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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

EVE Assassins

EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

“The simultaneous ambush and galaxy-wide hangar theft inflicted financial damage upwards of 30 billion ISK – $16,500 US dollars at IGE.com’s prices. The value of the stolen assets utterly dwarfed the original fee for the job. And yet the only item the Guiding Hand’s anonymous client requested for himself was the cold, dead body of the target. It’s safe to say this was personal.”

A prompt two years after it was originally published, my story about the Guiding Hand Social Club assassins is finally (legally) online. At the time a lot of bad J-PEGs of it cropped up online, and since we didn’t actually have a website of our own then, we tolerated the ones that actually bothered to note the piece came from PC Gamer. But now it’s in actual html and – in a column of that width – about as good as I can humanly make it look.

My favourite bit of it, inevitably, is the bit I didn’t write: the responses to the heist from the Intergalactic Summit. Eve players reacted to the hit with genuine disgust or admiration, but also stayed in-character. So their comments are coloured with wonderful subtexts drawn from Eve’s backstory about the slavery of the Minmatar, and subsequent rebellion.

Coupled with Eve’s extraordinarily evocative character portraits, it gives each commentator such a strong and believable personality that, reading it, I find I can imagine exactly what kind of voice each of these people would have, how they would deliver their judgements.

zhouyu

Look at Zhou Yu! He looks like Jesus. Of course he’s appalled. He’d talk like Neil from the Young Ones, by the way.

nanuspark

Look at Nanus Parkite! He’s wearing aviator shades – of course he’s unimpressed. And if you look closely at the full-size version of his portrait, you can actually see his eyes behind the lenses: they’re keen and angry, matching his Godwin-fulfilling disdain for the Guiding Hand.

zaridin

Look at Zaridin! That smarmy, crisp-lipped villain. Of course he loves it, and of course he’s reserved and eloquent in his praise.

eddiegordo

And man, look at Eddie Gordo. Can’t you just hear his thick, exotic accent? He speaks in simple, black-and-white truths, with the weight of suffering behind them. He’s the only one who doesn’t see this as a discussion of methods: he doesn’t care how it was achieved, only that the people who enslaved his race suffered.

In fact, check out Istvaan Shogaatsu, leader of the most vicious band of contract killers in the universe:

It kind of shows, right?

It’s baffling to me that a five-year-old space game still lets you create the most human and distinctive player-designed artificial faces. Why can’t we make faces like this in games where we actually have a body and face rather than a spaceship, where we can walk around and see other people’s? Instead, three years later, we get a blockbuster character-driven RPG in which the emperor of the world looks like this:

oblivion_emp

Anyway, that other site I’m working on – this one. It’s coming. It’s remarkable just how much progress you can make, and how quickly, without even coming close to finishing. I’d add that I am close to finishing now, except that I have felt close to finishing for around three weeks. It seemed nearly done half-an-hour into the process. I suddenly have a newfound sympathy for games that miss their release dates.

More

Grill: Yeah, Septim's nose needed real work. As did all Oblivion's facial animation TBH. However, I've gotta say that all those Eve faces look like psycho-killers to me, except for Eddie Gordo.

roBurky: The portraits of Istvaan Shogaatsu, Arenis Xemdal and Mirial are probably the most recognisable portraits in Eve, having been splashed all over print and the web from this story.

Cian: You're probably aware of this yourself, but those faces will soon be attached to more than forum posts. It's a while off yet but Eve will be expanding into station enviroments with characters walking around their personal hangars, communual enviroments and their own Corporation quarters. I can't wait to see the 'actual' size of my ship in comparison to my character or hanging around in the bar chatting with other Mercs.

Tom Francis: Awesome. I'd heard ages ago that CCP had let slip they'd like to do this one day, but didn't know if that was anything more than idle musing. Will you be able to walk around your ship? That's always what I wanted to do: stand on the bridge and look out at the nebulae on those long trading runs.

Istvaan Shogaatsu: Well, this is a blast from the past. I owe you a beer for that article, Mr. Francis!

Tom Francis: No problem Istvaan, but I make it a rule not to take drinks from contract killers. Learnt that one the hard way.

Sam: It would appear that, for myself at least, the link to the full article redirects to the CVG home page; for anyone else who happens to want to read the article, it can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/69s9zk.

Tom Francis: Cheers for spotting. Fixed. Looks like CVG don't accept article specific URLs without the www now?

Emergent Gameplay: Gamers Gone Wild: [...] This is just one example of the economy-gone wild of this game. Here’s another. [...]

lighted business signs: Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe this website needs a lot
more attention. I'll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the info!