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.
1st: New PC Gamer Out
My contribution to this one was the Long Play on Darwinia, in which I essentially beg people to buy it. The weird thing is, it seems to be working. I still play Darwinia regularly and it remains my favourite strategy game of all time, and it genuinely hurt to find out hardly anyone bought it. I’m happy to discover that plenty of them just needed a bit of friendly cajoling from someone with strong feelings on the matter. It also feels surreal and wonderful to have an effect – it’s not good to get used to the idea of having your words in print, and realising that people actually read them and pay attention jars you out of that nicely.
I’ve had a chance to play the new Darwinia demo they’re working on – a level not seen in the game – and it’s incredible stuff. Doesn’t just blow the last demo out of the water, it’s actually one of my favourite levels ever. I’ll link it as soon as it’s finished and up properly.
3rd: Tim’s Birthday
This one’s in the past now, and it was great. I discovered Chicken Tikka Taka Tak, sang Dandy Warhols in some kind of demonic kareoke console game (I believe the game scathingly classified me as a ‘hopeful’. Jon Hicks, however, said only my “Woo ooh ooh”s needed work – my baritone lounge crooning was fine. Damn straight) , dehatted a Nintendog and swung another around the room on the end of a rope. It seems there may have been other people present too.
8th: The OC
Yeah, everyone is straight out of an advert for one thing or another, but Seth is wittier than some of the best Whedon characters, and the constant sunshine is oddly addictive. It’s melodrama, it’s trash, but it’s frequently very funny and prominently features astoundingly good music. I am genuinely looking forward to its return.
9th: Discs Finished
Sweet, sweet release. The monthly deadline gives this job a kind of rhythm that builds to a kind of wild panic right up until the envelope containing the masters leaves my hands. Then I suddenly lose thirty kilograms and go and have a Carrot Cake Milkshake. I’m actually going to miss that when I stop being a Disc Editor. The pains of being wholly responsible for a big, important thing do pay off when it’s finally over.
12th: City Of Villains Beta
Some months back now, I accumulated so much experience debt from repeatedly dying on my way through a high-level area between me and my mission that I realised it would be quicker to start a new character than continue with this one. Experience debt is a huge, hideous, gaping wound in the otherwise unbroken awesomeness of City Of Heroes, and I felt pretty okay about giving it up until someone told me they’ve halved it now. Issue Five just went live, and now I’m longing to get back in and see what else has changed. Unfortunately my account has expired, so I’m not sure if I should re-register so soon before getting to play what is in effect the sequel.
Anyway, the point is, I’m pretty excited about City Of Villains now. I’m not expecting it to be massively different to CoH, I’m just expecting it to work.
I can’t imagine I’m going to like this as much as its reviewers have so far, but there’s no doubting its perfectly pitched atmosphere and tactile control tricks. I intend to enjoy it as pulp – a sort of scienceless CSI.
Will we find out a damn thing about anything? Craig says he heard we will, but it seems almost too much to ask. My main hope from the new series is that The Others will regain the sinisterness they had when all we knew of them was the super-human, super-unsettling Ethan. The last glimpse we had of them was too ordinary – we need to find out something namelessly horrifying about them to make them scary again.
I’m also hoping for more on the response to Boone’s call for help just before he tumbled off that cliff. If you haven’t listened to it carefully yet, do so now. It is interesting stuff.
23rd: Winter Assault
Dawn Of War was great. This will have new stuff. It will be great. END PREVIEW.
People keep telling me I’ll find this interesting, so I will play it. The voice-acting seriously risks ruining it for me, though – I found it unbearable in Black And White, and from what I’ve heard it’s the same mockingly insincere stuff here. In other respects, too, it looks a bit like a child’s drawing of an RPG rather than one made by RPG lovers. I don’t mind some streamlining, but it looks like it’s lost all the character of an RPG, leaving everything generic and placeholderish. I haven’t played it for even a second, so this is just scepticism.
Various Times: Other Birthdays
Mark, Ross and Beast all have birthdays (apparently on the same day) this month, as do at least two friends from outside of work and my gran. Literally fifty percent of everyone I know was born in September.
28th: My Birthday
I might like to go up in a balloon. Seems like a birthdayish thing to do. I also like the idea of silent flight. Engine noises ruin travel for me.
30th: Kieron‘s Birthday
I am quietly hoping to just do whatever other people are doing for this, instead of doing something sociable with lovely Gamer people for my birthday (short of working with them, if I go to work). You’re kind of responsible for people’s enjoyment if they’re out because of you, and that’s the kind of pressure for which mere Disc Editing cannot prepare you. I’d feel better if I wasn’t the main event, more of a niche side-show.
The spectacular finalÃƒÂ© to what is sure to be the best September ever. If you haven’t seen Firefly, see this. If you have, you’re already going to see this. If you’ve already seen it through ‘connections’, I hate your face.
Jason L: Overruling counterexample: Gabe and Tycho hated Fable (as did he two guys I know who played it). Apparently it has exactly the same vices (quote adaptive freedom end quote, but none really), with none of the redeeming character or toy value. Shrug. We're (in the case of PA, arguably) not professional games journalists. Maybe it's good.
Dabs: "If you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t listened to it carefully yet, do so now. It is interesting stuff."
Can I just confirm now: it's difficult to hear over Locke's shouting but does the responding voice say (spoiler) "we're the survivors of flight 815?" (/spoiler) If so, whoa.
Jason L.: Good grief, I promise I will be more careful proofing comments in the future. s/he/the, and "the same..." refers to Black and White.
I also wanted to chime in on the demo - I'm also in the betas, though sadly I've only had time to play enough for a couple of obvious bug reports. Everyone with an interest just needs to know that the new demo will Rawk. That's with a capital R, son. It's a much better introduction than even the full game, and all that keeps it from being a Perfect Level is the absence of any Ants - but I guess one needs to hold something back for the full version.
Tom Francis: Dabs: yep. I've hidden your text for the sake of anyone who hasn't got to that episode yet. Some people thought the reply said something else, so when they did a recap episode later on, they re-recorded the message to be clearer. Now everyone thinks it's a conspiracy to cover up the original message. Sigh.
David: You've made me feel very guilty about Darwinia. Not only did I wait for it to reach Ã‚Â£20 before I bought it but I also bought it from Game. I'm sorry, Tom. :(
Also, your music is startingly good.
Lithilk: In your Long Play article it says 'Multiplayer: Not yet - wait for a patch.' Where have you found this out and is it true? If it is, I really am going to start playing Darwinia more.
Tom Francis: Actually I didn't write that - I wrote something long and complicated explaining the nuances and uncertainties of the situation, and it got cut to that by someone who actually realises how big a page is.
Tom of Introversion said this in that thread I linked, though: "With any luck in around 6 month's time we're then going to release two very cool ...how shall I say... things Wink before something totally new in 2007!"
Smart money's on one of those non-'totally new' projects being Multiwinia.
Lithilk: Meh. I was all exicted and everything for Darwinia multiplayer.
Tom Francis: That's what Multiwinia means!
Lithilk: Ok ok. I'm just stupid. I see now.
Jason L: New demo's out
Lithilk: Ive bought a sexy Darwinia poster for my office wall now.
Pentadact: Woo! I have one somewhere, but it won't stay up and we're not allowed to mutilate the walls of our flat. This reminds me, I must do a new version of this post saying how everything was. Pretty awesome month huh.