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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.

Heat Signature’s Launch, And First Player Legend

A Leftfield Solution To An XCOM Disaster

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

Powered Down For Redesign

Because testing this stuff offline is an enormous hassle, and WordPress has masses of functions that are only valid when used in this: the main index file; James will be down, malfunctioning, hideous or utterly screwed up for many many hours tonight. If it’s not fixed by the time I get bored of fixing it, I’ll revert to this design and give up. Either way, it’ll be a working website again on Sunday.

Tom Francis: Alright, fuck that. This is going to take months.

Tom Francis: Can I just say (tm) that CSS is every bit as moronic as HTML, except that it's a form of moronicism with which I'm not already familiar, and I therefore wish its creators death and car trouble?

ImperialCreed: Bummer, I was rooting for you and everything :)

The Truth: If it's any consolation, HTML and CSS both think you're fat fingered idiot.

Rockeye: CSS is fine, until you load up the page that looks perfect in Fire fox and other browsers in IE and JESUS CHRIST WHY HAS IT DONE THAT?

Tom Francis: Also, Google, would it kill you to use variable names longer than one letter? Or a line-break at some point? I'm not asking for anything crazy like actual comments in your code, just something that can be read by the human eye without surrendering your mind to the frothing depths of lunacy.

Richard: It's done like that so that to save bandwidth. One extra letter in a variable name or one line feed is one extra byte. And if you're Google, and you're serving that file a 100 million times a day, that quickly multiplies to be a crap ton more bandwidth used.

Anyway, you should find a tool online to de-obfuscate it.

Jason L: Huh. Is that knowledge or speculation on your part? I had thought it might be due to their need to support absolutely every browser on every operating system under all rendering circumstances. Maybe linebreaks break browser P, and comments break Q when Javascript is at version J, and word X is a reserved word under browser Y etc. etc. until you've got the absolute sparsest page possible.

The Truth: HURRY UP.

Jack: Anyone home?

Tom Francis: Sorry folks. Some time over the weekend, promise. I actually nearly finished it while I was away in Seattle this week, but I left some code scraps here that I didn't have time to re-write.

Almost nothing else can go wrong.

Richard: That's knowledge.

Tom Francis: So... I fired up the new design in IE, and JESUS CHRIST WHY HAS IT DONE THAT? I only have IE 6 at the moment - I'm hoping 7 is more compliant. But, just for comparison purposes, I tried loading the current design in IE 6 - I'm not sure I ever tested it.

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