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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.

  • Grant: Thanks to the start of this video, I’ve just now noticed that during the static flickers while staring...
  • Ben: Great analysis. During the lab sequence in the Prey intro, you were looking around for tells that Morgan is in a...
  • RoboLeg: this game would be PERFECT for mobile, and I’d happily pay 10 bucks or so for it.
  • Jepp: 1) Please keep critiquing games by building new ones :) 2) The non-hand holding, simple systems integrating...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • 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 [...]