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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

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.