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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, I'm on a weekly gaming podcast called The Crate & Crowbar, I wrote these two short stories in the Machine of Death collections, and I used to write articles like these for PC Gamer. I'm now prototyping two new games, Heat Signature and one about grappling hooks.

Theme

By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

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

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

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

Snow

2013

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

Clack: A Very Short Story Inspired By An Amazon Review

I tried to join in with Mikey Neumann’s challenge to write a story in 100 words, but I rambled over into 255. This story is inspired by a customer review of a product on Amazon – you’ll know which one if you’ve read it. I don’t have the link anymore so if anyone does please comment. Continued

Niece Vs iPhone

You can set an iPhone to show and photograph what’s facing the screen, like a mirror. The two things my niece finds fascinating are this, and my face. Continued

I Made A Physical Version Of Word Game Letterpress

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.

Leaving PC Gamer

Leaving PC Gamer

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

iphone5

First Time Using An iPhone

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

This is how you die

My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection

My second piece of published fiction will be out in July this year, as part of This Is How You Die: the second collection of stories about a machine that can predict your death. (My first was a story in the original collection, and you can read it here).

But! Editor David Malki is also Kickstarting a card game based on the same concept, and since it’s blown its funding goal by over 1000%, they’re releasing a few stories from the anthology to say thanks.

One of them is mine! You can read it now! Here it is!

It’s about a supervillain’s henchman tasked with the job of having their enemies killed in a way that doesn’t contradict their predicted deaths. It is called: LAZARUS REACTOR FISSION SEQUENCE!

If you can’t read it, go here.

Clouds

Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

I don’t argue on the internet anymore. The short version is: it usually gets hostile, and that drives everyone further away from changing their minds.

But I spend a lot of time thinking about whether there’s a way to contribute to a discussion without derailing it. Whether there’s some way of knowing, in advance, that what you’re about to say will make you look like an asshole, start a fight, or be outright wrong.

I think there is. Continued

Old Tweets

It hasn’t rolled out to everyone yet, but for some, if you go to Settings in Twitter, you’ll get the option to download an archive of all your tweets.

This is cool mainly because Twitter is so terrible at finding or letting you access old stuff: search only works for incredibly recent stuff, and I don’t know of any way to see the start of someone’s timeline, short of scrolling down and hoping the JavaScript doesn’t break any of the 6,000 times it needs to load the next set of tweets.

Anyway, I got mine, and I wondered if I could use it to make old stuff more accessible. Continued

Site Seven

Welcome To Site 7

Look, I changed everything! I usually redesign my blog a bit at the start of every year, but this one is the first time I’ve built a completely new one from scratch in more than eight years. As is now tradition, I’ll give you a song to listen to while you snoop around. Continued

Game Making

What I Learned From Gunpoint, And How To Make A Game

I wrote a feature for PC Gamer in which I look at each of the easiest tools you can use to make a game, and interview indies who’ve made great things with them. It’s the Indies’ Guide To Game Making, and I’ve just updated it with some more detailed answers we didn’t have room for in the magazine.

Oi, aren’t you making a game?

I am, but I haven’t finished it yet. I’ve learnt a lot so far, though, and at Minecon in November, I gave a talk about what I’ve learned so far, and what I’d do differently if I was making my first game today. Here it is! Continued

Arguing

Arguing On The Internet

 
I don’t argue on the internet anymore, but I have some ideas on how to do it without defeating yourself and also human decency.

Update: This post now has a sort of sequel, suggesting ways to contribute to an argument without being an asshole.

Résumé

2000-2003: University of Southampton

Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, First Class

Doing maths and philosophy at the same time made sense to me, but then in a Relativity module I found out that simultaneity depends on your inertial frame, so now I’m not even sure I did.

My dissertation was on the ethics of teleportation by replication: scan, clone, destroy the original. Like in that movie I can’t mention, because it’s a spoiler for that movie.

2004-present: writer and editor at PC Gamer

Games Media Award for Best Specialist Games Writer in Print

I was assembling skateboards in a warehouse when a staff writer job opened up at PC Gamer. I didn’t get it. But later I got a job doing their coverdiscs, and successfully got myself demoted to writer a year or two in.

2012-present: director, Suspicious Developments

Finalist, Independent Games Festival Award for Excellence in Design

I entered Gunpoint into the IGF mainly to get feedback from the judges. Becoming a finalist was an extremely expensive accident: I tragically had to fly to San Francisco to attend the swanky awards ceremony and related parties.

The winner of the Excellence in Design category was Spelunky, the game that spurred me to make games in the first place. Even I would have voted for it.

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