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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.

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By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

Video Tutorial: Make A Game With No Experience

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

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

Galactic Zoom In Heat Signature

Heat Signature’s universe has been infinite since day 2 or 3, but until now you’ve only been able to see a meager 35,000 x 35,000 pixels of it at once. I knew at some point I wanted to let you see an overview of the part of space you’re in, a collection of vast gas clouds that I think is going to be called The Grove. But I wasn’t sure if this would have be a map mode or if we could zoom smoothly from one to the other. I’m still not sure if the latter is viable performance-wise, or even if it’s the right way to go, and the galaxy is ugly at the moment, but for what it’s worth I made it and here it is:

I tweeted about how I approached this as I went, here are those tweets: Continued

From Gunpoint To Heat Signature: A Narrative Journey

Many of you have been asking how the story of Heat Signature follows on from Gunpoint. We can now explain.

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Thoughts About Praise And Confidence At GDC And Rezzed

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

Detpacks

Today I added Detpacks to Heat Signature. Here is a Detpack:

Continued

The Cost Of Simplifying Conversations In Videogames

I was really entertained and inspired by this piece of satire, linked in an article by Chris Hecker, linked by Varanas on the Crate and Crowbar forums.

I started thinking out loud about it on Twitter, but didn’t want to swamp your timeline with it, so I’ll paste what I said so far and continue it here: Continued

How To Find An Object’s DrawGUI Co-ordinates In Game Maker Studio With A Rotated View

Update: This was originally a post to ask for help, but now that we’ve solved the problem I’m posting the solution for anyone who needs it, and changing the title to make it more searchable. It’s a function that lets you find where an object appears on-screen, so that you can use the DrawGUI event to draw interface elements over it or annotate it, useful for tutorials. Original post follows, updates and working script at the end! Continued

Video Tutorial: Make A Game With No Experience

I’m doing a series of video tutorials to show you how to make your first game, using the free version of Game Maker: Studio. I’m doing about 1-2 hours a week, aimed at absolute beginners with no experience with writing code. I’m not a good programmer myself, so we keep things as simple, quick and easy as possible, cutting all sorts of corners that would make real programmers who work in teams cringe. But, that’s basically how I made Gunpoint, and that worked well enough, so here goes!

At time of posting the first week of episodes is up – three parts, totalling about an hour and a half. I’m also giving people leeway to experiment with what they’ve learnt, and if they like, they can send in what they’ve created and I can see which bits might fit into the project.

Heat Signature One Year

Heat Signature, One Year Later

I started making Heat Signature on December the 1st, 2013. I know this because I released the first video of it two days later. Continued

New Heat Signature Trailer Shows Art, Music, Wrenches And Guns

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Heat Signature Screenshots

Here’s what Heat Signature looks like these days! The new art is by the multi-talented John Roberts, who also did art for our last game, Gunpoint. Next week I’ll put up a trailer to show all this in action. For those who haven’t seen it moving yet, there’s no break between inside and out: you zoom smoothly from the scale of these interior shots to the big-scale space battles.

When I have new shots in future, I’ll add them on this page and take down any outdated ones. Everyone has permission to use these shots in any articles or videos, print or online, as long as you make it clear what game they’re from. Continued

Heat Signature Trailers

I think if I embed a YouTube playlist, I can make this post always show the latest Heat Signature trailer even when I change it in future.

Heat Signature Guards Patrol

Help Me Learn Finite State Machines For Guard AI In Heat Signature

I have long known that ‘Finite State Machines’ are a thing I should be using, but when I try to read up on them, the explanations are either hopelessly vague or incredibly specific to a language and situation I don’t understand.

I whined to Mike Cook about this, and he said something to the effect of, “When you read up about Finite State Machines, it sounds like they’re this one specific agreed-upon thing, but every time you talk to an actual programmer about them you’ll get a different version of what they are.”

But! I am determined to try them in Heat Signature, and I have just reached that point where there’s enough AI an animation stuff going on that I need some kind of system to manage it. So I’m going to explain how I plan to use one, and if you’re a programmer, perhaps you can warn me of any problems I’m making for myself.

If you’re not, or if you’re learning, maybe you’ll get something out of how hopelessly I’ve failed at this so far. 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

Introducing The Heat Signature Team

Last month I made a new video of my ugly prototype for Heat Signature and put out an open call for artists and composers who might wanna work on it. When I did the same thing for my first game Gunpoint, around 30 artists and 40 composers applied. For Heat Signature, 81 artists and 232 composers applied. This was extraordinary and flattering, then daunting, then impossible, then exciting once I finally had my decision, then absolutely horrible when I had to tell everyone I hadn’t picked. You don’t really know how many ‘313 people’ is until you have to say no to 310 of them.

My deep, deep thanks to the amazingly talented people who applied, it meant a huge amount to me that people of your calibre were interested in my thing.

Here’s who I picked: Continued

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Gunpoint Is In The New Humble Indie Bundle!

I’m drunk to announce that Gunpoint is in the Humble Indie Bundle 12! Best of all, you get it no matter what you pay. No! Best of all is what else you get if your generosity stretches to the princely sum of ten dollars:

  • Gunpoint, I just said that
  • Gone fucking Home
  • Papers fucking Please
  • Prison fucking Architect!
  • Luftrausers!
  • Hammerwatch!
  • SteamWorld Dig!
  • What!

What is not a game, this is just an alarming selection of stuff. And for the first time ever, there’s also a $65 special edition that comes with a load of physical goods like:

  • A T-shirt featuring all these games!
  • A vinyl record with a song from each of these games – in Gunpoint’s case, The Five-Floor Goodbye.
  • A floppy disk! I don’t know what’s on that!
  • A manual! I don’t know what it says!
  • Some badges, or pins if you’re American!
  • It comes in an actual box!

This has been in the works for a loooooooong time, and it’s only thanks to the hard work of the guys at Abstraction that we have Mac and Linux versions of Gunpoint to make us eligible to be in one. I’m particularly delighted to be in this one, with such extraordinary company (two BAFTA winners!), because the biggest upside for me is the sheer number of people who’ll hopefully get to try our game. And when Gunpoint is nowhere near the headliner, lots of those will be people who might never have tried it otherwise.