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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


Arguing On The Internet

I don’t argue on the internet anymore, but I have some ideas on how to do it without defeating yourself and also human decency.

Update: This post now has a sort of sequel, suggesting ways to contribute to an argument without being an asshole.


Diffractionman: Wow, really enjoying these Kitchen Videos (or whatever you'd like to call them) and this is a particularly great one.

I wonder if our experiences is also, along with determining what data we have, affecting how we see other data. We assign different weights to the same statements. And can't seem to understand why someone else doesn't assign the same weight. I've often wondered why I feel differently about situations to most other people, maybe it's just different experiences.

ghosttie: I don't think the people who would benefit most from adjusting their attitude toward arguments are people who are much into self-examination.

I think people in general are more interested in defending their beliefs than in challenging them. A lot of the time people believe things because they were raised to believe them and that's not something you can argue with.

Anonymous: Nice video I totally agree. I always find I grow and learn more about myself and the world by talking to people I disagree with.

Jason L: Well, you're right. I should try to find out what different life experiences result in positions abhorrent enough to be worth fighting.

100% result: They were raised by bigots or solipsist fundamentalists.

That was quick. Now what?

ninecome: I'd really love to read the article you mention - the one about written statements and subjects' perception of truth. I tried to search for it based on your description but wasn't able to find it. Do you happen to know where you saw it?

Tom Francis: Not sure if it's the same one, but WorthlessBums (username, not an insult) on YouTube points to one with the same finding: ...0923017461

Nonomu198: Tom, what nice people arguing were you talking about?

Pod: Date your posts! I don't know how old this is!

Did you know that this page comes up as the top result for "solipsist fundamentalists"? Not that I found it via here (I wanted to look it up and it was what I thought it was -- the "you don't exist if I can't see you/you're all figments of my mind" thing).

I love arguing on the internet. Millions of people are wrong and just need correcting.

How do I stop doing this? How do you stop yourself from doing that? What happens if someone says something terrible like "All blacks should be shot?" or "Spelunky sucks"? Do you not want to say "you're wrong, here's why: " ?

re: Statements on paper -- I guess this is how Derren Brown does all of his tricks? ;)

Tom Francis: The date's in the URL.

Jason L: For the record I was referring to fundamentalists who are solipsist (via inevitable retreats into nihilist denial of the existence of any objective truth), not solipsists who are fundamentalist about it :) The latter are uninteresting nonhumans; 'I refute it thus'.

It gets a lot easier to not want to write SIWOTI dissertations for people when you turn it around and think about how much you care about what trufax some random prick tells you online. Now multiply that by Asshole (because they're mouthbreathing trolls in the first place) and those are your odds of making any difference. You can 'stand' with someone who's being hurt by them, but that's emotionally homeopathic tea and requires a maximum of one sentence. 999/1000 if you have mod power give 'em some banhammer lovin' and if you don't they're not your problem.

Cpt.Average: I tend to just state my opinion/experience with as little emotion as possible then leave the forum/whatever and never visit it again. Even then, I only bother to post on subjects I feel very strongly about or feel I have experience that is valuable to the arguement.

PS You reminded me of this video: ...ature=plcp

john: just saw this and thought of your talk - http://thedoghousedi...

Tom Francis: Haha. Yeah, that's an elegant way to put it.

Infinite Lives » “Allow Natural Death” post-mortem (AKA “thanks”): [...] order—by promising me the work I’m doing is good. A games critic named Tom Francis made a video that I think I perhaps didn’t agree with at first, only because it threatened to mitigate my [...]

Not Being An Asshole In An Argument, by Tom Francis: [...] I don’t argue on the internet anymore. The short version is: it usually gets hostile, and that drives everyone further away from changing their minds. [...]

norbandosahat: you done good from the looks of it.

Dean: Thank you sir. You have changed the way I argue, on the Internet and otherwise, forever.

It's pretty simple realization. As good as calling the other guy an idiot may feel (in the moment), what does it actually accomplish? There's so much more to be accomplished simply from civil conversation.

Thanks again.

ThisGuy!: In my experience, your observations are spot on.

I too don't argue anymore and find qualifiers are very important to not ending up in stupid internet arguments.