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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

Deus Ex 3

My Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

My review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is finally online. It is the greatest thing. The game, not the review. Kind of a big one, so I hope I explained it well enough.

More ,

Chris: Damn you Tom Francis, I was trying to hold off buying this for a while. You had me at "Vending machine".

TooNu: Hey Tom!
I bought my copy of PCG here in Sweden last Friday and I've read your review twice now. It was fun and managed to increase the impatience I have for owning this game. 4 more days, just 4 more days.

1stGear: If anyone wasn't completely sold on this game by the end of the introduction, you have no soul.

I have to say, it's nice to see the near-universal agreement that this game did indeed live up to, and surpass, its predecessor. Especially considering that the Internet basically labeled Eidos Montreal 'Video Game Hitler' when Human Revolution was announced.

Gryphon: You mentioned this is the best game you've played in four years - what was the game you played four years ago that you considered the best you've played?

nabeel: I'm guessing that game was BioShock.

Chris: I really liked some of the art and scenes in BioShock, but other than that it just didn't click for me.

Tom Francis: Supreme Commander actually. That's why I didn't specify it - it's not a terribly informative comparison. But I'm still playing that game every day, and I don't know if DXHR will have that kind of longevity.

Joe R: Interesting, I love Sup Com too and still play it very regularly! Skirmish RTS games have massive longevity - I mean there's only so many times you can play a story based game before it will start to wear thin - even if it is long and very open ended, whereas a game like Sup Com in skirmish will rarely feel stale I suppose.

I just wish I had a PC capable of handling more than 3 AIs on a big map like Seton's Clutch or Shards without the game going into permanent bullet time style slo mo :(

Davie: I'm so happy that HR is good. After Skyrim and Space Marine, this is the game I was most interested in this year. And this is coming from someone who still hasn't played the original.

I also like how yellow it is. In the age where every game is brown, green and grey, I love that the artists went with yellow.

Chris: I'm trying to play through Deus Ex before this one comes in the post. I like how everyone is very monotone, especially Mr. JCD.

Shaun Carr: I've finished the first 10 hours of this twice and it's the best game I've played in a long time.

The new third person view is excellent and not at all jarring, despite what some reviews say, and so are the close combat take-downs. I don't buy into all of this rubbish about how it breaks immersion. The third person view actually lets you move with confidence when you're sneaking. It's much more bad-ass and cinematic than having your nose pressed up against a crate, bobbing up and down like a jack in a box so you can see whats going on. If this 'breaks immersion' then I'd rather not be immersed.

The same applies to the take-downs; do people seriously prefer stabbing people in the bum with a riot prod?

The only real worry I have about it from my brief playing time is whether or not specialising into a certain build will be a lasting choice that you have to live with or not? Will you have more or less everything augmented by the end of the game? I prefer having to live with my build and play-style throughout. This is nitpicking though...

Regardless, I cant wait until 5 o'clock on Friday. Sesh on!

TooNu: Am I going to have to live in fear of spoilers on James, RPS, and PCG websites? My copy won't arrive until sometime next week so I'm treading the internet very carefully.

Tom Francis: I won't spoil anything in posts here for at least a few weeks. Can't entirely vouch for comments, of course - if anyone does wanna talk spoilers, please keep them out of the first sentence of your post so they don't show up in the latest comments bit.

Joe R: Jensen is a 12 yr old girl. Oh wait spoilers

Delacroix: Joe R, that really stung. He might have asked for a lot of things, but he never asked for that.

Joe R: One thing I have noticed is, Adam's chin is SO pointy - it's like something out of one of those old films set in Egypt in Roman times - it makes him look like a royal adviser to the Pharaoh or something. I want a beard like that.

Shaun C: Obviously you missed the bit in the opening sequence when Sarif says 'Give him the new chin-o-matic impaler. His body can take it.'

It's a high end aug upgrade for your head, I believe.

Joe R: So it's like a sort of extra bonus weapon for a headbutt? Slam head forward, then jerk back, causing pointed chin / beard to inflict severe upward facial lacerations to complement the serious bruising caused by the initial impact.

Chris: A beard rash so intense that enemies scratch themselves to death.

My copy was in the post on the 23rd. Where is it boo hoo :(

Connor: I'm really wishing I thought of the box fort. The most exciting thing I ever did with furniture is use a vending machine as mobile cover to hide from a robot while I murdered all of his friends.

Jackohbite: I love this game to death, but the boss fights are arse on the highest difficulty setting if you've been playing a stealthy player. Absolute arse. Other than that, fantastic game, the China levels especially.

Pattom: So agreed, Jackohbite. I've been playing on the highest difficulty, too, and somehow beat the first boss on my first attempt. Considering I played a hacker who stole everything that wasn't nailed down, that was amazing. By the time I fought the second boss I had picked up a few more combat augs, but... you know what? I'm gonna indulge in one small mechanical SPOILER.

Invest in Dermal Armor early so you can get the aug that protects you from EMPs. Otherwise the second boss fight is stupidly, infuriatingly hard.

MartinJ: The second boss fight actually isn't all that hard, even without that aug. All I really needed was cloak, a stun gun, and realizing that those boxes spread all across the damn room are actually lockers with EMP and other mines.

I came in with just 1 energy bar, too.

Chris R: I bought the game based on your review, because I firmly believe that the developers should be rewarded for doing such a great job. Normally I would have waited for a steam sale before purchasing.

Joe R: Just got to the first boss - had to drop the difficulty from deus ex down to easy, simply because it's silly - you can't seem to hide from him as he just walks towards you firing that insane minigun :( Oh well, it's over now, so I can enjoy the otherwise stellar game!

TooNu: I am here to say that my copy for Deus Ex Human Revolution arrived today. I finished work at 2217 and drove home, found the package, and it is installing while I type this.


Lack_26: I have to say, this game is my favourite heavy-lifting simulator.

TooNu: Well I am here again to say that I completed Deus Ex Human Revolution about 15 minutes ago. And the wait was definetly worth it. The story is great. The gameplay is great. The graphics are great. I love this game, it's a very very good game indeed.
My first playthrough took 31.4 hours to complete.
I have also earned 35 of the 49 Steam achievements.

Now for a Coke and another playthrough.

TooNu: I can't edit but I just watched the entire credits....the plot thickens! :)

Blackout62: Thank god all that coverage I thought you were going to have a Deus Ex-gasm and profess your undying love for Warren Specter.

TooNu: No no :) but almost

AlexZander: @Joe R
I disagree on the first Boss Fight. You can move around the perimeter and duck and hide behind the pillars to avoid Barrett's minigun. Then when Barrett launches grenades, sprint out of there before detonation.

Also turn on silent footsteps if you have that augment, and he will sometimes lose track of you. Then pot shot him with your weapon of choice.

Bnh leather hub: my best movie Deus Ex Human