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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

    Needle Exchange

    found himSkulch.

    second time luckySchlunk.

    thunkWhunk.

    felledThunk.

    Heavy LiftedSklunch.

    uberarrowedPtow.

    sandvich surgeryNom.

    arrow actionFwoosh.

    standing roomSnick.

    erkI appear to have been punctured.

    Much as I suck with it, I’m still liking The Huntsman.

    More

    Lack_26: Aww, I really want to have a go with this. Played for 3.5 hours this morning and got nothing. But I did manage to stab Pentadact, so it's not all bad.

    Wowbagger: The item-allocation thing hates me and hasn't given me any of the toys to play with :'(

    Dante: After playing all yesterday I finally got an unlock at 5am.

    "Le Cloak and Dagger, she is mine!"

    It's good fun thus far, it seems to be more suited to lying in wait for your adversary at at a likely sniping/sentry position. Something I'll hopefully do better once I learn the new maps or the old ones come back into rotation.

    Chris Evans: I too my suck at the Huntsman, but it is loads of fun :D

    Jazmeister: My shameless name-drop would have to be shooting a medic with the revolver, causing him to turn to shoot me, and Sir Sexington running him through. AND FUCKING GRAHAM'S FUCKING HEADSHOTS. I love that server, it's genuinely a lovely place to play, when you can get in.

    I have an Ubersaw and an Axtinguisher, and I've begun to enjoy all the other aspects of the update more than I (utterly) despise the new unlock thingy.

    Slamhound: I'm not a Sniper. I'm really not a Sniper and what really pissed me off about my stint in TF2 yesterday was the fact that my first (and only) unlock was...

    ...The Huntsman.

    Well, crap. Ho-hum, may as well give it a shot. So in a Pipeline match (Which we were losing heavily because our team completely neglected to POOSH LEETLE KART!) I switched to Sniper with a Huntsman and decided to do my favourite thing: Running interference on the enemy near their spawn (Note: Not actually spawn-camping. I just like hitting them from behind when they run towards the objective. I create a hell of a lot of chaos like this as Pyro, works well as Spy).

    See, aiming the Huntsman is *tricky*. I noticed that it doesn't always hit the bullseye whenever you fire it at medium-long distances. Anyway, I got caught on one of the walkways above the enemy spawn by an enemy Sniper and Spy.

    So, completely neglecting to switch to the SMG or Kukri, I just fired off an arrow. Missing both targets from a range of about ten feet...

    "Oh, crap."

    ...And then somehow killing another enemy player who was on the ground below. Poor guy never knew what hit him...

    "...Oh..."

    ...Then I died.

    "...crap."

    PD102: Trading the items later sounds nice - A novel Birthday gift at least.

    "A Razorback! Awww you shouldn't have."
    "Well I ended up with 2 you see."
    "Oh. Well Thanks still."

    Oh and im Really sick of pyros runnign around killign me as spy and then going "noob Spy"

    Needless to say his trangression did not go unpunished - after he set me alight and followed me up some stairs im manged to spin round and land a backstab on him. For calling me a noob he paid the ultimate price, I flicked a Cigarette on his Corpse and got the achive. Whilst still on fire.
    "Thanks for the light" Then I died.

    Thats the beauty of TF2, 6 mins of being pwned for 30 seconds of Pure, unrelenting Joy.

    Crimson Binome: Sniper is my least played class, and often my least enjoyed, and yes, I did get the huntsman first. Alas.

    The first shot I ever did with it was killing a sniper (rifle in hand) on stage 1 Goldrush on the opposite end of the map. I think I might 'ave to 'ave another go at it.

    Twenty minutes pass.

    This class sucks. I'm going back to pyro.

    Nano: Wow. You really have it in for Heavies.

    Lack_26: I've been unable to get into the PCG server, so I found two others that feel almost as friendly (one of them's a French server, sometimes it's nice to get away from English speakers).

    But yeah, didn't get any unlocks today. But had a lot of good games and had fun getting achievements, I think they're more fun to get, despite the lack of rewards.

    Upsilon: Poor Spies. No matter what Valve does, they can't make the Spy any harder to find. Since the Spy can now be anyone on my team, I Spycheck everyone on my team.

    Jazmeister: Spy class should be locked until you pass a special exam and swear to not give away the secrets or ever play as another class. Or they should be able to use all the locked doors.

    Dante: Actually with the cloak and dagger he could well be standing in a corner behind you instead.

    I just broke my spy stab record defending steel using the C and D, purely lying in wait and stabbing people as they went past. It really is the last word for the defensive spy.

    'Isp3p!: Spy and Sniper are "my" classes, but I haven't played as either since the update due to every other tool deciding to play them too... grrr..
    oh well, at least it's super easy to top the boards as a medic these days :p

    Bigfoot_King: I almost feel guilty when I get a weapon that I will never use like any of the sniper stuff while someone else who plays him all the time will never get his stuff. Still i've got new records with the pyro and topping the chart when I would never before so its been a good patch overall.

    Belcher: Sorry, 'lsp3p!, I also hate how people enjoy new content.

    I wish they'd be anything but content. Bloody sods having fun. Get off the internet altogether, why don't they?

    Aftershock: I found the KGB (which i already had) straight off the bat. A fair few hours later, and i found Jarate, and some more hours later I FOUND ME A SNIPER HAT :D

    Random: I've only found duplicates. I now own 3 kritzkriegs, 2 flare guns, 2 nataschas, and 2 ubersaws. Hopefully these will actually be worth something when trading is implemented...

    Kyle: Does anyone have an address for the sever you play at? It sounds like a riot.

    skizelo: Playing as a spy in... Hydro? I was running up to a sniper's nest disguised as a scout, when some bleeding hunter decided to spy check. He missed the headshot, but he did hit me square in the besuited groin. Apparently, I was a walking, back-stabbing dick-joke for all until the arrow finally fell out.
    ALSO, I've unlocked the Dead Ringer, and I have absolutely no tactics for it. I can't run anywhere obscure within the 8 seconds, especially when they've seen a spy die suspiciously early. I've also unlocked the ambassador, two ubserswas and two backburners: it's an odd system.

    Tom Francis: How long have you played skizelo?

    There's something weird about it: those who get dupes seem to get loads of dupes, especially the same dupes. I've only had two things - after maybe six hours play - but they're both new to me: Huntsman and Kritzkrieg.

    Nonomu198: I love the Huntsman. I got it after half an hour of playing. I managed to arrow-shot an airborne Scout from long range. It is so awesome.

    Nonomu198: Oh, and it was an arrow-headshot.

    Slamhound: Only managed to get my second unlock after another long block of playing. The Dead Ringer.

    I used it to shank a Pyro and a couple of Sollies on Pipeline for the You Only Shiv Thrice achievement. What I really want is the Ambassador.

    skizelo: In all, sad honesty, I played from 10 AM to 4 AM. with occasional breaks when I went to the organ dealer for new eyes.
    I've been trying to find a pattern in what I've gotten. I suspect it may be based on the hours you've played a particular class (for me: 1st Spy, 2nd Medic and Pyro's like 4th or 5th). It's kind of grating since I started off with no items at all, so to be getting duplicates seems a tad off.

    Ludo: So it seems the new thing is 'Idle Servers'. People connect and then go to sleep, come the morning they have a bunch of unlocks.

    Sigh.

    Pattom: I know this is a little late, but I'd like to agree with Dante's earlier comment: the Cloak and Dagger completely changes the Spy for me. It's no longer a shape-shifting rat in a soon-to-be-bloodied suit, but a suave commando who can be anywhere at any time. I can't describe how hilarious it is to wait outside the enemy supply room, sap their teleporters, and wait for the engineers to return. Peek-a-boo!

    DoctorDisaster: I picked up all the sniper unlocks two or three times, and it's my least-favorite class. Meanwhile for spy, all I've got are three cloak and daggers. No kidding!

    I did play a bit with the huntsman, and it's actually pretty fun. Not nearly as fun as medic, demoman, pyro, soldier, spy, scout, or heavy, but a lot more fun than the sniper rifle and about on a par with engineer. If my team has no snipers on a map that could use some -- which has actually happened once or twice; yay new unlock system -- I'll cause some huntsman havoc for a while.

    However, the cloak and dagger is a BLAST. It's amazing how many spots right out in the open get no traffic at all. As long as I stay well away from my benighted teammates and the enemy ordnance they attract, I can watch the entire enemy team storm past feet away from me, and then take my time picking the perfect place and time to strike. It feels much, much more like spying ought to: because you can take some time to scope out your enemies, there's no compulsion to strike immediately before you're found out. I still tend to rely more on frantic stabbing sprees than vanishing back into the shadows, but I think that's a habit I'll break as the new update settles in.

    Fullbleed: @skizelo That might make sense actually that unlocks are based on most played class. As for me pyro, medic and heavy are my 3 most played classes and all i've goten so far is a flare gun, 3 blutsaugers, and Natascha. I want the hunt man so bad, I'm terrible sniper any way and spend most of my time trying to no-scope people.

    Cptn.Average: Yeah does anyone have advice for using the Dead Ringer? Apart from trying to act like a really bad spy, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to get anywhere useful without looking insanely suspicious. And for that reason alone it REALLY doesn't need to be extra loud when decloaking >_<

    Jazmeister: All the unlocks cause you to alter your tactics a bit. The spy, although some people had no idea, was always a very aggresive and pro-active class. C&D and the Ambassador allow you to withdraw a little, but the dead ringer is different. Just like the Razorback, it seems to be in there to appeal to the player adopting a more traditional class-role; it's more difficult to use, though. No idea.

    What I'd like to see for the dead ringer is disguising at a team-mate and having the corpse seem to be his.

    Lack_26: I love the dead-ringer, I use the time to get above my 'killer' and drop down on him when it runs out.

    'Isp3p!: @Belcher:
    It seems I didn't make myself clear; It's not people enjoying the content that bothers me, but it's how they have no regard for the needs of their team. In a game called TEAM fortress 2, I would think that players should, when there already 3 snipers and 3 spies on the team (plus one demo and a medic) go heavy, soldier, or something useful instead of another spy. It's like a hospital that's just got a new type of defibulator which everyone wants to use, and instead of waiting for it to be needed, half of the doctors just run around the hospital with their defibulator, not doing their jobs and helping other patients.
    /rant

    Dante: @ 'Isp3p!:

    It's always like that when a new pack is released, if anything it's slightly better than usual this time because a) two classes where released at once and b) you don't have to play as them to get the unlocks. It'll calm down over time. That said they are both very independant classes rather than frontliners, so the loss is felt more.

    I've been on plenty of teams with no snipers or spies already, then again I've also been on one with six snipers :)

    Anyway, thus far I've collected the Cloak and Dagger, the Jarate, The Sandman, Bonk, The Kirtzkrieg and the Ubersaw, none of which I had before, which is nice. I still yearn for The Ambassador and The Huntsman though.

    Ludo: I'd like to second Dr Disaster's thoughts on the Cloak and Dagger. Less opportunism and hurrying everwhere, more biding my time and, when the mood takes me, cackling a little.

    The update has seen me playing Arena a lot more recently. It still doesn't sit with me well, but the maps are really good.

    I'm not normally an angry player, but there's something about Arena that turns me. Perhaps it's those occasions where I've been waiting for my turn for five minutes and I get critted walking out of the door.

    Nonomu198: @Ludo
    There are two big problems I can think of on most arena servers:

    The variable playerbase. In arena, you're gonna want to play with players your own skill. It shows less on other gamemodes, because this is the most actual "team based" mode for pubs (other gametypes just have a top 3-5 players on each team to handle te fate of the game, the rest tag along), even though it's mostly 1v1. Most servers don't have such a dedicated playerbase, just random people.

    The second thing is that most people stupidly set their server to contain more players than arena should. Arena should be about 6v6 top for the old maps and around 9v9 (I think?) for the new big ones. With too many players the spamfest gets crappy. Also, the server should be set so only one person has to sit, and only when the teams are unbalanced (yes the teams must be balanced).

    I, for one, play on a server set like I said it should be and has a dedicated playerbase. I can see why others who play on other servers don't find arena so fun.

    Oh, and you probably need SOME skill so you know how to deal with every class using every class, or else you will be defeated by class rushes quite easly and have no fun.

    DoctorDisaster: @Nonomu Back when arena was released, I played it on a clan server with clanmates and still hated it. Like Ludo, I don't usually get angry in games -- resignation and dry humor usually handle any frustration just fine -- but arena flips some kind of rage switch in my brain.

    Even with all the changes in this pack, my only real annoyance with Valve is for putting all their new ideas into arena maps. They seem to just expect community mappers to handle the game modes that people actually, y'know, PLAY. I understand that arena maps are tiny and therefore quick to build, but I want those new ideas to later pop up in larger official maps for what I might patronizingly refer to as the "real" game modes.

    Just in case you haven't been keeping track, in addition to the standard sunny mesa/spybase theme, Valve's arena maps have featured weather, radioactive bottomless pits, the alpine setting (twice), deadly sawblades, and some kind of glowy particle accelerator doomsday device. Valve's non-arena maps have featured: night.

    To put that in perspective, time on official arena maps accounts for ~1200 total server hours, versus ~17325 for other game modes. I'll put that in words so I can capitalize it: Twelve hundred, versus SEVENTEEN THOUSAND server hours. When you consider that arena matches host fewer players than any other game mode, you start to get an idea what a mind-bogglingly tiny fraction of their overall audience is getting access to almost all of their graphical innovations. For a game with such great visual style, this is a goddamn crying shame.

    Pattom: @DoctorDisaster: Seconded on this matter as well. I'm not a big fan of Granary or Well, but a CP map in the Alpine setting would be fantastic, as would a Payload map that rolls through a thunderstorm. The only reason I play Arena anymore is because I adore the glowing death machine in Nucleus. And I'm rather confused: there's concept art on the TF2 blog of a towering train station that hides a missile and another wide open map around a hidden silo. There's a link to the post in my name: does anybody remember these, or know what might have happened to them?

    Cptn.Average: @Patton: The rocket is used in Dustbowl, you can see it getting closer in the various 3 maps. I think some of those concept sketches went into designing Hydro from the look of the wide open spaces.

    Totally agree with DocDisaster on the special map features thing. If you never had to sit out in Arena I think I'd like it, and I really don't see the problem with having 12 a side either (I'm very much a fan of the more the merrier.) It seems really arbitrary that most servers only allow 6 players a side, but have 24 player slots. It's like watching a bunch of people having fun from inside a clear glass prison >:(

    Upsilon: I just got the Huntsman. A little while later I got the Dead Ringer. A little while after that I got the Sniper hat! =D So now I have everything for the Sniper. If only I played him more.

    Nonomu198: @DoctorDisaster
    Well, I like arena, so I'm happy with Valve putting their ideas in this gamemode. I hate it when people call arena "not a REAL gamemode" just because it's not popular.

    @Cptn.Average
    Yes, servers trying to get more people than can actually play the game are bad. I hate it, it's like it lets you join only to spectate. Not arena's fault.

    Dante: Is it me or did Craig recently do some sorcery to the PCG server that means we don't have to sit out of arena any more, and instead play with teams of 10-11 a side?

    It's way more fun that way.

    Walternat0r: I played for about 3.5 hours today, mostly as sniper and a bit as heavy. I didn't get any random unlocks, but I worked on getting the sniper unlocks through achievements (can you alternate between them, or what? I may not have read up on the update news and cba to find it :D). Also, no hats. But, I did unlock the 3 new sniper tools. I've noticed that i'm pretty badass with the Huntsmen, the jarate is just soooo much fun, and the Razorback is... well, for me, useless. With the huntsmen I play assualt-sniper so getting backstabbed is the least of my worries. Oh yeh, and how comes every now and then the huntsmen shoots miles away from where you aim? Messed up, I find i'm better at twitch shots with it than actual aiming :)

    Tom Francis: The Huntsman stray-shots if you hold it down too long, or if you're moving when you fire. It feels to me like sometimes it stray-shots if you've just stopped moving, but I haven't tested that properly yet.