Heat Signature update responds to our very fair points

"Hello dad, yeah it's all gone a bit murdery"

Well, here’s an excellent idea. Tom Francis, the fella behind Gunpoint and Heat Signature (and various journalistic endeavours back in the day) has released an update for Heat Signature that takes ‘fair points’ from reviews and adds a feature or an item to address each of them. They’re all simple tweaks to the ‘plans gone wrong space-heist ’em up’, but the update lured me back into the game last night and its surprising just how much of a difference they make.

You can read about the new features here, or go to Tom’s blog post where he explains the reasoning behind each change.

The ‘Glitchback Guarantee’ might be my favourite addition. In response to the incentive that permadeath gives players to play cautiously and not try harder missions, some missions now have a client that will instantly teleport you out when you get hit. Like Tom, I usually dive into tough spaceships under-prepared and hope that I can think my way out of any sticky situations anyway. Those are the moments where Heat Signature shines, and the Glitchback Guarantee encourages me to throw myself into even more of them.

I’m also a big fan of the extra information you now get about each mission. You’re now told exactly how many of each guard type there are on each ship, which means you can go in knowing that you have the right tools for the job. The idea is, again, to encourage players to take more risks – in runs where I only had a limited number of tools, I’d err on the side of caution and avoid taking missions where I might get swarmed by armoured foes that I had no way of dealing with. Now, I might see that I’m up against 4 armoured bosses and decide to go into a mission with 3 grenades, hoping that I can either avoid or creatively tackle the last one. There are also new self-charging traps for taking out shielded and armoured dudes.

One complaint that Tom didn’t actually see in reviews, but did get from some players, was that they didn’t get on with permadeath. Rather than go with his initial reaction of “well, this game is not for you”, Tom’s added an option to just turn it off. He’s upfront about how this is a cheat that will make the game much worse for most people, but he’s included it for the sake of opening the game up to as many people as possible. I don’t particularly want to reignite that whole ‘difficulty-ageddon’ controversy, but hey, here’s looking at you Cuphead.

Finally, Brendy will be pleased to hear that one of his main problems with the game, a lack of visual clarity, has been addressed with the addition of a Simple Art mode that strips away the decor and makes everything much more readable. Guards that explode when you kill them are now tagged when you first see them, which deals with my main frustration on the parsability front. If Tom ever decides to take feedback from news posts as well as reviews: hey! Any chance I could have the option to turn on simple art, but only for Glitcher ships?

I won’t get my hopes up, because Tom also cautions that we shouldn’t get used to seeing updates like this. While the team might add some new gadgets at some point in the future, another update in this form is unlikely.

Oh, and there’s also a new weapon that strips away armour and flesh that fires acidic currency. Use with caution.

Disclaimer: One time when I was in Bath a few years ago, Tom Francis bought me a pint. Possibly two.

15 Comments

  1. doho7744 says:

    I enjoy supporting game makers that work in this manner. When a company shows that they care about their game, and their customers it encourages me to give them my money.

  2. Zorgulon says:

    This is a really nice idea, and it makes me excited to jump back into the game to see the new stuff at work.

    Heat Sig was really very good, but after playing it for 8 or so hours in launch week (not a bad length of time by any stretch) I haven’t really felt the need to go back. This will change that, which is great!

  3. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    I am slightly sad that we keep reffering to Tom Francis by name and not the awesome name of his company: Suspicious Developments.

  4. Troubletcat says:

    I sent Tom Francis an email about Gunpoint like 6 months before it came out when I was trying to start a gaming review blog that never took off and is now gone.

    He sent me a review copy even though I was only doing a couple hundred hits a month and I briefly got to feel cool and important. For that I’ll always be grateful.

    Also the games keep turning out pretty well.

  5. Baines says:

    That update addresses pretty much none of my issues with the game.

    Permadeath only appears to be an issue, until you realize that characters are not important. Survival doesn’t really matter. Their is no game-wide penalty for death, you just lose one character’s equipment. Further, the game is designed to soon force you to retire even a successful character, as the fame penalty gives diminishing returns for continuing to use a survivor.

    Perhaps the game should have portrayed the player as a mastermind figure who was sending out crews, then people might not have become so easily attached to the entirely disposable cast.

    The new weapons on the surface give more variety, but (without yet playing) I don’t feel that they are really going to address the shield, armor, and general equipment issues. The use of the traps is situational enough to keep them as second tier items, equipment that you use to fill the slots before you acquire a real full kit.

    You still cannot trust even a self-charging armor trap to get you through an armor-filled ship (if you couldn’t already do such a task without the trap), as there will be situations where it isn’t feasible. Okay, maybe for hijacks, where you might run out of easy alternatives otherwise. A crash trap isn’t going to help you when you are on the wrong side of a large room of shielded enemies. It feels like they’ll fall into the same issue as the glitch trap and other items. They are items that are clearly useful, but you’ll be filling your inventory with more all-around useful items instead. (For extra fun, two more items added to the drop list arguably means slightly reduced chances for finding the more useful items that you actually want.)

    • automatic says:

      I think there are more than enough resources to finish most of the missions without much difficulty. You can always blast armor and shield foes out of the ship through a window or by blowing up an engine room. What you don’t have on harder missions is time to do it properly. Other than that, it’s only impossible if you have no weapons at all, since enemies drop plenty equipment. New items only add more variety. I don’t even think they should be self-charging, that’s kinda overpowered imo.

  6. Crafter says:

    My main issue with the game is that after a while (2 fortresses liberated, 2 to go, roughly 40% of the stations captures) progression is very slow.

    Hiring a new character, do a couple of missions, liberate 2 stations. Now my fame is too important, I need to retirer this character and start over with a new one ..

    It really gets old and make progression even more strenuous than it is

  7. Ben King says:

    clearing out the galaxy does seem like a grind after a certain point and while it would be satisfying i’m not sure i’m up for it. The new options for combatting armored and shielded guards are appreciated for sure, but i’m not sure they will amount to much more fun creative trickery than already exists. I’m frankly just itching for a higher unique item drop rate, as i’ve only ever found a couple outside of liberations. I’ll regularly take and bomb missions just to hunt for loot. Still looking forward to poking at these updates and looking even MORE forward to Tom eventually putting out a few post-release commentary vlogs on youtube.

  8. Hypocee says:

    It wasn’t recycled into this post, but the first point in Francis’ post was about slow progression and grindiness. In summary, there are now dedicated, disposable Liberator characters. If you ‘haven’t liberated a station in a while’, one of the available characters will be a kitted up character with a personal goal of liberating a specific station. Separately, if you’ve failed a Stronghold mission a Stronghold Liberator will be available with high-end gear and a goal of liberating that Stronghold.

    The hope is that this will 1. help (only) people who can’t or simply don’t want to take on more difficult missions continue to make progress and experience an ending in a reasonable time, and 2. give people a taste of tools they might otherwise never see, or never risk, in a consequence-free context.

    • Baines says:

      Looking at the blog post, the Liberators weren’t added to fight the boring grind that the second half of the game becomes.

      By the blog post, Liberators were added to help players that aren’t capable of beating Hard missions. With those players being stuck at Easy and Normal missions, they fall behind on the intended pace of liberations.

      The thing is, even if you do higher difficulty missions, liberating the latter half of the map is still a boring grind. The game wouldn’t have been hurt if there were half as many stars to liberate. (Well, it would be hurt if half of the defector missions were also removed. Honestly, the defector missions are probably better than the main game anyway.)

  9. Spacewalk says:

    Tom bought you a pint whilst you were in the bath?

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