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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.

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

Machine of Death

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

“Fuck!”
It came from the den. Later I’d learn that it had followed a much quieter, “Oh fuck. Oh-“

My first thought was that it had broken. I was going to spend a lot of time, over the next five years, wishing that I’d been right about that.

He burst into the room, crunching the door hinges and smacking the handle deep into the plaster. He nearly fell over trying to stop. I didn’t say anything, just stared.
391! He was on the train this morning! He was one of the victims!” He stared too. We just stared. “Look it up!”
I didn’t have to. I didn’t have all our test cases memorised yet, but 391 I did know: EXPLODED. He was one of the reasons I didn’t believe it was working, EXPLODED was a joke. He saw I wasn’t looking it up, saw me looking at him, and knew I knew, but said it all the same:
“It fucking works.”

We were eating.
“Okay, well, it’s on now.” I munched a chip.
“Yeah.”
“I mean, it’s on.” I pointed a chip at him for emphasis.
“Yeah.”
“I’m just-“
“I get that it is on.”
“Okay.” I put my chips down.
I fixed myself a drink.

He came into my office again, calmly this time, through the fucked door. My office, his house. We left all the doors open that afternoon, and just walked around doing small, unimportant things, occasionally meeting in the corridors of his big, dusty old house and swapping new thoughts.

“What’s the latest count? How many others died?”
“They’re saying two-hundred now.” I told him, underplaying it a little. “Some places are saying three.” They were all saying three.
“Christ. From one bomb?”
“Well, it was on the subway, so…”
“Yeah. Christ.” He slouched against the wall and looked up at the cracked ceiling. “This isn’t quite how I imagined it working.”
“You know we still have to publish, right? I mean, that was the point of no return, right there.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s just-” He looked at me. “It’s going to look like we’re profiting off of this.”
I laughed, then met his eyes. “It’s going to look like we’re profiting from it? Pete, it’s going to look like we did it. You don’t seem to realise how sceptical people are going to be about something like this. You’re the only person in the world who has any idea how this box works, and to the rest of us it looks a hell of a lot like a hoax. And when some small-minded prick with a pound of C4 decided commuters were responsible for all the world’s problems this morning, it became the most vicious hoax in history. We’re going to have protesters on your lawn around the clock, we’re going to get ripped to shreds in the press, we’re going to be hounded by cameras. We’re going to get mail bombs, Pete.” I sat down, and lowered my voice. “They’re gonna try and kill us. Nobody knows yet, but I promise you that at some point in the next eighteen hours, someone, somewhere, is going to check our predictions list against the victims list and our lives as they stand will be over.” I was realising most of this as I said it. I felt sick. We were fucked.
“We’re fucked, aren’t we?”
“We’re not fucked.” I thought about it. We were definitely fucked. “No, we’re not fucked.”
He shook his head. “We’re so fucked.”
I sighed. We were so, so fucked.

Read the rest

This is the first few chunks of my short story for the Machine of Death challenge, which was great fun to write. I gave it a go because I thought it would be a good test of whether I can enjoy writing to someone else’s spec, and it turns out I much prefer it to writing my own ideas. There was something breezy about this whole process – it’s a short piece to begin with, but also not having the burden of responsibility for the concept makes it even easier to jump in.

Update: My story got in!

Update: The collection is out!

Update: We’re the best selling book on Amazon!

Update: Now my story is a podcast!

Update: They’re doing another collection!

Update: I wrote a story for it!

Update: It also got in!

Update: These updates make it seem like things happened quickly but actually it took 5 years.

More

Tom Francis: A-Anyone?

Thomas Lawrence: I read it. I liked it. Um... yes.

Zeno Cosini: It's GREAT. Did I detect the influence of Primer? The Schrodinger-server is brilliant.

Zeno Cosini: Er, so - you had to launch yourself out of the path of a Death Race-style driver, causing him to total his car? And you lost a single tooth when you hit the pavement?

Tom Francis: Most of the skin on my nose, but no teeth thankfully. And no totalled car, sadly - if I'd stayed on course I would have mildly dented it, but my heroic kerb-dive left it unscathed.

Yeah, definitely Primer-inspired. One of the things I loved about that was the very authentic idea that major discoveries are almost all accidents, usually ones that occur when trying something far less ambitious. Shame my invention couldn't be as convincing as theirs, but that was out of my hands.

Grill: Primer with bombs! Awesome. 9/10 (only 9/10 because I like longer paragraphs with more pretentious words and cos I've got used to giving everything 9/10 these days.)

Oh. Y'all already said that.

SenatorPalpatine: I liked it.

Me: hi

SenatorPalpatine: Hmm, why didn't she get an abortion?

Tom Francis: They were outlawed in 2048.

DiscountNinja: Noooooooo! Broken link :( I really wanted to read the rest of that :(

Tom Francis: God damn Google Docs. Try now? http://docs.google.c... ...7_76fgp6qj

The URL hasn't changed, and didn't work for me when I clicked it in the post. But clicking it from Google Docs works for me, and now so does the direct link. Can't work out if it's fixed itself or it's lying to me.

DiscountNinja: Mr Francis - you are my hero :D

Actually, just want to thank you for your work at PCG all these years too. I was delighted to find you had a blog :D

Kazill: Wow, that was really good,

Waste_Manager: Very good, but I think the pace slows towards the end of the chapter a little too much. I have the full article pegged to read at home, and I'm looking forward to it.

Itrade: Cool story, I read it a while ago and re-read the ending just recently. What does the paper say if the person is going to die in their sleep of old age?

Tom Francis: Thanks. The book it's going into is now going to be illustrated, the editors have roped 25 different comic book dudes to do some art for each of the stories. I can't even imagine what you'd do for mine.

Craig Laycock: I really enjoyed that! Re: illustration I'm guessing a man looking pretty pissed off at a slip of paper would serve. Perhaps a speech bubble saying, "How do you even die from a sponge?"

Georgietowne Manburger: That was marvelous!

oscar: nice, should be in bed by now (exams tommorow) but i always have to read your stuff.

Jonn: I just thought of something; what if some guy fell asleep on his friend's couch or something, and his friend runs him through the machine, as a joke. When he wakes up, his friend half-jokes about telling him, whereupon our protagonist kills him to keep from knowing. As someone walks in on the grisly scene, he accidentally looks at the scrap of paper on which his fate is written; "ELECTROCUTION".

My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection - a post on Tom Francis' blog: […] My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection […]