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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.

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

A Bad Toy Story 3 Review

Toy Story 3 fares much better on Rotten Tomatoes, 99% positive. Still… can’t… resist… reading… negatives…

The New York Press

Toy Story 3 is so besotted with brand names and product-placement that it stops being about the innocent pleasures of imagination—the usefulness of toys—and strictly celebrates consumerism.

Yeah, I’m sure Fisher-Price are making a mint out of all that juicy promotion for the fucking 1962 Chatter Telephone. How crass, for a film about the experience of childhood play, to feature anything anyone actually played with.

The toys wage battle with the daycare center’s cynical veteran cast-offs: Hamm the Piggy Bank pig, Lotsa Hugs and Big Baby.

The fact that you’re listing Hamm the piggy bank as one of the daycare’s toys seems to suggest that you either didn’t watch or failed to comprehend the child’s film you’re reviewing. It also means you haven’t seen the previous two, which would be surprising but not criminal if you didn’t dismiss them both in your intro.

But none of these digital-cartoon characters reflect human experience; it’s essentially a bored game that only the brainwashed will buy into.

Uses of the term “human experience”: 1,960,001.
Meaningful uses of the term “human experience”: 0.

Besides, Transformers 2 already explored the same plot to greater thrill and opulence.

Wow, I hadn’t noticed the connection. Here, then, is the entire plot of Toy Story 3 – click to reveal, since it’s obviously a major spoiler.

While Toy Story 3’s various hazards and cliffhangers evidence more creativity than typical Pixar product (an inferno scene was promising, Lotsa Hugs’ cannily evokes mundane insensitivity), I admit to simply not digging the toys-come-to-life fantasy (I don’t babysit children, so I don’t have to) nor their inevitable repetition of narrative formula: the gang of animated, talking objects journey from one place to another and back—again and again.

Hi. You dropped these: ………..

(You also dropped a ’ , but it landed on Lotsa Hugs).

It recalls how Tim Burton’s atrocious Alice in Wonderland repeated narrative stasis without exercising the famous line: “It takes all the running you can do just to stay in the same place.”

This is exactly right, for anyone and everyone under the impression that ‘recalls’ means ‘has nothing to do with what I’m about to waste this review giving you my opinion on:’

Burton’s omission of that legendary, therapeutic slogan parallels how Toy Story 3 suckers fans to think they can accept this drivel without paying for it politically, aesthetically or spiritually.

Deranged as this review already was, it did lack the special kind of crazy it takes to imply that people are going to ‘pay’. Thanks for completing the set.

My own review isn’t going to be much cop either, so I’ll just add it here. Spoilers.

It was lovely. The new toys introduced are so colourful, exciting and instantly funny that the returning characters started to look a bit uninspired. Big Baby goes from being truly horrific to powerfully sympathetic without really changing. Until Mr Chuckles, I’d never seen an animated character who could crack up an entire audience on sight. And the fiery, twitching pupils of the vigilant security monkey instilled more stress, anxiety and genuine fear than the Eye of Sauron ever has.

The story itself succeeds by creating a more interesting conflict than the whims of an asshole child, intelligently borrowing the most entertaining bits of prison breakout movies, and milking the basic conceit for more fun than it has any right to. There’s that, and there’s Timothy Dalton as Mr Pricklepants.

Ground-in Dirt: Ho ho another silly person revie-

"Besides, Transformers 2 already explored the same plot to greater thrill and opulence."

Ha ha ha, whaaaaaat

Nano: And Totoro! TOTORO!

Also, Transformers 2 had a crass joke about giant Decepticon balls...trying to compare it to Toy Story is just...wha? I think my mind just broke.

Tweets that mention A Bad Toy Story 3 Review, by Tom Francis — [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Francis, Sindre Dahle. Sindre Dahle said: RT @Pentadact: Another bad review review, this time entirely about a single Toy Story 3 piece: Also my own thoughts. [...]

Rasmus Widengård: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single critic in possession of poor skill, must be in want of attention.
Armond White is an even greater troll than Rex Reed, people.
We must stop granting these night terrors the courtesty of our time!

qrter: I'm not sure what you're trying to achieve with these 'bad review reviews'.

They come over as slightly obsessive, the kind of fevered stuff you find on gaming forums. Besides, you're criticising an Armond White review - White infamously having built a career on writing contrary reviews, seemingly just to get a rabid raise out of internet commenters.

(Cue someone else asking what I'm trying to achieve with this 'bad review reviews review'. Go on..)

Tom Francis: This blog isn't really for achieving things.

Flameberge: It may not be for achieving things, and yet it achieves entertainment. Anyway, despite the fact Mr. White writes utter nonsense on purpose, it doesn't change the fact it is utter nonsense. Just like a John Walker review.
A ha. Ha ha. Ha.

Pod!: Not your best article. I've not seen Toy Story 3 and came away from this even more bemused than from the article you are talking about. e.g. Hamm the Piggy Bank. Is he one of the toys? I don't know :o

Tom Francis: Sorry. The reason I enjoy doing these is I get a perverse kick out of seeing people laying into something I really like, and doing it badly. Obviously if you haven't seen the thing, or if you're well-balanced, you're not going to get that kick.

StephenPip: The guy who wrote this, Armond White was asked to appear as a guest on the Slash Film cast to review Inception and explain his throughts on criticism. You might find it interesting :)

http://www.slashfilm... ...hfilmcast/

The_B: I'm almost flabbergasted at that review. I'm assuming that can only be like what fanboys see read when a review of their favourite game gets one mark lower than best game of all time, because I can't think of any other explanation. I'm not sure I'd even trust that reviewers opinion of the time of day from now on.

Luke: What could a comedy writer possibly be trying to achieve by writing about something hilariously bad? It is a mystery, and means I should probably rethink my entire career as well.

I'm loving these bad review reviews. The combination of hatred for good things, sheer incompetence and overblown self-importance means these writers are practically Disney villains, and in the absence of anthropomorphized talking animals I'll settle for "taking the piss out of them."


Jaz: There's a Toy Story 3!?

The_B: Yeah Jaz. They were going to release it on consoles at the same time as the cinema so immediately it's going to be worse than a terminal disease and ohnoI'mgettingitconfusedwithBattlefield3again.

SenatorPalpatine: I felt kinda bad for many of the Inception reviewers last time, but for these Toy Story 3 reviewers i cannot possibly sympathize.

Very funny, well done.

Also, after much thought I figured out the idiotic connection between transformers and Toy Story 3: Transformers are toys. Not in the movie, but I'm pretty sure that's the only thing the 2 franchises have in common.

verendus: The only connection I can think of is that they both involve a human teenager (Sam/Andy) caught in a battle between two groups of things that are supposed to be inanimate. Of course, Toy Story 3 did so in a way that reduced grown men to tears...

Wayward_Ronin: Armond White is the ubertroll of film critics.

http://img8.imagesha... ...insane.jpg

Chris: Yeah, White is notorious for taking a contrary view on pretty much every movie out there. If it's a critical darling, he calls it garbage. If it's roundly panned, he says its brilliant. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but his writing is truly awful and his track record suggests he is just trying to drum up traffic.

Sparky: You might also enjoy Paul Brunick's brutal, magnificent takedown of this same Armond White review:

http://www.slantmaga... ...ta-review/

I'm a bit confused as to why, after attacking Toy Story 3 for being "besotted with brand names and product placement", White praises Transformers 2, a movie based on a TV show specifically developed to market a line of toys made by Hasbro.

CloakRaider: Damn, and here I was thinking I was the only one who went on to Rotten Tomatoes, looked up ridiculously popular/good films and looked for bad reviews.

Dan: Reminds me of many Zero Punctuation reviews actually

kevin: buzz fight lotso