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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.

  • 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

    Seat Quest 2010: The Return: Origins

    This is the final part of my adventure in seats. Part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here.

    Two weeks before the return flight: four or five bad seats. I don’t book any of them.

    One week before departure: three or four bad seats. Not booking.

    Eighteen hours before departure: one bad seat. Oh come on! Fine, as an act of protest, I’m not even going to book the only seat available to me. I’m going to leave you guys in the dark as to which of these one seats I’m going to take.

    Four hours before departure: one bad seat. The same bad seat. My system has failed. You know what, assholes? Fine. I’m…. I’m not even going to check in online. Deal with that.

    Three hours before departure, check-in desk: “Hmm, let’s see if we can get you a better seat.”
    “Oh, that’d be great.”
    “Okay, you’re going from gate S10, everything’s running on time, here’s your boarding pass.”

    I look at the boarding pass: it’s the same seat. It’s from that special stripe down the middle of the plane where seats just aren’t anything. They’re not aisle (easy to get up), they’re not window (no ass in face when other people get up), they’re not front of block (infinite leg room) and they’re not back of block (guilt-free reclining). They’re just seats, reasonably comfortable seats, on a plane, that is going to fly through the goddamn air until you’re in another country, serving you free drinks as it goes.


    IMG_4120This is a cinnamon apple pie with maple ice cream I had shortly before my flight home. After I’d finished, the waitress noticed I was not dead and commented that “You’ve done well.” No I have not, kindly waitress. No I have not.

    Waiting at the gate, the staff keep putting out announcements for British Airways passengers who’ve checked in online, and haven’t seen a BA rep at the airport yet. I sit back and smile at their misfortune. Wrong choice, suckers! You should have randomly not checked in online this time, like I randomly didn’t.

    They form a queue, then everyone sees the queue and thinks we’re boarding, forming a bigger queue, which makes everyone sure we’re boarding, then they have to put out another announcement telling everyone to sit back down. The TV’s showing some weird sitcom where Wyclef Jean is trying to become the president of Haiti.

    When we finally board, the lady in front of me gets an angry red beep when her boarding pass is scanned.
    “Oh dear. You didn’t see a British Airways representative, did you?”
    “Yes, I saw you, at this desk.”
    We share a very British everyone-is-incompetent look while the rep goes off to check something. She comes back. It’s fine.

    I have my passport open to the photo page with the boarding pass tucked inside – I have decided this will be one of my life skills. She scans it, it beeps red.
    “Did you-“
    I’ll be damned if I’m going to be penalised for checking in online the one time I didn’t.
    She goes off to check something, and comes back. I’m just about to explain – in what I plan to be a slightly snippy tone – exactly who I saw and where, when she leans forwards and whispers guiltily:
    “You’ve been upgraded to Club.”

    Jesus, now people are just going to hate me.


    Flowerpot Wang: Holy. Shit.


    Tweets that mention Seat Quest 2010: The Return: Origins, by Tom Francis -- [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Francis, Ben Borthwick and Ben Borthwick, Ben Borthwick. Ben Borthwick said: And so @Pentadact wins the Best Collection of Blog Posts about Air Travel Seats ever in the Games Joruno Blogolympics: [...]

    Tom Francis: Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

    Joe!: For the love of God please make a bonus part 5. These are the funniest posts on James since that Far Cry one where the lead designer came on and there was A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FLAMING calm discussion.

    CloakRaider: Heh, British Airways aren't as bad as everyone seems to believe. Better than some budget airlines such as WizzAir. While most airlines have the decency to tell you when your flight has been delayed, they didn't actually say anything. So the time of departure sort of came and went, and everyone was still there.

    phuzz: So, does travel writing pay better than games journalism?

    DoctorDisaster: @phuzz: I hear his earnings from the blog have gone up 11 percent since this series started.

    Tom Francis: Yep, still zero. Actually traffic has steadily declined with each of these, so I guess non-games stuff is less linkable.

    I've been wondering about splitting off a separate blog for non games stuff, one that could wallow in obscurity without pissing off people who come here for Team Fortress 2 patch analysis.

    EGTF: Give it two to three years and these travel collections can appear in a book too! Or perhaps give them their own spin off blog

    Coded One: I actually really enjoyed this series! You have a writing style that works well when writing about any subject.

    Laserhead: I can't stop laughing after reading that last line... Well played sir, well played!

    Scott O: Maybe news got around that you ate that apple pie monstrosity. I've got a bad taste in my mouth from just looking at it.