FranknJohn: Update 1 – Unchained

Hey there!

Where has the sun gone?? We’ve been teasing our new game for a little while now and it feels like a good time to give it a proper introduction. We are all incredibly excited about this game and have been bursting to share it with you.

FranknJohn‘ is a Roguelike-like Action Game that will make you lose your head. Literally. You can launch your head as a weapon and experiment with unique Skullcaps to overcome deadly challenges.

As a failed experiment awakening in the basement furnace of Dr. Harmins crazy manor, you must battle your way up through his deranged fun-house filled with unspeakable horrors as you attempt to discover the truth of your existence.

Levels are randomly generated and there will be dozens of Skullcaps (Ability Modifiers), Badges (Stat Modifiers), collectables and secrets to discover. To fit in with the boy scout aesthetic for FranknJohn, we’ve given him a lovely little scrapbook to fill out with all the cool things he finds. There will be 4 uniquely themed floors to battle through.

Here’s a little gameplay video from our 1-month build!

In due course, we’ll discuss every feature and system in depth and share our development experience with you, but for now, I’ll just talk a little bit about how the idea was born and where we are with development.

It all began at GDC 2012. It was the day before I was due to fly home. After one the most memorable and inspiring weeks of my life, I was sat in my hotel room, exhausted yet invigorated, scribbling down some game ideas on a scrap of paper.

One of those ideas was a game about two boys who are stitched together to form this sort of Frankenkid, who feels sort of alien to himself as he tries to figure out who he is and where he belongs. I think this is something that will resonate with a lot of players and the will hopefully help form an emotional bond with little FnJ throughout the adventure. I also knew that I wanted the head to detach via a chain and thought of some interesting mechanics around that.

At the time, I was heavily into The Binding of Isaac and having met Ed McMillen during GDC week, I became obsessed about taking a stab at the genre.  FranknJohn felt like a natural fit, so I fleshed it all out on paper. When we got back from GDC, we were straight back into production on Ku, so FnJ went into the “must make someday” book for almost exactly a year.


Sometime around the end of January, I threw together a prototype for FnJ over a weekend and showed it to the team. They really liked it! (I’ll dig it out and upload it next week) When we wrapped on Ku in February, we diverted our attention to new projects and with a return trip to GDC looming, we decided to run with FranknJohn and drummed up a fresh prototype to bring with us.

It was quick and dirty, but what we put together in 2 weeks was actually fairly representative of the long-term vision. Courtesy of the awesome Enterprise Ireland, we were able to demo the prototype on the GDC Expo floor, which proved hugely beneficial. Having people play the game while it was still in prototype stage was genuinely scary, but absolutely the right thing to do – it provided us with invaluable feedback and the reception to it was really positive.

       ……….      poster2

So where are we now?! Post-GDC, we scrapped the prototype and armed with feedback, we went into pre-production. I can’t understate how important a proper pre-production cycle is! Having everything laid out in a design doc and spreadsheets (boring stuff, yep!) has made the past 4 weeks of production as smooth as butter.

The big, exciting news, is that we are going to be demoing the game at REZZED! This is a massive opportunity for us – to put the game in front of thousands of passionate PC gamers is incredibly exciting. We will be encouraging people to break it, write bad stuff about it and overall, help us make a better game.

We have a IndieDB page up, check it out - http://www.indiedb.com/games/franknjohn

Till next time, lovelies!


Lead Designer, FranknJohn


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