Heist School: Gunpoint

Full disclosure: I have played badminton with Tom. I apologise if that makes this post seem suspect.

Fellow PC gaming journalist and friend of RPS Tom Francis is working on an indie video game. It’s about breaking into people’s houses, something Tom is extremely qualified to write about. Er, because he got robbed a couple of years back, not because he’s a housebreaker. To the best of my knowledge, at least.

To be specific, Gunpoint is about infiltration, and the achievement thereof primarily via rewiring of electronics such as cameras, doors and lights. If Agent 47 was a rogue electrician rather than a genetically-engineered assassin, it might go a little something like this…

Let’s have Tom talk you through it himself. It’s super important to note that he’s currently looking for an artist – which is a) the point of this video and b) why the art in it a little basic at present – “a vague guide at best”, he says. The video’s on the weeny side in our site design, so if you can’t make out what’s going on click through to Youtube and watch it in 720p.

A novel and smart concept, that. Rewiring/hacking tends to be relegated to minigames within games (e.g. the pipemania thing in Bioshock, or the node-capturing in Deus Ex: Human Revolution), rather than made the primary focus of the game itself – and especially within a real-time action context like this.

I must admit, however, that I’m most taken with the crazed diving through windows. I asked Tom what would happen if I spent most of my time in the game simply doing that, and he EXCLUSIVELY told me this: “After the first time, the window will be broken and will no longer make noise. I apologise for chaos theory.”

Damn you, Francis.

He also said “I’m sorry my video keeps making the Windows noise.” I was trying to work out what was doing that, actually. He said that was probably an exclusive comment too, but he might end up telling someone else it too. Oh, betrayal.

Gunpoint will be free, but doesn’t have a fixed release date as yet, although he’s hoping to make July. Its arrival could well be hastened if he can secure himself an artist. Not a paid gig alas, as this is a spare-time project for him, but if you’re interested in contributing, have a read of his post here.

If you do end up working with him, don’t let him in your house. He’ll probably rewire your lights to the oven or something.


  1. Inigo says:

    If you listen hard enough, you can hear Chris Delay grinding his teeth together.

    • Feste says:

      That was exactly my thought. Who needs procedurally generated cities when you can electrocute guards with a light switch.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      That’s one of the problems I have with the long hype times developers are using at the moment. Bye the time something is released, it’s been copied all over. There’s no surprise anymore.

  2. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    What is this Games Journalists doing games making thing? It is like someone who writes for the NME joining a band – your hopes of such things should have long since withered along with the rest of your emaciated, underpaid husks.

    In seriousness though, it looks pretty cool! Good for Mr. Francis and I look forward to playing it.

  3. LimEJET says:

    Now THIS I’ll be waiting for.

  4. gorgol says:

    Awesome! Tom Francis is my fave PC Gamer writer, and this game looks really fun!

    P.S. Personally I think the art and animations are perfect the way the are.

  5. Universal Hamster says:

    This looks awesome! I really wish I had any applicable skills to help out with this.

    /Dives through window.

  6. gulag says:

    What is it with games journos and building security hacking? Yatzee of Zero Punctuation fame made a similar game a few years ago.

    Looks like a right larf.

    • mlaskus says:

      The Art of Theft, I liked it very much.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      There does seem to be a strange increase in “stealth” games.

      Monaco, Spyparty, Subversion to name the ones I can actually think of right now. Hopefully Thief4 will be good for it too.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Yeah I vaguely remember Yahtzee’s game actually being quite good

    • Jahkaivah says:

      Having previously made lots of actually quite good adventure games it is hardly surprising.

    • AlexW says:

      Maybe the trend of awesome people to make stealth games on the side is because nobody in the industry is actually making stealth games any more? I’m sure they pang for a SC:CT sequel as much as the rest of us sensibles do.

  7. mlaskus says:

    Wow, this looks great, I love the idea.

  8. Richeh says:

    I genuinely burst out laughing at the manpunching / facedoor occurrences. I don’t think he needs any help at all with the animation. He should leave it like that.

    • Bennus says:

      I did too, the first jumping through window instance too, I’m easily amused by slapstick and that was brilliant. Please don’t change the sound effects.

  9. Mike says:

    Tom is amazing and the ideas he’s had for this have been great. Very interesting project.

  10. Sajmn says:

    Looks like a good time, and the graphics are just fine. Looks like it might be a a little too easy, but I’m sure he’ll come up with a way to spice things up some.

  11. Bhazor says:

    This looked alot like A Werewolf Thriller what with the pouncing based combat and sneaking. Which is great because I loved the pouncing based combat and sneaking.

    link to guygames.com

  12. Hoaxfish says:

    I already want to play it for the leaping, the window smashing, and the face punching before he even gets to the rewiring mechanic.

  13. NeoShai says:

    I saw ‘Gun’ and I saw ‘School’ and instantly jumped to conclusions this was another game/mod about a school shooting.

  14. jonfitt says:

    I wonder if the final levels will all look like a possible building structure, or is the “it’s a puzzle game” going to be written large on their design?
    I saw one in there where the only entrance/exit was a skylight. Now I don’t think that’s pass Health and Safety.

    • jonfitt says:

      It does look jolly good fun i might add. A little bit of that I Am A Rogue AI thing in there with the guards and switches.

  15. DrGonzo says:

    It’s looking like a new Bonanza Brothers to me which is excellent, as it was always my favourite Megadrive game.

  16. Adriaan says:

    Ooh, this should be fun! A very nice concept, and with some fancy art I can imagine it will be a real joy to play.

  17. TooNu says:

    It’s going to be awesome!

  18. BurningPet says:

    Oh boy, the heist games golden age has officially began. very good.

    I also think the art is charming. might need more decorations to add life to the scenes, but it could be in the same style and quality.

  19. AndrewC says:

    All hail Tom.

  20. Ergates_Antius says:


  21. terry says:

    Hooray, something else to wait for while waiting for Subversion/Monaco/Spy Party!

  22. Phydaux says:

    Gunpoint is starting to look good. I’ve been following Mr Francis for ages now. His writing is some of my favourite.
    If you haven’t already you should check out:
    Ending Bioshock
    TF2 Unlockable ideas (I think valve basically stole half these ideas)
    And, because RPS are lax on the Minecraft posts recently, Tom’s Minecraft Experiment

    He was also one of the authors of the book Machine of Death, along with Randall Munroe (XKCD), and Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics) and others. Which is totally great (and free).

  23. Sharkticon says:

    I can say this in all seriousness: that was the most exciting mini/indie/bedroom concept that I’ve ever come across. It solves the #1 with ‘indie platformers’ which is the reliance on gimmicks instead of solid gameplay. Gunpoint weaves the new ideas effortlessly into core gameplay.
    Mr. Francis if you’re reading this:
    1. For Heaven’s sake DON’T change the art or animation or sounds. They are perfect how they are; the man-punching is especially hilarious.
    2. Maybe make and perfect this one and then have better graffixx in the sequel or something?

  24. JuJuCam says:

    What exactly was wrong with the elevator animation? I think he’s definitely being overcritical of the art, too much distraction on screen would ruin this.

    Ironic that a developer with decent art that suits the gameplay wants an artist on board, whereas one with almost universally panned art refuses to budge on it.

    • JackShandy says:

      Better art = less confusion/distraction, not more. Notice how he’s got an orangey character against orangey room backgrounds there? It’s not a gigantic deal, but better art could clean it up and make it more instantly readable.

    • JuJuCam says:

      I guess I can see that. I was more thinking that if the walls were textured or wallpapered or something or there was a whole lot of visual clutter in terms of pointless assets it’d draw focus from the important elements.

      A few more frames of animation here or there certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    • battles_atlas says:

      I think he was refering to the manner in which the guy exits the elavator and walks away whilst still in his leaning pose.

  25. anonymousity says:

    There are nothing but positive comments, and I’ll throw my lot into the throng, this looks like it will be awesome.

  26. Callum says:

    God, that pounce and punch animation coupled with the sound is perfect. I don’t want Tom to change that, it made me smile every time it happened in the video, it’s just too awesome to be replaced.

    • Nick says:

      I agree! This looks great and I actually really like the art.

    • Tacroy says:

      If he changes that face punching animation I might have to punch someone… in… uh…

      Anyway it’s awesome.

  27. Spatula says:

    Very interesting. I’ll happily test if he wants.

  28. Jonathan says:

    I’d been following this in his occasional blog posts about it, but had assumed it was baqck-burnered or on hold since there hadn’t been any news lately. I think this is the first time I’ve seen it in motion — it’s looking great!

  29. MajorManiac says:

    Good Job Tom. That looks great.

    With the slightly rough sound effects it sort of reminded me of the Monty Python animations.

  30. Xercies says:

    Hmm tempting, might just create a few mock arts and animation and send it to him…

  31. merc-ai says:

    Please keep the face-punching and window smashing as they are. Because they are perfect!

  32. Berzee says:

    ARGH. The sound effect when he reaches a computer terminal…I thought I got like 12 emails during that video.

    Otherwise awesome.

  33. Acosta says:

    Best of lucks to Mr Francis, this looks great, will keep an eye on it.

  34. Phydaux says:

    Tom also had an entry in the last Lundum Dare competition: link to ludumdare.com

  35. thebigJ_A says:

    Just saw this is up for the IGF awards for “Excellence in Design”.

    Looks like it deserves it, also it looks a hell of a lot better now than it did in the video above.

    I’ll gladly pay real life monies for it!