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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.

Hitman header tunnel

Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

Snowball jack header

Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

Kill Zone and Bladestorm

Kill Zone And Bladestorm

BAFTA Featured

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

Sectors Header

Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

DXHR Open area

What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

Heat Signature Natural Numbers

Natural Numbers In Game Design

Pharma Header

Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

Writing vs Programming

Make A Game Tutorial Thumbnail Featured IMage

Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

Her Story banner

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

Invisible Header

What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

Super Game Jam Header

Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

Shadow of Mordor Header 2

What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Heat Signature Talk

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX


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


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


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 Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

Dark Messiah

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot


Arguing On The Internet


Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Stealth Games

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?


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

Suspicious Manifesto

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

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


I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

Machine of Death

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

Blood money and sex

Blood Money And Sex


A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

First Night, Second Life


SWAT 4: The Movie Script

Ronin Header

It’s Time I Did Something About This ‘Gunpoint Ripoff’

Someone named Tomasz Waclawek is making a side-scrolling stealth game, with mouse-controlled jumping, set in office blocks with smashable windows, and which he himself describes as a “Gunpoint ripoff”. The game is called Ronin, and it’s time I did something about it. Specifically, it’s time I did a Let’s Play about it, because it’s really fucking cool.

It’s clearly not a Gunpoint ripoff, because the core mechanics are so different. A lot of what it does copy is superficial, and that stuff doesn’t matter. But the jump is pretty central, and if that was directly taken from Gunpoint, I’m delighted. I wouldn’t want anyone to reuse Gunpoint’s artwork or music, but the ideas in it are absolutely there for the taking. Every non-standard thing about it, from the jumping controls to the saving system, I did because I wanted more games to be that way. If there’s actually a case where Gunpoint caused more games to work this way, that’s a huge thrill for me.

I wrote about my process for coming up with that jumping system back when I built it in 2010, if you’re interested.

Update: Tomasz says “This is most disappointing. I tried really hard to make a Gunpoint clone and he says its not like Gunpoint. I really don’t know what I’ve done wrong:(“

The feud continues.

Mark: You're a class act, Tom Francis.

Crane: The bright circle around the enemy ninja after you killed him was a blast radius indicator for some kind of suicide bomb. I had just enough time to think "Ooh, you probably shouldn't move into-" before you died.

I think, by the way, that the reason he copied some of the more trivial things from Gunpoint was because Gunpoint did those things in a good way. Sorry, that sounds pathetically obvious; let me elaborate: Gunpoint did simple things in a good way, therefore by copying those things directly from Gunpoint you don't need to worry that your way will be bad. Obviously, if they didn't suit the game and you still lifted them directly that would be a problem, but if that isn't the case then there's no reason not to.

As for the UI, the weird way it's all based on little circular items makes me suspect it's being designed with a mobile version in mind. It looks smartphony to me.

Tom Francis: FUUUU-

RodeoClown: There's definitely some Mark of the Ninja elements in there too. Looks like he's off to good start!

Rukumouru: Tom Francis, mad respect. My hat is blown off of my head by the sheer shockwave of class emitted by this post.

Leon Oscar Kidando: This looks like a really awesome game. And I think that if devs like it to the point that they are creating "similar" titles, then congrats Tom on creating a sub-genre (or even sub-sub-genre).

You response makes sense. Both games look great. I just hope to see more from the many creative and talented devs out there

PeterK: Ha! Just finding this, and laughing at how he is disappointed it's not a clone. :)

Will be paying attention. Cool concepts there. Love gunpoint. Can't wait to play heat sig.

Nosada: So I loved Gunpoint, I'm probably gonna love Ronin more, since I'm useless at real-time stuff. None of that matters, what matters is that the sheer awesomeness of both you guys has guaranteed I will be buying whatever next comes out of your insane noggins.

Well played, gentlemen, well played.

Mike: Was at PAX East 2015 this weekend and missed out on playing this Ronin game. Saw how similar the art style and jumping were and just walked away thinking it was a just a knockoff of your game. Wish I saw this post before. Oh well.

Roger Muppet: I'm surprised you see this in such a good way!

I would have not considered buying Ronin if i hadn't read your post - because it really looks like a blatant ripoff!

But if your intention was to give some new elements to the video-game scene, then here's the proof that you are a truly humble person.

Love & Respect from Germany.

Captain Cyberion: So, I see that Ronin is finally out and some of the style reminds me quite a bit of Gunpoint. However, Gunpoint is more than jumping and breaking glass, both of which are very satisfying. But there is also punching; lots and lots and lots of punching. That's too awesome for words. Time to go back and punch that guy like 100 times so I can see the messages about my abuse of kinetic force. There is also the rewire system -- also super awesomeness!
But what really sets that game apart is the atmosphere created by the incredible soundtrack, the great artwork, and the gritty story. So I still put Gunpoint at the top of my list of indie favorites. But when Ronin get's a bit cheaper, I will probably play that too; and think about how much I want to repeatedly punch bad guys.
Thanks punches Tom!!

Michael: Just wanted to point out - to anyone interested - that Ronin is now on Steam.

Developer Praises Rip-Off Of His Game... To The Disappointment Of Its Creator | Kotaku Australia: […] posted the the entire 17-minute Let’s Play on his blog (though you can also watch it above) and after giving it a good bash, concluded that the core […]

Enthüllt: Ronin - […] Tom Francis sich das Spiel unter die Lupe nahm und diesen selbst auferlegten Vorwurf in einem Blog Post […]

Gunpoint problem?

Don't post them here, I'm a useless idiot! E-mail tech support with as much detail about your system and the problem as possible, and they can actually do something.


There's a page about the games I've worked on, what I use to make them, and what platforms they're coming to.


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