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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.

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


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


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


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 Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

Dark Messiah

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot


Arguing On The Internet


Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Stealth Games

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?


E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

Suspicious Manifesto

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

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


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


A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

First Night, Second Life


SWAT 4: The Movie Script Stats

Post 500

Quickly, drink this. I just found a retroactive excuse for tonight’s pina coladas: I’ve posted 500 things on this site?

This 500th post calls for MINIMUM CONTENT and MAXIMUM STATS. They start from when the site moved to in February 2008, and the graph looks a bit like this (click for readable size):

Special thanks to Chris Livingston for being my biggest human referrer, which will make him vital when the robot referrers rise up against the human referrers and we need some muscle. He’s also writing about film and TV as well as games these days, with his wife – bafflingly also called Kris Livingston. It is awesome to have him back on the blogonets, and some of his amazing old stuff like his Merchants of Brooklyn screenplay is finally back online.


Apparently- wow, the Left 4 Dead gnome thing is my most visited post ever? Here’s the confusing list:

1. I Played Through Left 4 Dead 2 Holding A Goddamn Gnome
The only thing I know about how StumbleUpon works is that it rewires the internet so that this post is disproportionately popular, forever.

2. I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome
My SEO seminar is entitled Goddamn Gnomes and How Holding Them Can Grow Your Demographic.

3. Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Ideas
Proof that if you can’t do something well, do it anyway.

4. Ending BioShock
Imagine this post spluttered loudly and indecipherably by a drunk, and you know what I’m like to hang out with.

5. This Is All I Can Think During StarCraft 2’s Cut Scenes
Can’t help noticing the popularity of posts in which I write little or nothing at all.

6. Fallout Girl: Striking Out
Thousands of people saw this! Almost none of them were inspired to read the next or previous entries! Ouch.

7. Far Cry 2: Impersonation Of A Buddy
Thanks to a celebrity cameo in the comments – cheers, Clint!

8. Plants Vs Zombies: Lawns I Have Loved
Wow. OK, no idea.

9. The Best And The Worst Of Mass Effect 2 (Spoiler Safe)
Venting pent up opinion from not getting to review it.

10. A Stab At Meet The Spy
Which, as everyone pointed out, was too long. Then Meet The Spy actually came out, and was more than twice as long as every other video in the series. IN YOUR FACE, people with a reasonable point!

More importantly, we just passed 10,000 comments, and that is tough to comprehend. Even after six years, this place almost never gets a “first!” or a “meh”, so that’s 9,900 worthwhile contributions – more than I’ll ever make myself. Thanks, everyone.


Flowerpot Wang: First!


I've said enough.

Flowerpot Wang: Also, congrats :D:D

Rosti: You are credit to whole web!

sQUEAKYfOAMpEANUT: Tom, this is your editor. There's no time to gloat here, we've got a schedule to uphold. Now get back to writing funny articles about video games, chop chop.

Phydaux: Over 9,000 comments!

Sorry... I'll get me coat.

TooNu: WOOO! :)
May the next 10,000 comments be just as mega great!

Joop: So thats what happened to Chris, man Ive been wondering where he went.

dual_barrel: 7. Far Cry 2: Impersonation Of A Buddy
This is the one through which I got to know this site first and it was really funny.

Matthias Zarzecki: Chris Livingstone is alive?

Seriously. His last websites vanishes off the web, and that was the next logical conclusion I drew.

Leman: I was brought here by the great I played through Crysis holding a Korean.

Its still my favourite article because im sick in the head.

Leman: Actually thats a lie. I was here before Surprised Korean Guy.


Stewmull: Congrats dude! :) iv been happly reading your blog for ages and finally posted something...

heres to another 500 more! :D

Sooty: Funny... I was brought thanks to my PvZ video after shamelessly checking where the traffic source for that video came from lol.

Duncan: There's nothing like a "Best of Tom Francis" post to stop me from getting on with my day.

Octaeder: Congrats on the milestone!

I'm pretty sure I was pointed here by Chris' blog. Which is sort of weird as I only found his site because Concerned got a mention in PC Gamer.

Tom Francis: Hah, my ridiculously circuitous plan to promote my own blog worked!

Cheers guys.

FlyingSquirrel: So I mentioned this on Chris' new site, but thanks for the link to his new endeavor :D. I had been wondering what he had been up to since First Person Observer. Hoorays!

Matthias Zarzecki: On that matter, what is Chris Livingstones new site? I got here through Concerned too and followed him, until his last sites went defunct.

Now even googling "chris livingstone" results nothing.

Matthias Zarzecki: Oh yeah. There it is. forgot that.

Nonomu198: Happy milestone! Been enjoying this blog for three years now, I think. Cheers!

I too was directed here by Chris, a long time ago. He lives! Amazing! I figured something had happened to him. This is great!

Why don't you change the link on the side panel from his old, defunct site to his new, seemingly not yet defunct one?

Experiential: Ah, I remember the days when it was just James.
PvZ, TF2, Music and media moderation. Congrats man!! I think I was first sent here from a Dong Resin blog post, and he's been gone for Years.

Huh.. nother 30 minutes of nostalgia, and it'll be happy hour.

Keep at it, man.

Nonomu198: Tom, you listened! Great.