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Tom Francis

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John Roberts

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Fabian van Dommelen

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Ryan Ike

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John Robert Matz

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Francisco Cerda


By Tom Francis. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

Gunpoint’s Release Date

I’m going to stop estimating it. I’m always wrong, as you’ll have noticed, and however much I forewarn you about that, I hate having to change the ETA again and again. It feels like I’m artificially creating a constant stream of bad news for you guys, about a project that’s going incredibly well, is fun to do, and that I’m making quickly and efficiently.

This is even dumber than it sounds. The single biggest advantage of being completely indie is that you have no external influences dictating how and when the game gets made. Even you guys aren’t particularly pressuring me: whenever I do announce a delay, the comments are calm and wise: Fair enough / Take your time / Do it right.

But I don’t believe you. I work in fear of an imaginary community in my head, one that’s always on the verge of losing patience with me and interest in the game.

I took a week off work recently to work on Gunpoint full time, working 6am to midnight most days, and getting a crazy amount done. But the first time something took longer than I’d scheduled for, I panicked.

It soured everything. I felt stressed, disillusioned about the virtue of what I was adding, and it got harder to focus. I started to get that feeling I sometimes had when I started on Gunpoint: “What if it turns out I’m just not smart enough to do this?”

The ETA was actually damaging the game, and that was the last straw for ETAs.

Estimating how long something will take to code is like estimating how long it’ll take to crack a combination padlock. If it’s the first code I try? No time at all. If it’s none of the first 999? It’s going to take a while. You don’t know how long unless you know which attempt will succeed, and if you knew that the problem would already be solved.

My only objectives are to make an exciting game, and make it efficiently – using testing feedback to focus on what it really needs, and re-evaluating what I’m working on, how long it’s taking, and whether it’s the best use of that time. I got that part down fairly early on, and it’s part of what makes Gunpoint fun to work on: I can see it rapidly getting better in both my own playtests and other people’s feedback. I’m just going to stop adding arbitrary pressures to that cycle.

Thanks to everyone who’s been so cool about it so far. I’ll still be blogging a lot about the process and progress here, and if you like, I can just e-mail you when it’s out.

Wikzo: No problem. Just take your time :)

Nick: No problem. Programming is like that, something'll be done in 5 minutes unless you hit a snag and there's often a snag even if it's your own logic. In the end, you might as well have fun while you're making something.

Can't wait though, the beta was good fun!

DeliriumWartner: That screenshot looks awesome, and the name of the image is fantastic. I know you probably don't want to spoil the surprise, but I'd love to hear where the feedback changed the game and the way you see it.

fricccish: Fair enough. Take your time. Do it right.

karl: This is exactly how i feel, Tom: ...N99jshaQbY

The_B: Somewhere, Valve is probably saying "NOW YOU KNOW HOW WE FEEEEL" (but in a nice way, and it's not really as if you were one of those particularly easily to rage people whenever Valve miss a date but ANYWAY)

Cyanyde: I was thinking about the price point debate and I thought of something.. why not release through the Humble Bundle and let people set their own price? You also get the added benefit of supporting charity and you'll get a ton of exposure! It's win win win! :)

In0q: Now that there is no planned release date, will you be increasing the percentage of the people in the beta mailing list get picked? I got a snapshot of Feb 15th, and I've already played it through 4 times and gave you a small list of bugs. Would really like to be able to see some of the later versions.

iaoth: We all love you for even trying to make this game. Feel loved. Now get back to work.

Madol: If estimating times is in your opinion hurting the game then don't do that. You have the ability to work on things at your own pace. But a way you could maybe help give yourself some piece of mind about the community is do a small blog post or something every week or every other week and just say "This is the cool stuff I want to work on in the next while". It gives the community something to keep interested in, and there's no real deadline to feel bad about.

kkh3049: Thanks for that post. I totally understand the fear you created. The fans are often scarier than the publishers (luckily you don't need one of those). Anyway, thanks because you made me realize that I'm not the only one who has those doubts; I know now that even though I may feel like creating something amazing is difficult and beyond my abilities, I have the potential to do it with some effort.

Jhon: > I work in fear of an imaginary community in my head, one that’s always on the verge of losing patience with me and interest in the game.

No risk of that, man. I know it's gonna be awesome, you won't lose my interest. Patience isn't a problem, I just keep an eye on twitter and the day it goes out, it goes out.

Corroded: As a software developer and artist, I feel your pain when it comes to such deadlines. Keeping us updated with blog posts like this and knowing that you are improving as you go will make your community happy as we will know that your heart is in the right place.

MOM4Evr: Don't worry; I'm as impatient as anybody else, but I know that the time you're spending on Gunpoint is well worth it. I was super-excited to get on the beta testing list earlier this year, and thought the game was fantastic. I also thought the game was close to being done back then, so I know all the time you're spending on the game is making it that much more epic. I can't wait for the release, and by that I mean I'll wait as long as I need to. :)

@Cyanyde: While a Humble Bundle release would be fantastic, generally they like games to be Win/Mac/Linux compatible, and afaik there's no planned Game Maker Linux port. That being said, I'll nag them. :P

William Russell: Just make it however you're able, and we'll be glad to have a go even if it's not perfect! Strive for originality, not perfection, and you'll have made a contribution to the accomplishments of the human race.

Runescope: I'm not sure if you're familiar at all with the game "Kerbal Space Program", but what they are doing is releasing beta versions as they get upgraded (they're up to 0.14.4 right now) and using the gaming community as a bug testing base. I know you've sort of done that, but if you're worried about keeping people interested, you could expand on it. Of course there would be huge disclaimers about it being beta, but the kerbal gaming community doesn't seem to have a problem with it, and I doubt that the fans of this game would be any less generous. Aaaaaaand I think that's my two-bits on this topic.

Jason L: The thing is, that sort of plan works great for a game that's composed of a large number of interacting systems on a small amount of content, like KSP or Minecraft or Starfarer or Mount & Blade IIRC. You can, and indeed must, build those systems serially in any case, so why not whack them in the changelog and put out a release? Gunpoint, despite being wider than your typical puzzler or platformer, is still quite content-driven, with set-piece puzzles built on a relatively small number of hopefully predictable systems.

Flo: Well if you want to imagine the community, take the comments a proof of how the community is : cool and relax :)

We know it's an indie game so it's not surprising if it takes longer.
We just want a good fun game and not necessarily now, so take your time :)

David: I'm very impressed by the time and effort you're investing here. You're doing it all with real honesty: good for you. I'm looking forward to playing it but in the meantime, as a writer, I totally sympathise with the process.

Robbie: dude we just care about how the game is like and if its ever gonna come out

James Patton: Hey, don't worry. If you can work efficiently on Gunpoint, improving it steadily and effectively, *and* have fun doing it, that's a dream come true! Plus you made this game for fun anyway - it'd be a shame to have the fun squeezed out of it for the sake of an arbitrary timetable.

It sounds like you're doing great. Keep up the good work, and we'll all be waiting here come release day ;)

It: Haven't played the game yet, but I know exactly how you feel about time limits; though in my case, setting a time limit makes me more lazy (putting off until the endgame), instead of pushing myself as hard as possible to complete a task (and the rush-job results that are near-guaranteed). I'd rather be doing it when I feel I'm up for it, thus putting in my all, and beating any deadline set with better quality than expected.

The new method of working you're taking on is actually more like how Toady One has been taking on Dwarf Fortress; no absolute time limits, and shift your focus where you think is needed most. If the community is patient enough to deal with the content as is (and even abuse a few bugs to insane levels, like the Dwarven Microwave bug (http://www.bay12foru... ...ic=55001.0), for example, back when fat boiled too easily.

Making games should be fun. As long as you enjoy making the game, and not stress yourself out, the fans will enjoy playing it as well.

Von Epp: Be sure to let us know when Valve hires you.

Knarf: Your game looks amazing!
I would wait at least 3 more years without a problem, and probably more than that! So just take your time and make the amazing game your making!

Troy: Okay, lemme play the devils advocate here: You really should set a release date. If for no other reason than to give yourself that small nudge too finish. Make it simple (like: Finish by New Years), or complex (No major bugs; plot is tight; game play smooth; etc), but do make one.

That being said, I have faith in you. I've kept an eye on this blog to keep up with progress for so long, I don't even remember what got me interested in Gunpoint! But I have kept coming back for updates because I knew I would enjoy this game since seeing the first screen shots/video.

TooNu: I took a break from daily checking your blog because I think the excitement just becamse too much. I'm really looking forward to 3 games this year and they are Guild Wars 2, Torchlight 2 and Gunpoint. Honestly.

Release it when you're done Tom :)

Idono: I'm waiting patiently because i don't want a flop. The great part about indie games is that they can keep my interest far longer than a AAA game can. They allways function better and have 1000 times better support with far better gameplay. So take your time.

SuperJay: Tom - as others have said, there's no rush. We're not going anywhere! I agree that things like blog posts, screenshots, and random development stories go a long way toward sustaining fan interest without the deadline pressure. As a player, just seeing some activity on your end is fun and interesting. You seem to enjoy sharing some insights into your own process, so that works out well. I think people only lose interest in a compelling indie game like Gunpoint if the developers go dark altogether and there's no communication or activity happening at all.

Cipher: I have been following for a while, just wanted to say this is looking to be amazing.

LongShad: This is normal. I waste 2 months to make person who simply moving by the level, climbing on ladders and opens the door, but thought that by this time start job on AI. But i always say to myself - "If you will not be a fit, you're closer to that to give it up".

jonathan: you should definately charge for this game, its awesome, just flesh it out, polish it up and your good for an audience and some cash.

FAM: Tom - from the very little i have seen of your game i am already eagrly awaiting its release. its original, clever, and it looks more polished everyday. youre doing a great job. Take YOUR TIME PLZ. I would not only pay for this game i generously would fund it on kickstarter. keep it up, you'll know when its done.

zenak lith: Do a valve. Take absolutely ages but make it the best game ever.
Also really looking forward to it.

Nikolaj: "An idea I won’t talk about yet, because I’ll cut it if it doesn’t work or is going to take too long. It’s targeted very specifically at people finding the game too short or too easy." Level editor? =)

Jetcutter: Glad to see things moving forward!!

Marcos: Troy makes an excellent point. A release date is a must. But here's the thing, you tell us, the gaming audience "whenever it's ready" and set the release date only for yourself and your team. The reason for this is because it creates a solid focus to finish it. I've been part of too many projects with the 'flexible' release date when truth be told, many other things intervened with the team members lives, most of it avoidable, that ended up having some people leave the projects because of the lack of focus and goal setting. Other projects came up that HAD deadlines, and guess which project went down in the hierarchy? There was no impetus to finish any of them and nothing to tie down anyone to any of the projects. It was open door policy all the way and I learnt my lessons the hard way with my involvement. Constraints, be they time, financial, whatever it may be, is conducive to fostering a higher level of imagination and creativity. Don't believe me, Google 'Constraints and Creativity', you'll come up with lots of examples that discuss this. Also, look at the Black Mesa project, a perfect example of a team that has been arse-farting about with a project that really should've been released 3 years ago. Their problem? No release date internally among its team. They've confirmed this in their blog.

A deadline is a must, I can't stress this enough. You just keep it to yourselves, make it realistic (yet pushes the team all the same) and you don't need to tell any of us what it is. Besides, the game can be updated and refined with patches after release, nobody's perfect. And remember, that's perfectly ok :)

P.s. I'd charge for this game, I'll pay for it. You'll do well on Steam, Desura and other platforms

Jason L: And I've seen too many projects break up when release after release flew by and people got demoralized. Any development that's not purely content-driven (which is to say, almost all worthwhile game development)is chaotic, and you're only fooling yourself if you claim you can predict it two years in advance. Make up some bullshit and risk looking like a fool for years, or hold your cards and risk falling off the radar; pick your poison. I generally prefer the latter, because it can now be ameliorated by regular development updates. I'm sorry you partnered with people who didn't care about your projects.

Arucard: That game looked good and clever in the first vid, now these screenshots look amazing. I thought of it originally to be a pretty short, simple concept, but looks like it's getting lots more story and variety.

Also the April Fool's thing was hilarious. Keep up the good work! ;D

joxp: "I'm sorry you partnered with people who didn't care about your projects." Not quite sure what he was talking about there, hmm. I'm still trying to FIND this large fanbase, I know it exists, but they must hate commenting. There should be a subreddit for this game though, it's a good way for a community to communicate, and once we get Gunpoint Memes...

(I haven't yet checked if there IS a subreddit, so there might be one?)

Paul: Looks like good fun! Clever puzzle design. Def worth purchasing. Don't make it free. It has the potential to be a great indie game. Also it'll give you more incentive to add more content and polish.

I think it will be a worthy indie release when it's done, especially with the right soundtrack. A dark ominous tone like the original Syndicate would fit nicely.



Phil: Dude, take ur time! Don't over complicate the game; the first gameplay trailer you put out made me want to play it as soon as possible! I still think that the padlock is a cool idea though, but if it stresses you out, scrap it until later.

Francesco: I do not want a release date dude, I just enjoy your blog posts, I just want to know how the development is going, what can I expect from the game. I do not want this game to be released as soon as possible, I want just a good game. Do not just sacrifice your health in this project, take the time you need, get a vacation, enjoy your life. Ideas will come, solutions will come.
I dont think that users are angry with you, users get angry more often with big societies that asks 60bucks for uncomplete and untested products.
We do not need a release date, just stay with us, the community, grab our feedback, let us partecipate and we could make a great game!

Willyfrog: Why don't instead of an ETA do a features to complete until release? Add some extra numbers just in case something goes wrong (althought the number could go up).
Anyways, keep working on it! ;)

nayab: I must say your game, looks amazing I can't wait to play it.
Have to say it looks really intense, tricky but that really seems to bring out the game to solve the game puzzles.

If possible could you tell me where can I get this game.

john: How would i get the demo?