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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.

Theme

By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

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

Heat Signature Wide 2

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

I've now made enough of Heat Signature to be fairly sure of what it is, which means a) here's a new trailer!

And b) I'm ready to start looking for an artist and a composer to work with!

Update: the deadline has passed and applications are now closed! We got a lot! More as I sort through them.

I'd like to do it the same way I did for Gunpoint, with Open Submissions. That means anyone can send in a sample of what they can do, and I'll pick the best artist and the best composer based on that. In this post I'll explain loads about what we're looking for, but the highlights are:

✓ Paid!
✓ No experience required!
✓ Work from anywhere!
✓ Flexible hours!
✓ Game already works!
✓ Application deadline: [EXPIRED!]
Continued

Heat Signature Floorplans Header

Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

I started making Heat Signature mainly to figure out if the mechanics would be as fun as they seemed in my head, so I built all its systems in the cheapest, fastest, simplest possible way. That worked – it’s now got to the point where I’m laughing out loud at something ridiculous happening most times I play.

But the slapdash way I built it has the following problems: Continued

Heat Signature Time Lapse

Heat Signature Development Time-Lapse: 5 Months In 2 Minutes

The reason it’s been a while since I last showed off my space stealth game, Heat Signature, is that I want to use the next video to put out a call for artists and musicians to hire. So it needs to show enough new stuff that the press might cover it, people might share it, and it might get seen by more people.

Don’t apply for either of those jobs yet, though! The other thing I need to do before then is nail down enough of the game’s underlying tech to be sure of precisely what kind of art and music it needs. The way it’s coded right now is rather glitchy, so now I have to investigate whether it’s the fixable kind of glitchy, or the “Fuck this and try a different method entirely” kind of glitchy.

Time lapse

So I’m not going to show much of its current state, but I did put together a time-lapse of everything I’ve done so far: Heat Signature’s five month development in 2 minutes. Continued

Gunpoint Steam Workshop

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

Our big Gunpoint patch has just gone live on Steam! It converts Gunpoint to a whole new engine and adds Steam Workshop, so you can see all the awesome new missions people have been making in the level editor. They are nuts. We’ll make a version of this update available for non-Steam users as well, but obviously Steam Workshop support only works in Steam. Here are the major changes:

  • New engine, implemented by Abstraction Games. Should fix many technical issues and make the game run faster for everyone, and it’ll enable us to develop Mac and Linux versions next.
  • Steam Workshop added, for browsing and sharing user-made levels. Yes, we listened to the 1,779 post petition you guys started even after we’d already announced we would do it.
  • Option to turn off swearing. Up to you whether this makes “Grow a ####ing #### and shove it up your ###” kid-safe.
  • Reconfigurable keyboard controls.
  • Vertical sync option. I didn’t know we needed this, but the folks at Abstraction added it and now the animation is at least 23% more beautiful.
  • Level editor. The level editor has been in there since launch, but some people still ask for one so I’m just going to keep announcing I’ve added it until everyone knows it’s there.
  • You can now place multiple elevators in a level without it crashing. That’s more than I could do when I was making the game, so I expect your levels to be at least twice as good as mine.
  • If you have any technical troubles with the new version, you can still use the old one by going to Properties > Betas and selecting ‘oldversion’. Post your issue on the forums too, so we can fix it.

It’s also 75% off for 48 hours! That’ll end 10am Pacific Time on 19/06/2014. That discount applies to all editions, too, so you can upgrade for $2.50 or £1.50. And we reduced the UK and EU prices from the Steam defaults to better match their USD equivalents.

Get it here!

Header image is a screenshot of Breakin 1.2, by [NL] Omgertje.

floating Point stats

Floating Point Passes 70,000 Players

As of today, 70,163 people own Floating Point, the free game about grappling hooks I released last Friday. 31,700 of those got it on day 1, and the count is now growing steadily at around 3,000 new players a day.

This is pretty amazing. I didn’t contact any press about it, and the only promotion I did was the long and rambly videos I’ve been posting here, if you can call them that. Being free, unsurprisingly, makes a big difference. More interesting stats: Continued

Floating Point by QBAEY

Floating Point Development Breakdown

(Screenshot by player QBAEY)

Floating Point is based on some grappling hook code I made for a game that I still plan to continue with some day. Since I was using version control for that, and hence for this, I have a log of every ‘commit’ I made during development: basically, all the times I felt my progress was worth backing up, and what that progress was.

With a bit of hackery, I’ve pulled out a list of those in chronological order to make a sort of diary of the game’s development, showing which days I worked on it and what I did. Obviously this contains some references to things only I’ll understand, but most of it’s in English, and it gives you an idea of how the game evolved and how long it took. I’ll highlight major developments or revelations, and add in when I tested and with how many people. Continued

Distance Header

Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

Natalie Hanke, Jukio Kallio and I have just released Distance, a short, semi-interactive, mostly visual piece for the Space Cowboy game jam. Natalie wrote, designed and arted it, Jukio did the sound and music, and I was the programmer. Continued

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.