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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.

Theme

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

    Extra Mirror’s Edge Levels Blocky, Unrealistic

    And Indecently Gorgeous

    They’re time-trial levels, where you can race against your own or presumably other people’s ghosts to complete them as quickly as possible. That’s where they evidently think the longevity will be, rather than in extending the plot episodically. But I’m not sure speed-running is for me.

    The main basis for my excitement over Mirror’s Edge, apart from the fantastic art, is N. It’s absurdly difficult and endlessly frustrating, but you can retry quickly and there’s enormous scope for finesse. It seems like Mirror’s Edge has a similar process, but I hope speed isn’t the only type of finesse it permits. I never enjoyed trying to maximise my time remaining in N, or speed-run any other game. It was purely about elegance and style.

    41735_MirrorsEdgeTTDLC-06

    I tried a speed-run of the first level of Deus Ex once. It went so badly that I actually lost my left leg before I got inside the statue, and I still beat the contemporary fastest time on the Speed Demo Archive.

    The bar’s risen quite a bit since then, thankfully, and there’s now a magnificently clever 43 minute run. It turns out grenade-jumping in Deus Ex doesn’t mean what it means in other games, and nano-augmented bunny-hopping is a thing of curious elegance.

    This guy has a spectacular way of exiting Maggie Chow’s penthouse suite at maximum speed, never bothers to get his Kill Switch removed, gasses most of UNATCO to get them to open doors for him in their panic, stabs Tracer Tong to shut him up, assassinates Tiffany Savage to save time rescuing her, and pulls off the most laughably improbable escape from the swiftly scuttled Wallcloud. Deus Ex had scope for finesse.

    Update: He also survives the most awkward lift ride ever, and there’s something of a surprise ending. I accidentally the whole thing.

    Hupdate: Direct download of the super-crisp high quality version of that Mirror’s Edge clip for aesthetes.

    More

    Bobic: That looks epic. I always used to think about how cool it would be if games didn't make realistic maps, and now they're finally doing it.
    I'm ignoring zen, because it sucked

    SenatorPalpatine: That awesomeness makes me reconsider my decision not to get Mirror's Edge. Awesome looking, and good comparison with N. (Have you played N+? Very fun) They should have made Mirror's Edge a game of just that sort of thing, without any combat.

    Jonas: Hahah yes, that is a very spectacular speed run. I especially love the point where he approaches the Paris Cathedral, randomly fires a rocket towards the upper parts of it for no immediately apparent reason, then later reveals that the rocket blew something open that he needed to move through.

    I also love how he uses Deus Ex's shonky physics to move THROUGH WALLS. Or how he fires a GEP missile THROUGH the rocket hatch in the nuclear silo at such an angle as to precisely blow up Howard Strong, completing the mission without ever entering the silo proper.

    In fact it's generally just really equilibristic.

    Rei Onryou: Those extra levels look interesting, but I still stand by my point that Mirror's Edge isn't much more than a glorified tech demo of how movement can be implemented in future games. No more 3ft walls blocking your path! Better level design! I still want to give the PC version a go mind you...

    Anonymous: A glorified tech demo with a great theme song.

    Craig Laycock: The chap responsible for that Deus Ex video is an outright genius. Fantastic, and pretty funny to boot! I had no idea you'd even be allowed to continue the game after doing that stuff. The first level was an amazing bit of corner-cutting.

    Anonymous: You accidentally what? What did you do? Are you all right?

    Bobic: I'm telling you, I accidentally the whole bottle!

    Lack_26: I'll be buying it, it looks fun and I'm sure I'll get some enjoyment form it. Also, N is not fun... it's just insanely good.

    roBurky: Jesus. I just started trying to make my own first 3D game level, and that Mirror's Edge video has just made me feel incredibly inadequate.

    Dante: Couple of things about Mirror's Edge:

    1: I am absolutely awful at platforming games, laughably bad, yet I don't find it difficult or frustrating. I don't know why everyone else does.

    2: I'm not surprised they aren't extending the story, most of it is bolted on at the last minute and squeezed into these horribly animated 2d cutscenes, best avoided.

    3: I've never cared for time trials, speed runs or racing, but I like time trials on Mirror's Edge, why? Because it's about elegance, conservation of momentum and most importantly finding short cuts. Precise running is only really required when you're trying to take on the record.

    4: It's probably best played with a pad. I ended up getting it on console for that very reason, but at least a PC version will cut down on loading.

    Dave_C: Wow! I've started replaying Deus Ex recently... it's taken me weeks just to reach the Vandenberg base. It's really a game best taken slowly and thoughtfully, which is what makes this speedrun so damn hilarious. I had no idea it was possible to completely ignore main objectives.

    His use of the cigarettes for instant death after talking to the injured Paul is genius.

    Chijts: I've noticed recently that Pentadact and Chris update their sites almost at the same kinda time.

    Coincidence, or something more?..

    peterd102: Woah!

    sum: @Chijts

    its a conspiracy

    Roadrunner: I like the style of the graphics, but i'm still not really feeling the gameplay.
    From that video it just looks like you run around :\
    Maybe i'm missing something, but hopefully they'll release a demo.

    Jazmeister: I'd gamble £30 on it. I desperately need:

    1) new gameplay
    2) to play as a girl
    3) pretty graphics

    That speed run is good family viewing.

    Hoborg: Maybe I'm just being thick, but how the hell does that Deus Ex dude skip the entire first mission? Don't have time to watch any further in right now but I definitely will later. Genius stuff.

    Tom Francis: Convergence of a few quirks of the way Deus Ex works: the post-mission debriefs aren't actually dependent on the mission being completed, they just don't let you inside the HQ until you've done it. And gas grenades can create gas the other side of sealed doors. And gassed people run around in panic. And the UNATCO receptionist can open the front door if he happens to run that way.

    There's a lot I don't entirely understand in that run - I didn't even realise how he kills himself in Hell's Kitchen until Dave pointed it out - that's absolute gold.

    Bobic: I can't stop thinking about that mouse.
    Get out of there mouse.
    YOU DON'T BELONG THERE
    You could get stepped on

    peterd102: I just sat their watching the speed run, amazed, i got most of it, still cant work out his wall bypassing trick. Id love to know how the game reacts in the conversations, im still surprised it didn't crash. I still dont get the ending, mainly as I always did helios.

    Grandstone: Woah! The escape from the top of the MJ12 building in Hong Kong is fucking awesome!

    J-Man: On a side note, I'd like to thank Tom. Your first posts helped me write an essay on nietzsche.

    J-Man: also,

    holy shit, mirrors edge looks gorgeous, and the music is also awesome.

    definitely on my to buy list

    Devenger: That Deus Ex speedrun... heh heh heh. I never got past Hong Kong before I lost the will to play, and I played for weeks, so I'm shocked at just how much it's possible to NOT do. The funniest bits for me weren't when they were explicitly breaking game mechanics, like the gas grenades or dropping equipment before/after?? reaching the MJ12 cell, but when they just elegantly leapt, ran and occasionally sliced through what should be slow, tactical sections. Not the way to play it of course... but still awesome.

    If you liked the Deus Ex one, I recommend the 7.5 minutes Morrowind speedrun: http://www.youtube.c... ...038;fmt=18 - complete main quest skipping of course, but they do get the end video. Notice the diagonal running, Boots of Blinding Speed, and teleport scroll abuse.

    Dante: I have absolutely no idea what's going on in that Morrowind vid.

    Jazmeister: My only claim to smart-pantism is knowing about the keep-all-your-shit glitch in mj12. The best thing is, it'd sometimes replicate it in the armoury where they keep all that stuff.

    Man, is that a tired gaming cliche, or what? How many games have that in it? If it's done right, though, I could escape from prison all day.

    Tom Francis: Yeah, we covered that one in the mag when it first came out.

    There's a scripted event on a path near the starting town where a mage plummets from the sky, and he has on him two scrolls that spectacularly increase your jumping ability for just a second. The runner takes them, then uses a scroll that teleports you to the nearest temple, and from there uses one to jump halfway across the world to land precisely in front of a travelling adventurer who has another unique item: the Boots of Blinding Speed. The speed boost is enormous, but they literally do blind you. Luckily the blinding is a magical effect, whereas the speed is a straight stat boost, so by using a resist-magic spell (I think) he gets only the positive effect from donning them. The rest is all done with one-off scrolls, which he gets by killing the scroll-vendor in Ald'Ruhn and taking them, then using another temple-teleport to get out of there. Scrolls let even a level-one hero use super-powerful spells, and I think a luck boost is how he's able to kill high-level things with that cheapo axe.

    The previous record was fifteen minutes, by a guy who used a potion to boost his intelligence, which made him better at making potions, which let him make a better potion of intelligence, until he was the smartest alchemist in the universe, whereupon he made a few combat-boosting potions and pwned the half-God Dagoth Ur.

    It's funny how my favourite games are always the most exploitable.

    Bret: Probably because you like games with options, which tends to mean some guy will figure out how to break them entirely.

    Man Raised By Puffins: @ Dante: Yeah, spotting those alternate routes is a real joy. The time-trials are great to just dip into for half an hour or so to attack the 2-3 star times.

    Those new time-trial maps do look rather nice, shame they're somewhat overpriced. Mirror's Edge is already cutting it fine in terms of value for money without having to pay an extra £7 for a map pack. Although presumably it'll bundled in with the PC version, so this issue probably won't affect many here.

    Pod: That deus ex speed run was hilarious. I love how he just legged it past hordes of guards and they didn't even manage to get shots in...or that lift ride....or the way he did something with cigarettes and got all his loot in the cell... or the way he clipped through walls...or...oor...or


    etc!
    Manaic. He also, in those few minutes, showed me some bits of the game I never saw 'cause I didn't do them the "bad" way, or whatever.

    Dante: He also uses an exploit that can let you pick any lock with just one pick. All you have to do is start picking, go to the inventory for the right amount of time, then go back and it'll be done.

    Devenger: About the Boots of Blinding Speed not blinding him: Orcs have a 50% resistance to magic, so he's only 50% blinded. Observe how the game is at 50% light level for the rest of the run. And, axe power attacks just do a lot of damage, and a hit is (usually) a hit, so he could kill anything eventually with the right timing.

    LaZodiac: I'm so sorry Pentadact, but Mirror's Edge probably won't be a buy for me, specificly because of that video.

    I got vertigo just watching it. I'll rent it though, and try not to think my cieling is the wall.

    Jon Baker: @LaZodiac

    Yeah, the vertigo is pretty well known. Case in point:

    http://www.penny-arc... ...2008/11/3/

    Still, I commend EA for doing something totally different and refreshing, even if it does have the same effect on me as ipecac does.

    TooNu: That Deus Ex speedrun was awesome. Jumping through Magi Chows window was great but the parts taht got me the most, were the accurate GEP rocket firing in the tanker and the almost level skip of the cathedral. How does one think up solutions like these? crazy.

    Jazmeister: I did not get that PA comic, before. Now I may begin my chuckles in earnest.

    LaZodiac: @ Jon Baker

    I may not be what you'd call a fan of Penny Arcade, but that was rather funny.

    And yes, EA did a real good thing when they decided to make Mirror's Edge.

    Jason L: News, the Mirror's Edge DLC isn't bundled with the PC version. A Gamespot preview specifies it'll be USD10 extra.

    Tom Francis: Interesting. I'd heard it was coming later, but wasn't sure if it'd be free. Time Trial hasn't turned out to be the appeal of the game for me, but I'll buy these just to try if they're on Steam. If they're exclusive to EA Downloader, my money will remain exclusive to the Co-operative Bank.