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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

The Life And Inevitable Death Of Bloopi

Every year I fall for one April Fool, usually on April the 2nd because the internet has undermined the transience and therefore the entire freaking point of the day. This year it was this awesome hoax by Braid artist and A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible hero David Hellman.

Curse you, David Hellman! Your pictures were so alluring that I skipped the highly suspicious intro paragraph and totally sent the link to Tim before I realised it was a big pile of fat blue lies!

Check also out what happened in Guild Wars, if you missed it in my Flickr box down there on the right.

J-man: Bloopi seems incredibly cool. I once had a friend like Bloopi but he tried to eat me. I had to-to... put him down.

David Hellman: Awesome, glad ya fell for it!

So what were you thinking when you thought it was real?

Maybe the opening paragraph should have been less suspicious...

Thanks for the link.

- David

Tom Francis: Honestly? I thought "Awesome! In your face, Jason Rohrer!" I know having a puzzle-solving companion would totally undermine Braid - all the best puzzles are the ones I would have given up on if I had the option.

But I'd skipped the intro para, so I thought this was a whole new chapter of the game where Bloopi is the defining mechanic, and maybe, like, you can rewind as much as you like, but he's rewind-immune and ages in real-time, so suddenly you don't have all the time in the world and there's an irreversible consequence to taking too long over a puzzle, or rewinding too much.

I'd also love it if there was a world where Tim (the Braid hero, not the PC Gamer deputy editor I sent the link to) starts to experience side-effects from time-manipulation, like the guys do in Primer. Nosebleeds, shitty handwriting.

PS. Holy shit, David Hellman is here!

Tom Francis: I also really liked the picture of Bloopi all happy because he's found a key. And the sudden sombreness in his expression in the first ageing pic.

J-man: It's actually quite sad... But the artwork is awesome.

Man Raised By Puffins: Hehe, the nipple tassels are a nice touch.