Maybe I Should Just E-Mail You When Gunpoint Is Out

I drew up a more specific and honest to-do list at the weekend, and realised Gunpoint is going to be done later than July. I’ve also set up a mailing list called Just Tell Me When Gunpoint Is Out. If you sign up, you’ll get two e-mails now, to confirm it’s your address, and one when the game is released.

Thanks to all who suggested this, I haven’t seen many games do it without wanting to spam you in the meantime, but it’s a great idea for both of us.

Here’s an incredibly misleading shot of a story sequence I got working last weekend:

At this point, you might wonder why I even bother to guess when Gunpoint will be done. Plenty of developers have a “When it’s done” policy, which always makes me want to say “I know, I was asking when that will be.”

What they really mean, of course, is “We have no idea when it will be done,” a position I have a newfound sympathy for. But it’s still annoying. It still feels like secrecy. You’re the developer! You must know more than we do about when it’s likely to be. We’re not asking for a contract, we just want an idea.

For Gunpoint, I can give you an idea! I can even tell you what’s left to do, how long I think it’ll take, and how much free time I have to do it in. Between now and the start of August, I have about 38 free days – i.e. most weekends. And if this to-do list is comprehensive, I have about 39 days work left to do on Gunpoint.

This calculation assumes I’ll get nothing done in the evenings, that nothing will run massively over or under its estimated time, that I’ll be free every weekend and that there’ll be no business stuff to take care of. None of these things are true, but they might all cancel each other out.

Scripted sequence test – done

Made a scripted scene last weekend, and it looks great. These are no harder than I thought they’d be, so the other few should be relatively smooth sailing.

Rating system – 1 day

Giving you feedback on impressive aspects of your performance on a mission. I have a sense this is going to add a lot, so it’s high priority.

Laptop data – 1 day

How you read the data you steal from laptops, which are optional objectives in each mission.

Dynamic music working – 1 day

I have Ryan Ike’s multi-layered music mostly working, but it vanishes if you load a savegame and it doesn’t support a few more tricks we want to try. It needs a proper system.

Actual script – GDC Plane Journey

Yes, I’m going to write the whole game on the plane. It’ll be fine.

New gadgets and devices – 2 days

This probably sounds like feature bloat, but some really strong patterns are emerging in feedback. One gadget people find almost completely useless, and I have an easy idea to redesign that. And another idea I can easily add will build on your ability to manipulate guards, which is one of the most common key positives people list. A couple of simple new devices (crosslinkable electronics) are needed to support more puzzle ideas, which’ll help with the next step.

Gadget Tutorials – 2 days

It’s really hard to train a gadget without knowing what level the player will be playing after they first buy it. I have a dynamic prioritised system in there that queues up all the info you don’t have yet and trains it at the earliest chance. It’s not working. Everyone’s still baffled. So I’m gonna make little controlled test environments for you to try a new gadget before you take it into the field, if you want to.

Make worst levels good – 4 days

Man I really hate some of the levels right now. Not worth redesigning them until I’m a) less burnt out on level design, and b) have these new elements in.

[Classified] – 4 days

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.

Final art integration – 4 days

There are still a few more tile sets, animations and backgrounds to come from John and Fabian – putting those in takes time, and that’s something I’ve failed to account for in the past.

Scripted sequences – 2 days

Only two or three of these to do, and I know how to do them now.

Conversation and shop interface tweaks – 2 days

I’d like to make all the menus look better and make conversations feel nicer to navigate. It’s all a bit amateur hour right now.

Guard dialogue – 2 days

I want guards to have speech bubbles to articulate what they’re doing sometimes, particularly when a gunshot goes off. If one of them fired it, the police aren’t summoned – there’s a reason for that and I want it to be clear. There’s also a lot of fun to be had with this in less critical situations, so if it’s easy, I will.

Esc menu – 2 days

Mostly a basic options menu, but I also want a plot recap on there and will need to figure out how the mission skip option works.

More sounds – 1 day

So much more to do here, and it’s going to add so much to the feel of the game. Luckily it’s generally very quick to find a good sound and put it in.

Tweaks/performance – 4 days

So many tiny usability tweaks need making, controls need revising, mechanics need altering.

Bug fixing – 4 days

Haha, 4 days? Here’s where the game will slip again.

[Classified] – 2 days

[Classified] – 3 days

[Classified] – 2 days

More things I won’t talk about in case they don’t work out.

In terms of knowing when to stop, my rule is that anything I add to my to-do list has to be more efficient than the last thing I got done. It has to be likely to add more fun to the game and take less development time. If I’m always getting more efficient, any delay is worth it. At the point of diminishing returns, I’ll lock it down, polish it up and release it.

13 Replies to “Maybe I Should Just E-Mail You When Gunpoint Is Out”

  1. To me, it sounds like you have a plan. Just do your thing and we’ll kick back and wait it out. Make it the best you can. And if you feel like the returns are diminishing, you can always release updates after release. ;)

  2. Two e-mails now.
    One with a link to confirm.
    One with a confirmation of your subscription and an unsubscribe button.

    Still not spammy though, so the point you were trying to make still stands :).

  3. I’m really pretty impressed by how you’re figuring this all out, and I absolutely can’t wait. But please, for the sake of penguin hair… Don’t rush it. Go at your own pace, do it when you want to. Deadlines are evil.

  4. “multi-layered music”? is it something similar to 2007’s Super mario galaxy’s menu music. with that funky space-techno and the breakbeat that only comes in once you click on a savefile -thats what multi layered mmusic should be- or something like de Blob 2’s music system with little jazzy fill-ins every now and then? cus that. would. rock. you can have a single piano jazz single going on at the start menu and then the double bass starts to walk some notes once you click on a menu lol but that’s just my idea

  5. Don’t forget that we get TWO four day bank holidays in the UK this year.
    Although everyone else I know is planning to stay drunk for both of them, so I suppose it’s excusable if you do too.

  6. I love the screenshot in this post. Simply put, the atmosphere the graphics give is hard to beat in.

    You’re brave for giving such a list, I don’t even have a list for my own project. I am horrible with not only deadlines, but planning ahead.

  7. Not much to add but just wanted to give you a high five. I’m not one of the people interacting with you or even leaving comments on videos, etc, but I bet there are a lot like me who are anxiously keeping an eye on the game and sending our best wishes your way. Keep up the good work, sir!

  8. I’m guessing that the first Classified is procedurally generated levels, somehow? Just want to be able to say that I called it if I’m right.

  9. It’s not, but that’s an idea I come back to every now and then to check if it’s feasible yet. The difficulty is that Gunpoint is quite puzzle-driven, and the challenge of creating obstacles that are interesting but not impossible is one I don’t have a formula for yet. I could have it piece together hand-built puzzles, but then the randomisation element wouldn’t keep it fresh.

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