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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

Newsroom

The Good And The Bad Bits Of The Newsroom

Aaron Sorkin’s current show about a TV news show was panned by reviewers, but I quite liked its first episode and thought its problems were fixable. The reviewers had seen the first four. I now see what they were talking about.

It’s such an extraordinary mix of exciting potential and staggeringly clumsy writing that I’ve had trouble stringing together a sentence about it that uses the word ‘but’ fewer than five times. So I’ll give up on a coherent overview and just list the things I like and don’t like. Continued

thenewsroom

The Newsroom

That leaked Aaron Sorkin script I wrote up a while back is now a show, called The Newsroom. It goes behind the scenes of a nightly news show with a grouchy celebrity anchor, and revolves around him, his new executive producer and the crew. This means I would watch it religiously even if it wasn’t a Sorkin thing – I have no particular interest in the news, but every show or film made about it seems to be great. Continued

Justified

Justified

“You let Messer get away?”
“One of your boys let Messer get away, I got the driver. Besides, these boots aren’t made for running.”
“And yet chasing fugitives is a marshall’s primary function.”
“It’s ironic, isn’t it?” Continued

Boss

Discovered In 2011: Boss

Boss is the evil West Wing: a political drama about a powerful figure concealing a degenerative illness, but one in which no-one is likeable or trying to do the right thing. It’s still about smart people working hard to do their job well, they’re just terrible, terrible people with horrible, horrible jobs. Continued

Adventure Time - Jake Wizard

Adventure Time

Years back, Craig linked me to a pilot for a cartoon about a boy and a shape-shifting dog voiced by Bender from Futurama. It was eight minutes long, and amazing. Here it is: Continued

Shadow Line Lines

The Shadow Line Lines In The Shadow Line

The Shadow Line is finished now, and it was good until it got a bit wanky at the end. It’s nice to have something with a plot that genuinely requires some processing between episodes, and the cast has made me a fan of four of five actors I’d never seen before. Continued

Game of Thrones

Game Of Thrones, The Shadow Line, The Killing, Running Wilde

Chris’s blog is reminding me I haven’t talked about what’s on in ages. Here’s what I’m watching and why. Continued

Aaron Sorkin’s Next Show

 
Aaron Sorkin is the guy who wrote A Few Good Men, The West Wing seasons 1-4, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and The Social Network.

Graham: I’m reading the pilot script for Sorkin’s new show. I will send it to you, but as a preview, simply close your eyes and imagine that Aaron Sorkin was writing a TV show. Bingo! You now have all the contents of this script in your head. Continued

Terriers

Why Terriers Was Axed

“Based on what these people saw in those two episodes, the FX-centric viewer just rated it lower in areas such as intensity, suspense, sexiness. When you talk to the USA-type viewer, they rate it lower than their favorite shows because it’s not a land in which every babe is hot, and the sky is incredibly blue, and everybody lives in an apartment three times as big as they could legitimately afford, and everything comes out great in the end. What we ended up with—and this is a much more nuanced and complicated answer—was a show that somehow fell between two brands.”
FX president John Landgraf Continued

A Minecraft Diary And My Black Ops Review

The first entry of a Minecraft diary I’m starting just went up on PC Gamer – it’s just a short one to start with, but this might turn into a long-running thing. It’s about playing with a sort of permanent death rule: if I die, I have to delete the whole world and everything in it, then start again from scratch in a new one. It’s also starting from when I first played the game, so I know virtually nothing about how it works. The next entry will go up first thing tomorrow, and it’ll probably be every other day from then on. Continued

Phineas And Ferb

This made me laugh.

Povenmire and Marsh still found themselves fighting for some of their more surreal material. In several episodes, for instance, a character named Major Monogram interjects—apropos of nothing—the phrase “Ever since… the Academy.” A Disney executive quickly flagged the line, arguing (correctly) that it was utter nonsense. Povenmire assured him that it was exactly the kind of nonsense kids would parrot to one another at school. In fact, he felt so confident, he told the executive he expected to one day hear children repeat the line. The skeptical exec pledged to give Povenmire $100 for every time Povenmire heard it (unsolicited, of course). Continued

Death Note 2

Death Note

Almost anything that features a master criminal fancies itself as a battle of wits between him and the star detective. In practice, all that usually means is the bad guy leaves no evidence, then blunders into an obvious trap by the cop. Death Note actually is a battle of wits, though: the entire series revolves around two people desperate to eliminate each other, but prevented from doing so directly by the complicated mathematics of suspicion, guilt and uncertainty. Continued

Terriers Again

I was pretty rude about the plot when writing about the pilot episode, but impressed by everything else. This is a quick update to say that, in the four episodes since then, that simple set up has changed dramatically every episode, and led to some superb twists and tense situations. Continued

Pilot: Boardwalk Empire

Broadwalk Empire

Prohibition-era Sopranos. Steve Buscemi is a corrupt county treasurer in Atlantic City in the 20s, and it’s lovely to see him play a position of power. I’ve got so used to him as a snivelling loser that it’s surprising how well his perpetual sneer works as one of superior disdain. The tone is just right, for me: Buscemi’s character is a villain, but not repulsive so far. It’s possible to enjoy the early twentieth century opulence of his life without being put off by the guy himself.

Pilot: Terriers

Opens on a conversation between two unappealing men in a pickup. A few lines into it, I know I’m going to love this show. Nothing about the premise is interesting or original, and the plot of the pilot is so over-familiar it could have been traced. But smart writing shows instantly, shows constantly, and never stops being a pleasure. Continued

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