All posts


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

I Was Here

from the plane

San Francisco looked strange from the plane, like a building-farm. I was back there to see a very different studio this time, though I can’t talk about that yet, and also managed to do different stuff with my spare time. Last trip Steve Gaynor, who I only knew vaguely online, was nice enough to meet up for lunch, and this time 2D Boy joined me for a fancy tea. I very much like developers who are able to perceive journalists as humans rather than organs of the industry, even when perhaps not all of them warrant the status.

With a little luck and a lot of generosity, I was also able to hitch a lift with the guys who made Lugaru down to the birthday party of the guy who made Gish, alongside the guy who made Spelunky, there to sip Guinness with one of the aforementioned guys who made World of Goo, the guy who made Bridge Builder, and the guy who made Braid. There was a dangerous concentration of genius in the room, so true to my promise to pocket my journalist hat, I was careful not to ask any good questions of any of them. We played the X-Men arcade game instead.

The_B: Who did you play as? Tell me it was Wolverine. G'wan. And Gabler better have been Venom. Although I guess he wasn't in that game.

Still, Venom with the voice of the Goo Balls would be all kinds of awesome.

Bret: Nightcrawler's best.

Was it one of those six player jobbies?

If so, who had to player Dazzler? Inquiring minds want to know.

Aftershock: I'm surprised you didn't explode. I would have.

Plumberduck: I assume Jonathan Blow went off on a half hour tangent about how the multiple tines of Wolverine's claws represent the Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, right?

Stan Lee: I was there too!

ZomBuster: All those guys live in San Fransisco?

DoctorDisaster: They put Dazzler in a video game?

That's awful.

EGTF: Is it sad that as someone coming close to the end of my teenage years, I'm using BBC iplayer to watch X-Men cartoons?

You make the life of a video game journalist sound exotic Tom, first evenings with Robbie Williams now this.

Whilst on the subject of journalism do you check your futurenet email? I emailed in about a month ago asking questions about that work experience PCG was offering. I came across as bland and arkward in it I believe, so I understand why I didn't get a reply back in a hectic PCG office. I'm wanting to know if you got it at all though really.

Ludo: Did you actually take that picture? It's awesome.

peterd102: Woah

J-Man: If someone photoshopped that picture it would look like something straight out of Mirror's Edge.

Chris Evans: San Francisco - the home of all indie game devs

Little Green Man: I really like that bit of you in the video on Edmund's blog. "Congratulations on being two years older than me". Awww.

Kodiak: Yeah, San Francisco has weird streets. After the earthquake at the turn of the century, the city planners decided to rebuild the city in a perfect grid, and didn't give a rodent's fundament if the landscape got in the way of all the right angles and straight lines. That's why some inner city streets try to go straight up a cliffside and other streets have to tunnel through a granite ridge. All that unnecessary planning and construction and hardship, and it ends up looking like a weird little building farm.

SenatorPalpatine: That's pretty sweet. Must've been pretty hard not to ask any questions.

And that's a very cool picture, where'd you find it?

Tom Francis: Yeah, the pic is just a crop of one I took from the plane:


LGM: Ha, I didn't know that had gone up. Link, if anyone else wants to see: http://edmundmcmille... ...-time.html

Stan Lee: At the party? Either you looked a lot younger than that time I met you in Santa Monica, or you're another Stan Lee and consequently a hard man to Google.

EGTF: RobIN Williams. Dno about work XP, Tim's department.

Bobsy: According to Future Publishing they're not currently doing work experience:
http://www.futurenet... ...xperience/

But I'm pretty sure according to PCG magazine they are. Mixed messages!

The_B: They only generally advertise it on the site for a short while, the places go pretty quickly. I only got my place last year thanks to a mixture of good timing and good luck really - it wasn't an advertised position as far as I know anyway...

On another note - I half wondered why Tom was promoting the new Edge covers other than it being interesting that there was 200 of them. Having now got it, I see his name in the contributors section. Damnit Francis, you have used your wily powers of persuasion again for EVIL and self gain. (I applaud this)

Kollega: Oh,damn it. Why? Why all the celebrities (including gaming/development/inernet ones) live in California,and i'm stuck on the other side of our planet?

Just felt i absolutely needed to say that.

Lack_26: How to design San Francisco; Lesson 1.

Street planning:

- Draw a square
- Repeat

KING: The square streets of modern cities, especially most American cities, makes me do this:


Also: They have Guinness in San Francisco ?

Tom Francis: It comes in a freaking bottle.

Ludo: :) Is it Guinness Orisinal? That stuff is just odd. Has to be draft for me.

The_B: There is only one place I've ever been to that ever does Guinness in a bottle.

It was a pole dancing club.

And fucking expensive.

Bobsy: Bottled Guinness is generally okaytimes, but misses the point of Guinness entirely.

Jimmay: Just wanna say it's not always in a freaking bottle. I'm in Chicago and I think it's a crime against nature as well.

Lack_26: Just played the HAWX demo, good fun and nice to have something that makes you feel cool and doesn't take too much effort. I don't think I'll buy it, the demo scratches that itch too well. I might pick it up when it's released on budget though.

Roadrunner: Guinness is the only beer I like, and even then if it was a weigh up between Guinness and sparkling water, I'd take the water xD

Not much of a fan of alcohol...Except spirits.
I can't really talk though, being underage and all.

EGTF: Thanks Tom, sorry about doing the idiotic thing of getting singer and actor mixed up.

I'm in Chicago next weekend, I'll have to check out this bottled Guiness phenomenom. And take artistic pictures out of a plane. But no playing *unannounced* game for me, I lack the importance and 9 years of age that Mr.Francis has over me.