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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, I'm on a weekly gaming podcast called The Crate & Crowbar, I wrote these two short stories in the Machine of Death collections, and I used to write articles like these for PC Gamer. I'm now prototyping two new games, Heat Signature and one about grappling hooks.

Theme

By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

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

Fault

What’s Your Fault?

We use the phrase ‘your fault’ in a way that’s different to the sum of its parts. A fault can be any kind of problem, defect, or undesirable property. ‘Your’ just means belonging to you. If you have very unsteady hands, that’s a problem of sorts, and it’s yours. But if I hand you a full mug of coffee and you spill a bit of it, if you apologised, I’d say “It’s not your fault!”

Your faults are not ‘your fault’ if you’re born with them, if they’re forced on you, if you didn’t know about them, or a whole variety of other conditions. Language forms organically and messily, and it only makes sense to talk about it in generalisations. But the most prevalent trend I can see in the types of faults that are not ‘your fault’ is this: they’re the ones you can’t reasonably change. Continued

BAFTA Featured

The BAFTA Games Awards

I got to go to the BAFTA Games Awards, whenever it was that that happened! Feels like six months ago, but I think it’s about three weeks. Gunpoint was up for Best British Game (against GTA V and Tearaway – lol good luck) and Best Debut Game (against Gone Home and Stanley Parable – lol good luck), and it was nuts to see our game up on the giant screen during a black tie awards event. But mainly, it was just nuts to be at a black tie awards event. Here are some things that happened: Continued

Hoplite banner

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

I’ve been obsessed with iOS/Android randomised tactical combat game Hoplite ever since Zack Johnson told me about it at IndieCade last month. You’re a Greek spearman descending the randomly generated levels of the underworld, and you have to deal with the steadily increasing demonic population you find there by moving carefully across a hex grid turn by turn, calculating each move to slash, stab or stomp them without letting them get a hit in.

Each level has a shrine that grants a choice of upgrades, letting you incrementally design a perfect build of complimentary abilities until depth 16, at which point they run out completely and you just see how far you can get with what you’ve built.

As the difficulty ramps up from there, the way your chosen abilities play off each other to let you overcome the endlessly increasing challenge becomes elegant, then balletic, then sublime. These calculated chains of sweeps, leaps and thrusts let you dance through a minefield with precision and grace, felling everything around you. It’s hard to fully explain how neat, clever and satisfying it feels – so I made a GIF. Continued

Notes On The Arguments About Facebook Acquiring Oculus

I don’t have an opinion about Facebook acquiring Oculus for $2 billion, because I don’t know enough to be confident of how it’ll play out, and that’s usually when I stop having opinions about things. But I do have some thoughts about some of the arguments being used on either side. Continued

Jerk, Jounce And Rates Of Change

Yesterday I tweeted from the Heat Signature account about avoiding a tricky problem with homing missiles by just increasing their acceleration over time – I called it AccelerationAcceleration. Today, Coriolinus replied to say that the scientific name for this is actually ‘jerk‘. This is amazing, and so is the Wikipedia page about it. Continued

Heat Signature Big Ship

Ending A Space War With A Punch In Heat Signature

The next thing I wanna let you do in Heat Signature is take the helm of an enemy ship and fly it yourself. But right now, things go very screwy if you’re on a ship as it accelerates. So I’m redoing all the relative velocity code to make sure the contents of a ship stay stable while it’s jerking around.

I was testing the new code just now, and headed for a small ship to dock with it. Continued

Heat Signature Pathfinding

Pathfinding In Heat Signature’s Randomised, Modularly Destructible Spaceships

Updated! see bottom of post.

Heat Signature is a game about randomised space ships that you can sneak aboard. These ships have a randomly generated interior of connected rooms and corridors, and crew that patrol those rooms.

Right now, there’s no pathfinding: the crew roam randomly. At some point, though, you’ll be able to set off alarms or cause other disturbances that the crew should run to. So the problem is: how do find a route to that room? Specifically, how do they find the shortest route to that room? Continued

Rockefeller Moon

How IndieCade Went For Heat Signature And The Grappling Hook Game

IndieCade East was lovely. It’s a convention in New York, held at the Museum of the Moving Image, consisting mostly of people giving talks about games or showing their games. For example, Zack Johnson talked to Margaret Robertson about the crazy 11-year history of his still actively developed web game Kingdom of Loathing: Continued

Heat Signature Ships

Randomly Generating Simple Spaceships In Heat Signature

The way Heat Signature randomly generates its ships at the moment is very basic – I’m new to random generation, and I don’t polish or improve things until all the other systems are in.

Its process for the ship’s shapes is probably obvious from the video: Continued

The Heat Signature FAQ

People often ask me: “Tom, frequentlyAskedQuestion[floor(random(frequentlyAskedQuestion.Count))].”

“Well,” I tell them… Continued

The Gunpoint FAQ

People ask me more questions about Gunpoint than I have time to individually answer, and my silence is starting to feel like metaphorically pushing their faces wordlessly away with the palm of my hand, slightly muffling the latter part of their question. Continued

Gone Point

Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

Gone Home writer/designer Steve Gaynor interviewed me for his podcast on the Idle Thumbs network, Tone Control. In it, I guess we vaguely cover tone at some point probably, but also: Continued

Heat Signature Thumbnail

Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

I can now show you what my space stealth game is really about! As long as I don’t get spotted like three times in a row right at the start of this video. Watch that first if you care, if not, here’s the summary. Continued

Werewolf And The Logic Of Lies

I played Werewolf for the first time tonight, a game you play with just a few scraps of paper. I’ll explain what it is and the specific setup we played at the same time:

There were eight of us, seven played and Kim ran the game. She hands all seven of us a folded piece of paper that we look at and keep to ourselves. Written on it is our role, which will be one of the following – numbers in brackets are how many people are assigned that role. Continued

Game Design: The Non-Stick Plan

Thought I’d take a break from programming talk to get into game design, and how I approach it. I am aware my mug is ridiculous – it’s an old GTA III promo one.

I’m bad at shutting up once I get talking about this stuff, so I’ll also summarise the basic points in this post. Not all of this stuff is in the video and not all of the video is in this – good summary Tom. Continued

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