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TOM FRANCIS
REGRETS THIS ALREADY

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.

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By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

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

Fallout Girl: The Road To Tenpenny Towers

Previously, on Fallout Girl. This post contains Tenpenny Towers spoilers.

Fallout3 2008-11-06 08-21-34-70

There isn’t one. There’s a cracked blasted rockscape crawling with spitting bloatflies, ravenous hounds and mutant scorpions. It took me the entire freaking night to cross it, so when I arrived at dawn and found someone ahead of me in the queue to get in, I stoved his head in with a tire iron and took over the intercom. Yes, hello, I’m here to see your boss.

I was delighted to find Tenpenny an insular society of bigots, a place oblivious to the suffering of others. I wasn’t wild about Megaton, but the Wasteland was even worse, so I was glad to find a place that had nothing to do with either. I bought a dress only mildly stained with the blood of the dead, a magnificent bonnet to shade my emotionless murderer’s eyes, then pickpocketed my money back and headed up to the penthouse for some light genocide.

On the balcony, I was presented with a big, shiny red button. I gave it a tentative prod.

Fallout Girl

And now we are all sons of bitches.

Actually I guess we’ve been sons of bitches for about two-hundred years at the point Fallout 3 is set. We’re great great great great grandsons of bitches.

This felt like the most destructive thing I’ve ever done in a videogame. I’ve killed billions in DEFCON, but they weren’t unique people things. Megaton is full of carefully crafted stories, characters, homes, secrets, even a whole religion found nowhere else. And less than an hour after I first set eyes on it, it was ash.

It’s probably not much consolation to the citizens of Megaton, but I got a sweet penthouse apartment out of the deal. I picked out a new outfit, had my housebot make me a blond, and bought a house theme: Love Machine.

Fallout3 2008-11-01 17-01-40-32

Fallout3 2008-11-01 17-01-31-32

Oh dear God, it’s like a disastrous episode of a post-apocalyptic Changing Rooms. But the nightwear that comes with the heart-shaped bed does go well with my welding mask.

Fallout3 2008-11-01 17-06-08-96

Dressed and rested, I headed back out to the balcony to join Alistair Tenpenny for an afternoon of shooting poor people from our ivory tower.

Fallout3 2008-11-01 13-32-58-62

And I was all set to live a long, peaceful and sheltered life at Tenpenny Tower, until I noticed Tenpenny had a better Sniper Rifle than me.

More , ,

Roadrunner: Is there an alternative main quest/storyline if you choose not to blow up Megaton?

MaybeNextTime: I massacred everyone in Tenpenny Tower (I couldn't open the door to let the ghouls in, OK?) before blowing up Megaton and getting my penthouse apartment. So, no heart shaped bed for me. I certainly learned my lesson. Well, actually I killed Mr. Burke and dropped his body off the balcony, and my character wears his sunglasses to this day. I learned *a* lesson. Probably.

Jace: Megaton is hardly essential to the main quest. There's one point where you get some information there, and if you don't get that before you nuke them, you can find out what to do after a bit of exploration.

J-Man: Why is Megaton talked about so much when anyone brings up Fallout 3?

Bret: Because you can kill a city full of innocent people with an atomic bomb?

A city filled with sidequests and stuff?

Seriously, that's pretty cool.

Jon Baker: Oh man, it's stories like this one that make me really want to love this game so much. But my freaking toaster of a laptop can't play this but on the lowest of settings.

Can't see a walking, mutant harbringer of death until it was within spitting of my character? Yeah, that gets old fast...

I can't wait to upgrade to a proper gaming desktop.

ZomBuster: I love those cliffhangers of yours

I bet the next step is the naked body of an old man dropping 200 feet.

Roadrunner: You edited my comment! You big...big jerk! (This comment is probably going to get deleted, isn't it?)

Tom Francis: I did. You were boring me.

I don't mind most forms of trolling, but I don't want this place to be boring, so if you repeat yourself I'm going to snip it.

Rei Onryou: I enjoy these updates, since they're basically the anti-me. I can't wait to play the anti-me, once I'm doing being the anti-anti-me.

How'd you get the screenshots of your character from the front? I've embarassingly not found a way to move the camera from behind my character yet...

Roadrunner: Fair enough, I will not ware comments horribly into the ground. But I retain my right to trolling. On the other hand I don't class it as trolling; more like irrelevent comments with no purpose. Trolling tends to have poor grammar.

But back on the subject: I know FO3 has replay value, but is it the kind of Far Cry 2 replay value where you can start a campaign again but in a different way, or proper replay value where you can play with your same guy, upgrading bits and pieces etc?

MaybeNextTime: @Rei Onryou:

You can hold down the mouse wheel to move the camera around your character, or you can type 'tfc' into the console to toggle a completely free camera on.

LaZodiac: I have to admit, the evil path seems like its fun. Can't wait for the next installment.

Newt Pulsifer: Oh, my! Awesome pictures!!
Your character seems almost like a Nikita! :P
Can't wait for the next!

x25killa: The glow, the wonderful glow! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH

Keep up the good work Pentadact, shall be waiting for the next installment.

DibbityDan: @Roadrunner

I wouldn't say Far Cry 2 has much replay value, though I guess you're referring to keeping different friends in-game? Fallout 3 has pretty much both those; you can take different paths (basically just good or evil... I chose good but it looks like much more fun to play evil) and you also have stats that make a noticeable change to gameplay if you upgrade different sections.

Velvet Fist, Iron Glove: Megaton, a city? No, a tiny collection of ramshackle huts, filled with boring people who want you to do mundane tasks for them that they can't be bothered with.

Nuking it is the kind thing to do.

Ludo: There's actually a lot of extensive questlines that you can do in Megaton, including one of the longest in the game - the Survivor's Guide to the Wasteland, as well as alternative accomodation and a ton of other stuff.

Essentially, blowing up Megaton is a really big deal, and it's incredibly gutsy to give the player the opportunity to just vanquish it on a whim.

Me and my firend Dante have been playing it back to back in the same room, and we have had completely different experiences of the game. I'm really loathe to announce specifics, as Tom will probably cover them in his future posts, but there's some great choices to be made in Tenpenny Towers once you've blown up Megaton. If you haven't been convinced already I'd recommend giving allout 3 a go, it's marvellous.

Alek: I play F3 too much, as you'll be able to tell by my next comments -.-

@Maybenexttime: If you let the ghouls in for some reason, they'll assume the roles of the people you had killed, for the most part. I could still buy themes for my suite after I had killed all the human residents and let the ghouls in because a ghoul took the position.

@Ludo: Well, not exactly. Moira Brown *spoilers spoilers spoilers* turns into a ghoul; you can find her in the Underworld and still complete the guide. If you already knew, disregard that >_

Jazmeister: Velvet Fist, Iron Glove is a great name, because it means someone else was watching the History of Scotland on monday. Not only that, they're intelligent.

Bethesda were faced with a challenge: Every time someone plays fallout, they're gonna get someone different. Not a different world, but a different life in that world, a new story.

Megaton is probably the least subtle of the many attempts to force a split in player experience. Depending on which trouser leg you go down, you could be like "Yeah, I finally got the Hamburger of Thor from that old lady in Megaton," and the evil geniuses out there howl, "What!?". They do it with other quests, so I've read. Oh god, is it horrible I'm being so knowledgeable about a game I haven't played?

I guess what I'm saying is, this is a good use of the "moral choice". It's not that I don't care what my character is or does, just that all paths are equal to me in a game. I'm just as likely to save the younglings as kill them, it's just a puppet show after all. It follows that, rather than weight each choice with moral fluff, I enjoy it more when the weight is one of intrigue. Maybe all choices in Fallout 3 are more interesting. And who would care if you blew up a city with no quests?

Jackrabbit: A better sniper? ominous.

HyperKUltra: NEVER have a better weapon than someone in your presence who will kill you for it.

Jazmeister: Unless you want to kill them with it.

Ludo: @Alek - awesome, I didn't know that, thanks!

Due to an unfortunate series of events I’ve become homeless in FA3 – which is fine but the post-apocalyptic Freddie Mercury with goggles look which was initially so hilarious is wearing thin and as all the servant robots I’ve had have died horribly I’ve actually been spending my free time searching the wastes for a hairdresser.

Tom Francis: Servant robots! My new good-guy character is having real trouble finding a worthwile companion, all the ones I know are either bad-karma only (Charon, Clover, Jericho) or useless (Dogmeat). But now that you mention it I remember finding a robot salesman with my evil girl who wouldn't let me buy his one available model because it didn't like the look of me. By look I'm going to assume it meant karma.

Itrade: Ludo, just follow the metro line to central metro station and then head south, you'll find museum station. Then you just go out and you'll be at the mall. Find the Museum of History, enter underworld, and find the ghoul there who'll cut your hair for free.

Ben Abraham: KILL THE OLD MAN!

TAKE HIS RIFLE!

PROFIT!!!

Ludo: Thanks Itrade. I'm going to use the hairdresser's incredible talent for making your hair grow instantaneously to get me a glorious folk beard. I like to think they use VATS to cut your hair.

Tuuvan: That's a scary thought Ludo. If there is a 94% chance they'll trim my sideburns correctly, then that means 6 out of every 100 haircuts I'll lose an ear. A posh Vault-dweller such as I can hardly afford to look like some common wastelander.

Alek: @Pentadact: That follower robot will only follow you if you have neutral karma. Took me forever to figure that one out.

I am in a helpful mood this week.

LordNuts: @Pentadact - I'm guessing that that robot is only for people with neutral karma. I tried buying it (I'm playing a good character at the moment) and the salesman said it didn't like my personality...

Jazmeister: @Myself

"And who would care if you blew up a city with no quests?"

I am a bad person.

Tom Francis: Interesting, thanks for the info chaps. I'm just going rip people's legs off with my giant claw and eat their intestines until I've undone all my good deeds, then.

Bret: Yeah, cannibalism is probably the best way to neutral karma. Especially if you just eat raiders.

I thought Charon was karma irrelevant. At least I read that somewhere.

LaZodiac: @ Pentadact: Giant claw? Are you doing to show us this giant claw?

Chris Livingston: There's also a Super Mutant companion I couldn't get to follow me since my karma was so low. This was pretty late in the main quest, though.

HyperKUltra: I wish i had Fallout 3... HOORAJ FOR CHRISTMAS!

J-Man: @Roadrunner,

I see you've finally received your comeuppance! Spiffing, eh readers?

Brian the C: @ Pentadact

Charon? I thought he joins regardless of Karma.

Try looking in the Citadel. There's some chick there who will join you.

Dante: @ Pentadact

Good players get shafted a bit unfortunately, as they have to advance the main plot in order to get access to any followers who aren't Dogmeat (The first one turns up when you get into the Citadel for the first time) whereas evil bastards can hire someone in the very first bloody town.

Your best bet is lowering your Karma till the (neutral) Robot finds you acceptable (the other neutral character is also only accessible after you've advanced the main plot far enough). You could hire Charon, who doesn't give a damn about Karma, but that involves having a decent barter skill/a lot of money or killing an innocent woman.

Being good is tough, but when you eventually get a follower, they will be hard as fucking nails.

Roadrunner: @ J-Man rich coming from you, minister of deletion and rejection of human contact/communication.

(and in my trademarked way) ....:D

MaybeNextTime: I've grown strangely attached to Dogmeat, actually. Yes, he's pretty much useless in combat and I keep accidentally shooting him in the back of the head, but I find it less irritating when Dogmeat does something stupid than when the human companions do; after all, he's only a dog. It's quite endearing how determined he is to help. And I almost always make my evil RPG characters have one character that they're genuinely nice to, I think it makes for a better story.

Itrade: I made a bunch of superlong comments on 1Fort because everytime I make a superlong comment, Chris updates his site. It workeed, and minutes later a new post was up. Unfortunately, this meant that my comments went largely ignored. So I'm reposting them again here! If I'm lucky (Or unlucky, depending on how you look at it), these comments make get James updated, too. Fingers crossed!

Just like in 1Fort, each part of the story has a picture connected to it. That picture is the link in my name. As long as double posting (And triple and quadruple posting and so forth) is allowed on this blog, the format should be exactly the same as on the 1Fort comments.

Here we go, children:
So I went to Tenpenny Towers after getting the keys from Dukov and Ted. All I had to do was kill Tenpenny and then I was done with You Gotta Shoot ‘Em In The Head. I also wanted to let the ghouls in, so as I had stated before, it was a delicate matter. Everything had to be done in order, but in the end it was all worth it.

As I approached the tower I changed out of my combat attire and into Zimmer’s Grimy Business Suit, Burke’s Tortoiseshell glasses and my Shady Hat. I watched Roy get verbally thrashed then lied my way into the towers.

First I talked to the chief of security and got him to tell me about the ghouls. I told him I was gonna solve things diplomatically. Then I went down to the Roy and told him about the Towers. He was skeptical when he heard that I was going to try and convince the residents to let the ghouls in, but he agreed. I went up to Tenpenny and he told me the names of a few bigots that I had to persuade. I also chatted with him about Megaton and was surprised at how, um, un-evil he seemed about the whole thing. A bit senile, sure, but not too malicious or anything.

Anyway, off I went with my list. I persuaded Susan first, and she went up to Burke’s suite to stay. As she left her room I nicked her Resident’s Key in case I would need it in the future. Next I went to that Wellingtons. I persuaded them both, but the wife was a bit of a bitch about it. After that I moved on to the store owners, and they agreed to let the ghouls stay, too. So my list was complete.

While I was making my rounds I decided to visit one of my heroes, Herbert “Daring” Dashwood. We chatted a bit and I promised I’d find Argyle, then I read his terminal to see the information he had gathered during his adventures. I made a note to head for Rockopolis at my next opportunity. On my way out I dropped off some cartons of cigarettes in his mailbox. It’s a rather unhealthy gift, but I think he would appreciate it.

I went up to Tenpenny and told him that the bigots were dealt with and the ghouls could move in now. He was delighted and gave me 500 caps. Again, I didn’t see what was so evil about him. But business was business, so after I took my reward I snuck up behind him, pulled out Burke’s silenced pistol which I had aquired nearly two months earlier, and did what I had to do (And what I had to do was Shoot ‘Em In The Head).

Itrade: After looting his body I decided on a whim to throw it off the building. The result was so wonderful I decided to not load and instead just leave it as it was. Wasteland justice, as Simms would say.

I snuck out of his room and crept up behind his personal security guard. I slipped a frag grenade in his pocket and ran for cover. His legs blew off in a lovely explosion. After checking to ensure that Susan was alright in Burke’s suite (I still have to enslave her later, remember?), I looted his body and went on downstairs.

As I left the building I again changed into my wasteland gear and moved to admire my handiwork. Tenpenny fell down from up there

Itrade: And ended up down here.

Itrade: After a bit of snickering, I made my way through the metro tunnels until I met Roy. I told him he and his ghoul friends could move in. He thanked me and gave me a ghoul mask. Then he turned his back on me, which was a rather fatal mistake on his part. I slipped on a stealth boy then slipped a frag grenade in his pants. He started flailing about and ran towards his bodyguard, blowing them both up in a shower of blood and body parts. I happily looted his body and went along my way.

I reached the towers again and put on businesswear. After verifying that the ghouls and humans were living in harmony, I decided to make sure once and for all that it was understood that ghouls and humans were equal, and hired Tenpenny Towers’ first ghoul security guard.

Itrade: Satisfied with a job well done, I returned to Megaton to chillax.

Final picture:
Me (Jake Storm, distant alternate dimension ancestor of my Oblivion character Jake Stormcloud) in businesswear and Charon, my stalwart ghoul manservant.

Alek: @Dante: Getting to neutral could be.. difficult. Blowing up megaton puts you at the LOWEST possible karma.

@Ltrade: Nice tale.

Dante: @ Ltrade

You might have a little bit of trouble there. There's something that happens if you complete Tenpenny Towers the 'good' way. Something that might make it hard to enslave Susan in future.

Killing Roy might have changed that though, I'd nip back there just in case.

Itrade: Haha Dante, the entire reason I killed Roy was to avoid "that" from happening. When I returned later his body was in the middle of the foyer and the ghouls and humans were shuffling around like it didn't matter. I guess someone decided that since he worked so hard in life to get in, it's only fair that his corpse at least should get there. His detached leg was lying next to him, too, so that was fairly disturbing.

I dragged him along and dumped him in a corner with a shrub and chucked his leg next to him. Then I went off to steal the Declaration of Independence.

When I was done creating a forgery and telling a robot who thought he was the second signer to keep guard of the real document (Which I had wanted to stash in my house but couldn't because it's a quest item and quest items can't be dropped) and almost crying after revealing the fate of Sydney's father to her (but not actually crying because I'm too manly for that), I visited Rockopolis to find out what happened to Argyle. I returned to the Towers to deliver the news to Herbert "Daring" Dashwood. However, when I arrived, things seemed awfully quiet. The gate was open, which was pretty omnious, but things got worse when I got inside. The lobby was empty. The suites were empty. The penthouse was empty. Tenpenny's head wasn't even on the balcony anymore!

The only sign of life was Roy's body in the corner of the lobby, still stashed out of site in the shrub. I decided to investigate the basement. When I opened the door, my worst fears were confirmed. A lone feral ghoul was there, screaming at me. I punched it to death in my suit. I found no bodies there, though.

So now Tenpenny Towers is devoid of humans and ghouls, and the safes are pretty empty now, too. I decided to take it in stride, however, and went along. It's not too much of a tragedy anyway. Sad thing about Herbert, but I bet he vanished fighting. My only regret is he never knew what happened to Argyle.

After that incident I went to underworld and turned in my keys to Mr. Crowley. I followed him outside and dispatched him in the way he had wanted me to dispatch the "bigots". Then I took my keys back and put his body someplace suitable. (See link in name)

Dante: This ought to let you drop quest items.

http://www.fallout3n... ...php?id=739

Snow: Dog meat is awesome! When I first found him i had him pick up the same Chinese pistol several times because it was awesome. Also how come when (spoilers) Charon kills his owner there isn't like 2000 on the corpse for the taking? would rather break the cost i guess but it would be pretty funny anyway.
Evil player: To get Charon i had to murder some woman.
Good player: I just had to give some guy a bunch of money then pick it up off the corpse 20 seconds later.
Has everyone found Stockholm? Super secret character in megaton if you talk to him he has a pretty funny line too.

Alexander: Interesting, I got that same sniper rifle by doing the Wasteland Survival Guide quest in Minefield. Of course, you can't do that quest now, MURDERER!

LaZodiac: @Alexander: Awe, don't worry. He can get it still. Either kill the old man (which I assume Pentadact shall do) or do the quest with the ghoul turned person that gives that quest.

Trithemius: Getting good karma companions seem more closely tied to the plot than the evil karma companions (i.e. you have to advanced things to certain points to be able to get to 'em). Neutral karma companions are 50/50 (well 66/33).

Good karma Lone Wanderers can look forward to Grace Jones in Powered Armour though!

sotonrich: You can still do the Wasteland Survival Guide quest even if you blow up Megaton. Moria survives the blast (I know...WTF...a shotgun in the face will kill her but a nuke in the face won't????) and moves to Underworld with her newly burnt off face.

Jazmeister: @sotonrich: She isn't in megaton, she's nearby and gets showered with radiation.

I didn't think the nuke was terrifying enough, nor were there enough consequences for it. The rads are pretty light for that whole area, considering. If not Fallout 3, then what game has the balls to show the horror of a nuke?

Jason L: Um, CoD4?

Fallout Girl: Little Lamplight - a post on Tom Francis' blog: […] The Road To Tenpenny: “I bought a dress only mildly stained with the blood of the dead, a magnificent bonnet to […]

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