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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

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 [...]