Person Shooter: Metagun

Metagun is a game about a man who fires a gun that fires men who fire guns. At you. Which would rather seem to defeat the point, but as you can’t fire bullets, only little men, you need their bullets to destroy stuff and open up pathways for you. Lure the deadly bullets towards whatever you need to be shot, then duck out the way before you end up sporting more holes than Swiss nano-cheese. It’s about progress (and egress) via near-suicide, essentially. Then stuff gets bigger, and deadlier.

Oh yes, and it was created for the indie goldmine that is the latest Ludum Dare gamejam by a chap called Notch, one of the one-man Minecraft team. He’d like to show you his working. You can watch the entire 48 hour creation process of Metagun below, cunningly compressed into just six minutes.

As a game, its idea is perhaps stronger than its (slightly over-fiddly) execution. But what an idea it is. You shoot out little men who shoot back at you; it’s not just a gun, but a metagun. Violence never solves anything, etc. Well, except for navigation-based puzzles.

Better yet, damage is semi-denoted by your hat. If your hat has been shot off, you won’t last much longer. If you go pick your hat up again – risking backtracking through a hail of mini-man gunfire – you’ll be on surer footing. More hat-based risks in games, please.

Here’s Notch’s timelapse video of the game’s creation. Pretty amazing stuff – he created essentially every element of the game from scratch, within just 48 hours. I feel duty-bound to deploy the word “agog.”

Thanks to all the folks who passed this our way. Fun!


  1. fearian says:

    “Notch, one of the Minecraft team.”

    Notch is the minecraft team. That’s why minecraft is so impressive: He even handles the thousands and thousands of support emails himself!

  2. Tei says:

    This dude has skill. Maybe we have found the transhumans that will replace us, monkeys.

  3. Arathain says:

    “Better yet, damage is semi-denoted by your hat. If your hat has been shot off, you won’t last much longer. If you go pick your hat up again – risking backtracking through a hail of mini-man gunfire – you’ll be on surer footing. More hat-based risks in games, please.”


  4. Koozer says:

    Pah, can’t get past the spiky corridor with the super launcher.

  5. Sparkky says:

    Notch, one of the Minecraft team or
    Notch, the one man Minecraft team.

  6. Dominic White says:

    That video really doesn’t do much to change my belief that Notch is, in fact, a killer robot from the future who decided to give up killing, settle down in Sweden and start making games instead.

  7. PleasingFungus says:

    Well, C418 does the music, so you could call him part of the ‘team’… but he’s unpaid; Notch is the only one getting any money from Minecraft sales. Eh.

    Anyway, my favorite moment from this game is the Sokoban puzzle midway through. I’d gotten rather sick of Sokoban puzzles (thanks to this and that), but playing Sokoban with a gun that shoots guns that shoot you was a truly unique experience.

  8. scharmers says:

    He’s actually Teknoviking, after he decided to build down and become a game designer.

  9. GS says:

    You forgot to mention that the hats are stackable. Gathering more than one at a time results in the Metagunner wearing a TF2-ish pile of hats.

  10. Joras says:

    I declare hat-based health indicators to be the new “Zombie DLC” of 2011.

  11. Clovis says:

    Saw this on Notch’s blog yesterday. If you want to make yourself depressed by doing something other than playing Veritas, try reading comments under his post about this. Some of the people who bought Minecraft now regularly have a fit everytime Notch does something non-Minecraft related. Ugh.

    Is there really any game developer more lovable than Notch?

    • dantokk says:

      That *was* depressing. I don’t know what I expected.

    • Dominic White says:

      The more you give, the more people will demand. The only way to stop people on the internet flipping out if you don’t cater to their every whim is to never, ever try in the first place.

      And yeah, it’s depressing as hell.

    • yutt says:

      “The more you give, the more people will demand.”

      I agree. I gave Notch money for a half-dozen copies of Minecraft, and he demands he be able to use the money fans have given him to screw off for months instead of working on stabilizing the extremely buggy and incomplete game.

      He has taken 2 months off, completely, from working on Minecraft in the last 5 months.

    • Dominic White says:

      Please tell me you’re joking. PLEASE tell me you’re joking.

      Because you paid for an alpha version, knowing full well that was an alpha version.

  12. stahlwerk says:

    That video is impressive and inspiring. Makes me wonder why java is (relatively often) looked down upon as a rapid development language.

    • Tei says:

      Well… the garbage collector make unpredictible wen the app will pause to collect memory. Is programming, and not scripting, hence is much slower and takes much more work to do anything. Is not really designed for “system work”, like direct access to anything, the creation and destruction of objects takes time, and is not trivial wen one is working behind the scenes ( a simple = can trigger a chain reaction of objects constructions, destructions, and things). Do I have to continue?

      tl;dr; is not C or C++, is not a language of system programming, but a language of business building. you want Mars, and you get Venus.

      tl;dr: I am happy enough with assembler, I changed to C, so you are happy. Hare you happy? no, you want me to do C++, ok, I do C++. What is this newflawged Java thing and why is eating my raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  13. pupsikaso says:

    What is he making the game in? C++? I’ve seen many of these Ludum Dare time lapse videos, but I can’t see in any of them what language they are building the game in.

    • dantokk says:

      Java – in the tools department I saw Eclipse (Java IDE), Paint.NET, Photoshop Elements, sfxr…

  14. negativedge says:

    Minecraft is probably the best game I will never play.

  15. Hmm-Hmm. says:


  16. Spooner says:

    @Tei: Except Java will run in a browser and C++ won’t. For casual games like this, you remove an enormous barrier to play by making it browser-based (Flash/Java).

    I hear a lot of comments about high level languages being unsuitable for games development. Yes, they will never be useful for making AAA titles, but if you aren’t making an AAA title, what is the problem. These arguments are like someone else saying “All C++ applications leak memory!”. Two key points arise:

    * High level == slow: Yep, high level languages are slow, but if you are making a game that would have run in assembler on a 16-bit machine, it will run fine in Java, even on a net-book. Even lightweight 3D games, such as Frozen Synapse, run fine in C# (pretty much on a par with Java).

    * Garbage collection will freeze the game at indeterminate intervals: My Ludum Dare was in Ruby, a language which is significantly higher level than Java and has a worse garbage collector. Didn’t stutter at all. Neither did any of the other LD games I played. Never actually seen a high-level language-based game stutter in the way that a lot of people claim always happens due to the garbage collection interruptions (unless you are needing to animate 1000 sprites at once, in which case you should be using a faster language or simplifying the game).

    You use the right tool for the job. Why use a low level tool if you can use a high level one and get the same result for less development effort?

  17. DWWilson says:

    Meh, I’m taking a 5 month break from making the second part of drone… but then I didn’t take peoples money. In fact, I didn’t take any money (even in donation form) specifically because I didn’t want to feel indebted should I decide to have a break.

    I wouldn’t want to be the guy making Cortex Command right now.

    That being said, maybe if I had taken money it would be finished by now…

  18. adonf says:

    nice vid, i’m going to put it on fullscreen then take a nap while pretending to work.

  19. Hairball says:

    Unfortunately this means I’ve been waiting for days and my account has yet to be fixed…