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


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’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.


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


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.


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


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.

43 Replies to “Gunpoint: The Setting”

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. Played with an alternative idea for fun. Saw this while I was looking for detective reference earlier:

    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. :)

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

  4. 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”

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Cannon Fodder was just fantastic. It was the inspiration for CoD’s rank up system. Perhaps.

  8. 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 1024×600 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 :) I am having way too much fun!

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

  10. 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.

  11. Chris: in the post above he said 1024×600 and I think he meant that at 200% the file I am working on is 512×300 which scales up to 1024×600. 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 :)

  12. 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 1024×600 to 1920×1200. 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 950×540 double-scaled, which works if it’s too small for you at 1900×1080 or above.

  13. 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.

  14. 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..

    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 ^^

  15. 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.

  16. 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..

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

    Still, looks awesome!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  21. 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.

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