All posts

Games

Game development

Stories

Happiness

Personal

Music

TV

Film

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.

Theme

By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

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

The Magic Circle

Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

The Magic Circle is an indie game in development by Jordan Thomas, Stephen Alexander and Kain Shin. It takes place inside an unfinished game, one you can see being built around you. And when I tested it, for reasons I won’t go into, my objective was to ‘Ghost the Sky Bastard’. Continued

Floating Point Blog Launch

Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

Floating Point is out on Steam now, for Windows, Mac and Linux, and it’s free!

It’s a peaceful game about swinging gracefully around randomly generated levels. It’s played entirely with the mouse, it’s easy to play, you can have fun with it in five minutes, and it has relaxing digital music by the excellent Form & Shape.

Here’s a trailer, and some info on why it’s free. Continued

Floating Point - 44.64465

Floating Point Is Coming To Steam – Tomorrow

Here is the news:

  • Floating Point is coming to Steam!
  • Tomorrow!
  • On Windows, Mac and Linux simultaneously!
  • And it’s free!

It’s a peaceful game about swinging gracefully around randomly generated levels. It’s played entirely with the mouse, it’s easy to play, you can have fun with it in five minutes, and it has relaxing digital music by the excellent Form & Shape. Continued

Super Game Jam

Filming Super Game Jam

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

Beta Testing Steam Workshop And Gunpoint’s New Engine

Update: whether you join the beta or not, you may get a Gunpoint update that wants to install some standard installery stuff: a particular vintage of DirectX, VC++, OpenAL. The new engine needs to make sure these are all there, and they can only be turned on globally, so everyone gets ‘em. Won’t interfere with anything, but it will fix the no-music issue some might have had with the new beta.

Short version

We’re nearly ready to release an update for Gunpoint that’ll add Steam Workshop support to let you share your custom levels, and hopefully fix any remaining technical issues people are having with the old build. Continued

Floating Sine

Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point

So Floating Point’s a game about using a wire to swing through randomly generated spaces smoothly. When you do, avoiding obstacles and picking up speed, everything about the game tries to celebrate and reward that flow state: you glow, the music picks up, the collectible bars in the level get more valuable, and grow tall so they’re easier to hit.

One effect I fancied but considered low priority was some kind of trail: maybe particles or sparks or something. So I had a quick look to see how hard this would be in Unity, and discovered something called a Trail Renderer. I tried it, and it looked like this: Continued

Designing Floating Point

My game about swinging through randomly generated spaces has spilled out from a game jam entry, to a four-day game, to a week-long game. This is a series of three video blogs talking about interesting things that happened in its design.

Here’s my previous video showing the game itself.

Heat Signature’s First Four Objective Systems And Why They All Sucked

I’ve been designing and trying various ways for you to make progress towards your objective in Heat Signature, and four bad iterations have led me to a surprising conclusion.

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

BAFTA Featured

The BAFTA Games Awards

I got to go to the BAFTA Games Awards, whenever it was that that happened! Feels like six months ago, but I think it’s about three weeks. Gunpoint was up for Best British Game (against GTA V and Tearaway – lol good luck) and Best Debut Game (against Gone Home and Stanley Parable – lol good luck), and it was nuts to see our game up on the giant screen during a black tie awards event. But mainly, it was just nuts to be at a black tie awards event. Here are some things that happened: Continued

Hoplite banner

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

I’ve been obsessed with iOS/Android randomised tactical combat game Hoplite ever since Zack Johnson told me about it at IndieCade last month. You’re a Greek spearman descending the randomly generated levels of the underworld, and you have to deal with the steadily increasing demonic population you find there by moving carefully across a hex grid turn by turn, calculating each move to slash, stab or stomp them without letting them get a hit in.

Each level has a shrine that grants a choice of upgrades, letting you incrementally design a perfect build of complimentary abilities until depth 16, at which point they run out completely and you just see how far you can get with what you’ve built.

As the difficulty ramps up from there, the way your chosen abilities play off each other to let you overcome the endlessly increasing challenge becomes elegant, then balletic, then sublime. These calculated chains of sweeps, leaps and thrusts let you dance through a minefield with precision and grace, felling everything around you. It’s hard to fully explain how neat, clever and satisfying it feels – so I made a GIF. Continued

Notes On The Arguments About Facebook Acquiring Oculus

I don’t have an opinion about Facebook acquiring Oculus for $2 billion, because I don’t know enough to be confident of how it’ll play out, and that’s usually when I stop having opinions about things. But I do have some thoughts about some of the arguments being used on either side. Continued

Jerk, Jounce And Rates Of Change

Yesterday I tweeted from the Heat Signature account about avoiding a tricky problem with homing missiles by just increasing their acceleration over time – I called it AccelerationAcceleration. Today, Coriolinus replied to say that the scientific name for this is actually ‘jerk‘. This is amazing, and so is the Wikipedia page about it. Continued

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

Previous page

Archive

Next page