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

    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.