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.

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

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

Gunpoint problem?

Don't post them here, I'm a useless idiot! E-mail tech support with as much detail about your system and the problem as possible, and they can actually do something.

Question?

There's a page about the games I've worked on, what I use to make them, and what platforms they're coming to.

Formatting

URLs get turned into links automatically. You can use <i>HTML</i> but not [b]forum[/b] code.

Comment