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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.

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  • 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

    The Podcast Of My Machine Of Death Story Is Out

    The stories from the Machine of Death collection are being gradually released as a free podcast, a sort of episodic audiobook. Mine just came out, read rather excellently by Christopher Joseph. Warning! Strong language from the first word.

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    Not totally sure why I don’t get a mention, I think that might be an oversight. The site makes it clear enough who wrote it so it’s no big deal.

    One of many reasons I declined to read my own story was that my narrator is American and I am not, so it’s great to hear it in its pseudo-native tongue. The flipside, of course, is that I’m not perfect at expressing the exact tone of voice characters are using, so inevitably there are parts that aren’t as I’d imagined them. I don’t mind that at all – my narrator is intentionally not me in some important ways, so it’s kind of nice to hear him say things the way I wouldn’t.

    It also makes me realise how much clearer I need to be about who’s speaking. Chris always gets it right, but without doing some kind of comedy accent for one of the characters, that’s not enough for the listener to always know. I think I’m meant to write scripts rather than prose, I don’t really care how non-dialogue information is communicated so long as it’s clear.

    Here’s the direct MP3 link if you want to download it, or the RSS link to subscribe.

    The book is now $12 from or £11 from You can also get it as an iBook for $5.99 or on the Kindle for £7.29.

    The whole thing is also free in PDF form, and the text of my story for it is online here.

    More ,

    Chris: Noice

    Lack26: I've only been listening to the podcasts so far and I have to say this is probably joint favourite with ALMOND, excellent listen, although one or two lines jarred a bit with been read out-loud, but it was literally one or two lines.

    Tom Francis: Hurray! Thanks.

    Tweets that mention The Podcast Of My Machine Of Death Story Is Out, by Tom Francis -- [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Francis and Tom Francis, Phil Savage. Phil Savage said: Oh, @Pentadact's Machine of Death story's been podcasted. It's totes good, with shades of Primer (sans the WTF headache) [...]

    David Malki !: Hi Tom! I want to apologize about the omission of your name from the audio -- that was a mistake in the editing and has now been corrected with a mention at the very beginning.

    To the note about being clear who's speaking -- it's been very interesting and educational for us, directing and editing these stories in audio, to see how a difference in medium can affect comprehension. For example, I've learned that sometimes things like "he said," "Bob said," etc. are often added to audio scripts for clarity, even though it might be perfectly clear in text form. We're learning as we go!

    Glad to hear you like the reading!

    p.s. "a job fucking lot of them" is not an Americanism, I'm sorry, Tom. :) Chris and I had to Google it.

    Tom Francis: Sweet, thanks.

    Yeah, I figured, but not during editing for some reason. I was going to mock myself in this post about that, but forgot. Let's just say Pete's British and he picked it up from him.

    UberSprode: Thanks for reminding me about this. Totally forgot and ordered the book on the weekend, just arrived today.
    Looks like a great read!

    sQUEAKYfOAMpEANUT: Tom, I'd just like to reiterate that your story was my absolute favourite in the story.

    sQUEAKYfOAMpEANUT: I meant to say "in the book".


    Tom Francis: Cheers!

    Interestingly SUICIDE almost works as a sequel to it - there's only one detail in there that clashes with the world of my story, and some of the rest is almost creepily consistent.

    ihranator: Kinda offtopic here, but what the hell happened to Chris? First Person Shouter is no more, and First Person Observer's not been updated for months.

    Jason L: He...starts a lot of projects. On balance, I think it beats overstaying your welcome.

    Oak: He's also deleted his Twitter. What's going on?

    Tom Francis: He's not dead, just not doing as much writing-about-games-on-the-internet. He is planning to get back into the habit soon. He writes US PCG's back page most months I think.

    ihranator: Well any info is good info. Thanks.