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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.

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

Gunpoint: The Setting

Wow. Response to my badly made video has been crazy, a whole order of magnitude more positive than I’d hoped. Actually slightly nervous now.

The best result of this is that a whole load of really talented people have offered their services, and many have already done great samples. There have also been a lot of very reasonable questions that made me realise my last post didn’t adequately define what I’m after. I called the current art a ‘rough guide’ without saying what about it should guide and what should be ignored.

So here’s a bit more about the idea for Gunpoint’s setting, look and mood.

Skyscraper Climb

World

Gunpoint is set in a big, largely empty city – or at least a largely empty part of a big city. It’s only about 20 years ahead of present day, so most technology is the same.

You

You’re a freelance spy. You get jobs from a site that lets agents choose from briefs written by anonymous clients. You wear a long coat and hat, and because you’re a spy, I would rather your face is either not clearly visible or has no recognisable features.

You’re the sort of person who acts very relaxed until he really needs to do something quickly, at which point you’re a flurry of motion and then back to trying to look nonchalant. I haven’t finalised your movement yet, but there’s a chance you may need to go from a casual shuffle/saunter/mosey into a semi-urgent run as you accelerate.

Gadgets

Through the agency, you buy a few rare high-tech gadgets to help with your work.

Hypertrousers: I always forget to tell people about the Hypertrousers. Compressed air actuators let you jump ridiculously far.

Gluon gloves: let you climb on any wall or ceiling. Adhesion does not actually use gluons. Gluon is a trademark of GluCorp and quantum physics is now a patent violation.

Crosslink: lets you connect any two electronic devices so that one triggers the other. Actually a cheap, widely available app for your phone, but so poorly marketed that only a handful of agents know it exists.

Gunpoint Crosslink simple

Tone

I want Gunpoint to have laughs, but it’s not set in a crazy world of whacky characters. People die suddenly and undeservedly, there are truly nasty people about, and justice is not always done. If you’ve seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, that’s the kind of tone: there are funny people in it, but they’re out of their depth in a dangerous underworld.

Look

Every mission takes place at night. It’ll also rain a lot. The main visual motif is meant to be the warm orange glow of a lit office block in the cold blue of a city at night. I have done a pretty lousy job of capturing that.

See-through offices

People

I’m fairly easy about style, but guards shouldn’t have too much individual personality, because there’ll often be a lot of them on screen at once.

Gunpoint - Floor Dead_crop

The main restriction is that people have to be between 20 and 30 pixels tall. I said before that they could go over 24 if it’s part of a whole makeover for the scale of the game, but looking into it, even a makeover wouldn’t work with a 50 pixel tall character. Here’s the problem:

It’s nice and clear, but where the hell is my jump going to land me? The character needs to be small so the jumps can be big. And I want Gunpoint to work on a typical netbook res, 1024×600, all the way up to 1920×1200. The art challenge is to make a low-res character clear and appealing.

Thanks so much to everyone who’s put effort into the awesome samples I’ve seen so far. They’re giving me ideas already, so even the ones that don’t go in will have an effect.

Beldak: Hey! I recently read about Gunpoint and saw the video. And I've got to say.. I am thrilled! I realize I might be a bit late but I'll try to chip in with some of my art suggestions and animations as soon as I finish them. It'd truly be an honor to make the art for this game.

The guards may not have much character, but how about the buildings and city? Will they all be offices or will missions also take place in houses / shops etc.? Or are you keen on having assets that could be placed in any building?

Octaeder: I did idly wonder if there'd be any justification for being able to jump huge distances, or if it was just something you could do, deal with it.

Hypertrousers have provided the answer.

Lobo: Played with an alternative idea for fun. Saw this while I was looking for detective reference earlier: http://tinyurl.com/6... ...xrnrva

And with you saying you didn't want to see the face I wondered if you could do that type of character in a 20-30 pixel high range. The answer is you can, but it'd be bloody difficult to maintain once you started animating. :)

http://dl.dropbox.co... ...ouette.gif

Would be cool though; switching between an outdoor silhouette sprite set and an indoor lit set.

Jack: Make a likable character that's 24 pixels high with an obscured face? You're a harsh man, Tom.

MrCraigL: I'm actually really looking forward to seeing this get released. It's been odd to see the development curve of "I'm getting into programming" to an actual, working (pretty slick) prototype of something that I want to play.

The style direction is pushing all the right buttons for me too. Hitman cum Blade Runner with a hint of Batman. Lovely.

So yeah, I'm shoving this next to Subversion, Monaco and Spy Party on my list of "indie games that I very much want to get my hands on"

phuzz: I was massively attached to my squad in Cannon Fodder back int eh day, and I'd be surprised if they were more than 20px tall.
Mind you, that's partly because they had names and ranks, not sure if that could be shoe-horned in.

EthZee: Jack: http://i.imgur.com/m... ...oouL.png 26 pixels, but you get my point. ¬_¬

So the crosslink's a smartphone app? Alright, I'll need to rejig the sprite I had for it, that was more of a 'magic wand' type device.

Timmargh: Will you be selling related merchandise? I'd love a pair of hypertrousers.

Chynes: That is a very cool demo. From the old posts I didn't realize how far along you were. It looks like you have a very good handle on the mechanics.

Though now I can't help but think of the spy as Gay Perry.

Chris: Cannon Fodder was just fantastic. It was the inspiration for CoD's rank up system. Perhaps.

Curt: Ok, so here is me learning this stuff. I recreated the settings in Illustrator using a combination of vector and sprites. I have yet to animate any of this stuff as it looks like we are still in the decision making phase. This is at double size btw 1024x600 If you guys want I can post the native Illustrator file for a sandbox, since this is looking more and more like a group effort :)
http://img.photobuck... ...u_spys.png I am having way too much fun!

Chris: hey curt, I like the spy on the far left, but maybe in some brighter colours so he can be seen more clearly?

Beldak: http://img692.images... ...dudes.png/

Still iterating, but here's what I've made thus far. I'm trying to see if the more serious side is viable too, as I've seen a lot of cartoony attempts. I'll try some more and then start animating a bit! Fun so far ^^

Bret: I like the far right one.

Chris: I have a question Tom, what resolution are you running the game at? I might be wrong here, but if it was at 800 x 600 or whatever wouldn't everything appear larger yet still keep within the correct dimensions? Currently I've been doodling at 1680 x 1050 which makes it all very weeny.

Zach (Scoops): I E-mailed you a few days ago about wanting to help out, and there was a bit of trouble with the site at that moment. But, I have made something in the mean time, a main character. I need to work on the guards next. Let me know what you think so far. i.e. needs more contrast, different colors for coat, etc. Take a look!

https://dl-web.dropbox.com/get/Photos/Detective1.gif?w=3948e62b

Thanks,
Zach

Curt: Chris: in the post above he said 1024x600 and I think he meant that at 200% the file I am working on is 512x300 which scales up to 1024x600. The 512 size would work for a fb style game or in browser pretty well. but again, I am new at this stuff. If you want I can send along the sandbox i made so you can scale to that?...if you dare :)

Tom Francis: Cool stuff!

Zach, I couldn't download that - it said I didn't have permission. Is it set to be private?

Resolution: It has to work at everything from 1024x600 to 1920x1200. It doesn't resize anything, so at higher resolutions you see more of the level and everything is smaller.

Right now I have an option to run at 950x540 double-scaled, which works if it's too small for you at 1900x1080 or above.

Zach (Scoops): Sorry, I put it in the wrong folder I think. Here it is again.

https://dl-web.dropbox.com/get/Public/Detective1.gif?w=e1ec6452

I'll also email it for good measure along with him w/o a background

Zach (Scoops): 2 things i forgot to add.... yes, there is a cigarette in the other hand and I didn't put gloves on him because it would have just been the same color as the gun. When I get time I can put them on and change the gun to a silver/gray, if it suitable.

Beldak: Hey! I've been animating a bit. The run still needs to be fixed.. the coat doesn't quite have the smooth animation I'd like it to have. Still, wanted to show what I've gotten done so far. I'm also keen on trying some things with the environment..

http://student-kmt.h... ...ng-guy.gif
http://student-kmt.h... ...mation.gif

Both very much work in progress. Also the previews are as .gifs, which for some reason run slower in browsers than they would on my computer. I am keen to hear any feedback from all those who hang around here in the comments ^^

Bret: Very nice for a start.

Although for some reason our hero sitting still with the coat flapping makes Protoman's theme play in my noggin.

Alex: It looks like there are people who do a lot of pixle stuff on here. here is my character mock up. if you like it real simple.

http://img.photobuck... ...ng0000.png

i could also do some full illustrations of the character for some cover art.

Crane: So far, I like Beldak's stuff the best.
Though what is the green glow? Night-vision?

Curt: We should built a art team for the game! so much good stuff, I bet would could divvy it up. Here is my most recent effort, now with more props! http://img.photobuck... ...spys_2.png

Tim: Why are they all wide-screen resolutions?

Tom Francis: They're not, but the smallest and largest are.

Caleb: Curt, your look is awesome.

oji: i think curt's is closest to what tom has now, but better. dig the style.

Beldak: Thanks Crane! The green glow could be a night vision yes. I wanted to give the protagonist a striking and mysterious 'thing'. Besides his totally inconspicuous coat and hat of of course. I am not sure if it works.

Anyway, made this quick background. Because the characters are quite small, a lot of personality can be given to the city and environment. I'll try my hand at some random office building next..

http://student-kmt.h... ...onment.png

McDanger: Wow, nice random office building, Beldak. I really like your design, although I'm not sure about the green either, personally.

Still, looks awesome!

Tom Francis: Whoaa. That is an incredible background. Nice work!

Tom Francis: Anyone who's posted samples in this thread but hasn't e-mailed me, do drop me a mail at pentadact@gmail.com so I can get in touch when I know what I'm doing.

Curt: Whoa Beldak I am in LOVE with that background! Did it take long? I bet with the rain it would be fairly easy to have it repeat without to much trouble. I am telling you guys with all the stuff thats been posted here there is no reason we can join forces, if Tom is into it. either way, this has been a blast.

Jason L: As for Beldak's stuff I could go either way on the green eyes - after all, you're able to see through walls in the dark - but that coat animation bugs me. It looks like the pneumatic hypertrousers are malfunctioning.

I don't envy you the task of picking from these submissions, Tom.

Ninja: Just wondering, do you have any interest of perhaps making this game for the iOS/android?

I'll download it and play it anyways, but if you were to put it up on the app store for .99 cents, it would be worth more than that to me to have a solid ipod game that isn't angry birds :V

Chris: Hi dudes I've been quite busy of late but I had a go at making a background tonight... only it's pretty dull right now. So I had some fun and did this quick character sketch:

http://i257.photobuc... ...y1copy.jpg

I'll probably wake up tomorrow and hate it but that's life.

Lobo: Scaled down my first character to 30px: http://dl.dropbox.co... ..._Small.gif

Fun little exercise for me, but I don't think it'd be practical once you started animating. :)

GraemeMor: I've made a sample with a basic rain animation and 4 of the characters. The main guy, the guard, an armoured guard and the pro killer...
http://fc05.devianta... ...3d7406.gif

Teaching myself to animate in photoshop. Fairly frustrating!

Chris: Graeme: I did my final exam piece using sketchup and photoshop to animate and tried to match the two together... it isn't easy that's for sure.

Love the glossy embossed feel to your work there.

Zach (Scoops): I like Curt's idea of teaming up. If you can decide on a final art theme, I'd be happy to follow along and work together.

Chris: Hi dudes, thought I'd try out some different rooms:

http://i257.photobuc... ...round2.gif

It's not 100% there but there's no point in getting too anal at this stage.

GraemeMor: I created a sample of the Crosslink screen here:

http://graememor.dev... ...-203810096

And I added a 2nd variation of the Killer, Guard and Amoured guard here:

http://graememor.dev... .../#/d3dccdg

Now to get back to some characher animation!

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.

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

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