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.
Guns vs Filing Cabinets. Morons think this is the sequel to Half-Life Deathmatch and run mindlessly around spraying people with the feeble SMG. This is not that game. It’s a game where you fight two classes of enemies – cannon fodder grunts, armed with the standard Half-Life 2 weapons, and Gravity Jedis, artful duellists each with their own remarkable style which will clash with your own in a gripping battle of the titans. You, of course, are a Gravity Jedi. Aren’t you?
The raw physicality of it all. Shooting people with guns is a very hypothetical thing – unless it’s Soldier Of Fortune 2, you’re just clicking to make a hitscan check in code deduct HP from a hitbox until it turns into a ragdoll and gains some decals. If you fire a radiator at someone, you’ve fucking killed them. It’s immediately apparent.
I was enthralled by this. I’ve been playing it from the hour it came out, and while most Half-Life 2 owners toyed with it then rejected it as ‘merely fun’, I haven’t been able to stop. As part of the delightfully evocative shared lingo of some of the PC Gamer writers, we often talk of ‘crushing’ our enemies – this is the game where you can actually do it. Crush. No armour check is made, no super-health can save them, they can scour the whole map for the best weapon in the game – they’ll find, when you Gravity Gun an eight foot metal workbench into their neck, that they had it all along.
That ‘great equaliser’ element adds a beautiful twist to it. I am good at HL2DM, and when I’m at the top of the scoreboard, the idea that I got there with the starting weapon, the one everyone has all the time but doesn’t use, is uniquely satisfying. Only the ÃƒÂ©lite stick to the Gravity Gun, and when you meet a fellow one the battle is extraordinary. Objects ricochet off each other in mid-air, rebound off walls and are re-caught before they hit the ground. Every piece of furniture, debris, wall-fitting and data storage device is vacuumed up and flung in relentless yet fluid exchange. Lesser players are smashed in the crossfire, casual shots catching them in the face, tables hitting the ceiling and dropping on them. It almost looks like an unhappy coincidence that everyone using a gun dies within seconds of entering the room, but there is something subtle but unmistakable in the way a Gravity Jedi moves, his instinctive feel for physics and his inhuman catching reflexes that renders him impervious to the hail of metal and plastic that pounds the rest of the room. When the first blow finally hits, it is the last – one is too busy catching the last throw of the other, or scooping up his next projectile, and a sink crashes into his skull. The victor stands up in his seat, punching the air. The defeated player shakes his head in deference, awe. Someone is as awesome as he.
The Essential Experience
The radiator kill. I could list my top fifty Gravity Gun objects without pausing, but top of the list is always the ridged wonder. Slim one way, broad the other, deadly both. Brutal mass, perfect ricochet, flat-surface slide factor high. Warm glow.
roBurky: That a startlingly different experience to mine. I've tried Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, but attempting to use the gravity gun just gets me killed. A lot. There's never enough physics objects to be thrown, and the SMG invariably kills quicker even when you have an object ready and are accurate.
Tom Francis: What are you throwing, medkits?
Jason L: Further tests: Special characters ¿
roBurky: Ok, on further inspection, I was just playing on crap maps with no objects around. Gravity gun wins.
Tom Francis: Ah yes, HL2DM map makers don't have a clue how to furnish their maps. Even some of the official ones are too light on debris. Lockdown is my firm favourite, though the ground floor room in Overwatch is the most intense single area for Gravity Gun fights. Usually it's me down there crushing people, while a guy at the top camps the RPG and picks off those foolish enough to run around outdoors. We compete for kills, but never actually fight each other. We are of different worlds.
Lithilk: In reply to the 'throwing medkits', thats actually where a majority of my deaths come from. My pc is old and objects in the distance fade. So when I aim for something heavy like a barrel thats far away, I sometimes end up picking up a small, useless object.