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TOM FRANCIS
REGRETS THIS ALREADY

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.

Theme

By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

Shadow of Mordor Header 2

What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Heat Signature Talk

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX

Projects

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

Fault

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

Clouds

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-Rock-and-a-Hard-Place-Trio-Jan

A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

Dark Messiah

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

Arguing

Arguing On The Internet

Stealth Games

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

Violence

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

Suspicious Manifesto

The Suspicious Developments manifesto

GDC

GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

Crosslink

Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

Happiness

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

Gnome

I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

Machine of Death

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

AOL

A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

First Night, Second Life

SWAT 4

SWAT 4: The Movie Script

Shadow of Mordor Header 2

What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Game: Shadow of Mordor

Third-person open world action and stealth game, with Assassin’s Creed free-running and Arkham Asylum combat. You’re in Mordor, it’s full of orc-like Uruks, and for reasons that were probably explained in all the cut-scenes I skipped, you have to use them to get to the Black Dark Lord Hand – who I gather is a ruffian. Continued

Heat Signature Talk

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX

I’ve been away the last two weeks, showing Heat Signature first at Fantastic Arcade in Austin, then at EGX in London. I’ll show you what that all looked like below, but first I’ll embed my EGX talk so you can play that and look at the photos during the boring bits. From about 5 minutes in, you can see Heat Signature with some of the new art and music. Continued

Projects

What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

This is a list of games I’ve worked on or am working on and the things people usually ask me about them. I plan to keep it up to date, so if you spot anything that’s no longer true please let me know! Continued

Murder, She Wrote

The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

My life has changed in many ways since working for my own company, but perhaps the biggest is that I can now watch Murder, She Wrote over breakfast and/or lunch. This is great, but it’s also ingrained the show’s weirdly specific formula in my brain, and now I feel I must write it down. The following is how about 70% of its episodes go – the exceptions are kind of nuts. Continued

Heat Signature Wide 2

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

I've now made enough of Heat Signature to be fairly sure of what it is, which means a) here's a new trailer!

And b) I'm ready to start looking for an artist and a composer to work with!

Update: the deadline has passed and applications are now closed! We got a lot! More as I sort through them.

I'd like to do it the same way I did for Gunpoint, with Open Submissions. That means anyone can send in a sample of what they can do, and I'll pick the best artist and the best composer based on that. In this post I'll explain loads about what we're looking for, but the highlights are:

✓ Paid!
✓ No experience required!
✓ Work from anywhere!
✓ Flexible hours!
✓ Game already works!
✓ Application deadline: [EXPIRED!]
Continued

Heat Signature Floorplans Header

Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

I started making Heat Signature mainly to figure out if the mechanics would be as fun as they seemed in my head, so I built all its systems in the cheapest, fastest, simplest possible way. That worked – it’s now got to the point where I’m laughing out loud at something ridiculous happening most times I play.

But the slapdash way I built it has the following problems: Continued

Gunpoint Steam Workshop

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

Our big Gunpoint patch has just gone live on Steam! It converts Gunpoint to a whole new engine and adds Steam Workshop, so you can see all the awesome new missions people have been making in the level editor. They are nuts. We’ll make a version of this update available for non-Steam users as well, but obviously Steam Workshop support only works in Steam. Here are the major changes:

  • New engine, implemented by Abstraction Games. Should fix many technical issues and make the game run faster for everyone, and it’ll enable us to develop Mac and Linux versions next.
  • Steam Workshop added, for browsing and sharing user-made levels. Yes, we listened to the 1,779 post petition you guys started even after we’d already announced we would do it.
  • Option to turn off swearing. Up to you whether this makes “Grow a ####ing #### and shove it up your ###” kid-safe.
  • Reconfigurable keyboard controls.
  • Vertical sync option. I didn’t know we needed this, but the folks at Abstraction added it and now the animation is at least 23% more beautiful.
  • Level editor. The level editor has been in there since launch, but some people still ask for one so I’m just going to keep announcing I’ve added it until everyone knows it’s there.
  • You can now place multiple elevators in a level without it crashing. That’s more than I could do when I was making the game, so I expect your levels to be at least twice as good as mine.
  • If you have any technical troubles with the new version, you can still use the old one by going to Properties > Betas and selecting ‘oldversion’. Post your issue on the forums too, so we can fix it.

It’s also 75% off for 48 hours! That’ll end 10am Pacific Time on 19/06/2014. That discount applies to all editions, too, so you can upgrade for $2.50 or £1.50. And we reduced the UK and EU prices from the Steam defaults to better match their USD equivalents.

Get it here!

Header image is a screenshot of Breakin 1.2, by [NL] Omgertje.

Distance Header

Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

Natalie Hanke, Jukio Kallio and I have just released Distance, a short, semi-interactive, mostly visual piece for the Space Cowboy game jam. Natalie wrote, designed and arted it, Jukio did the sound and music, and I was the programmer. Continued

The Magic Circle

Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

The Magic Circle is an indie game in development by Jordan Thomas, Stephen Alexander and Kain Shin. It takes place inside an unfinished game, one you can see being built around you. And when I tested it, for reasons I won’t go into, my objective was to ‘Ghost the Sky Bastard’. Continued

Floating Point Blog Launch

Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

Floating Point is out on Steam now, for Windows, Mac and Linux, and it’s free!

It’s a peaceful game about swinging gracefully around randomly generated levels. It’s played entirely with the mouse, it’s easy to play, you can have fun with it in five minutes, and it has relaxing digital music by the excellent Form & Shape.

Here’s a trailer, and some info on why it’s free. Continued

Floating Sine

Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point

So Floating Point’s a game about using a wire to swing through randomly generated spaces smoothly. When you do, avoiding obstacles and picking up speed, everything about the game tries to celebrate and reward that flow state: you glow, the music picks up, the collectible bars in the level get more valuable, and grow tall so they’re easier to hit.

One effect I fancied but considered low priority was some kind of trail: maybe particles or sparks or something. So I had a quick look to see how hard this would be in Unity, and discovered something called a Trail Renderer. I tried it, and it looked like this: Continued

Fault

What’s Your Fault?

We use the phrase ‘your fault’ in a way that’s different to the sum of its parts. A fault can be any kind of problem, defect, or undesirable property. ‘Your’ just means belonging to you. If you have very unsteady hands, that’s a problem of sorts, and it’s yours. But if I hand you a full mug of coffee and you spill a bit of it, if you apologised, I’d say “It’s not your fault!”

Your faults are not ‘your fault’ if you’re born with them, if they’re forced on you, if you didn’t know about them, or a whole variety of other conditions. Language forms organically and messily, and it only makes sense to talk about it in generalisations. But the most prevalent trend I can see in the types of faults that are not ‘your fault’ is this: they’re the ones you can’t reasonably change. Continued

Hoplite banner

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

I’ve been obsessed with iOS/Android randomised tactical combat game Hoplite ever since Zack Johnson told me about it at IndieCade last month. You’re a Greek spearman descending the randomly generated levels of the underworld, and you have to deal with the steadily increasing demonic population you find there by moving carefully across a hex grid turn by turn, calculating each move to slash, stab or stomp them without letting them get a hit in.

Each level has a shrine that grants a choice of upgrades, letting you incrementally design a perfect build of complimentary abilities until depth 16, at which point they run out completely and you just see how far you can get with what you’ve built.

As the difficulty ramps up from there, the way your chosen abilities play off each other to let you overcome the endlessly increasing challenge becomes elegant, then balletic, then sublime. These calculated chains of sweeps, leaps and thrusts let you dance through a minefield with precision and grace, felling everything around you. It’s hard to fully explain how neat, clever and satisfying it feels – so I made a GIF. Continued

Gone Point

Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

Gone Home writer/designer Steve Gaynor interviewed me for his podcast on the Idle Thumbs network, Tone Control. In it, I guess we vaguely cover tone at some point probably, but also: Continued

Heat Signature Thumbnail

Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

I can now show you what my space stealth game is really about! As long as I don’t get spotted like three times in a row right at the start of this video. Watch that first if you care, if not, here’s the summary. Continued