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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.

  • 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...
  • Jack: Are you going to release Morphblade for iOS or the Nintendo Switch? I would really like to play this on my...
  • 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

    2010: The Year In Forty Photos

    Photos of 2010 60

    You probably don’t want to hear about my year, particularly since it was good. So I’ll do what I did in 2009 and just pick some shots from it, and a track to listen to while you browse.

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    Photos of 2010 09

    Photos of 2010 12

    Photos of 2010 64

    Photos of 2010 11I invented a board game for my family to capture the basic mechanics of the amazing but single-player only Flash game Dice Wars. It had some kinks.

    Photos of 2010 22Rich’s housewarming. He has a trapdoor in his kitchen that leads to an underground well.

    Photos of 2010 14I made cookies for my family at easter, each customised to our esoteric tastes.

    Photos of 2010 20

    Photos of 2010 15

    Photos of 2010 19

    Photos of 2010 21Ceramic.

    Photos of 2010 24My cheese and rosemary bread – best eaten while it’s still this hot.

    Photos of 2010 26Exhausted in an especially hectic New York City, I’m happy to find Max Brenner The Chocolate Man still exists, and is still an oasis of warmth and butterfat.

    Photos of 2010 28

    Photos of 2010 29

    Photos of 2010 31

    Photos of 2010 34

    Photos of 2010 35

    Photos of 2010 37For our pseudo-anniversary, we fed Kim’s fixation with fish at the aquarium, and my fixation with steak at Hawksmoor.

    Photos of 2010 38

    Photos of 2010 39Hawksmoor’s sticky toffee pudding.

    Photos of 2010 43I now own a barbecue, the final artefact I needed to complete my triforce of manhood.

    Photos of 2010 42

    Photos of 2010 01Our old friend Al was back from New Zealand for a while, so Rich, he and I got together for a fajitas and margaritas night. We got through about a third of the Cuervo in margaritas before I passed out and Rich violated his vegetarianism. Welcome back Al!

    Photos of 2010 02It made us think.

    Photos of 2010 6030s party for my Gran’s birthday. Anna, me, and Kim.

    Photos of 2010 45Vancouver work trip.

    Photos of 2010 50

    Photos of 2010 51

    Photos of 2010 57

    Photos of 2010 03

    Photos of 2010 04

    Photos of 2010 05Seafood with Relic. That’s Dan Kading, designer of Dawn of War 2: Retribution.

    Photos of 2010 06

    Photos of 2010 08Halloween.

    Photos of 2010 07

    Eve 01Christmas. Anna and I are transfixed by our dad connecting a battery and a magnetised screw so that it spins phenomenally fast.

    Dad SledThese last few might look familiar.


    Tree Shadow

    Frost Fingers

    icouldbeahero: Nice photos...That ceramic crushed plastic cup is droll!

    SenatorPalpatine: The Highline is really cool, but Max Brenner's is too expensive for me. I like the giant pseudo-rope bridge. Where is that?

    Duncan: Only a RTS designer would stare at seafood with that much malice.

    Bret: I know this will sound ridiculous to your no doubt superior mind, but...

    why couldn't dice wars use, well, dice?

    Or are the papers placeholders for dice? They probably are, come to think.

    It is a good game. Just won a match.

    Nano: Don't forget, I'm the one who put the BBQ together, Mr Man.

    westyfield: @SenatorPalpatine
    It looks like the Capilano bridge, near Vancouver.

    Lack 26: Perfectly timed song, finished just as I hit the comments. I like the hat as well.

    Tom Francis: Bret: we just didn't have enough dice. I think we only had two, in fact.

    Nano: true. I was busy building something else, the bench I think?

    Commander Fabulous: Dude! Sweet hat! And I am dissaproving of the fact that this was only said 7 comments in. More hat appreciation! Especially because it's a trilby, which is like a baby fedora, the mafia hat o' choice. :3

    Oh, and you know it's a REAL MAN'S pudding if it has to be contained with a bowl on a plate, basically so then you can just lunge at it jaws agape and murderify it most messily without contamination of the rest of the table. Classy restaurants have the greatest potential for messiest eating habits, quite contrarywise really. Anyway, I ramble, good selection of photos though.

    Lurchibles: Stumbled onto your site (been reading PCG) and decided to click "play" on the track...

    Ben Folds :-)

    You have exceeded my expectations Mr. Francis.

    That is all.

    Tom Francis: Thanks guys!

    Nano: @Pentadact - it was your Mum who was fixing and varnishing the bench! You just stood around looking confused a lot, drinking wine with your Dad.

    Tom Francis: UNLIKELY.

    Jason L: It is a wonderful hat; I envy your haberdashary. I wear a boonie or a Real Deal hat all summer against my foe the unconquered sun and love them, but wanted to get something non-ventilated and felt for my highly, highly ventilated winters. Thought I could rock a sharp Matthew Vaughn trilby, or a fedora, or one of those droopy crushed Scottish things in a pinch. Spent an hour in the shop and looked like a dunce in everything I put on except for this sort of shako thing that made me look like I was going to ask for my own papieren bitte right out of the mirror. I felt like a misogynistic stereotype faced with a row of slightly different-coloured shoes. I will try again, but hat morale is low. I...I fear I may wind up with an ironic derby. I am not an ironic dude. Let spring come before that fate.

    TooNu: I think 2010 was the year I read something here where you posted the photo of where JC first arrives. It's one of the major factors in this years NY trip in March, I thougth you should probably know that somethign as small as a photo and a caption can help influence a decision to spend lot's of money on a trip abroad.

    I hope you are proud of yourself.

    Lack 26: I wish I could find hats that fit me, I've got a tradition going with my brother that when ever we visit a foreign countries we have to buy a hat (traditional, failing that military) from that country. The amount of time I've spent bumbling around Bazaars and markets looking for a proper fit.

    Tom Francis: Nice! It is a strange experience. I haven't had any luck going inside - both times I've been it's been closed off for security reasons. Annoying, but since the main reason I wanted to go in there was to see if it looks like a videogame where terrorists have blown it up, I can't really begrudge them their protectiveness.

    Jason L: Thanks, At Random widget! I forgot to mention before that computer multiplayer Dicewars exists: KDice.