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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

GHGC Dev Log 4: Rules Of Retraction

I’ve finally found the right blend of Unity’s built-in physics and my own custom equations to make the rope in my grappling-hook-game prototype feel strong, reliable and satisfying to use. I also added a lamp post and made some things blue.

If you want to hear about future updates, I’ll always post them on my Twitter.


ghosttie: Buildings and lamp posts - how super heroic :)

My friends and I had a lot of this sort of grappling hook fun in the original Worms about a million years ago - shoot-swing-release, shoot-swing-release all the way across the map without falling, which would end your turn.

The following camera was hilarious :)

Laurens Mathot: A quick way to maximize the game view, is the right-click the tab, and click 'maximize'. It's usually faster than toggling the 'maximize on play' button and restarting the game.

Matt Woelk: These rope physics remind me very much of the rope in the Worms series of games. This is great though, because that rope was so much fun that after I discovered it, I used it when there was no good reason just because it was so fun!

In short: looking forward to playing your game someday. :) Also, how about a co-op or battle mode? Imagine swarms of swinging rectangles.

Naveen: In the original Worms games (well, not original, I'm pretty young). But in the games that I used to play with my older brother, Armageddon specifically, this reminds me of that, and I remember how much skill it required. I used to suck at it but my brother was so good, he could traverse the map which wasn't a cave. I.e. not grappling to the roof but rather jumping and grappling the ground, and just travelling a large space as if he was walking on these giant stilts or something. It took me a while to be able to use it well and it feels fucking awesome, but I could never do it as well as my brother.

Naveen: Oh yeah, and in Worms when you had velocity and you hit the wall of say, a building (even though there weren't any buildings, but basically a vertical object), you would bounce off. And I don't know if you want that here, but it's a cool thing when you're scaling a building and rather than just waiting for your block to get to the top it has the physics where you're rappelling down a building and kicking off except it works going up the building too.

Meathelix: I've got a behavior you can add to the player (or camera? can't remember) that will give you the follow behavior you're wanting without doing the hard parenting thing. It has parameters for camera smoothing rate as well as a dead zone in the middle where it won't move.

Meathelix: What version control are you using? Don't think you've covered it in a previous vid, have you?

Tom Francis: Rich: Very kind! If it's yours and you're totally OK with me using it in a potentially commercial thing, I'd be much obliged -

I'm using Unity's own Asset Server for version control, figured their thing would be more closely integrated. Not quite sure how to set it up on my webspace though, so it's just running on one of my machines at the moment. (I backup offsite once a day by other means)

Jason L: I've just reverified that it was the Worms Armageddon demo, with its 'Crazy Crates' ninja rope training/time trial minigame, that essentially served as a separate freeware game for my brother and me. The iconic mechanics, on a perfectly tuned level.

Chris Davies: Well, I was going to say that this is essentially Worms Ninja Ropes: The Game, but seems like world+dog has beaten me to it.

The Worms: Armageddon community has gotten strange and inbred over the years and all they play are "shopper" maps where you start with only ninja ropes, and all weapons are picked up from crates. I've always thought you could make an interesting anthropological study of ancient game communities and their weird evolved languages and traditions.

Yaniv: Hi Francis,
did you consider using Playmaker ? it's a visual scripting tools for unity.
It's great : http://www.hutonggam...

Heat Signature, A Stealth Space Game About Temperature – a post on Tom Francis’ blog: […] GHGC is still my main project, I’m just taking a break from the brutal process of learning Unity to make something quick in Game Maker, where I already speak the language. How far I take this depends on how the next few features work out. […]