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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

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

Alien Swarm Heroics

A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

This is great, people keep linking me to things I wrote ages ago and forgot about, so I can link them here. Snowskeeper Ferenczy points out this, something I wrote very fast after a game of Alien Swarm one night that seemed necessary to report.

“Our main gunner, a Special Weapons guy with the Minigun I coveted, ran ahead and got himself infested. I had my medic gun out, but he panicked, ran away, bumped into a door and exploded in a shower of slithering facehuggers. We all just kind of looked at each other.”

Touching heroics in Alien Swarm

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

FTL Story

One Desperate Battle In FTL

The podcast I am party to, the Crate and Crowbar, now has a forum. On it, Gunpoint artist John Roberts has started a thread for tales of people’s in-game adventures, starting with a good one of his own about FTL. And someone else mentioned an old story of mine from that game. I don’t think I ever linked it here, so I will now:

It’s worse to lose your shields than almost any other system. But I bet the AI doesn’t know this. I bet the AI is aiming for something much less important, like our life support. I could actually take my shields offline and let this shot go through.

FTL diary: one desperate battle in a brilliant spaceship management game

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.

Risk Of Rain: The Huntress Dies A Subtle Death

Made another video with the Huntress in Risk of Rain, this time with audible audio. She’s awesome.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Treasure Island

Black Flag is really satisfying. Followed a treasure map, explored an island, shot a barrel.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Pirates Without Boarders

I tangle with a strange ship my men refuse to board, leaving me to somewhat sneakily assassinate the crew by myself.

Risk Of Rain: Acrid And The Mystery Boss

More of the randomised RPG-shootery thingy, this time as my favourite class: acid beast Acrid. And I meet a boss I’ve never seen before.

Playing Assassin’s Creed 4: You Can’t Sword Fire, Man

I’m thinking about posting these Let’s Play style videos as shorter, individual highlights rather than recording every moment and putting it all up in long sequential chunks. Well, shorter than 50 minutes. That felt like overkill, and it also meant I felt weirdly guilty if I wanted to do something that’s boring to watch.

Playing Risk Of Rain: The Engineer And The Shitty Lantern

Here’s what Risk of Rain is like. It’s a randomised shooter thingy, and here I’m playing as one of the classes you unlock later on, the Engineer. More thoughts on why it’s good.

Risk of Rain pink

Risk Of Rain

Risk of Rain is kind of an action Roguelike: no saving, death means starting from scratch, and it’s all about combat. You’ve got four skills in an RPG-like hotbar, with RPG-like cooldowns, but it feels more like a shooter. You pump out damage rapidly and accurately, and you’re physically dodging enemy attacks to survive.

I really didn’t like it, and almost entirely because of a weird little message on the New Game screen. Continued

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.

Spelunky Banner

To Hell And Back In Spelunky

Last night I accomplished probably the hardest thing I’ve ever managed in a video game: going to hell and back in Spelunky. It only took 41 minutes, but it took me hundreds of hours of play – and about 3,000 deaths – to learn how to do those 41 minutes. Here’s the run: Continued

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