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

I've now made enough of Heat Signature to be fairly sure of what it is, which means a) here's a new trailer!

And b) I'm ready to start looking for an artist and a composer to work with!

Update: the deadline has passed and applications are now closed! We got a lot! More as I sort through them.

I'd like to do it the same way I did for Gunpoint, with Open Submissions. That means anyone can send in a sample of what they can do, and I'll pick the best artist and the best composer based on that. In this post I'll explain loads about what we're looking for, but the highlights are:

✓ Paid!
✓ No experience required!
✓ Work from anywhere!
✓ Flexible hours!
✓ Game already works!
✓ Application deadline: [EXPIRED!]
Continued

Heat Signature Floorplans Header

Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

I started making Heat Signature mainly to figure out if the mechanics would be as fun as they seemed in my head, so I built all its systems in the cheapest, fastest, simplest possible way. That worked – it’s now got to the point where I’m laughing out loud at something ridiculous happening most times I play.

But the slapdash way I built it has the following problems: Continued

Heat Signature Time Lapse

Heat Signature Development Time-Lapse: 5 Months In 2 Minutes

The reason it’s been a while since I last showed off my space stealth game, Heat Signature, is that I want to use the next video to put out a call for artists and musicians to hire. So it needs to show enough new stuff that the press might cover it, people might share it, and it might get seen by more people.

Don’t apply for either of those jobs yet, though! The other thing I need to do before then is nail down enough of the game’s underlying tech to be sure of precisely what kind of art and music it needs. The way it’s coded right now is rather glitchy, so now I have to investigate whether it’s the fixable kind of glitchy, or the “Fuck this and try a different method entirely” kind of glitchy.

Time lapse

So I’m not going to show much of its current state, but I did put together a time-lapse of everything I’ve done so far: Heat Signature’s five month development in 2 minutes. Continued

Gunpoint Steam Workshop

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

Our big Gunpoint patch has just gone live on Steam! It converts Gunpoint to a whole new engine and adds Steam Workshop, so you can see all the awesome new missions people have been making in the level editor. They are nuts. We’ll make a version of this update available for non-Steam users as well, but obviously Steam Workshop support only works in Steam. Here are the major changes:

  • New engine, implemented by Abstraction Games. Should fix many technical issues and make the game run faster for everyone, and it’ll enable us to develop Mac and Linux versions next.
  • Steam Workshop added, for browsing and sharing user-made levels. Yes, we listened to the 1,779 post petition you guys started even after we’d already announced we would do it.
  • Option to turn off swearing. Up to you whether this makes “Grow a ####ing #### and shove it up your ###” kid-safe.
  • Reconfigurable keyboard controls.
  • Vertical sync option. I didn’t know we needed this, but the folks at Abstraction added it and now the animation is at least 23% more beautiful.
  • Level editor. The level editor has been in there since launch, but some people still ask for one so I’m just going to keep announcing I’ve added it until everyone knows it’s there.
  • You can now place multiple elevators in a level without it crashing. That’s more than I could do when I was making the game, so I expect your levels to be at least twice as good as mine.
  • If you have any technical troubles with the new version, you can still use the old one by going to Properties > Betas and selecting ‘oldversion’. Post your issue on the forums too, so we can fix it.

It’s also 75% off for 48 hours! That’ll end 10am Pacific Time on 19/06/2014. That discount applies to all editions, too, so you can upgrade for $2.50 or £1.50. And we reduced the UK and EU prices from the Steam defaults to better match their USD equivalents.

Get it here!

Header image is a screenshot of Breakin 1.2, by [NL] Omgertje.

floating Point stats

Floating Point Passes 70,000 Players

As of today, 70,163 people own Floating Point, the free game about grappling hooks I released last Friday. 31,700 of those got it on day 1, and the count is now growing steadily at around 3,000 new players a day.

This is pretty amazing. I didn’t contact any press about it, and the only promotion I did was the long and rambly videos I’ve been posting here, if you can call them that. Being free, unsurprisingly, makes a big difference. More interesting stats: Continued

Floating Point by QBAEY

Floating Point Development Breakdown

(Screenshot by player QBAEY)

Floating Point is based on some grappling hook code I made for a game that I still plan to continue with some day. Since I was using version control for that, and hence for this, I have a log of every ‘commit’ I made during development: basically, all the times I felt my progress was worth backing up, and what that progress was.

With a bit of hackery, I’ve pulled out a list of those in chronological order to make a sort of diary of the game’s development, showing which days I worked on it and what I did. Obviously this contains some references to things only I’ll understand, but most of it’s in English, and it gives you an idea of how the game evolved and how long it took. I’ll highlight major developments or revelations, and add in when I tested and with how many people. Continued

Distance Header

Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

Natalie Hanke, Jukio Kallio and I have just released Distance, a short, semi-interactive, mostly visual piece for the Space Cowboy game jam. Natalie wrote, designed and arted it, Jukio did the sound and music, and I was the programmer. Continued

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