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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

A Cheating Supreme Commander AI’s Base

Supreme Commander AI 2.5 base

If you saw our final assault on the red base in the last big PCG game, imagine that being crushed. It didn’t even take them long to rebuild. Hopefully we’ll have time to make a video of this one too.


Tristan: Looks awesome Tom

I hope you are able to make another video, and its great that you guys over at PCG are able to supplement the podcast with this kind of thing.

Diffractionman: I've been playing Forged alliance again thanks to you. I realise how much I missed it and the thrill of planning out a base. You know how people say that food tastes better when you cooked it yourself? Well to me, base building is kind of like that, but you're building massive experimental artillery instead of a cake.

Though what I love most about SupCom is how many ways there are to win. And how different types of gamers will often find something they like in it. So 7 of you vs 1 very tough AI is a video that I really want to see :)

FraktuRe: Post the video and we shall be eternally grateful :P

Kris: Now that's just plain teasing us.

Chris: If you don't have time for a video atleast give us a run down of the game!

GaGrin: If I didn't have a chronic problem with buying more games than I can actually find the time to play, I'd have picked this up on the strength of the previous vid alone.

Looking forward to more on this, seeing these played by people who know what they're doing is more entertaining than me getting my arse handed to me anyway.

Matthew: Replay file! Replay file!
However a commentary video would be appreciated, either is good.

TooNu: Off topic: Tom are you able to stab somebody in the face over at Eidos about this region lock thing? I've waited YEARS for this game and the week before release tehy do this region lock crap, so now my retail augmented edition from is looking to be a huge let down, and I only live in bloody Sweden!

TooNu: of topic again: Good work Mr.Tom Francis, they changed their minds about the region locking.

Tom Francis: Any time.

Nonomu198: Tom, I'd be interested to see a match between you guys. No AI, just two teams of PC Gamer staff smashing each others' bases, then being angry at each other.

Tom Francis: Yeah, the 'angry at each other' part is why we don't do that. Personally I don't think I've ever really enjoyed an RTS against a human. I feel bad if I win, annoyed if I lose.