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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.

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

Austin Translation

I look bad, I smell bad and I feel bad, but I’m back. I was taken to Texas by a guy named Pete, but alas not Texas Pete from Superted. There I:

a) chinwagged with cigar-chomping bigwigs, immediately accepting their offer of a cigar and necessary ‘cutter’, despite having no idea how to cut a cigar, no memory of how to correctly smoke one and a physical reaction to tobacco that borders on allergy.

Since neither end of the cigar seemed less sealed than the other, I guillotined both with what I imagined was deft stealth, then fumbled over lighting it in a mild breeze with a flimsy book of matches I didn’t remember receiving for so long as to completely eclipse any social gaff I could ever have committed by admitting I didn’t know which bit of a cigar needed cutting. Later, I was sick.

Drunk Tom, however, assures me he was a great hit with these people.

b) ordered ‘oat bran French toast stuffed with maple banana cream-cheese’, having thought about it almost non-stop for the twenty-four hours since I saw it on the breakfast menu immediately after ordering something else the previous day.

I imagined several different mechanisms for stuffing bread with flavoured cream-cheese, pondered what consistency it would be when served if (as I assumed) the surrounding toast was hot, and wondered why and how one flavours what is essentially cheese with what is essentially a banana.

It turned out to be ‘stuffed’ with the stuff only in the sense that a cheese sandwich is ‘stuffed’ with cheese. But it was pretty damn good.

c) met a guy who worked on the Hitman series. Wow, I thought, he must know guys who worked on Blood Money after he left!

“Which was the last one you worked on?”
“Blood Money.”

Wow, I thought, he must know the guys who did the amazing art direction on that!

“What was your job on that team?”
“Art direction.”

Wow, I thought, he must have worked closely with the lighting guys who did such an incredible job making each level feel so different!

“It was my job to design the lighting so that each level looked and felt different.”

Sascha Jungnickel, you are up there with Moby Franke and Chris Delay as a dude who uses incredibly complex mathematics to make incredibly beautiful things.

d) purchased limited edition Chocolate Skittles.

“Dude,” the garage attendant – who had quickly become our friend – mourned. “In the entire time we’ve had those in store, like, three guys have ever bought a pack. And two of them never came back here ever again.”

I tried one anyway, and chewed it for a while.

“I am never coming back here ever again.”

e) unaccountably failed to take a single photo, hence the unusual textiness of this post. Sorry.

Seniath: Dare I ask why you were actually over there? Or would you have to kill me?

Tom Francis: A trade show exclusively of games published by Gamecock. Named, appropriately, EIEIO.

Section 8, District 9, Station 10, by Tom Francis: [...] I got to see this game at an event in Texas once, and ran into the developers in the hotel the next morning, on my way out from breakfast. I [...]