All posts


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.

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


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


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


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 Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

Dark Messiah

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot


Arguing On The Internet


Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Stealth Games

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?


E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

Suspicious Manifesto

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

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


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


A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

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.

The application has encountered an error and needs to close. Microsoft apologises for any inconvenience caused.