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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

My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary

Galactic Civilizations 2 is a strategy game about colonising space. The cool thing about it is the AI: the alien races you meet have very different personalities, and it’s fun to bargain with them and play them off against each other.

Long ago, I tried playing the biggest possible match of it, with the most possible alien races, and wrote up how it went in bite-sized entries.


CVG, the site I wrote this diary on, is gone forever. But the diary is now back up on PC Gamer’s site! It starts here.

More , ,

Space Glee! Galactic Civilizations III Announced! | Rock, Paper, Shotgun: […] how unlikely it is that Tom Francis will write a book-length diary about it, as he so marvellously did for GalCiv2, what with him off being a highly talented indie developer now. At least we get the game, at long […]

Space Glee! Galactic Civilizations III Announced! | PlanetSide 2 Live Streams and Blog: […] how unlikely it is that Tom Francis will write a book-length diary about it, as he so marvellously did for GalCiv2, what with him off being a highly talented indie developer now. At least we get the game, at long […]

Alex: Mr. Francis:

As a long time fan of your writing, and your GalCiv 2 piece in particularly, I would like to humbly add my name to the long list of people who want you to do a new one. While it would be wonderful to see a new one for GalCiv 2 particularly, I understand that you are quite a busy man now. Perhaps I can suggest that you do one for the upcoming GalCiv 3? It won't be out for a while, so you can plan out the time you would need to do it long in advance. Also, given the popularity of the first piece, StarDock may be willing to compensate you for your time on a new one to promote the new game. It's worth a shot, right?

Thank you so much for your work thusfar,

Erik: I'm with Alex. Your two GalCiv2 write ups were amazing, and are the sole reason I ever played the game. I'd love to see another diary, either in GalCiv 2 or in GalCiv 3 when it comes out. Or, better yet, in both games.

Obviously you're a busy man, but if you are struck with nostalgia and want to play the game, know that there are definitely people who would love to read a new diary.

Also, I've heard Gunpoint is awesome and plan on getting it when I can.

bob drummond: can u do a blog as the pilgrims in endless space. I thourouly enjoyed ur galCiv diaries in CVG magazine.

Robert: Tom, the link to your diary is broken. If you click it, it just sends you to game radar and I can't find it anywhere.

Erik: I have no idea if you still monitor these comments or not, but incase you do, I wanted to bring the following to your attention. I went to show a friend of mine your wonderful GalCivII Diaries, but every link I find to them (Including the link on this page) directs to a Nintendo 2DS review on GamesRadar instead. Any idea if these wonderful pieces of awesome are still floating around anywhere? Any chance of a Reup if the're not?

Robert: Erik, I just noted the same thing. I want to read them, but they've all but disappeared! I really do hope he makes a new link. I enjoyed the stories so much.

Jason L: For those not following along on Twitter, he has all the original data archived and is looking to get the articles re-upped to PC Gamer's site. He doesn't work for them anymore but still has friends on the staff, and why wouldn't they want to reinstitute content that pulls eyes years later, but it's been disappeared at a time when he was gearing up and then flying halfway around the world to GDC where he is at this moment, and most of them were gearing up and are now covering GDC. We can reasonably expect anything that happens to happen after everyone's flown back home, transcribed and filed their stories, dejetlagged and can deal with lower-priority stuff again.

Erik: Thanks much for the response Jason, I indeed don't do the Twitters. I will eagerly await any response. I hope everyone has safe flights and enjoys the GDC!

Kyle B.: Huh, so it got dismantled after all... I have fond memories of your GalCiv II diary, and in fact it was probably one of the things that initially propelled me into civilizations games in the first place. It had damn good writing, and you made the whole thing feel like I was right there with you. Like it wasn't just a turn-based game in space, but an actual adventure that you were taking us along for. I gotta say, several years (and purchased civ-builder games) later, something about GalCiv III coming out instantly made me think of it again. And the nostalgia kicks in full force.

I don't know if there's any way, or if PC Gamer even has it still...

But I really hope folks like us, who loved your work, get a chance to read it again. Thanks mate. Cheers on your new works, and good luck!

P: If anyone wants to read it in the meantime:
Use the wayback machine on

Links (for the lazy):
http://www.computera... ...days-1-26/

http://www.computera... ...inal-entry

P: Additional link for the last part:

http://www.computera... ...inal-entry

Jason L: Now starting again on PCG, here we goooo

http://www.pcgamer.c... ...-part-one/

Nolan Good: Mr. Francis, big fan (bizarrely, I sunk almost an entire weekend into screwing off with Floating Point once, so thank you).

I consider your Gal Civ II write up an absolute classic in games journalism, I'd very much like to see it archived in a more manageable way than it currently is. Is there any possibility we might see an eventual .pdf release? Or a single link? I'd love to print it out and keep it just next to my copy of RPS's Neptune's Pride diary.

Erik: A big thank you to everyone who made the re-up happen, and an even bigger thank you to Mr. Francis for writing it in the first place. It would have been a travesty if this was lost to time. I realize that I may be getting a bit greedy now, but any chance of a similar fate for the Twilight of Arnor diary?