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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

Field Studies 6: The PC Gamer Sporecast

Update: I’m a complete fucking idiot. The image that was the whole freaking point of this post was still set to Private on my Flickr account, so I’m guessing no-one saw it. Here goes:


The PC Gamer Sporecast

If you’re playing Spore this weekend, I made a thing you can subscribe to to get awesome stuff showing up in your game. Sporecasts are hand-picked collections of content, and they’ll take priority over random stuff when Spore is populating the galaxy.

I don’t really gain anything from people subscribing to this – if it were fame, love and comments I were after, I’ve already got those by making a pathetic toaster as my first ever building.

Sporecasts are just a way for uncreatives like me to feel like they’re contributing to the Spore community. Unfortunately the tool for making them is terrible right now, and flat-out refuses to acknowledge the existence of most buildings, vehicles and spacecraft, so I’ll have to add some of my favourites of those later. This is also why the vast majority of Sporecasts out there are just three or four shit monsters.

Not in the PC Gamer Sporecast, or any Sporecast, because Spore’s Sporecaster sucks.

ZomBuster’s behatted Antlion is in there, and I ran into him at the Space stage yesterday. I struck up a trade route with their race, but then one of my allies – the moustache bananas – started invading Antlion worlds. Naturally, their whole race had to die. I roped an Antlion ship into helping me – they’re nasty black Piranhas in my game – and went on a rapid bombing run to systematically exterminate every city on every planet in their empire. They surrendered pretty early on – I’m playing as the Stompwings, who achieved Galactic God status long ago – but I kept on bombing. I’m not sure if I mentioned, but I really like bombing.

Tip: get the Shield module for your ship as early as possible. It’s not some shitty 20% defense for 10 seconds, it renders you completely invulnerable for several minutes, enough to lay waste to an entire planet.


Lack_26: Sounds awesome, getting it soon. Also, I quite like that toaster.

Little Green Man: Yeah I've ordered it from Play, along with an Eee 1000h and a mouse. Can't play Spore on the Eee, but apparently i can create creatures on it. Probably start playing on my desktop by Friday.

spuzman00: I'm becoming more and more convinced that I need this game.

Chijts: I agree, any game that let's you team up with sophisticated antlions to wipe out a race of moustache-wielding bananas gets my money.

Tux: That C18th antlion is perhaps the best thing I've ever seen on the internet.

Lack_26: We should do a sporecast of the people who post here's, creatures, that would be interesting.

James: Congrats on securing the name for the spore cast ahead of the PCG US guys, they yet again have to put up with "the REAL PCG sporecast", and it the way it should be considering that the uk version is the realer and thicker version of the 2. (and if you ask to me define "real", I will just shrug my shoulders)

Dante: Pentadact, would it be easier to share stuff if you created a PC Gamer account and had people add it as a buddy?

Slamhound: @Lack: Interesting proposal. Would top hats be mandatory on all creatures?

Tom Francis: The only drawback to that plan is that I would have to manually make all the most ingenious and meticulous creations on Sporepedia myself. It would be like Be Kind, Rewind for zombies, dragons and 1950's robots.

Put like that, of course, it's not a bad idea.

ZomBuster: My antlions finally got to the center (with a bazzilion grox after them) and found *censored*.

Now time to find Earth and forfill our destiny.

Kill freeman! ...0003550632

Tom Francis: Oh good God, that's the best, worst Spore creation I've ever seen. Definitely warrants an embed:

I'm idly searching for Earth, too. Keep meaning to look up on Wikipedia wherabouts we are in the galaxy and see if that helps. Just unlocked the ultimate interstellar drive, so I can go anywhere it's theoretically possible to go now.

Tom Francis: Yay, I think I've figured out how to make an updated post re-appear in the RSS feed. If this annoys you: oh well.

Dante: Ah right, I assumed it'd share anything dropped in your 'my creations' folder.

Zeno Cosini: Man, Spore and month-old babies are mighty hard to reconcile. I'm trying my best, though. My loyalties are divided between my squealing realword progeny and my tribe of hooved scorpions.

Mr. Brit: Dear God! That picture! I now /b/need/b/ Spore!!

Mr. Brit: Yeah, I should have realised my /b/ wouldn't work....

Man Raised By Puffins: @ Zombuster: You'll need to deal with his crowbar first.

ZomBuster: That image worked fine for me

J-man: Off topic; saw 'In Bruges' on a plane back to Heathrow form JFK. Fuckin' excellent.

Plan B was fantastic as well, I'm gonna go buy GalCiv.

audiman: Off topic: are there any differences between Gal Civ 2 on Stardock's website and the Gal Civ 2 Endless Universe release.

Tom Francis: Endless Universe includes the two expansions, which are strongly recommended.

DiscountNinja: I must say Mr. Francis, both articles on Gal Civ 2 have actually motivated me into first (many moons ago, when your Spectres of Agony were crushing the universe under their lucky feet) downloading a demo.

No sooner had I read up to day 4 of Plan B I had purchased and downloaded Gal Civ 2 and both the expansions from Stardock :D

So thank you :D

Tom Francis: Hurrah! Plan B: selling far more copies of GalCiv than of PC Gamer.

The_B: So when will you be upping sticks and becoming Stardock's PR guy?

Ludo: Nyoooo, don't do that! Think of the children! And the James readers! And the PCG readers! And that kid who wrote the letter you read out on the PCG podcast!

I can see Tom joining Valve, then two months later the next TF2 update would come out and the Spy would be two hundred feet tall shooting lazers out of his eyes. Fun times.

J-Man: You have it all wrong, Ludo. The Spy will just be able to shoot while invisible, facestab, he'll get a silenced scattergun instead of the pistol and engies won't be able to knock off his sappers. Duh.

Ludo: Of course! Facestabbing in the face: a devastating strategy. I also forgot the part where the spy would get sappers he could put on other players which SAPS THEIR SOULS

J-Man: And if he saps 3 or more players in one life, he feeds off their souls to make himself invincible for the rest of the round.

Ludo: Then Meet the Spy will come out, which will be a live action drama in which Tom Francis plays the spy, it'd be shot in grainy monotone, with film noir stylings and Miles Davis on the soundtrack. At the end the spy would remove his mask to reveal that HE IS THE G-MAN!

J-Man: And the G-Man is played by Ralph Fiennes from In Bruges! GENIUS!

And of course, the pyro will lose his flamethrower, the taunt for that being replaced by kneeling on the floor, begging for mercy from the spy.

I wonder if Tom reads this.

Valve: Ludo and J-man,

If by some freak event we have hired you, you are now fired. If we have not, then please do not apply for any positions, we know who you are and we know where you live.

The Valve is always watching.

Over and out.

Ludo: I regret nothing!

Tom Francis: You two have gone wrong.

Ledundead: Spy's sappin' mah will to live!

Anyway, Day 13 of Plan B isn't up yet for me. What's up with that?

J-Man: You just can't handle the truth, Tom!

Rob: I bought Spore and I wish I could play it - well I have, upto a bit of Tribal - but the trouble is that anti-aliasing is completely broken on (most if not all) ATI graphics cards. It makes the terrain go funky.

I want to like the game, but a game that doesn't have native anti-aliasing and won't let me force it is plain rubbish, really.

EA are doing nothing about this as you would expect :(

Rob: edit: meant to add relevant link:
http://forums.electr... ...ost5705771

Oh, and thanks for the sporecasts anyway, those creatures have been popping up now and again, and also annoying people on another forum because silly creatures are ruling their universes :)

Tom Francis: Heh, which forum?

I play without anti-aliasing, by the way. Never looked into turning it on, it doesn't bother me.

It does bother me a little that even if you play full-screen, you can't set Spore to a res higher than your desktop one.

Rob: Yeah I should really just play without AA but I'm a pedant like that.

The forum'd be the Something Awful forums. I can't find the link but someone posted a few times that he'd added the Sporecast and then a few hours later 'these bastards have taken over my galaxy!' With all his colonies getting constantly attacked.

ZomBuster: I saw you got the Spore fan achievement. Haven't got it yet but it won't be long lookng at the crazy amount of time Spore consumes.

23:00 : annoying empire annoys me, time to die.

1:00 : just the homeplanet left..

2:20 : Finally!

Tom Francis: The sad thing is, this is the second time I've got it.

The_B: Your Stompwings are causing me endless grief. Damn you and your competent God like powers.

Thomas Lawrence: Finally caved and bought the game, as my reservations about it's qualities as a actual game were overcome by my desire to see deformed sniper rifles battle giant chairs.

Thomas Lawrence: Is it really, truly the case that the only way to get the Spore patch is to install the EA downloader-majig? Because I used that program once before, and it was filled with pain and torment.

Tom Francis: Nope - they do claim that, but even on their official patch page there's a link at the bottom to just download the freaking file and skip the freaking middleware.

Thomas Lawrence: Oh thank Bob for that. The thought of installing EA's download manager made me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon.

Thomas Lawrence: Woe! The patch complains I have insufficient disk space, when in fact I have ample disk space!

ZomBuster: Have you seen the new expansion already?
"Galactic Adventures"

It looks pretty cool.

Tom Francis: Craig's seen it - everything I've heard sounds like exactly what I want them to do with it. Namely, actually advance the game rather than trying to make more content for it.

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