Filcher is now disturbingly close to completion. Last time I posted, I was about to start drawing the comic book cutscenes. It took way longer than expected, but all the art is now finished. I went for a black-and-white pixel art style, heavily influenced by Hellboy‘s Mike Mignola and V for Vendetta‘s David Lloyd. Still needs some polish here and there, but I’m really happy with how it’s come together.
Then there’s the writing, which permeates the game in the form of mission briefings, cutscene captions and speech balloons, in-game dialogue (you can eavesdrop on certain conversations) and the occasional snarky comment from Sporey during missions. I was initially going to have a full comic intro cutscene for each of the game’s ten missions, but that proved slightly over-ambitious. There are now six cutscenes (which cover all the major story moments) plus a text briefing for each mission, complemented with images.
So much for the story stuff, but surely the gameplay is more important? True, so I’ve been going through all the levels, filling previously empty rooms and adding more loot, secrets, readables and overall detail. I’ll await the feedback of my long-suffering playtesters Gurt and Splinter and fix whatever problems they find. Then I’ll invite a few more outside testers for the whole game, and maybe put out a demo version for the public. Still figuring these things out.
It looks like Filcher should be ready for release later this summer. More info soon!
The game’s ten levels (including the tutorial) are now *basically* done!
It’s been a lot of work, and there are definitely gaps left to fill in – placeholder textures to replace, conversations to write, props to add, challenges to tweak, boring rooms to make more interesting… but at least the critical path is all in place, which is a weight off my shoulders.
Next, I’ll be making rough sketches of all the comic book panels and put them between the missions. to get a feel for the flow of the story. With all the building blocks in place, Being able to run the game through from start to finish, I’ll see what needs fixing and tweaking, shortening and lengthening, softening and hardening, lightening and darkening, clarifying and mystificating…
I’ll probably need another month for the cutscenes and one more for general polish. I know I keep pushing the deadline back, but to be fair, the deadline is just a goal – something to prevent me from getting stuck on tiny details forever.
Happy new year, reader! It turns out I’m bad at guessing how long things will take. I haven’t quite finished all the levels for Filcher yet, so my planned release date will have to change from “early 2021” to “pretty early 2021”. My current best guess is mid-April. Yeah, that sounds reasonable! he exclaimed confidently.
I’m almost done with the game’s tenth and final mission. I then want to finish one more mission for the middle of the game, and lastly I’ll make the very first level, which is the tutorial. I’ll then draw all the fancy comic book panels for the game’s story, all of which I’ve thumbnailed and planned out in reasonable detail. I’ve had most of this stuff figured out for a long time, and now it’s just a matter of implementing it, which can be a slog at times.
Also, because I’m an old man now (30) I need more breaks from the computer so I don’t fossilize in my chair (keep in mind I’m doing all this in my spare time). While this is a passion project, my advice if you’re planning to design, code, write, draw, score and sell your own immersive sim is 1) wtf don’t, and 2) Keep it small! I’ve always thought of Filcher as quite a small game, but the amount of custom content required for these 10 levels is more than I imagined.
To give myself a nice break, I drew a Mike Mignola-inspired poster for the game. I don’t know if the in-game comic book cutscenes will be in this exact style. I’ll be doing a lot of drawings, and a minimalist style isn’t necessarily faster than drawing something with more lines and detail… but we’ll see how it turns out! Thanks for your bottomless patience, and stay tuned for more.
Hello my fellow sneakthieves, sorry about the distinct lack of updates lately. I’m bad at posting about my progress at the best of times, and November has been extra busy.
I’ve made good progress on Filcher though. Seven of the game’s planned ten(?) missions are roughly complete, but it’s clear I won’t be releasing the game this year. My plan is to finish the remaining missions before the end of 2020 and then have a period of polishing them all up, as well as drawing all the pictures for the game’s comic book style cutscenes, before a release sometime early 2021.
Since I’m working on the game in my spare time, I’m always subject to unforeseen interruptions, but I try to get something done on the game every day while also taking care of myself so I don’t burn out. Thanks for your patience, here are some screenshots!
The Filcher Steam page is ready at last! Why not add the game to your wishlist while I work on the remaining missions?
You’ll notice the release date is set as “2020?”. I don’t know that I’ll be able to get the game ready in two measly months, but it helps to set myself a deadline. Anyway, don’t be too surprised if I push the release back a little.
Thank you all for your encouraging words on Twitter, I hope the game can live up to the expectations!
Enough lurking in the shadows, it’s time I announced what the hell I’ve been working on the last few months!
Or years, actually. While we were making Superfighters Deluxe, I started teaching myself Unity as a side project. What started as a little experiment went through several mutations and has now evolved into what is going to be my first-ever solo game:
What is Filcher?
Filcher is a first-person, 2.5D, mission-based stealth game. You are Sporey, a talented thief who spends her nights stealing from the wealthy and corrupt in a dark and retro-futuristic city. Break into fancy apartments, mansions and office buildings, steal money, jewellery and precious documents, and try not to be seen or heard.
Filcher will come out on PC first and foremost, but console versions aren’t out of the question.
What’s so special about it?
Hand-crafted, non-linear levels with multiple ways to complete objectives. Each mission is filled with loot to steal, guards to outwit, documents to read, security systems to master, and secrets to find.
Dynamic light and shadow: Your visibility depends on several factors, like how much light you are in, whether you are standing or crouching, and whether you are moving or standing still. A simple light meter at the bottom of the screen shows you how well hidden you are.
Sound travels realistically through the environment and guards react to suspicious noises. Your footsteps make more or less noise depending on your speed and the floor type: metal and marble are loud, while grass and carpet are safe.
Sporey packs an arsenal of tools and gadgets including a blackjack, a dartgun, lockpicks, flashbangs and noisemaking wind-up toys.
Comic-book style cutscenes progress the story and provide mission briefings.
The sneakier you are, the higher your mission score. Expert players can strive for a perfect “Ghost” rating, which requires you to find all loot and secrets without being detected or knocking anyone out.
Filcher has a sharp focus on stealth and exploration. You can knock guards out with your blackjack or dartgun, but you are encouraged to avoid confrontations altogether. If you get spotted, you can recover by throwing a flashbang, shooting a tranquilizer dart, or simply running away.
Filcher is in many ways a lo-fi loveletter to the original Thief games, and other immersive sims like Deus Ex and System Shock. Despite its old-school roots, I’ve tried to make it really easy to pick up and learn the game.
For better or worse, it’s also the first game where I’m doing everything myself, including design, writing, programming, art, sound effects and music. Gurt (my buddy and MythoLogic co-founder) has agreed to act as a kind of producer, making sure I stay on track and deliver a quality game, which will then be released under the “MythoLogic Interactive presents” banner.
When’s it coming out?
At some point during 2020. The game mechanics are all in place, so it’s mostly a matter of building more levels and adding the final layer of polish. If you’re interested in beta testing the game, send me an email at email@example.com. You can also leave feedback in the comments below, or on Twitter. Thanks!
Here’s some music I made between 2013 and 2019, which I’m calling the Imaginary Soundtracks Mixtape (vol. 1). All tracks were made in Bosca Ceoil, a great minimalist music creation tool by Terry Cavanagh.
Some of the tracks were written for the game Superfighters Deluxe, but fortunately we ended up hiring a real composer instead (the great Lucas Casas).
These tracks were made for fun, using limited tools and zero knowledge about music theory, composition or production. Still, I like them, and I hope you will too.