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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.

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By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

Hitman header tunnel

Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

Far Cry Primal Thumbnail

Postcards From Far Cry Primal

Snowball jack header

Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

Kill Zone and Bladestorm

Kill Zone And Bladestorm

BAFTA Featured

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

Sectors Header

Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

DXHR Open area

What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

Heat Signature Natural Numbers

Natural Numbers In Game Design

Pharma Header

Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

Writing vs Programming

Make A Game Tutorial Thumbnail Featured IMage

Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

Her Story banner

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

Invisible Header

What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

Super Game Jam Header

Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

Shadow of Mordor Header 2

What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Heat Signature Talk

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX

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

Spelunky

Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

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

Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

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

Blood money and sex

Blood Money And Sex

AOL

A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

First Night, Second Life

SWAT 4

SWAT 4: The Movie Script

I Am About To Play One Of These Games

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Battlefield 2142 Demo: Yes, I have the full version, and yes, thank you for noticing, I am the very model of a futuristic Major General, with forty unlocks to his name and medals alphabetical (G&S FTW, S60 FTLOL). But they’ve shut down the review servers now, and so I must play with the great unwashed on the terribly unreliable demo servers. Often, the great unwashed shoot me repeatedly in the face, inexplicably disregarding my rank.

Still, I have been mostly holding my own. Battlefield is only fun when you have some success, and one morning this week I destroyed three Titans, got two gold and one silver medal and cut four soldiers’ dog-tags before breakfast. That is the start to a good day. 2142 is also a great way to stay up – win or lose, the sheer concentration of adrenaline in my system from this game makes fatigue seem a distant and absurd concept. Sometimes that adrenaline is causing me to break my mouse in frustration, or splutter in an unmanly high-pitched voice at the injustice of it all. Counter-intuitively this is not the sign of a bad game – it comes up a lot when I’m playing a bad game, but watch closely for the moment shortly after, when it happens again and I just sigh irritatedly. That’s the sign of a bad game. In Battlefield 2 and 2142, my searing, spastic, apoplectic rage never subsides. I always care because I always believe in it, and it’s always “FUCK!” instead of “Oh fuck it then.” That, as N fans will attest, is the sign of a good game.

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DEFCON: It’s out! It’s selling! People love it! I cruelly ignore this when reviewing their games, but I have an enormous fondness for Introversion. It’s mainly because of Darwinia. People would sometimes ask me, of that, “Yeah, but is it really good, or do you just like it because it’s indie?” It is really good. It’s one of the ten best games ever made. It’s special in some ways that even Half-Life 2, Deus Ex, and Oblivion are not – it has a coherence of vision, a richness of imagination, a warmth of some kind it’s hard to articulate. Those aren’t the most important things about a game, or it would be better than The Big Three, but it has these things which they do not. More than anything, it couldn’t have been made by anyone else. So I am pleased that everyone is finding DEFCON as much fun as I did, and that they are obeying the Must Buy award I gave it. Even if I am sort of hoping they make something more like Darwinia next.

Until quite recently I was quite good at DEFCON. My first public game with five strangers went appallingly, and I’d just decided I’d been rubbish all along when I noticed that it was fifteen minutes past the end of my lunchbreak and I had won by a staggering margin. Then I tried Diplomacy. In Diplomacy, all the nations of the world start in the same alliance, and the action only starts when one betrays it, or the rest vote to kick him out. I am not good at Diplomacy. I should play the regular mode again now to see if coming dead-last as the strongest territory in the game has ruined my confidence to the extent that my early-game bravado will lack the conviction it needs to convince the other players that I’m an idiot and don’t need to be attacked because I’ve probably spent all my nukes anyway and surely won’t NUKE YOU HARD IN THE CAPITOL the second your silos hit launch mode.

Company Of Heroes: I know, rationally, that this will be very good. I have it right here. It got 94%. I love Relic, I think Dawn Of War is my favourite RTS. And yet that little silver quicklaunch icon never gets any more tempting. I’ve even played enough of Company – at a press event in Hollywood and on this very machine for a few minutes one morning (morning gaming is a habit) – to know that I love it. But oh God, do I really want to go back to World War II? I’ve fought every miserable minute of that wretched struggle from every conceivable angle, and I want to forget it almost as badly as the people who lived through it. This isn’t ennui, it’s shellshock. If I put Company off long enough, maybe they’ll make Dawn Of War 2 with all the stuff that makes it great? I’ve heard it’s similar to Dawn, but to me they couldn’t be more different: one is set in the most exciting universe the human mind has ever dreamed up, the other is set in the most miserable time and place in human history.

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UT2004: I suddenly realised why Half-Life 2 Deathmatch was the only multiplayer game I did well in. I liked it. So I played it. You actually improve at something if you do it a lot. So I went back to the other one I liked, UT2004, and played that a lot. And lo! I could beat Adept bots. In fact, I started doing the thing you often see arch villains do: have my minions attack me in absurdly unfair fights, me outnumbered sixteen to one, and see if – okay, to show them – I could take them all on. If you add in the Bullet Time and Ninja Rope mutators, you can crank up the odds to even more absurd levels, and be even more awesome. I call this mode Arch-Villain Arena, and the ability to mess with UT to create things like this is one of the reasons I love it so much. There’s a common mathematical misconception that less is more – I’ve done two modules in advanced number theory, and I can tell you first hand that more is much more than less. In fact, if you research the etymology of the word to the extent that I have, you find that its roots are closely tied to those of ‘more’ itself.

HitmanBloodMoney 2006-09-24 09-55-42-27

Hitman: Blood Money: I almost feel I’ve talked enough about this, but I’ll just say that the scope for macabre finesse in this game is narcotic.

So: Which? I was hoping writing briefly about all the amazing games on offer right now would somehow clarify the most appealing option, but I still have no idea. Maybe I’ll just watch TV.

The_B: All the above. Then becoming a Futuristic Nuclear Head Shotting Hitman War Veteran. Or something.