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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.

Hitman header tunnel

Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

Far Cry Primal Thumbnail

Postcards From Far Cry Primal

Snowball jack header

Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

Kill Zone and Bladestorm

Kill Zone And Bladestorm

BAFTA Featured

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

Sectors Header

Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

DXHR Open area

What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

Heat Signature Natural Numbers

Natural Numbers In Game Design

Pharma Header

Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

Writing vs Programming

Make A Game Tutorial Thumbnail Featured IMage

Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

Her Story banner

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

Invisible Header

What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

Super Game Jam Header

Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

Shadow of Mordor Header 2

What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Heat Signature Talk

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX


What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

Murder, She Wrote

The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

Heat Signature Wide 2

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

Heat Signature Floorplans Header

Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

Gunpoint Steam Workshop

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

Distance Header

Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

The Magic Circle

Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

Floating Point Blog Launch

Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

Floating Sine

Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point


What’s Your Fault?

Hoplite banner

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

Gone Point

Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

Heat Signature Thumbnail

Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

GRappling Hook Thumbnail

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

Alien Swarm Heroics

A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

FTL Story

One Desperate Battle In FTL

Spelunky Banner

To Hell And Back In Spelunky

Game vs story graph

Games Vs Story 2

Gunpoint Breakdown

Gunpoint Development Breakdown

Max Payne 3

Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer

This is how you die

My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection


Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

Skyrim Diary - Frostmere

Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

Mainstream Games

How Mainstream Games Butchered Themselves, And Why It’s My Fault


A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

Dark Messiah

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot


Arguing On The Internet


Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Stealth Games

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?


E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

Suspicious Manifesto

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

What Makes Games Good

Seat Quest

A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

Beneath Suspicion

Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

Open Worlds

An Idea For A Better Open World Game

Level Up

A Different Way To Level Up

BioShock Ending

How I Would Have Ended BioShock

Meet the Spy

My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

Football Manager

Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

EVE Assassins

EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

GalCiv 2

My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary


I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

Machine of Death

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

Blood money and sex

Blood Money And Sex


A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

First Night, Second Life


SWAT 4: The Movie Script

Machine Of Death Is Out In Two Months

That short story collection I wrote for, Machine of Death, is actually getting published. It’s out in October, in big floppy paperback, and it’s going to be illustrated. It includes stories by:

Illustrated by people including:

I have no idea who’s illustrating mine yet, but you can’t really lose with this list. The final lineup very charitably calls my story ‘brutal, desperate and real’, so it’d be kind of hilarious to see Kate Beaton do it.

I have a flight to catch and a lot to do before and on it, so hasn’t totally sunk in yet. Here’s my story, and here’s the comic that inspired the collection. Oh yeah, and here’s the awesome cover:


icouldbeahero: Oh my goodness that is awesome. I like all those people!

Jaz: That's great news man, well done!

Hovercraft: That list includes many of my favourite people on the internet. And your story is very good indeed. Congrats.

Bret: Huh. Never thought I'd see the day.

Mainly because my deathsheet said "Trampled to death by massive first day crowds for 'The Last Airbender'"

I swear my machine is broken.

MartinJ: Gah. $5 say I'll never be able to buy this here in Czech Republic.

I guess I'll have to sell my soul to PayPal and get it shipped or something.

Rasmus Widengård: ...Kate Beaton?

Pepelusky: I hope this sells in amazon.

That would be great.

Pod: * Randall XKCD Munroe
* Ben Zero Punctuation Croshaw (who I just interviewed)
* Ryan Dinosaur Comics North
* Tom Who’s Writing This Francis

Ugh. Only 1/4. I'm not buying this!

Thank god Ryan North is there to pull up the rest of them.

nine: Please make another post when this actually comes out too.

Joe!: Aaron Diaz = awesomeness

But I expect Monroe's to be crap.

LaZodiac: Buying this for the cover alone. Since I'm in Canada, I likely willnot be able to get it for a few years, most likely.

Gamegeneral: Oh lord. This'll be up on amazon, right?
I SO want to order this. Amazingly do.

radomaj: @LaZodiac It would be weird if they didn't sell in Canada, considering Ryan North lives there.

roBurky: Finally!

DoctorDisaster: Those illustrators are great!

Oh, and the writers too, I guess.

Tweets that mention Machine Of Death Is Out In Two Months, by Tom Francis -- [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Francis, Chris Livingston. Chris Livingston said: Tom Francis, my favorite games writer, has some fiction being published in a collection! Congrats, Tom. [...]

Devenger: Liked your story when you originally posted it so much, I sent it to numerous friends. So yeah, this book intrigues me. :D

Nano: +10 Super Proud

All the writers are excellent, and Chris Hastings and Aaron Diaz are some of my favorite artists. I WILL SPEND MONEY ON THIS.

LaZodiac: @radomaj: Well, its mostly due to me living in the NWT. I'm basicly in the boondocks, if the boondocks was a frozen wasteland of death and hate.

Plumberduck: I feel like, with those contributors, you could just call it "Internet: The Book," and have done. Congrats!

santiago verón: i love love LOVE your machine of death story! it really feels like a basis for all of the machine of death universe!
i googled you because i was surprised you weren't one of the three people who directed the book. i wonder, were you one of the first people to write a machine of death story? did you come up with the idea for the story on your own or you had a chat with them yet? i'm really surprised that it's the only 'origin story' for the machine in the compilation and it's so good. thanks,


Tom Francis: Thanks! No, I didn't have any contact with Malki & co before submitting, except to ask a question about the rules. After submitting I figured the inventor idea was way too obvious and they'd have a hundred better takes on it.

The story I've submitted to Machine of Death 2 is intentionally a bit more niche in terms of subject matter, because most of my favourite stories in the original collection ended up being the unusual ones.