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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.

  • html color: This is the information I am looking for. This article is clear and easy to understand. I’m...
  • Grant: Thanks to the start of this video, I’ve just now noticed that during the static flickers while staring...
  • Ben: Great analysis. During the lab sequence in the Prey intro, you were looking around for tells that Morgan is in a...
  • RoboLeg: this game would be PERFECT for mobile, and I’d happily pay 10 bucks or so for it.
  • Jepp: 1) Please keep critiquing games by building new ones :) 2) The non-hand holding, simple systems integrating...
  • 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

    New Ritual

    It’s been a good month. I’ve spent most of it chronically exhausted from nightmare-induced sleep deprivation, ill, or feeling like I’m drowning in a treacle comprised of my own meaningless words, but still somehow a good month. Despite feeling like I’m getting nowhere with anything, I’ve written twenty-six pages of articles for the next issue to hit the shelves, and two of them have been the result of investigative digital tampering to acquire information no-one else has, something you could almost call journalism if it was about something serious. It wasn’t; it was about robotic aliens and death Gods; but that just made it more fun.

    Now I’m sitting in my newly tidied room listening to the bluesy new Cat Power with my window open and bare feet, freezing slightly but enjoying the night air too much to do anything about it, and idly researching a link between avian flu and a fictional virus dreamed up last millenium.

    I used to have a ritual, once I’d finished the disc each month, of stopping at Shakeaway for a carrot cake milkshake on the way back from delivering the masters to the postroom. Since I’m no longer a disc editor, I’m enstating a new ritual for when my work on an issue is done, based on a throwaway line by Amy Gardner from the West Wing:

    Amy: I fought you, I lost, I went home, took a shower, had a drink. You know what I do when I win? Two drinks.

    This month: two drinks!

    Graham: Revisionism! There's revisionism going on here!

    Tom Francis: Feel free to correct the quote if you remember it better.

    Graham: I was actually referring to the other post you made, but have since deleted. As far as I know the West Wing quote is accurate.

    Jason L: Actually if you're tricksssy Tom hasn't (yet) deleted anything per se - he's just broken the site's navigation so there are no links to some categories. Manually plugging the old values into the categoryname bit of the URL will still take you to the listings. For example, here is a link to all the TV shows/comments, not just the top four.

    Unless you're referring to Classic James, which I was fortunate enough to wget three days before it vanished and still haven't gotten around to semi-with-permission mirroring. As soon as I have an X server again I'll try to put it up and link.

    Graham: I was actually referring to a single post that originally followed the one we're commenting on, but which no longer does.

    I feel that I probably shouldn't have drawn attention to it.

    Tom Francis: Okay, so you're all talking about different nutso things about this site. The post Graham's talking about, Jason, really was deleted. I knew I'd delete it when I wrote it, but I was drunk and couldn't adequately justify not posting it to myself at the time. It wasn't anything interesting, just an idle stream of Sorkinisms. You now have full permission to upload whatever wherever - it's pretty clear I'm not going to get round to it myself. And as for old posts not being accessible except by trickery, that's just because I can't make archive pages work, and everyone complains if I put everything on one page.

    Tom Francis: But thanks for reminding me - I meant to change the category headings on the left to link to all posts in that category. Now they do.

    Jason L: Wrong again - darn and sorry. Navs fixed - yay and thanks!

    Bobsy: See, this is the sort of discipline I don't have. If I missed my goals of a month, I'd have the two drinks anyway, and a third to quieten the guilt.