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.

  • 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 Cove

    Do you ever find yourself with a backlog of worthy, critically lauded films you’re almost certain you’d like but almost certain not to watch? Yes, I do, and I even worm my way out of the guilt for neglecting them. Because in my mental filing cabinet, they’re all under “Will watch”. It’s just that the films I’m actually going to watch aren’t in that file, they’re in the “Ooh, lasers!” one.

    Even before it won the best documentary Oscar, this apparently brilliant film about the slaughter of dolphins was in the “Will watch” file. But actually, it should have been in the “Ooh, lasers!” file. Or at least the “Ooh, midnight stealth missions with an international team of specialists using thermal optics to dodge guard patrols and infiltrate an enemy compound with geographical fortification to plant hydrophones and cameras disguised as rocks” file. Because there’s honestly not much in that one yet.


    You’ve probably already heard that it’s brilliant, and it is, but don’t assume as I did that means ‘brilliantly important’ or ‘brilliantly depressing’. It’s actually a hugely exciting piece of film from the opening credits to the end, revolving around the bizarre story of the man who captured and trained Flipper. That show sparked a global fascination with Bottlenose dolphins that led to the macabre events in a well-hidden cove in Japan, and the climax of the film is his own mission to infiltrate that cove and record what happens there.


    It’s simultaneously an amazing biopic, a tense espionage thriller and a fascinating expose of the Japanese government’s cover-up. And giving a shit about dolphins is optional – the story’s compelling enough without empathy to drive it.

    Tweets that mention The Cove, by Tom Francis -- [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Francis. Tom Francis said: Wow, The Cove is incredible. http://www.pentadact... ...0-the-cove [...]

    Rory Glacken: Good to see it's not just me getting behind this film. My Friends have unfairly dismissed it as a Michael Moore film without the comedy, and it's nothing of the sort. I got a tear at the ideas expressed in this film and thought the invading of the cove was more tense than any of the thrillers in the multiplexes today. It was my favorite documentary of last year.

    Rico Rodriguez: How is it on the scenes-of-animal-cruelty front?

    Jaz: Shit, I'm not Rico anymore, that was a serious question.

    Tom Francis: There are some at the end, you dolphin jerks!

    Brian: Japan also hunts whales, you gonna bitch at them for that? I won't doubt it's intrigue, I doubt it sense of "OMG THIS IS EVUL!" bit. It isn't, it's a cultural thing in that city in Japan. How would you feel if someone from India made a film that basically states, "Western Nations are evil and wrong to be eating cows." It may seem awful to us, but to the Japanese it's a way of life.

    Tom Francis: If someone makes a compelling enough documentary about it, yup!

    Dolphins are unusual in that a) they're frighteningly intelligent, and b) very few people knowingly eat dolphin meat. It's not desired for its taste, and it has dangerously high levels of mercury. It's sold as other types of fish, precisely because eating dolphin meat isn't part of their culture. I don't know if you've seen the film, but it's more about the deception than the slaughter. They ask the average guy in Japan if eating dolphin is part of their culture, and they say much what a Westerner would: what the fuck?

    Bret: Sounds about right.

    On the other hand, cows may not be smart, but they tend not to be serial rapists.

    Dolphins, man.

    OMMad: japanese eat dolphins? slander! libel!

    Brian: Hey, it's me again.

    Mind telling me what city this movie is set in? Is it Taiji, Japan? If it is, then it IS cultural, and it's NOT a "kill on sight" as the movie says. It's a "capture on sight; we'll organise the dolphins later." The dolphins have one of two fates: Killed for human consumption as a commercial venture (where the meat IS labled), or sold to dolphinariums to educate the public about the beauty of the dolphin. If you read my comment, I did not say "It's a cultural thing in Japan", but "It's a cultural thing in that city in Japan". That's like saying, "Hunting is a cultural thing in the US (because wooded areas, such as the Pacific Northwest, the South and even the northern parts of the Mideast do it). Therefore, all people in the US are in support of killing off defenseless deer to feed them." Technically, it's viewed as a rite of passage, but saying EVERYONE does it isn't correct.

    Jason L: So he's said twice now, not counting in the original post, that the fascination of the film doesn't hinge on guilt or condemnation.


    Tom Francis: It sounds like you actually know something about the subject matter, so if you ever do see the film, I'd be interested to know what you thought of its specific points. Particularly if you have any first or second-hand knowledge of the issues. Until you do, though, there's no point in me trying to recite every detail of it for you to refute. It is Taiji, but the whole film, including its title, is about the fact that the dolphins aren't killed on sight.

    Badger: O'Barry is just another racist bugger.

    He, and all the other "OMG! The poor dolphines!" screamers, are all awfully silent when it comes to the bullfights in Spain, or the way Italians hunt songbirds, or the simple fact that the EU is financing so called "animal factories" (where pigs and cows spend entire lives without ever seeing the sun or feeling grass under their feet.)

    So, as long as the Western countries aren't perfect in animal protection... how's about shutting the fuck up and stop pointing fingers at the "yellow peril"?

    Jason L: It's true; we hippies universally adore bullfights and factory meat, and until you're perfect in every way you're not allowed to talk about work on which you personally spend your limited time and resources. I note at this point that you have a verb mismatch and therefore are disqualified by your own criteria from ever criticising anyone else's communication. Thanks for playing.

    I like you because I prefer homophobes to racists!

    Bret: I know I love bacon. So. Much. Anything that produces bacon is therefore justified.

    But dolphins taste kinda crappy. So I'm opposed to the killing of dolphins.


    Jaz: People taste best.

    Jason L: Well of course; 'You are what you eat', right?

    Lack_26: I feel it's worth mentioning that the cove is on TV on Tuesday (20th July) on More4 (on FreeView). I'll be watching, that's for sure.

    Joe!: Good film.

    I could do without the arbitrary stock footage of dolphins which seemed to just want to show off how beautiful the creatures are, but in general it was very, very good.