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TOM FRANCIS
REGRETS THIS ALREADY

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.

Theme

By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

Projects

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

Fault

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

Clouds

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-Rock-and-a-Hard-Place-Trio-Jan

A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

Dark Messiah

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

Arguing

Arguing On The Internet

Stealth Games

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

Violence

E3′s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

Suspicious Manifesto

The Suspicious Developments manifesto

GDC

GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

Crosslink

Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

Happiness

Understanding Your Brain

What Makes Games Good

What Makes Games Good

Seat Quest

A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

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

Gnome

I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

Machine of Death

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

AOL

A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

First Night, Second Life

SWAT 4

SWAT 4: The Movie Script

Ending Screenshot

Ending, An Interesting Roguelite Puzzle Game With Extraordinary Sound Design

Found via Mike Bithell and Dan Cook, Ending is a puzzle game where you move around a tile-based dungeon, one square at a time, and enemies only move when you do. That’s normal for Rogue-like games, but here it’s also used as a puzzle: it’s all about trying to get enemies to walk into your attack range before you walk into theirs.

There are a bunch of cool things about it.

Ending 4

The Sounds Are Amazing

It’s just little text-like characters, but when you kill them or they kill you, the crunch is brutal. It sounds like they get shattered, little bone-like fragments clattering to the floor. The screen-shaking visual effects are part of it, but the sound especially is deeply satisfying.

Ending 3

The Puzzle Mode Is Extremely Neat

The first mode, the leftmost icon, is a series of hand-built puzzle levels that teach you how each enemy type works, then test your understanding with tricky situations that have a specific solution. It works really well because:

It teaches purely with play, always letting you learn the rules first-hand rather than telling you.

It does so with almost no cost for failure: you restart the room, but they’re small rooms and it’s quick to redo bits you already understand.

It teaches everything in two stages. The first puzzle featuring a new element will be tiny and simple: “Do you get it?” The next one will be more complicated, but only involve elements you’ve already been taught: “Do you really get it?”

Ending 2

You Don’t Have To Keep Playing The Puzzle Mode

I get puzzle fatigue. Even in a slick game like this, at some point I suddenly think “Alright, fuck this, I’m gonna do something else.” Not because I’ve been playing too long, but always because of a shift in the game’s balance between ‘How interesting this is to me’ and ‘How much work it is to play’.

For me, the “Fuck this” point happens much, much sooner if a puzzle game introduces:

- A sharp jump in difficulty or complexity
- A way to fail that requires redoing a lot of progress
- A challenge where I know the solution but it’s fiddly or time-consuming to execute

Ending is good at avoiding all that, so I lasted maybe 20 levels before I got slightly tired of learning about new enemy types and fiddling with very strict grid-movement solutions.

But it’s also got an interesting answer to this: a separate mode where you roam through huge, randomly generated dungeons made of these elements. The puzzles are much less difficult at first, but the randomness often leads to tricky situations, and just exploring it is refreshing.

You could see the first mode as the tutorial and this one as the main game, or the first mode as the main game and this as a sort of experimental aside. Either way, giving me the choice is what made me want to keep coming back to this.

It’s Available On Everything

You can play it in your browser for free, download an offline version for Windows, Mac or Linux, and buy it really cheap on both Android and iOS.

Ben: Interesting, I will definitely check it out.

Marc Forrester: It's like a tiny portable version of Deadly Rooms of Death, which somehow manages to be the most aggravating and relaxing game ever devised. http://caravelgames.... ...2/KDD.html

Will: Oh, interesting. I played through several levels of the Puzzle mode, up until it got too frustrating, and I loved the aesthetics and the sort of calm danger that roguelikes are so good at creating, but I didn't even poke at the exploration mode. I'll have to go back and check it out.

jenson: I really .this .game ,,,.

niks: Looks good

Question about Gunpoint? Try the Gunpoint FAQ! Question about Heat Signature? There's one for that too! Question about Game Maker, Unity, tools? They're covered in both!

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