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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

Heat Signature Big Ship

Ending A Space War With A Punch In Heat Signature

The next thing I wanna let you do in Heat Signature is take the helm of an enemy ship and fly it yourself. But right now, things go very screwy if you’re on a ship as it accelerates. So I’m redoing all the relative velocity code to make sure the contents of a ship stay stable while it’s jerking around.

I was testing the new code just now, and headed for a small ship to dock with it. Continued

Heat Signature Pathfinding

Pathfinding In Heat Signature’s Randomised, Modularly Destructible Spaceships

Updated! see bottom of post.

Heat Signature is a game about randomised space ships that you can sneak aboard. These ships have a randomly generated interior of connected rooms and corridors, and crew that patrol those rooms.

Right now, there’s no pathfinding: the crew roam randomly. At some point, though, you’ll be able to set off alarms or cause other disturbances that the crew should run to. So the problem is: how do find a route to that room? Specifically, how do they find the shortest route to that room? Continued

Rockefeller Moon

How IndieCade Went For Heat Signature And The Grappling Hook Game

IndieCade East was lovely. It’s a convention in New York, held at the Museum of the Moving Image, consisting mostly of people giving talks about games or showing their games. For example, Zack Johnson talked to Margaret Robertson about the crazy 11-year history of his still actively developed web game Kingdom of Loathing: Continued

Heat Signature Ships

Randomly Generating Simple Spaceships In Heat Signature

The way Heat Signature randomly generates its ships at the moment is very basic – I’m new to random generation, and I don’t polish or improve things until all the other systems are in.

Its process for the ship’s shapes is probably obvious from the video: Continued

The Heat Signature FAQ

People often ask me: “Tom, frequentlyAskedQuestion[floor(random(frequentlyAskedQuestion.Count))].”

“Well,” I tell them… Continued

The Gunpoint FAQ

People ask me more questions about Gunpoint than I have time to individually answer, and my silence is starting to feel like metaphorically pushing their faces wordlessly away with the palm of my hand, slightly muffling the latter part of their question. 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

Game Design: The Non-Stick Plan

Thought I’d take a break from programming talk to get into game design, and how I approach it. I am aware my mug is ridiculous – it’s an old GTA III promo one.

I’m bad at shutting up once I get talking about this stuff, so I’ll also summarise the basic points in this post. Not all of this stuff is in the video and not all of the video is in this – good summary Tom. Continued

GRappling Hook Thumbnail

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

I’ve decided to let people play this prototype of my Grappling Hook Game at IndieCade East in New York next month, partly to force me to focus on what it really needs to be a playable game. After a week and a bit, here’s what I’ve got. 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

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 5: Wrapping And Slacking

I’m working on the grappling hook game again now, and I’ve got the rope wrapping nicely around things, going slack when it should, and even making sounds. In this video I show you how that looks, then – with fair warning – get into how the code works.

Sounds from freesound.org
Retract noise: eelke
Grapple impact noise: taylorsyoung

Heat Signature, A Stealth Space Game About Temperature

Here’s the first video of Heat Signature, a temperature-based space stealth game I’ve been making the last two days. It’s about sneaking up on ships while keeping your ship cool enough to fool their sensors.

So you can jet around an infinite galaxy super fast, but your thrusters generate heat, and enemies can detect that from far away. The closer you want to get to them, the cooler you have to stay, and the more precise you have to be with your thrusters. And to take them out, you have to physically clamp onto their hull and shut down their systems.

GHGC is still my main project, I’m just taking a break from the brutal process of learning Unity to make something quick in Game Maker, where I already speak the language. How far I take this depends on how the next few features work out.

GHGC Dev Log 4: Rules Of Retraction

I’ve finally found the right blend of Unity’s built-in physics and my own custom equations to make the rope in my grappling-hook-game prototype feel strong, reliable and satisfying to use. I also added a lamp post and made some things blue.

If you want to hear about future updates, I’ll always post them on my Twitter.

Game vs story graph

Games Vs Story 2

I was away in London at the weekend, with my laptop but no internet, so I took a break from coding to think about how story might work in my next game. Continued

GHGC Dev Log 3: Grappling With Hooks

Yep, it’s got a grappling hook!

I have something in particular I want to do with grappling hooks that I’m not ready to talk about yet. But grappling hooking around is also part of a set of interactions that I hope are going to just feel really nice – to some extent this game would be about the pleasure of execution.

This is just a quick demo of how it’s working right now – shoddily, but well enough to give me an idea of how to refine it. I’m pretty pleased to have got this far in three days, despite still really struggling with some Unity stuff. Continued

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