Heists and Holdups

This is where I feign surprised that I missed a month of updates: “Oh my, where does the time go?” In fact, the time went into converting the entire project to run on Unity, which isn’t something I had planned to do until it suddenly became necessary. On the downside, we lost between 3-4 weeks of progress converting everything over. On the plus side, the game’s on Unity, which means more tools, support and built-in features.

But worry not! We’re done now, and everything’s working just fine. In fact, we’ve made a solid month of progress.


The majority of the work has been on heists. These are the the most active part of Killers and Thieves where you control multiple thieves to steal as much loot as possible for your guild while dodging the city watch.

Click to enlarge

And read on for more details and screenshots!

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Heists and Holdups

Forming a Posse

For some reason I never identified before that I love games with lots of characters until recently. Shining Force, Final Fantasy, XCOM, Baldur’s Gate and other BioWare games, Crusader Kings, the list goes on. I loved Shadow of the Colossus and Journey as well, but you’re getting different experiences: the personal journey vs the shared experience. And hell, Journey was made for multiplayer, and SotC was a story about someone taking desperate measures to not be alone.

There’s probably a reason for this: there’s only so many good stories to tell with one or two characters. How many different ways can that story play out? I mean, how many movies or tv shows are based on a single person? Our species is built around understanding and caring about how people respond to other people.

In The Banner Saga, I wrote almost all of the dialogue between roughly 30 characters. It was the first time I’d be in charge of something like an HBO series. It was also exhausting, both literally and figuratively. On Killers and Thieves I’m finding myself again drawn to lots of characters, but with an emphasis on emergent story instead of explicit content.

First step, of course, is generating a lot of characters! New screenshots and design talk in the post:

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Forming a Posse

Programmer test results?

Edit: And, we’re done! Thanks to everyone involved, I had a huge pool of amazing and passionate candidates. Production now begins in earnest.

In case you were one of the many people who applied for the programmer position, I wanted to say thank you very much! I got many more emails than I expected, from very talented people worldwide.

Even though applications are now closed, there are several tests still in progress and it’ll take me a couple days to work everything out and come to a decision. I know it’s hard waiting for a reply, I’ve been there many times myself, but I promise I’ll be getting back to you later in the week.

Thank you again!

Programmer test results?

Killers and Thieves needs a programmer!

Killers and Thieves has come along far enough that I’m ready to start looking for help.

I’ve been developing the game in an (as yet) unannounced 2D engine which is made for non-programmers, not unlike Gamemaker, but a lot more robust. However, there are only so many hours in the day. I’m looking for one part-time programmer to help get things rolling.

The position includes:

  • Paid work!
  • Flexible hours!
  • Work from anywhere!
  • Full credit as lead programmer!
  • A game that will definitely ship!

Application deadline has passed! Thank you to everyone who applied!

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Killers and Thieves needs a programmer!

Design over time

Killers and Thieves started life after we shipped The Banner Saga in January, 2014. To cleanse our palate between huge projects, I was thinking of simple game ideas that could re-use the tech that had already been built in our proprietary engine. At the time I was thumbing through Mike Mignola’s “Fafhrd and Grey Mouser” comics, and binge-watching Pawn Stars. I came up with a concept I called “Fence”.

It was very simple to start out, you played the fence in a thieves’ guild. Members would bring you stolen goods and you had to evaluate it and give it a price. If you evaluated everything correctly, you’d make the best return. There was a bit of a “Papers, Please” sleekness to it.


Understandably, the other guys at Stoic preferred to move directly onto the sequel for The Banner Saga. I knew “Fence” wasn’t going to be a deep enough game to justify a lot of dev time, but I was really into the concept. I expanded the idea into “what if you ran an entire thieves guild?”.

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Design over time