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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

Leaving PC Gamer

I haven’t actually done any work for PC Gamer since March, and I haven’t officially left until tomorrow. But I’ve been there nine years, it’s the only full time job I’ve ever had, and I felt like I should mark its end somehow.

So on Saturday we had a Gunpoint-themed pizza and bourbon leaving party. And melon. It was thematically confused, but excellent.

Pizza bits


Line Up

This might surprise you, but sitting in an office full of your friends while playing and writing about videogames is a really great job. I’ll miss it. Happily, though, I’m not giving up games writing or leaving town, so I’ll still get to hang out with most of these people.

I generally avoided talking about games writing itself when it was my job, but now seems like a good time to think about it a bit. So I plan to do a few posts on the topic this week, starting with the five most important things I learned in nine years of doing it full time.

Marcin: Now who's wearing the jumping trousers in THAT picture?

Thanks for all the words, Tom!

Matt: Sorry to see you go. PC Gamer is the only gaming magazine I still subscribe to and it's because there's a real sense of community about it. I'll miss your contribution to that.

Best of luck in all your future pursuits. I thought Gunpoint was great and can't wait to see more from you.

Isaiah Donald: Really sad to see you go, Tom! You have most definitely been my favorite reviewer from my time reading PCGamer. I wish you the best in any future indie games you decided to make! :)

TooNu: You quickly became my favorite PCG person because your attitude towards gaming and how you go about gaming is so much like my own. Cheers for all the laughs throughout my twenties :)

Jon: I will miss you horribly.

Jaeson Welch: This means quantities of Tom Francis on the PC Gamer Podcast approaching if not equal to zero...doesn't it?

- Tiny Vader

Ben Marrow: Tom, I'm so annoyed so long to notice this post, I've been reading this blog for a good few years. You became my favourite writer for PC gamer a few years back (And when I said favourite, I mean you are the only PC gamer writer who I actually know by name and seek out your writing). It was when you wrote the Plan B freebee that came a long time back, the GalCiv 2 little book. I still have it on my shelf today, I find it so funny and it helped me actually play the game when I got round to it.

Sorry to see you go, but I'll stick around here anyway ;)

Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer, by Tom Francis: […] just finished tidying up after my PC Gamer leaving party. I’ll still be writing about games, but I’m at the end of my full-time career. So in […]

2013 – a post on Tom Francis’ blog: […] My leaving/launch party […]