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TOM FRANCIS
REGRETS THIS ALREADY

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.

Theme

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

Projects

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

Fault

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

Clouds

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-Rock-and-a-Hard-Place-Trio-Jan

A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

Dark Messiah

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

Arguing

Arguing On The Internet

Spelunky

Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Stealth Games

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

Violence

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

Suspicious Manifesto

The Suspicious Developments manifesto

GDC

GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

Crosslink

Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

Happiness

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

Gnome

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

AOL

A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

First Night, Second Life

SWAT 4

SWAT 4: The Movie Script

Ludum Dare Day 1, 11PM: Almost Fun

The screenshot I’m about to show you won’t look spectacularly different to the one earlier – I still haven’t fixed the horrible protagonist bot or the laughable kid’s snow effect. But to play, it’s already close to what the finished game will be.

The main thing is randomised enemies, with visually apparent stats. Randomisation will be part of the Discovery element, and also just the fun of the game: it’s never going to be a great shooter, but it’s already kind of cool to blunder into a triple-barreled deathbot with hyper speed and discover a whole new echelon of boned.

The visual apparency – representing every stat in the shape of the enemy rather than a stats readout – is part of that too. It gives your read on the enemies immediacy, and that’s a catalyst for fun. I need all of those I can get. Hopefully you can tell which one of these enemies has more firepower, and which one is better protected.

Snowbot 3

What you can’t see, and what you probably won’t even find if you play it, is the ridiculous amount of fun I’m having with it.

Most of this afternoon was spent thrashing out the enemy movement to be more convincing and dangerous, and all of this evening was spent drawing just a few bad sprites – it takes me actual time to get pixel art to the dismal level of quality you see here.

Then in less than half an hour, I did the coding legwork to implement every chunk of art into modularly assembled, dynamically scaled, randomised deathbots. And the game’s gone from being a tame arena where I can always win through knowing the tricks, to a terrifying robot safari where things with crazy muzzle velocities can also outrun me, and I see combinations I hadn’t pictured.

It’s not exactly good, yet, but it’s an amazing thrill to see that kind of stuff come to life from a few simple maths statements. I can pretty much stomach art work if it’s for a game that can stretch and recombine it to endless different purposes.

Snowbot 3a

I’ve also had an idea for how to relate the game more obviously to the Discovery theme. It’s fun to try and creep up on these bots when they’re not looking. They turn round if you shoot them, to prevent the game being too easy, but I’m going to make it so that you can subtly scan them if you get up close and undetected.

If they have a module you’ve never used before, you’ll gain the ability to salvage it if you later kill the bot. And if they don’t, you’ll be able to read their robo-thoughts. Not entirely sure what I’m going to do with that, but even if it’s just an array of pointless introspection it should be fun to write.

More

Bret: Like the scanning mechanic. Seems the kind of game to kill a dull afternoon.

Niteowl: What are you writing this in?

Bret: He's using gamemaker, I think.

Jason L:

If they have a module you’ve never used before, you’ll gain the ability to salvage it if you later kill the bot.

Hooray for this. There is nothing wrong with any game being more like Captain Forever.