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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.

Heat Signature’s Launch, And First Player Legend

A Leftfield Solution To An XCOM Disaster

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

PC Gamer Podcast 51: Mine, Part Mine

Oh yeah, we pod a cast. I get to talk about what playing Deus Ex 3 was like, Rich gets to talk about what reviewing Dragon Age 2 was like, we discuss Bulletstorm’s stupidity, Shogun 2’s cleverity, and Battlefield 3 possibilities.

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In which game can you part-own a mine? How hard can you throw something at someone’s head before they react? Are mages getting magier or less mageful? Would Team Fortress 2 work with 3,000 players?

All these answers and no more, for the special person who Downloads/subscribes.

Anonymous: I'm playing through Deus Ex one at the moment, and I'm very excited about DX3. It sounds amazing.

SenatorPalpatine: ^me

Rosti: This should be self evident, really, but an excellent podcast this time interval. More of This Sort of Thing, Please.

dartt: Regarding the request to comment if you enjoy the podcast: Yep, enjoyed this one; the pleasant chatter provided calming ambient sound while I worked on my Solipskier hi-score.

Lack26: Yep, I enjoyed it as well. Gave me something to listen to last-night/morning, it's nice to have a bit of chatter when everyone else has gone to sleep/failed to get up.

Korolev: It's a nice podcast. I like it. There's really nothing else I can say - I don't have any suggestions. Just keep doing what you're doing.

TooNu: The podcast is great, I've listened to them all but I agree that this one was more great.
It is probably Deus Ex affecting the podcast, or the mage puns, or the feuds, it was just fun to listen to. Why don't you do more than 1 every few weeks?

Tim Edwards job is to maintain the focus on the mag and how the podcast is 4 guys talking about things related to the new edition, but then it's so obvious that the 4 of you can go off on a tangent while still sticking to PC gaming. If you did even 2 podcasts per month you could get so much more freedom, spread the chatter over 2 podcasts and take it easy without feeling like you gotta get everythign into 1hr 20mins.

I guess you guys just have too much work to cram in another podcast though, which is a fucking shame.

OFFTOPIC: I go to NY on the 15th, my birthday is the 17th and my boat to JC Denton island leaves at 0900 on the 17th. When we get back I'm going to find the firehouse in Ghostbusters, Dana Barrets apartment building, the hotel in Home Alone 2, the bridge in central park in home Alone 2, the bookstore in You've got mail, then I'm going to Battery Park to find a homeless boy that sells secret codes for candy bars, then we eat at Less Halles at 2000 that evening.

'I've said too much'

Urthman: Tom, if the PC Gamer fellows won't let you go on about YouTube, you need to find some guys who'll do a less-focused podcast with you because we need to hear more of your awesome rants.

(Are there other podcasts out there that you've contributed to or been a guest on?)

DiscountNinja: I'm listening! It's awesome, and more Tom Francis puns please!

Jason L: bug report: 'Recent PC Gamer' widget items load on individual post pages but not on main page

Bret: Heard it.

Like it.

Bit long, innit?

DiscountNinja: No! Length good.

Tom Francis: Jason - in my experience it's pretty random whether it loads or not on both the main and post pages. I think the script gives up if PCG doesn't respond in a certain amount of time, so I rephrased the intro to that box so that it makes sense whether the list is there or not.

Clint: Did you sneak a Grandaddy reference into one of the section headers of your Skyrim article by chance?

Tom Francis: Yep! It was something like "Proud lineage" before, seemed too close not to take the opportunity.