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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.

  • html color: This is the information I am looking for. This article is clear and easy to understand. I’m...
  • 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...
  • 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

    The Year In Forty Photos

    I won’t bore you with any kind of account of my year, but here are some photos I took during it. I guess I didn’t take all of them since I’m in some of them, but I don’t remember so good about those ones.

    I’ve been working my way through Said the Gramophone’s 75 tracks of the year with an odd cocktail of revulsion and delight. Among the delight, this wonderful song by Vic Chesnutt. Often songs that aren’t about what they seem to be about never let you in on the twist – it was years before I realised Belle & Sebastian’s Century of Elvis was about a cat. Vic’s is from the school of “Two minutes in, just come out and say it.”

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    I approve. It’d be a shame for anyone to hear a couplet so painfully double-edged as “When you touched a friend of mine / I thought I would lose my mind” and miss the grim joke.

    Oh yeah, good news: I’m working on a really long post about a really esoteric subject that involves lots of strong opinions about game design ideas I have no experience working with.


    IMG_2115Truffle fries in San Fran.





    IMG_2194The restaurant of endless meat, with 2K’s Karl Unterholzner and Jordan Thomas.


    San Fran March 09 005Mr Gish unwisely shows his daughter the drawing Mr World of Goo did of him naked.

    San Fran March 09 008

    San Fran March 09 012


    IMG_2314Dylan Moran, yesterday.






    IMG_2620France’s pimary exports are textiles and macro photography.










    IMG_2878Space Invader ice cubes.




    IMG_2931Kim arranged I think my first ever surprise birthday party.

    Halloween 010Halloween.

    New York 008

    New York 301

    New York 191

    New York 215

    New York 312

    New York 234


    Jonas: Space Invader ice cubes! I think I just realised my life is incomplete.

    Dan: I never realized how depressing it is to see a year condensed into 40 pictures. Don't even ask me why!

    spuzman: Love that cake! Must've been a blast to eat.
    Oh, and come back to the SF Bay sometime. We all miss you.

    Jazmeister: Here's to a good year!

    Jonn: I saw that first pic of Moran and wondered why he looked so familiar. Then I saw the second one and the caption and went "hang a tic, that's the Black Books guy!"

    ]France’s pimary exports are textiles and macro photography.

    Also, berets.

    (You thought I was going to say "surrendering", dincha?)


    That's a really good impression of a pale British man.

    icouldbeahero: Nice photos sir. Was that endless meal restaurant a Fogo de Chao, perchance?

    Tom Francis: Erk, sorry, these weren't meant to be flagged as private. Fixed now, the big versions of the Space Invader ones are best.

    All I can remember about the restaurant's name is that it rhymes with asbestos.

    It's not really Dylan, Jonn, something about my obliviousness to disarranged hair just made me think of him.

    Heh, did anyone else spend long enough in the comments box for the snow to reach down here? It takes a while.

    Chijts: Those ice cube shots are by far the best, especially number one and two. That's some sweet macro action right there.

    Walternat0r: Loving the guy made out of slate and the manatee

    Aldo: Mmm, dried fishies...

    ( ...4/sizes/l/ )

    Lack_26: A good year then?

    My year was 2/3 STRESS 3/12 stress 1/12 relaxing.

    That's my year in a nut shell, still, I can't believe that's almost a new decade. When someone said that I said something along the lines of 'What? Since when, no... f*ck off'. I'd forgotten that 2010 would be the start of the next decade, I'd only just got settled with the 00's.

    Also, 2010 is still pegged down as THE FUTURE, it certainly doesn't feel like the future yet. This Christmas better at least see something major come out of CERN. And I'm definitely going to make some retro-ice blocks. Perhaps I could stick jelly cubes together to make characters from the years when you could see all the individual colours in a pixel from about 1m away from the screen.

    Desmolas: Pretentious macro of wall?

    Laser: I hope you don't mind me using your picture of you in a silly wig in my media presentation about your blog, Mr Francis :)

    Zeno Cosini: Excellent. By cycling through these pictures very quickly I can imagine what you'd experience, Tom, if you drowned on the final day of the year (not that you will!)

    Dr. Nerfball: @Pentadact: Yep, I've been down here for fifteen minutes (for some reason), I've seen a single lonely snow flake. Kinda depressing somehow...

    Also those are some purty photos, I still laugh when I see the walrus one, it looks so happy to see you! Did you bring him his bukkit?

    Oh yeah, and there's to much sunlight reflecting on the fifth picture down, or I'm just blind, what's it supposed to be of? =P

    Inferno: Awww. This was so happy :D

    Tom Francis: Desmolas has somehow reversed causality and answered your question a few comments back, Nerfball - although he's probably referring to the stucco. Perhaps because I'm a child of the Geocities age, I just like photos that look like they could tile to make a wallpaper.

    I bet 'ah, the truffle fries!' is one of those things you can say underwater.

    DM Osbon: Some cool pics but is that a kitty hiding in the basket(tempted with a biscuit) or something more sinister?

    Lomithiel: @DM Osbon - That, I believe, is a Vortigaunt. :D (Unless I'm not looking at the same picture)

    Oddtwang: I saw a snowflake down here, thought it was something falling in front of my face!
    Did you enjoy your trip to see Family Guy being 'written'?

    Rei Onryou: Indeed it's a Vortigaunt. Everyone knows they love cookies.

    I wish I had a girlfriend who would surprise me with Schrödinger's cake. You are a very lucky man.

    Pod!: Nice pics, but it shows how dull American cities are. Just big boring grids. This was my major gripe with the Sim City games -- they just let you make big boring American grid-cities :(

    Also: Did you make the ice cubes yourself?

    Jazmeister: Rei: You could make your own cake? And then eat it and play the song? You could even spend thirty years building glaDOS to eat it with you. Problem solved in three easy steps!

    Angus: These photos make me slightly jealous

    EGTF: Looks like you had a lovely year Tom, despite the robbery. Here's to you and the rest of the James regulars, hope the next year is good for you all.

    (Pedantic correction: I went and googled him to find more of his lovely work, turns out he's called Chesnutt, not Chestnutt)

    Akirasfriend: Damn, them's some lovely snaps, Tom. Looks like a good year. :D

    Oh hey, snow!

    Tom Francis: Yeah, just noticed that when Spotifying him the other day - fixed. Luckily it was already right in the filename.

    Captane: Some really nice pics here, definitely got a knack for photography. Good job.

    @Jonn How do you export surrendering only way I can think of is a roundabout way of saying you win a lot.

    Chives: Cool shots, and cool snowflakes. But y'know they kind of get in eachother's way. :P

    Davie: Nice. I especially like the first one. You're a talented photographer.

    Anonymous: I to am a fan of nice photography and games and this site, so thanks for sharing your pictures Tom and to all I say seasons greetings have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year :)

    TooNu: Oh bollocks, see I shouldn't write anything when I have just woken up...anyway that is me above.

    Nano: The cake was a lie.

    Tom Francis: Vic died Christmas Day, after taking an overdose of muscle relaxants.


    Sounds like he was ready this time.

    Crilly: Man. I haven't even heard of this person till now, and cried after reading that page. CURSE YOU TOM!