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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.

  • 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

    The Escape Game I’m Not Going To Make This Weekend

    The 48-hour game-making competition Ludum Dare is back on this weekend, and the theme is Escape. This is the 21st compo – I entered the 19th with Scanno Domini, and regretted not entering the 20th.

    Gunpoint’s at too exciting a stage right now to take time off from it. If I was making a game about Escape this weekend, though, here’s what it’d be.

    Escape Velocity

    You’re a small escape pod with a single thruster, jetting around an infinite randomly generated space. Planets of randomly generated size attract you with their gravitational pull. If you land on one, you’ll find your thruster isn’t powerful enough to let you escape.

    You can, however, press down to burrow through the crust of the planet into its gooey core. Your pod automatically sucks up the molten minerals in the centre of the planet to use as fuel. The bigger the planet, the more intensely its fuel burns, and therefore the more powerful your thruster can get if you suck up its whole core. It’s just enough power to escape the gravitational pull of a planet this size, so from now on you can escape any planet that isn’t bigger than this one without boring to its core.

    As soon as you start sucking up a planet’s core, though, it becomes unstable and will soon explode. It also gets lighter, reducing its gravitational pull. You have to judge how long you can afford to keep sucking up its core before you need to start escaping. The longer you suck, the more powerful your thruster and the weaker the gravitation pull it has to overcome, but the closer you get to the planet’s detonation.

    You have to leave the crust through the hole you made on your way in, or take a second to drill a new one. Provided you get outside the fatal radius in time, you can ride the blast wave of the explosion for a speed boost that’ll last till you next hit a planet, or thrust in a different direction.

    You’re trying to get to the galactic core, a direction indicated on-screen, by progressively increasing your thruster power and armour to increase speed and skip more and more planets on the way. You want to get there to suck the whole thing up and use it as fuel to escape spacetime or whatever THE END.


    FlyingSquirrel: Ok, if Tom isn't going to make Escape Velocity this weekend, can someone else? That sounds like all sorts of fun :D

    Eagle0600: If you no-one else makes this, at least you know you have a good idea for a project to work on once you're done with this. Because that would be a very fun game.

    Clockwok Peanut: Escape velocity sounds bril! Also regarding gunpoint's background it actually looks kinda cool at the moment, it has an out-of-focus feel to it like in Limbo.

    Sam: Gunpoint looks amazing but I can't help but think it might be a bit too busy- the guards, especially, don't stand out from the background, and it's hard to tell what's scenery and what's a real object in the building.

    Tom Francis: That mockup is to show every prop and feature that's in there right now, so it's much more cluttered than a normal level would be.

    My fault, I phrased it badly in the post - changed it to explain better now.

    Rei Onryou: Out of curiosity, are you tempted to try out random generation for Gunpoint? Since you're going for a story based game, it wouldn't fit directly, but having the opportunity for infinite replay-ability could be interesting. Or is Gunpoint a game that requires a more sculpted experience.

    This is all just speculative thought after remembering your Spelunky article in PCG and your love for it.

    Tom Francis: It's mainly a puzzle game, so it'd be tough to randomly generate puzzles that are definitely possible but not trivially easy, without resorting to templates that'd get noticeably repetitive.

    I've thought about it, though. I think it's probably a solvable challenge, but a hard one, and there's a risk they might not feel all that fresh anyway.

    Rei Onryou: Better to design a game with random generation in mind (a roguelike) than to try and fit a game design around random generation.

    Chris: That background complements the foreground so well. Have you got an animation for that heavy rain yet?

    nowhere: Oh man, Escape Velocity by Ambrosia for Mac was one of my favorite games when I was growing up.
    http://en.wikipedia.... ...ideo_game)

    TooNu: "Gunpoint is a rip roaring spectacle of a game! 5/5 - PC Gamer"

    TooNu: Actually you would use percentage wouldn't you....fuck I fail.

    Jobizzie: For gunpoint, I think you really out to check out a producer called Burial, his music is really awesome and sets a great atmosphere for the sort of gritty/rainy urban environment. ...Ks0fL2PwWk for example.

    dual_barrel: Looks breathtaking!

    pireninjacolass: I Figured out how to do rain slightly differently in game make, there some good tutorials on youtube, if you want to see it in action play another rainy day, my ludum dare 20 entry (won buggiest game award) .

    verendus: I see those vents and I need to crawl around in them. It's basic human instinct.

    verendus: also, re: objects - it does look pretty busy, but it would be really, really, really cool if those props were all objects you could interact with, rather than scenery. Wire the water cooler up to the fan so, when a guard gets thirsty and tries to have a refreshing drink, HE ONLY MAKES HIMSELF HOTTER HAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Nonomu198: Is there going to be lighting in Gunpoint? The guard outside, with no illumination what so ever, looks the same as the others. Maybe it's just because it's a mockup?

    Gunpoint Art Progress, by Tom Francis: [...] done and the bare bones of the environment art for this setting in. It’s pretty far off the lovely mock-up right now, but already it feels awesome to be working with stuff that looks good. I’ve never [...]

    Gunpoint Art Style Mockup, by Tom Francis: [...] This isn’t new, just separating it out from this so it can live on the new Gunpoint [...]