All posts

Games

Game development

Stories

Happiness

Personal

Music

TV

Film

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 2, 1PM: Feature Complete

Which is to say: not graphics or content complete. So brace yourself for a painfully similar screenshot:

Snowbot 4

But the two tiny changes you do see represent pretty much everything else I needed to get done for the game to make sense: you can now scan enemies when they’re not looking to steal the details of their weapons, then use that info to rebuild their guns, shields and engines when they’re dead.

I’m happy I’ve got to this point, but there’s a lot more to do. I have a choice of a few fairly major areas to work on, and I’ll list them in my current priority order:

  • Player guidance: Even in an ultra quick experimental game I don’t think this step is remotely skippable. If I don’t get a few basic tutorial messages in to explain how to play the game, no amount of readmes will ever make up for it.
  • Balance: Bots of random strength spawn in random positions. So that kinda sucks. I just need a few lines of code to make weaker ones spawn near the player, tougher ones further away, and to make certain configurations excitingly rare. This’ll have a big effect on how much fun it is to play.
  • Environment: I’d like to add water around the edges to make this an island, and possibly a fortress wall at the top.
  • Objective: Right now there’s no long term objective. Ideally I’d like to have you scanning and stealing parts until you’re strong enough to assualt a fortified wall to the north and escape.
  • Graphics: I must at least make some proper plasma blasts, and ideally add explosion effects and a better player bot. I also need to take one more go at making snow look less awful – I’d like to make it grainy and randomise the ‘dunes’ a bit.
  • Extra feature: scale. I’d really like to have double- and half-size bots roaming around, with accordingly different toughness and speed.

The reason graphics is so low is that the time it takes is such a wildcard – sometimes I get something bad right away, other times it takes me hours to make something bad.

Let me know if you think my priority order is nuts.

Current title idea: Scanno Domini. Other scan puns welcome.

More

DanPryce: Scantarctic Scandroid?

Adam Luttman: Gritter Hero?

LaZodiac: I don't exactly get the Scanno Domini pun, but I think it would be a good title if you were able to reprogram enemies after scanning them, to put them on your side.

Also, I think your priority order is correct. A good way to accomplish the player guidence thing is make a title screen to the game that has the option of viewing the controls, and maybe some helpful minor hints.

Phydaux: If you had made the scan some sort of "grapple" mini-game you could call it QuazaScan.

Plumberduck: A Scanner Dorkly?
Yes We Scan!
Super Sexy Robot Scan-dal
The Scannes Film Festival
A Scandal in Bohemia

Bret: Plan n' Scan?

Nonomu198: Omniscan
Scanadia
Combot (from Half Life)
Salvage Detective..?

If you're having hard time deciding, you can have multiple, random subtitles, like in Minecraft or Dwarf Fortress (though I think the Dwarf Fortress subtitles devolve directly from gameplay).

Plumberduck: Oh, you had a great name for your other game. Just because you threw it away is no reason not to use it here.

Private Dick lives!

LeSwordfish: I'm Scanning, Scanning, and i hope you like Scanning too.

EthZee: I don't know how difficult this is, but slightly out-there idea for tutorial:

On the opening screen, where the bot starts, have the instructions pasted on the ground. LEFT CLICK TO MOVE, RIGHT CLICK TO FIRE, etc etc.

When the bot moves away, make the instructions disappear.

Or maybe just have a small help screen pop up when you press H, or something.

ckpk: Submodule.Aquisition.Control.Network

please post this time D:

ckpk: swap the A and the C ¬¬

Crane: "To Crush 'Neath Scandled Feet"

Jason L: Through A Scanner Whitely