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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.

  • 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...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • Spaceman Moses: One-eyeing this on my phone from the depths of my covers I lazily ask: what do you mean XCOM2 clarity...
  • kripto: For what it’s worth, I also like Morphblade more than Imbroglio. Although, to be fair, I’ve also...
  • 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

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers

    I saw Spiderman 3 yesterday, so here’s my review of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It – unlike Spiderman 3 – is fantastic.

    It’s the 1978 remake I’m talking about, with Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy and a very young and very excellent Jeff Goldblum. It is a strange concept to me that a movie released before I was born could be a modernisation of something even older (were eyes even invented before then? Mine weren’t), but from what little I know of the original, it doesn’t seem like a remake the way they do them today. It’s darker, truer to its premise and closer to the original novel than the first film version, almost a de-Hollywoodisation by comparison.

    Oh, I should probably explain why I’m suddenly talking about an incredibly well-known 1978 classic sci-fi film. Er, it was on TV last night. And I hadn’t seen it before, and thought I should, even though I rarely like old films, and I even less often like old films that are considered classics. Classic seems to mean ‘no longer any good’. I have some classic cheese in my fridge.

    But I was amazed by this, and more importantly horrified by it – I think more so than at the Ring films. The cultural touchstone it spawned was about this idea of everyone going about business as usual, but somehow not being themselves, lacking emotion. That’s not very scary. It doesn’t get scary until so many humans have been replaced by ‘pod people’ that the humans are trying to blend in with the pod people rather than vice versa.

    People have to pretend to be people pretending to be people. The film is never explicit about how many have changed, partly because the ambiguity is part of the menace, but there is a distinct turning point. Because from that point on, whenever a pod person discovers a human in public, they point at them and scream.

    It feeds on two potent psychological tricks that don’t get used enough: firstly, that there’s nothing more horrifying than something that’s absolutely horrified of you. And secondly, the scariest images are also the most absurd – and potentially comic.

    I came across an incredibly spoilerific screenshot from the film while digging out the image above (which is not spoilerific – it never happens in the film), which captures the most brilliant, horrible and chilling moment, but just looks hilarious out of context. It’s hard to imagine a more modern film daring to do something so easy to mock, but Body Snatchers leads up to it gradually and creepily, so that when you’re actually watching it (alone, or with people who can shut the hell up), it’s terrifying.

    There’s also an extraordinary scene where pod people hatch all around Donald Sutherland as he sleeps in a deckchair outside, all born adult but malformed, and they’re oddly convincing. They make odd noises as they hatch, but not the bland sci-fi squelching almost every other film involving aliens succumbs to. It’s remarkable what a difference that makes – these things were done with puppets thirty years ago, and they’re creepier than any CGI I’ve seen.

    Then there’s the dog thing. I have no earthly idea what the dog thing is all about. The film is otherwise very consistent, and even corrects some nonsenses of the original. Then there’s a dog thing, and it’s sudden and unexplained and utterly horrible, but again, probably just funny out of context. I would think if you have seen the film, it would have been a long time ago, so I’d be intrigued to know if anyone remembers the dog thing.

    Zeno Cosini: I remember the dog thing. The horror is deepened by the manic banjo music that plays, briefly, as it scampers past.

    Timmargh: I remember the dog thing. Good film; fucking superb ending.

    PiGFoetus: Don't sleep too close to your dog when bodysnatching aliens are about. Actually, do. That way they won't pass for regular people when they replace you and that will foil their plans. I wonder if a similar effect could be gained simply by keeping a hamster in one's pocket?

    They don't actually snatch bodies anyway. "Invasion of the Body Replacers" would technically be more accurate.

    Yootha: 1. Watch again - the dog thing IS explained - we are introduced to the tramp & his dog early in the film - then about halfway through we see them both asleep next to a pod. Bennell kicks the pod in disgust as he walks past - the pod oozes goo - it is damaged.

    Later we see "the dog thing" - as a result of Bennell's kick, the pod malfunctioned & made an amalgum of the two nearest life forms to it. Hence the dog with a man's head. To other pod people, it was simply one of them. To a human, it was shocking (and therefore a giveaway when Elizabeth saw it & reacted with horror).

    Fantastic film & the two subsequent remakes aren't a patch on it. 1978 all the way