About this project
Invisigun Heroes is a multiplayer, single-screen stealth battle arena with a twist: everyone’s invisible - including yourself! Predictable grid-based movement ensures that you know where you are, but other players don’t. Vigilance is key as environmental tells such as footprints and other disturbances will point out careless cadets. Using special abilities and firing your Invisigun will also momentarily give you away. Along with items and powerups, these mechanics reward stealth, trickery, reflex, forethought, deception, bluffing, and awareness. A variety of lovingly-made environments, maps, game modes, and abilities combine for high replayability and a deep path to mastery.
Because everyone’s invisible, the environments are highly interactive - so you’ll want to keep your eyes and ears peeled for clues as to where other players are moving about. For example, you can see proximity doors opening and closing, or leaves falling from bumped trees, or footsteps splashing through puddles and leaving tracks in the snow.
- Compete with up to 4 friends or bots on a single screen
- Mix and match local and online players
- Control your hero using gamepads or the keyboard
- Enjoy hand-crafted pixel art made with care
- Battle your friends using a variety of heroes, each with unique special abilities
- Explore 50 maps spread across 5 planets, each with unique interactivity, hazards, and weather effects
- Choose from a variety of game modes playable on every map for deep replayability
- Customize the game mode conditions with match modifiers
- View hilariously revealing instant replays that expose tactics
- Share instant replays as animated GIFs
- Groove to the custom pulsing, ambient soundtrack composed by Paper Sound
For the last year and a half I’ve been funding development on my own, and I’m here to ask the community for support in finishing the game!
10 minutes of pre-alpha gameplay:
Here's a bunch of rounds between two players across three planets, showing some typical stealth behavior, prediction, trickery, and replays. Please watch at 60 fps. :)
Invisigun is inspired by the revival of the couch-multiplayer genre, classic party games like Super Bomberman, and Nintendo's focus on cute and fun sensibilities. Most modern multiplayer games are super fast-paced and reflex-based. However, Invisigun’s design is actually more grounded in slower, calculated, stealth-based gameplay.
My goal was to develop a game that is fun for casual and party play, but deep enough to reward practice for highly-competitive players as well.
The most satisfying competitive games have lots of variety and depth so players can really spend time developing their own tactics. I’ve always loved when you have simple gameplay mechanics that play off each other in unpredictable ways to form emergent complexity.
In Invisigun, trying to shoot your opponents, or using a special ability, or even just navigating obstacles are all really simple things that most games share. But since everyone’s invisible, the typical chaos of a battle arena is often interrupted by a sort-of-tense calm, where although it may look like there’s nothing happening onscreen, there’s actually a fairly intense mental chess match unfolding.
Every hero has a unique special ability, and there are multiple game modes playable across tons of different maps - so every battle feels different. Being invisible obviously presents a unique twist on some classic game modes - such as king of the hill, where you can see that the area is being controlled but you don’t quite know exactly where they are within it!
I wanted Invisigun Heroes to capture some of the feel of those classic carnival western shooting galleries or your first time at a pinball machine, in the sense that it’s fun to discover what happens when you interact with different set-pieces. The pre-alpha currently has three fully-developed worlds.
- Nemoris: a forest planet with trees that shed leaves when bumped and shallow water that shows footstep splashes
- Arx-515: an industrial planet with shot-blocking proximity doors that automatically open and close, conveyor belts that silently move players around, and security cameras that will orient to nearby players
- Glaciarii: a frozen planet with snow banks revealing footsteps that fade over time, and a cave-yeti that can freeze players in its icy breath
The aim is to add more unique interactive elements to the existing three planets and have two more for release: fire and temple-themed. With a minimum of 10 maps per planet, that’s at least 50 maps at launch, with each supporting every game mode for a huge number of possible combinations and ways to play.
This video shows a quick demonstration of each of the current hero abilities. You can help design new heroes to be included in the release version of the game!
The game's already stable and solid for local-multiplayer, and works great with keyboards and game controllers. However, a large focus of this Kickstarter is to make sure that online play is fully supported and done right - including public and private match listings. The fundamental mechanics behind Invisigun make for an ideal real-time networked game since it’s based on grid-movement and slower gameplay rather than millisecond-based twitch reflexes.
I’ve already had some success with early network prototyping, but decided to use Unity’s newer and more robust networking API going forward. This is a crucial part of the puzzle for Invisigun Heroes to have a healthy competitive community that can grow after launch.
I’ve been working professionally as a programmer, UI designer, sound designer, and music composer for the past 15 years on both web and game projects. I’ve developed and shipped several mobile games and apps, and most recently worked as lead UI and Sound designer at Adhesive Games on the mech shooter Hawken, currently published on Steam.
I’ve always been drawn to creative things like music and illustration, as well as technical things like programming and engineering. For me, video games have always been both a source and a destination. The more I learn, the more I want to contribute in some meaningful way. Since I’ve always worn many technical and creative hats, dedicating myself to creating my own games has been a great way to combine everything I’ve learned and everything I love.
I started Sombr Studio a year and a half ago, and have collaborated with some amazingly-talented people on Invisigun Heroes. My music partner Ali Bavarian cowrote the soundtrack for Hawken with me, and the soundtrack for Invisigun is already well underway. I was also lucky enough to have Yujin Choo create some amazing character art that really brings the heroes to life (and inspired some of the special abilities). I had a lot of help from Danny Savage and James Enochs on the campaign video production, and the lovable puppet was hand-made by Kevin Chan.
Invisigun's original soundtrack is being produced by Paper Sound (composer Ali Bavarian and myself), and consists of a unique track for each planet. They are meant to serve as a "musical bed" for the rest of the game's audio to sit upon. Since sound is important for figuring out where players are, the OST has a more subdued, ambient, yet pulsing feel. You can listen to samples of the tracks in the playlist below, and the full soundtrack is available as a digital download for some of the reward tiers!
With the awesome character art by Yujin, I'm proud to be able to offer these exclusive 11" x 17" art prints, produced and fulfilled by Gallery Nucleus - a gallery in Alhambra, CA, specializing in original contemporary, illustrated, graphic, commercial, and narrative art, and host to some of the best exhibitions around! I have a really close relationship with Nucleus, and there's no one around better equipped to handle the prints production. Some of the tiers include prints that will be signed by the Sombr Studio team.
Who doesn't love a fun button? A random hero pin will be included in every backer tier that includes a shipment of any kind!
Victory Taunt: After each match or round, the victor shows up on-screen and delivers a little light-hearted insult to the losers. As a backer, you can submit one of these phrases to be included in the final game (within reason). Please note that these aren't chosen by the player, but randomly displayed from the database of all contributed insults. Here's an example:
Cartographer: I'll work with you to design a custom map that will be included as one of the official Invisigun Heroes maps on release. My plan at the moment is to have a special Kickstarter planet to include these maps, with a clear author credit when selecting the map. I'm happy to iterate with you until the map meets what you had in mind.
Hero: I'll work with you to design a custom hero and special ability. This has a major effect on all aspects of the game, so we'll collaborate with great care to include a new unique character that is balanced and fun. And of course, you get to name them (within reason)!
Surprises in store:
There are some really cool surprises planned if the funding reaches certain milestones. These will be deciphered one by one if the goals are met.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this! I’d love for you to join me on this project, and there are some really fun rewards for each of the backer tiers.
Risks and challenges
What I really hope to convey is that I’ve taken this as far as I can with my own resources. Game campaigns can be overrun with unexpected costs, feature-creep, or over-promising and going beyond a reasonable scope. I wanted to run a Kickstarter that's low-risk for backers, without promises that are too difficult to deliver. Invisigun has been greenlit on Steam, and this'll make it much easier to distribute updates to backers during development. All the gameplay footage here is real, and the majority of the dev work has been focused on producing a stable code foundation and in-house tools to make sure the final stretch goes smoothly. This fundraiser is for asset production, dev time, fees, contract work, community building, and most importantly, really solid online-play support!
Porting the game to consoles is also a risk in itself, since it can present some unforeseen technical challenges. Since the game is built in Unity, it already has a head start and many of the inherent risks are already mitigated. Also, the low-res art style is not CPU- or GPU- intensive, so quality reduction won't be necessary. I've also been accepted to the ID@Xbox and Sony Partner developer programs, so I have some contacts in both to get the ball rolling when appropriate, and I'm confident that publishing on Wii U will follow a similar process.
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