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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.

  • html color: This is the information I am looking for. This article is clear and easy to understand. I’m...
  • 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...
  • 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

    Vote Tom Francis In The Games Media Awards

    Holy shit, apparently I’m a finalist in the Games Media Award for Best Specialist Games Writer – Print. The winner’s decided solely by votes, and “Voting is open to all MCV readers”, so just by reading that sentence I quoted from MCV, you qualify. If you want to be extra-qualified, go and read for a sec, then vote (


    You can also vote for PC Gamer for Best Games Magazine, and a bunch of PC Gamer contributors who apparently call themselves Rock Paper Shotgun these days, for Best Games Website. In fact, you could vote for the whole of Team Awesome, as we’re called when we fight crime together on the streets of Bath at night.


    If you actually want to read something I wrote for PC Gamer, I reported on those virtual assassins, kept a war diary, failed monumentally at Football Manager, and investigated the effectiveness of awkward flirting in MMORPGs. The SWAT 4 movie script I wrote here was also used in the mag.

    The other finalists in my category are Rick Porter, who has long hair and one of those not-quite-a-moustache moustaches, Joel Snape who must work right next to me but I can’t remember which one he is, Jon Blyth, who once killed a seventy-two year-old man right in front of me for no reason, Ben Talbot who I don’t know at all, and Alex Wiltshire, who is lovely but works anonymously for the Edge collective, so it’s impossible to actually know what he wrote. Except when you’re both reviewing the same game and he WILDLY OVER-RATES IT and you don’t.

    Also, they all just e-mailed me to say they think you’re a jive sucker. They told me not to tell you they said that, but I thought you should know.

    Octaeder: Congrats on the nomination - Just put my vote in.

    Tom Francis: Awesome, thanks! If I win, everyone gets a free flying walrus.

    John W: I'd congratulate you, if I weren't too busy being pompous about my own quarter of a piece of a nomination.

    Ludo: Congrats Penta, much deserved. I remember the GalCiv2 diary being one of the first things of yours I read and thought 'this is awesome, I should really check who wrote it', which in turn got be back into Gamer. One subscription later and the peices are still great!

    And that picture of David Hasselhof is still genuinely disturbing.

    The_B: Congratulations on the nomination Tom. I too am about to send my nominations.

    And Crime On The Streets of Bath also called. He said you guys are pussies.

    ImperialCreed: Jive sucker!? That's it...

    Consider yourself +1 vote Tom. Best of luck. Tbh, you deserve to win for the GalCiv diary alone.

    Chris Livingston: Congrats, Tom! You've already won in my book.

    However, if you don't *actually* win I'll never talk to you again. I only talk to winners.

    Lack_26: Congratulations, you deserve to win.

    Seniath: I'll be voting as soon as I can get at my email account (which should be tomorrow, assuming Virgin Media play fair and actually show up to sort my connection). Bloody work blocking Hotmail.

    J-man: Tom Francis ftw!

    J-man: Just voted, gave you, Rock Paper Shotgun and PC Gamer my vote. Also, where's John Walker in those awards? Huh? HUH?!

    Iain "DDude" Dawson: Congratulations. The Gal Civ diary was one of the best things ever on the internet, and you are clearly one of the best reviewers in PCG. You are able to be both informative and funny. Thank you for the Oblivion review especially. It really is good to be able to read the typrings of someone such as yourself. Best of luck for the win.

    Sam: That article about EVE made me order it!

    audiman: Nice work, any word if PC Gamer's own Rachel Weber has been nominated for worst specialist games writer (print)? I'd vote for her.

    Lack_26: I just read the Gal. Civ article, OMG, I can't believe that I haven't read that before. Here, take you prize and ascend to God-hood with your space bunnies.

    Tom Francis: Thanks a lot, everyone. You are all lovely. Except Audiman, who is surprisingly harsh. But probably a decent, upstanding gentleman in his own harsh way.

    There will be good news for anyone who liked the GalCiv diary next week.

    ImperialCreed: Will it be the GC book Edwards blabbed about on the forum?

    *crosses fingers*

    HoW Monty: "Nice work, any word if PC Gamer's own Rachel Weber has been nominated for worst specialist games writer (print)? I'd vote for her."

    Seconded. She has a horrible turn of phrase: "Flps like a mackeral in the electirc chair." Here that sound? that's my sides splitting.

    HoW Monty: *Flops

    Sam: I just read the GalCiv article and ordered that aswell!
    Damn you and your amazing articles making me buy stuff.

    Pod: The website is broke!
    and I don't mean James. Speaking of James: What about dates on the articles?

    In other news, I didn't know who you were at the time but I read the War Diary when it was first aided and rushed out* to buy GalCiv. Of course I'd already read things by you in PCG, etc etc blahblahblah.

    *Ok, stayed home and bought it from Stardock, whatever.

    Mr. Brit: You and PCGamer have my vote.

    Also when you did weapons for all the TF2 classes you mentioned a new way of earning them that you have yet to elaborate on. Are you likely to do that because I'd like too hear it.

    Tom Francis: You don't mean James? Which one is broke? I thought only James was broke. Slim Mode doesn't seem to be helping my CPU overload problems.

    Brit: It was something along the lines of repeatable achievements, like pushing the cart 20m in a round, taking out a Sentry that's killed more than five of your team-mates, killing a Demoman who has Stickies on the cap. Special accomplishments that the player should be rewarded for every time he does them. You would need more of these than you do Achievements, because you could get the same one a few times, but it would mean you didn't have to Uber a Scout or burn X Snipers if that isn't how you like to play.

    Pod: Pentadactyl*: It's ok! MCV is no longer broke and I voted and /everything/.

    *Make a spoke creature theme'd on this. I demand it.

    J-man: Man, that GalCiv diary was great! Perhaps I'll do one like that in Mass Effect...

    Jason L: Pod, the Horncrested Bristlefrog is that creature. Per James 1.0, 'Pentadact' comes from frogs - Google says probably leptodactylus pentadactylus, whose fingers Linnaeus really, really fancies.

    Tom Francis: "As the largest of the neotropical frogs, the muscular
    L. pentadactylus preys on other frog species and is largely
    left alone by predators due to a toxic skin secretion."

    Story of my life.

    I still haven't really made a Pentadact creature. Spore itself sort of got in the way of my tinkering towards something I liked as an avatar: in the full game, you only have access to a handful of parts you've found, and only the best of those are really viable.

    I remember as a kid trying to reconcile my love of frogs with my love of cool-monsters-that-look-awesome on a sketchpad - and failing. Spore ought to be the perfect tool for that, but making stuff in the Creature Creator feels a bit irrelevant knowing you can't play as them at the Creature stage of the game.

    Chris Evans: Well I shall indeed put my vote in for you Tom, and for Gamer and for the guys at RPS :D

    Can't wait for the new GalCiv2 diary :D

    Best of luck in the awards.

    TooNu: Hey, I have read and reread last years blog and this years blog is also looking damn awesome also. I did place my vote BUT you get my vote purely based on your love for Deus Ex :)

    Jason L: BTW, it looks like our RPS is all grown up - 'exclusive' reviews of World of Goo? 'Exclusive' interviews with ACE Team? It's exactly what I wanted, but no marketing guy is gnashing his teeth. Exclusive hands-on with L4D2 when every games journalist in the world is in the neighbourhood? That's pretty impressive.

    Betty: Wow! Great to find a post konkicng my socks off!