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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

Spelunky Explorers’ Club

Each day, Spelunky generates one set of levels that’s the same for every player. Each day, we play them. Some of us make videos of our attempts. You can browse mine above (click the listy icon in the top left), or see everyone’s on the blog we set up at

On the rest of this post are the earliest dailies we posted.More info!

Special Notice

I’ve finally done what I should have in the first place, and set up the Explorers’ Club as its own blog. I’ve also renamed it to the Explorers Club because that apostrophe was annoying me. Therefore, this’ll be the last time I update this post, and all future videos and scores will go up on our new home at:

It’ll be the same bunch of people, but they can now post their videos themselves, so the place won’t shut down when I’m away. It also takes up much less of my time each day this way, which means I can keep doing it for longer. Explore force!

7th of September 2013

Tom Francis – The Black Market timebomb

In this video I wonder how anyone survived the bit I died on. Here’s how Anthony did.

When he approaches the Ankh cave, you can see there’s a chunk missing from the shop nearest it – that’s presumably where a red frog blew up and triggered the terrorist alert. Must have been eaten by a pitcher plant or prodded by a tiki trap. I didn’t hear a blast, but it was probably drowned out by the gunfire – I think their reaction would have been instant.

Anthony Burch – Sticky

After this run, I got to hell by repeating the mantra, “always use bombs”. This run is the reason why I came up with that mantra.

Nika Harper – Bad Things Are Bad

Graham Smith – Black Market Frogsplosion (w/ commentary)

In case there were any doubts, everything can go wrong so quickly if you just get flustered. Damsels will be the death of me.

Jason Killingsworth – Arrow To The Heart

This death really hurt, and right on the City of Gold’s doorstep. Completely out of nowhere, no chance to prepare for it or react to it. Insta-kill, game over.

Rich Stanton

God damn it Derek Yu. God damn it!

Richard Stanton hitting the high notes on the 13th attempt at Spelunky’s Daily Challenge! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and he’ll hurl the controller at the wall. Enjoy!

Chris Thursten – Why Is Everything Sticky

I’m doing these again and I’ve got a webcam and a microphone and everything. There’s some competent god damn Spelunky going down in here, let me tell you.

Sorry about the frame rate issues. If anyone has some hot Open Broadcaster tips to share, leave a comment.

Philippa Warr

Today I tried cheating. Chris’s video which I used for the cheating is here (…) but I don’t advise you watch it because it didn’t help :(

Explorer Scores
  1. Jason Killingsworth – Temple 4-2 – $218,600
  2. Anthony Burch – Temple 4-1 – $126,375
  3. Tom Francis – Black Market 2-4 – $124,175
  4. Aaron Linde – Black Market 2-4 – $92,275
  5. Graham Smith – Black Market 2-4 – $74,500
  6. Chris Thursten – Jungle 2-2 – $26,550
  7. Rich Stanton – Jungle 2-1 – $42,150
  8. Richard Boeser – Mines 1-3 – $30,500
  9. Nika Harper – Mines 1-3 – $5,400
  10. Chris Donlan – Mines 1-2 – $21,200

Tom’s note: Yep, something happened in the Black Market that day. Something bad. I imagine less than 5% of anyone who went there survived, so extra kudos to Anthony and Jason here. Jason, of course, had the advantage of already knowing the shopkeepers would be mad because he had taken the precaution of stealing from and murdering them throughout the game.

Show Previous Days And More Info

Ben Borthwick: Totally in for this - here's my runthrough of today's challenge.

Joe: No video, but I did manage to get all the way to Olmec today.

tequibo: Cool, cool, cool!
In "todays run I've got to the boss for the first time in HD version. And then died in a stupid fashion.

My yesterday's run was very, very short.

tequibo: Eh, I messed up first video link. Here it is:

Tom (Sleep Cycles Gaming): Another Tom checking in. Good names you lads have. Here's my attempt at today's run. ...idSiMvw4PI

You can view me fucking up in similarly inventive ways in other videos I have.

@saampahlavan: My run yesterday, farthest I've ever gotten in Spelunky: .../443889948

Daniel: It is really fun watching how other players deal with the dilemmas thrown at them by the game.

I for one am much braver or stupid as I ploughed on through bat country :)

Ben Borthwick: And my video for my run of the 12th here. Hoping the comment system won't flag me as a spammer if I keep up with the videos at the same pace as everyone else.

Paul Fisher: Fellow developer here, joining in the fun.
Got to the Black Market today and died to a man-eating plant blocking my way out of the shops. Thought 3 blocks was far enough away for a sticky bomb. Sadly not.
Todays run (12 Aug) - 2-2 - $45575

Nik SG: Hey! Cool idea! I have been recording my daily runs as well, you can check out my latest here:

Bit about me: I am a developer of games too and a big fan of the games you guys have worked on :)

Evan: As someone new to Spelunky these videos have been incredibly helpful after the fact (I'm keeping in the spirit and not watching them until after I attempt the day's run). Little things like being able to throw stuff at an upwards angle and grabbing the ledge while sprinting across a two-block gap that I hadn't figured out yet have vastly improved my game. I made it out of the mines today!

I went to play today's challenge and proceeded to immediately fall/get shot/get pounced at the start of the first level. When it showed my score I was ranked #1 in the world. Apparently the daily resets at midnight GMT or ~5 PM my time and I was one of the first people to run it. For a brief moment I was a Spelunky champion.

Daniel: Today (13th) I got all the way to the Aztec area!

Then was vomited on by a mummy ¬¬

Ben Borthwick: For recording tips, I recommend for those not wanting to spend money on FRAPS or a lack of HDD space to check out Open Broadcast Software or OBS

It's free and open-source, and you can use it to record from several sources (if you want say, a shot of your webcam to record your reactions etc), you can adjust game volume and microphone volume independently from each other and you can output to a local file and/or - if you're low on HDD space like me - you can just broadcast directly to and then export it from there to a YouTube video. Very handy bit of software.

And here's my video for today, the 13th.

Awesome plan with the new mini-blog Tom, I'd suspected this may quickly grow slightly big for one post too - I've actually collated the videos from here into a SpelunkyDaily Tumblr so people can view them by death or level reached, I'm tagging all videos from here with "SEC" for Spelunky Explorer's Club.

Jeff K: This has been tons of fun to watch, and thanks for the recording tips! I've been streaming/uploading my last few dailies (Today's is compressing as we speak).

But I think I'm going to shift my goal from scoring high on the leaderboards (i.e. getting tons of money) to just trying to get as far as I can with just the one chance. Whether that's beating Olmec or- should luck smile on me- getting to the City of Gold or even Hell, I think it'll be more fun both to play and watch.

Jason L: You probably spotted this after the fact, but on the 13th your burning hatred of the climbing gloves blinded you to some additional options they gave you.

Ben Borthwick: I foolhardy tried to show off something in my run today not surprisingly, it bit me in the arse. Almost literally.

Ben Borthwick: I had assumed Gril's colours might be switched due to his color-blindness, although it might be just have been a technical issue and now I'll look stupid :(.

My run for today (15th) - seemed to be the hardest DC so far.

Daniel: There's a worm level!?

Martin E: I guess you've figured out by now that it was a splinter of wood from the wall you mattocked (is that a word?) through that hit the crate of TNT.

Ben Borthwick: I have no idea how I survived so long today. (16th)

Finlay Costello: I attempted the daily challenge for the first time today, got to Mines 1-3 with $10,400. It goes without saying I died in a ridiculous and unexpected fashion. ...WG9MQNg

Rethlandir: My run for yesterday (16/08) and my even more foolish and premature end in the daily for the 17th.

Jeff K: My fairly-ok-but-then-horrible run for today. Mostly it turned into an exercise in learning how to do silly things with Premiere.

Jeff K: Whoops, and forgot the link there:

Damon Smith: Getting quite frustrated at Spelunky. My third daily challenge attempt where, for NO reason on my part, the shopkeeper became angry at me, which is pretty much game over from then on.

I wasn't even near his shop this time, just playing along, picking up gold, when suddenly..."TERRORIST!".

I really really wish this could be fixed in the PC version. I assume an enemy is wandering into his shop or something?

Rethlandir: My rather poor attempt at the daily for the 19th can befound here. I guess getting past the mines isn't always on the cards...

Finlay Costello: Good times, bad times. ...xLQRBt0

Chris Donlan: 5 lives on 1-2, but I couldn't resist stealing the jetpack. Trying to, anyway.

Rethlandir: So yesterday (Aug 31st) turned out to be one of the few really successful runs I've managed, despite some daft mistakes.

Rethlandir: Ok, not sure why that link isn't working, clearly my HTML needs more work... Here's the link instead: ...oRFZgGo

Not a Game podcast episode 4 – Ronald McDonald vs Megazord – Not a game podcast | PC Gaming | GamingDaily: […] Spelunky Explorers Club (Tom is currently away, so for the most recent videos go to Hey […]

Eoin Hurrell: Here's my run for the 4th, nothing as good as Tom's but has pickaxes

Bryce: ...bvMmEes

Jason Killingsworth: Chris! So proud of you for going for the jetpack steal. The best method is just to pick it up and sprint out of the shop, being careful to take flight the second you cross the threshold to avoid the immediate shotgun blast.

The understated genius of the Spelunky Daily Challenge | Digital Combat Soldiers: […] developer Tom Francis decided to go a step further and start the Spelunky Explorers’ Club, recording the scores of other players and bringing together the videos of their various runs. I […]