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.
Joshua Garrity: Hello Tom Francis, My name is Joshua Garrity...
Jabberwok: I agree on the cuts back to Earth, though I feel...
Urthman: Yeah, it should be “Whole Numbers” because...
I definitely waste more of my time than I’d like. Mostly on Twitter, but also just with this mysterious business of general internetting. I’ll sometimes catch myself switching between 7 open browser tabs, each containing something I want or need to do, and doing none of it. And none of the productivity plug-ins or apps I’ve found do quite what I want, because my requirements are incredibly specific. What I needed was: Continued
Today I cycled along the canal, which is neither a cycle path nor a footpath but a Resentment Path: one where both types of traffic are permitted but each feels the other is rather overstepping its bounds. Pedestrians resent the bike’s speed, its hard metal frame, and act like making way for it is a much bigger imposition than yielding to a jogger of equal pace and width. Cyclists resent the habit of pedestrians to expand – like a gas – to fill whatever sized vessel they find themselves in. In this way two people can entirely block a four-person-wide path, and even when they grudgingly accept the need to compress to allow something to pass, will immediately re-expand thereafter, maximising the number of times this huffy dance is necessary. Continued
My Twitter-friend Chelsea may have lost a truly heartbreaking amount of work when a powercut somehow wiped her hard drive. She and probably anyone following the awful saga have resolved to be more zealous about backing stuff up online, so I thought I’d do a post about what I use and what I think of it. Continued
I’ve just got back from sixteen days of travelling: first to the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco, then to the indie game show Rezzed in London. I was showing Heat Signature to the press at GDC and to the public at Rezzed, but events like these are also huge meetups for a bunch of geographically separated friends – and people who are very likely to become that. So it’s been more pleasure than business, and the evenings have been as hectic as the days. Continued
The last few days I’ve been doing a game jam with Liselore Goedhart, being filmed as a documentary series called Super Game Jam. It’s been loads of fun, surprisingly chilled, and we’re really happy with the game we made. We finished it yesterday and let people play it at the London Game Space last night – fantastic to see people laughing so much at something that didn’t exist two days before. Continued
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
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
This has obviously been the best year of my life. When working on Gunpoint got tough towards the end, and the amount of sustained effort required exceeded my intrinsic determination, I made a guilty little list of all the things that releasing a game might improve about my life in the best-case scenario: Gunpoint motivation.txt. Nothing on it was anything like as good as the reality. Continued
For my parents’ birthdays, I made a physical version of the excellent iOS word game Letterpress. This makes me a terrible pirate, I hope no-one minds. I made this video to explain it to them.
I haven’t actually done any work for PC Gamer since March, and I haven’t officially left until tomorrow. But I’ve been there nine years, it’s the only full time job I’ve ever had, and I felt like I should mark its end somehow.
So on Saturday we had a Gunpoint-themed pizza and bourbon leaving party. And melon. It was thematically confused, but excellent. Continued
When the iPhone was announced, I laughed at the notion of spending SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS on a phone. You should imagine that laugh attenuating, bitterly, over six and a half years of me using the cheapest object Nokia can produce, until Gunpoint launched. Then I stopped, and thought, “Huh, I can actually afford to be one of the assholes who have these things now.” Continued