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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

The BAFTA Games Awards

I got to go to the BAFTA Games Awards, whenever it was that that happened! Feels like six months ago, but I think it’s about three weeks. Gunpoint was up for Best British Game (against GTA V and Tearaway – lol good luck) and Best Debut Game (against Gone Home and Stanley Parable – lol good luck), and it was nuts to see our game up on the giant screen during a black tie awards event. But mainly, it was just nuts to be at a black tie awards event. Here are some things that happened:

2014-03-12 00.01.08 Tower Bridge

It was near Tower Bridge so I stayed near Tower Bridge. This is Tower Bridge.

2014-03-13 01.16.59 BAFTAs - Tobacco dock

It was at Tobacco Dock, which I think was some kind of dock used for importing tobacco.

BAFTAs - Tux

It was a black tie event so, with no small amount of fretting and difficulty and taking things back, I wore a black tie. And figured out how to make it work with a wing collar, which does not appear to be trivial.

Then there was this crazy red carpet shit! They actually had press lined up on one side of it, public on the other, a bunch of photographers at the end, and I had a lady leading me from interview to interview.

That clip is me being interviewed by Julia Hardy. Despite being asked legit questions, I managed to make the whole thing about clothes. From the looks of it, that clip must have been after this bit:

Julia: Are you nervous?
Me: Not about the awards, but I am about my clothes – I’ve never worn a tux before. I’m terrified something’s going to go wrong and I’m not going to see it.
Julia: Well, I like the handkerchief. Is it real or is it sewn in?
Me: It’s real! (I pull it out to demonstrate) Actually I don’t know how this goes back in. Argh, this is it, isn’t it? It’s already happened!

2014-03-12 18.37.12 BAFTAs - champagne reception

Champagne and shambling. We had to pick three people from our team to officially be nominated, so main artist John and main composer Ryan came, with their partners. The rest of the crowd was actually less familiar to me than most gaming events, possibly because it was more big-budget developers than indies. But I still got to chat to lots of journos, PRs and indies that I don’t get to see enough, and plenty of new ones.

2014-03-12 19.08.17 BAFTAs - awards

Not surprisingly GTA V and Gone Home won the categories we were up for, swiftly turning my parents against these games. My dad thinks it’s grossly unfair that we were up against a game made by hundreds of people, whereas I think that’s the coolest part. My mum:

Mum: Gone Home looked like a bunch of empty buildings.
Me: No Mum, it’s not like that! It’s just one.

If you do want a bullshit decision, GTA V was nominated for the innovation category.

2014-03-12 22.05.32 BAFTAs - dance floor

This is the dance floor where, historically, tobacco traders would dance the tobacco onto loading pallets.

2014-03-12 22.40.40 BAFTAs - dessert bar

This was amazing. Tucked away in a side room, there was a Wonka-esque parlour of insane desserts: cinnamon donut balls, salted caramel pecan brownies, mini raspberry meringue, many-flavoured macarons, and a popcorn sorbet that had melted into an even better popcorn milkshake by the time we discovered it. I deeply regret eating anything before I discovered this.

2014-03-12 23.21.51 BAFTAs - cocktail menu

They had themed cocktails for each of the nominees for Best Game. I think I missed the Cliquer, that sounds great. The Arstotzkan Coffee (in a paper cup) was very good, the Assassin’s Mead had a better name but wasn’t as nice as it sounds on paper.

2014-03-12 23.52.31 BAFTAs - statue

This is a statue commemorating how many children were mauled by tigers that had stowed away in tobacco crates and got loose on the tobacco dancefloor.

2014-03-13 01.21.01 BAFTAs - end of the night

It didn’t matter at this point, but on the misty walk back to my hotel, I took a photo to see if anything actually had gone wrong with my tux. Seems OK! Phew.

So, that was another wonderfully surreal chapter in the ongoing aftermath of me releasing a game about wires I made in my bedroom. BAFTA are actually very cool about games – the people running this side of things really know their stuff, they take them seriously, they don’t ghetto-ise indies, and Dara O’Briain is about the perfect host: a good comedian who’s enough of a gamer to make relevant and sometimes insightful jokes specifically about them.

Dan: It's seem really weird there being an even like this for games. Are they actually be accepted into normal culture now?

Jason L: I see nothing about either Mountain Dew or Doritos. How did that happen!

(I decided to make that crack before realising that coincidentally Olly Moss' brilliant logo is finally in the wild. In a better world it would be a lame old meme fossilised over the epochs on its journey to shirt-dom; instead it's been dragged back to relevance.)

Drew: Congratulations on the nomination Tom! I look forward to hearing more when you finally return to the Crate and Crowbar.

Mark K: I like how somewhere between your first selfie and your last you apparently turned into a James Bond villain. Must have been the rum.

In all seriousness though it looks like a fantastic night out. Thanks for sharing =)

BadBannana: Hmm, Arstotzkan Coffee actually sounds really good right now.

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards – a post on Tom Francis’ blog: […] I’ve been thinking about a different kind of award ceremony I’d like to see ever since the BAFTAs in 2013, and I think it would address a lot of […]

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards — […] happens I’ve been thinking about a different kind of award ceremony I’d like to see ever since the BAFTAs in 2013, and I think it would address a lot of […]