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.

Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

Postcards From Far Cry Primal

Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

Kill Zone And Bladestorm

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

Natural Numbers In Game Design

Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

Writing vs Programming

Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

What Works And Why: Nonlinear Storytelling In Her Story

My Idea For An ‘Unconventional Weapon’ Game

From Gunpoint To Heat Signature: A Narrative Journey

The Cost Of Simplifying Conversations In Videogames

What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX

What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

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

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

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

Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

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

Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point

What’s Your Fault?

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

One Desperate Battle In FTL

To Hell And Back In Spelunky

Games Vs Story 2

Gunpoint Development Breakdown

Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer

My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection

Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

How Mainstream Games Butchered Themselves, And Why It’s My Fault

A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

Arguing On The Internet

Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

The Suspicious Developments manifesto

GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

Understanding Your Brain

What Makes Games Good

A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

An Idea For A Better Open World Game

A Different Way To Level Up

How I Would Have Ended BioShock

My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary

I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

Blood Money And Sex

A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

First Night, Second Life

SWAT 4: The Movie Script

Let Me Mumble You Through An Early Version Of Gunpoint

The game I’m making, Gunpoint, is an infiltration game that lets you rewire its levels to mess with your enemies. It is ugly and has no animation.

I’ve learnt to do a lot of new things while making this, but art always takes me ten times as long as it should, and ends up… well, look at it. So I’d like to find someone who’s willing to help out with the visual side, particularly with animating the characters. There are only a few, it’s pretty simple.

In case anyone is interested, I thought I should talk you through what the game’s actually about so you can see if it’s something you’d want to be involved in. And for everyone else, I’d just like to give a better idea of what it does. I will probably regret this.

Here’s me, talking you through a very early prototype of the game as I play it. This is also my first stab at making a video, which is why it’s barely visible at anything less than 720p, everything’s tiny, I’m really quiet and the game sound drowns me out a few times. Enjoy!


YouTube (HD)Direct Download (80MB .avi)

The e-mail address is pentadact@gmail.com. Let me know what you think in the comments, and fling the link around if you found it interesting. This is a lot more than I’ve shown publicly before, so I’m interested in whether it seems appealing.

If you’re interested in chipping in with the art
Update – I no longer need help with the art!

The catch is I can’t pay you – I’m making this in a small portion of my free time, it’ll be free when it’s done, and my budget is zero. So I’m looking for someone who wants to help out for fun, practice and experience.

I’d love to see what you want it to look like. You don’t have to have any experience or qualifications, but if you could do a mockup of one character and their walking animation, that would be awesome. You can post it in the comments here or e-mail me.

Characters are about 24 pixels tall currently, but you can stray from that if you want to give the whole game a makeover – all the level objects and stuff.

There’s a pretty good chance no-one’s going to be up for this, in which case I’ll just do it myself once the rest of the game’s done, but it’s worth asking. I’ll still finish it, it’ll just be later and uglier.

The art that’s in there right now is a vague guide at best: I want the main character to have a long coat and a hat, but everything else is up to someone with actual ideas in their brain. The guards aren’t supposed to be grey – this guy was originally a deranged civilian but I cut that role.

To be clear, here’s what’ll ultimately need doing:

  • Walking, climbing and ceiling-climbing animations for the main character.
  • Walking and running animations for guards, armoured guards, and professional killers.
  • Walking and running animations for some kind of civilian dude, and slight variations of him.
  • A few miscellaneous combat interactions.
  • A bunch of stuff I’ve forgotten.
  • Optionally, any environment and character art you can improve on. Lord knows it sucks right now.

The very loose time frame is about two to three months. The game may end up taking longer than that – I’d like to have it out by the end of July, but even that’s not a hard deadline. Yay development!

Matt Oakes: I'd love to give it a go!

Hovercraft: The art may be rough, but I love the sound effects. Especially the face hitting.

*SMEK*

Nate: This is an awesome platformer idea. Very unique! I can see this becoming popular and extremely fun to play.

Good luck!

Andrew: Your video's currently on the frontpage of reddit.com/r/gaming.

Stephen: Wow, these mechanics look really interesting and unique! I was sort of expecting a larger persistant world from reading your blog posts along the way, but this format of smaller levels definitely works! I can also see some Hitman inspiration in there.

The movement of the player really reminds me of a cat jumping around and pouncing on people (could be an idea to experiment with possibly).

Great job so far and good luck (I also wouldn't mind helping test in the future if necessary). :)

Clay: Okay, I laughed out loud less than a minute in because of the "face punching" incident. It doesn't help that the sound you use is more a slap than a punch. =)

Love the video. I will recommend this to others.

Jonn: Looks pretty good, actually. Reminds me of Trilby: The Art of Theft, by your profane countryman who makes videos for the Escapist.

Great, now I want to download it again.

Nick: It looks really, really good. I think you've just made Subversion obsolete, unless that also has guards bonking themselves with doors and sticking their fingers in sockets. Which it should.

Crane: Oh, that looks fantastic!
I absolutely love the face-door trick. It may be rough, but it looks very solid and fun.
I'd make one suggestion though; it might be nice if it took more than one punch to knock someone out. Mainly, I suggest this because it sounds so satisfying to land on one of them and beat them about the head three or four times, while just doing it once seems a little too quick.

Like premature ejaculation, but with violence.

Why do people keep letting me use similies?

LeSwordfish: Is it alright if i post a link to this on tf2maps.net? I cant be any help artistically, but i know many people there who ARE good, several of whom are'nt doing anything major.

LeSwordfish: *aren't

Oh the unprofessionalism.

pizza: This looks excellent, love how he jumps through windows.

Seconded the multiple face punches comment Crane made, check out http://www.kongregat... ...f-thriller this game with a similar facepunch mechanic, very satisfying to pummel them.

Games Journalism Journalism: Gunpoint | Rock, Paper, Shotgun: [...] spare-time project for him, but if you’re interested in contributing, have a read of his post here.If you do end up working with him, don’t let him in your house. He’ll probably rewire [...]

Chris: I know there's alot of praise going on around here, but I'm really surprised how well everything is working (no offence), especially that gunpoint mechanic, very cool ideas.

I'd like to help out but I haven't done any sprite work/animations, plus it looks like you're getting enough interest that you're bound to find plenty of people with experience that are willing to help out.

Whoever does end up helping you needs to keep the punching animation very similar to what you have there, it's fantastically funny when combined with that sound effect. I also think you should make sure the levels stay fairly clean of too much detail - I quite like the minimalist look as it is.

yns88: Looks great. Perhaps the door trick and other "easy" takedowns can be balanced by only causing short-term incapacitation.

I can also foresee some problems with the autosave system: there may be times when you decide to do some hacking while in danger of being caught, and it would suck if the game autosaved you 2 seconds before you get shot.

Dan Lawrence: Seems to be coming along really well.

Might be worth poking around for an artist in some indie developer hidey holes as well.

Flash: I wish i had some art skills.

You better get someone to help. Anyone wanting to get into developing games themselves would be stupid to pass up an opportunity like this. This game will be a hit! Can't wait to play it.

Great concepts, keep it light and a little silly. Go nuts with the levels, there are lots of people who love complex games... work hard at getting the difficulty curve right... thats seems to be a sticking point for flash games

Ben L.: Nice. Not just another twee indie platformer with one new gimmick. Looks like a game I'd want to play.

Keilnoth: Looks great ! Can't wait !
Would be nice on my Android as well. Seems it could be easily played AngryBirds'-one-finger style.

Smannesman: Looks very interesting, can't wait 'till there's something playable.

cookieheadjenkins: I love this! There ought to be more fist-face-door interactions of this quality in games. Can't wait to play.

Ben: That looks excellent. I'd love to play such a game, even with the current art and animation (let's be honest, thousands of Flash games with worse graphics still attract huge attention.

Curt: http://cluisarts.com... ...unning.gif like this maybe?

Chris: I decided to have a go for fun:

http://i257.photobuc... ...intfun.jpg

24 pixels is really small as you can see by the comparison there!

Condi Buggle: I'm not too great at pixel art, but I do have far too much time on my hands and would love to contribute if you still need help.
http://i3.photobucke... ..._Large.gif

EthZee: Heh. This is looking to be pretty damn fun!

I thought I should give a try with the sprites; I tried to get something similar to your current style.

http://i3.photobucke... ...npoint.gif

I'd like to see if I could help; I'm not too experienced with animated sprites, but I think that it could be entertaining.

Bret: Oooh, that last set looks nice.

Game as a whole looks nifty keen. Eagerly awaiting.

Lobo:

Just working on a run.

Lobo: Hmm, that wasn't right, was meant to add a link...

http://dl.dropbox.co... ...nPoint.jpg

Chieron: The latest prototype introduced some new features, which I enjoy, but the musicalfacepunch is still some of the most fun gameplay for me. :P

Chris: Wow it's cool seeing what others come up with, mine looks like it came from the NES now that I look at it again today.

The spindly chap that Condi has done could work really nicely as the character is very acrobatic. Ethzee's has alot of detail as does Lobo's and I like the hidden face on Curt's one.

Curt: Wow, you guys made my guy look silly! Awesome stuff! Though I didn't realize we could get away with more than 24 px. I will try one at 48 maybe and see what happens. Heh, its like we are cloud sourcing the design, this could work!

MartinJ: http://i3.photobucke... ..._Large.gif

holy crap this is the most awesome protagonist ever

Curt: Ok so I decided to go another way, whattaya think. maybe a bad guy. This is zoomed in obviously but I made him 48px. http://img.photobuck... ...agent1.jpg

Niall: Want. So hard. I love the entire concept.

Lobo: Plays slow in IE, fine in Firefox and Chrome: http://dl.dropbox.co... ...nt_Run.gif

Tom Francis: Amazing stuff! I'm putting together a better post about what I have in mind for the style of the game, and the world, because I don't want anyone to put too much work into something that's not going to be compatible.

The main thing is, it turns out there are big problems if you go significantly over 24 pixel height. I'm afraid the upper limit is about 30 for the scale of the game to work on-screen.

Jason L: So. If Tom's spare-time freeware game wound up with a whole mod community of trenchcoated 24-pixel spies, wouldn't that be aces?

WhenInRome: Come on, I was already waiting for Subversion, I don't need something else to make me go "Any news? F5 Any news? F5 Any news? F5"

:P Seriously, this looks great. I can't wait to see how this turns out

Psytrese: I think you're crazy to be doing all this work and not charging for the game. I'm guessing the idea is that you want as many people as possible to play, but believe me, people will buy it if it's worth it, and it really does look worth it.

I'd be charging at least £1, but if you don't want to do that, I implore you to put a donation option on the site post-release, as I will definitely be making use of it.

Will: I'd love to test this game out! It looks amazing even with your..... semi-decent graphics! (No offense, but hey, I'm not an artist either :) *Thumbs up* So if you'd like, email me at xzalkex@hotmail.com. I've played hundreds of games, so if your looking for some free testers, look no farther! I've played EVERYTHING, especially indie dev games! I'm actually thinking about learning to dev something like this as well. Anyway, thanks!!

Anonymous: how do i get it

Gunpoint problem?

Don't post them here, I'm a useless idiot! E-mail tech support with as much detail about your system and the problem as possible, and they can actually do something.

Question?

There's a page about the games I've worked on, what I use to make them, and what platforms they're coming to.

Formatting

URLs get turned into links automatically. You can use <i>HTML</i> but not [b]forum[/b] code.

Comment