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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

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.

jh: In my experience you're all wrong and I will defend my position till death or bordem. Also this is a super old page so I also get the last word which means I win!