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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

Far Cry Primal Thumbnail

Postcards From Far Cry Primal

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

Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

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

Super Game Jam Header

Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

Super Game Jam is a documentary series on Steam that films two developers per episode, working together to make a game in 48 hours. It’s discounted to $15 for the whole series right now, which is 5 half-hour episodes, the 5 games that were made in them, and a bunch of extra scenes and music from Kozilek and Doseone.

Episode 5 just came out tonight, and it’s me and artist/designer Liselore Goedhart making SimAntics: Realistic Anteater Simulator. We were given the theme of ‘Simulation’ by previous jammers Cactus and Grapefrukt, and told not to make SimAnt. So we simulated an anteater instead.

You can grab it from Steam here, where there’s also a trailer. Stills below, and thoughts on the episode at the end!

Early Tunnels

My first stab at generating ant tunnels, and letting the mouse steer a tongue down them.

Lizzy Draw

Lizzy draws on paper and then traces over photos of her sketches in Illustrator with a mouse.

Coding and Beer

Late night coding, beer and a carrot.

Sound Effects Apple

Recording sound-effects: my anteater’s munching noise is me eating an apple, Lizzy’s is her eating a cracker.

Playtest Laugh

First multiplayer test. Game is suddenly fun!

Playtest Screen

And has Lizzy’s art, so 100x cuter.

Steps Laugh


I was super nervous to watch this back, because I didn’t see it at all until it was publicly released on Steam. And watching yourself on video is always hard. But it wasn’t as painful as I thought! Mostly I just laugh a lot, which gives the accurate impression that the whole thing was just a lot of fun.

In some of the earlier episodes of the series, I sometimes struggled to get an idea of what the game was from the episode itself. Blossom, for example, turned out to have way more elements and ideas than I’d guessed from what Dominik and Christoffer were talking about as they made it.

Watching ours back, I feel like it gives a fairly good idea of what we’re making? But then I know everything about what we were making, so I can’t really judge. If you get it, I’d be interested to hear if it was followable.

Update: we don’t have a trailer for the game, but here’s a short clip of me playing in single-player just to give you an idea of what it looks like moving.

More ,

fizmat: Will this be Steam exclusive forever, or is it a timed exclusive? Because I'd rather support GOG's drm-free video initiative if it ever comes there. I can see the benefits of Steam for games, but there's no updates and no multiplayer service for video.
I never bought DRM'd video in my life (being in Russia helped with that) and I really don't want to start. On the other hand, I really want to see this.

Tom Francis: Dunno, that'd be up to the publisher Devolver Digital. For what it's worth, the episodes are just video files on your hard drive once it's downloaded. If you run it through Steam it has its own launcher and stuff, but you can also just play the video files or run the game installers directly from the folders without needing Steam.

What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done - a post on Tom Francis' blog: […] Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out […]

Jordan: I really enjoyed it! It's so cool how collaboration can lead people to create something truly unique! Well done!

locknic: Hey Tom. What sold this for me was that you're in it, and I love your youtube videos! :D

Jack: You should marry her.

Super Game Jam. | Lizzywanders.: […] on Steam together with the first four episodes and games. You can watch the trailer here! And here you can read Tom’s […]

Carrot enthusiast.: Nice carrot.

Jaiden: Very very very short. beat it in like 50 minutes. If there were like some randomly generated missions that would be very fun. Also if the battery thing was gone it would add a lot to the game. finally if there was more "powerups" that would also add a lot