Gunpoint Creator Making Procedural Space Stealth Game

The ships are procedurally generated.

Tom “Who Made Gunpoint” Francis is making a new game! In fact, Tom “who I worked with for eight years” Francis is making two new games simultaneously and making videos about both as development progresses. One of those games is about a grappling hook and that’s all we know. The other, called Heat Signature, is a space game about sneaking up on spaceships and that’s all we knew.

Knew, because Tom “I still do a podcast with him every week and we’re good friends” Francis just released a video in which he reveals ship-boarding and explains the objective of the game more fully.

What’s in the game right now: the universe is populated by randomly generated ships. Moving quickly causes your ship to heat up and heat is the method by which enemy ships detect you. You can therefore sneak up on them by moving slowly, carefully maneuvering yourself close enough to dock with them. Once docked, you can climb aboard, walk around, and kill people with a gun or a melee attack.

What’s planned for the future of the game, as explained in the video: you’ll begin each life as a different character type – assassin, thief, spy, and more – and be given an objective, such as a person to kill or an item to steal. As you explore, by boarding, hijacking or attacking ships, you’ll discover clues that whittle down where your target might be, such as what kind of ship they’re on, what sector of space they’re in and so on. It sounds a little like the system in cowboy accusation roguelike Westerado.

It’s still early in development, but if you want to follow along the game has a Twitter account, Tom has a mailing list for occasional updates, and there’ll be regular development updates over here.

When you think about it, maybe my constant need to caveat my news posts with disclaimers and disclosures isn’t my fault. Maybe it’s the fault of all my friends who keep making games? Maybe it’s them that’s the problem.


  1. bills6693 says:

    So this is what, the… 5th space based game talked about today? Three of which are procedural? There’s some kind of trend going on…

    • roryok says:


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  2. John Walker says:


  3. aldo_14 says:

    As you explore, by boarding, hijacking or attacking ships, you’ll discover clues that whittle down where your target might be, such as what kind of ship they’re on, what sector of space they’re in and so on.

    I vaguely recall article on his website suggesting a similar approach could have been used for hunting the Jackal in Far Cry 2. It’s a good idea.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      covert action did something like this really well(uncover a plot), it’s old but i’ve played it for the first time a year or so ago. It’s still fun to play (when you know what you are supposed to be doing, watching a let’s play was really helpful and surprisingly entertaining). And it doesn’t look that much worse than this (i know, i know…)

      edit: the game sounds great, kind of reminds me of the last episode of firefly

      • Hasslmaster says:

        blind_boy_grund, you are so right. Covert Action is one of Sid Meiers great achievements of old and demands a replay. I’ve been playing Covert Action on and off for fifteen years now, and I think it’s got everything that Tom Francis wants to do in his game, and more.


        He will love it, and it will be a great inspiration to him.

  4. Frank says:

    Westerado’s pretty great. Seems your link is a bit broken, by the way.

  5. SillyWizard says:

    Color me very interested. (Mostly because Gunpoint was effing awesome and TF seems to have a great feel for what makes a game fun.)

    Initial impressions (all bits in quotations are paraphrases):

    “You might not start with a gun.”

    But…you start with a spaceship? :/

    “i want to make it harder to dock to a ship.”

    You can start out by having your ship smashing in to the targets hull causing more of a violent reaction than a heat-signature detection, for one. I mean, goodness!

    “You can blah blah get on ships blahbeddy blah find information on your mission.”

    That. Sounds. Awesome. As fuck.

    Yes pls.

    • Turkey says:

      Yeah. Tom Francis seems to have a knack for making the kind of indie games I want to play. They’re all about having cool satisfying mechanics and then the rest of it is just icing on the cake.

      • tetracycloide says:

        Helps that he can write decent game dialogue that doesn’t take itself seriously.

  6. edwardoka says:

    I don’t know whether it’s natural aptitude or if it’s exposure to so many games developers over the years or a combination, but Mr. Francis seems to only produce gold.

    This game looks incredible already.

  7. Haphaz77 says:

    I wasn’t sure what the big reveal would be in this video, but this looks very cool. A one person FTL / stealth game hybrid. Exciting! Procedural generation will add a lot of replay value, so that’s a plus. Good luck Tom!

    • tetracycloide says:

      There’s nothing of FTL here unless you’re using it as shorthand for ‘spaceship in source’ which would be kinda silly.

  8. Duke of Chutney says:

    the main thing i love about Gunpoint was the dry humour in the emails. Hopefully that will be replicated to some extent in this game. This could be a lot of fun. If he manages to make the universe semi convincing it will be better; e.g. ships actually doing things other than flying around randomly.

    • SillyWizard says:

      It does sound like he’s giving himself a lot of room to write (potentially amusing) text in the form of ship logs you’ll have to sift through to find pertinent details. I would really like to see this being something where you have to comb through a bunch of flavor text to see if you can find clues, instead of

      Downloading file
      File does not contain whereabouts of Minister X. Deleting.

      • SillyWizard says:

        And now that I think about it, it might be a neat gimmick for the information you gather to be potentially pertinent to future cases. Say you’re dropped in to the game as a space cop, and you need to find Joe Blow. You secretly board a few ships before you find the information you need to apprehend your target.

        When you get your new orders to track down Jeb Bleb, ah ha! All these messages you’ve intercepted that were talking about him now come in handy.

        Not that every bit of information you receive (or even most of it) should be useful, but it might be something to think about to drop in tips for other missions just to keep people on their toes (and maybe reduce some grind).

    • tetracycloide says:

      Amen to that. Some of the best lines ever and in such a short game. Half of them sounded like something he thought to himself while taking the piss it if other people’s games and I’m so glad he passed them along to the rest of us.

  9. LionsPhil says:

    This is great and all, but wasn’t he porting Gunpoint over to a different version of GameMaker to resolve problems for some people, or something?

    I’m still kind of hoping that some day the level editor will, y’know, work.

  10. malkav11 says:

    Listening to the Tone Control interview with him, this sounds remarkably like a revisit to the inchoate ideas that he was fiddling with that eventually morphed into Gunpoint.

  11. ronerberg says:

    Looks like it’ll be a damn good game to port to iPad/Tablet with that control scheme.

  12. Muzman says:

    Hotline Miami 2 is certainly branching out.

  13. Caiman says:

    When the developer is clearly having fun with such an early build of the game (avoiding being detected as you approach ships) it bodes well.

  14. Recurve says:

    This is all great stuff and all but what I really want is Steam Workshop integration for Gunpoint! The game is perfect for it.

  15. Yachmenev says:

    So dissapointed to read this news.

    Because I want more Gunpoint! More! It’s such a great concept and fun to play, it can just be left there without any expansions or a sequel.

    • gwathdring says:

      What about user created levels instead?

    • SillyWizard says:

      I would be surprised if TF didn’t come back to Gunpoint in the future. But right now he has this whole new world of game-design freedom in front of him. It would be odd if he didn’t branch out before (hopefully) returning to his roots.

  16. dontnormally says:

    Captain Jameson / Captain Forever