[Interview] Shadi Muklashy and Invisigun Heroes: A stealth battle arena game with a twist
Invisigun Heroes is a single-screen, multiplayer game where players battle it out invisibly. Players get to choose between a number of characters that each have their own special ability. With various game modes, players use environmental cues and sounds to navigate the arena.
Sombr Studio introduced Invisigun Heroes in a Kickstarter campaign in late January 2016. Shadi Muklashy has been working on developing Invisigun Heroes for over a year and a half. Between putting the finishing touches on the game and showcasing at PAX South, Muklashy agreed to an interview.
GameSkinny: What got you into game development?
Shadi Muklashy: "I grew up fascinated by games in every way — the art, the music, the technology, and the stories. I can say that I was pretty obsessed with the 8- and 16-bit eras, and I got my first taste of the technical side on my dad's Amiga 500 and Mac classic. I used to modify any game resource files I could find to try and change things, and eventually this led to programming. I studied computer science in college and actually worked as a UI/UX and web developer for years, though my heart was always in games. I released a couple iOS games as an excuse to learn the Objective-C language, then worked for Adhesive Games on the PC title Hawken as a composer, UI, and sound designer. When Adhesive Games closed up shop, I decided to pursue a side project prototype full-time, which is my current title Invisigun Heroes."
GS: Did anything specific influence the creation of Invisigun Heroes?
SM: My favorite mech in Hawken was the Infiltrator, and it had the special ability of cloaking to sneak around and ambush opponents. This directly inspired the invisible game mechanic of Invisigun Heroes, and the aesthetic sensibilities were inspired by a lot of the Super Nintendo classics. I would have to include the Bomberman franchise and more recently, Towerfall, as direct genre influences.
GS: What gave you the idea for the invisible twist for your game?
SM: As I mentioned before, I think the Infiltrator in Hawken was the direct inspiration for the invisibility mechanic. Beyond that, I wanted to create a couch-multiplayer game that differentiated itself from the ultra fast-paced and hectic trend of most recent 4-player games. I think Invisigun's pacing is a little slower and more deliberate, so players who love party and competitive games should find something that feels different in this title.
GS: Do you have a favorite character to play as?
SM: That's a tough question because it's a constant goal to make sure every character feels overpowered to the player, and thus everyone's balanced. That said, I really love playing as Selene - the leaper - because her mobility and ability to traverse maps feels very freeing.
GS: You have 50 maps planned for the game, with such a variety how important is setting to the game?
SM: That was a big must-have for me from the onset of development. I really love variety, and I love when a game can scale in complexity with you as your skill improves. Having five very different planets - each with their own unique interactive elements - allows for a nice progression from very basic interactions to very involved. It's also incredibly important to me that every game mode works on every map, allowing for a very high number of possible game combinations and variety. I usually don't really like one-off exceptions, both in game mechanics and in rules. My favorite action games are the ones where you can be taught how to play in a couple of minutes, and all of the depth and longterm replayability comes from situational variety rather than input variety - like an elegant sport.
GS: You were just at PAX South showcasing Invisigun Heroes, how was it received?
SM: I was completely blown away by the PAX South reception. Coming into the show, I was very nervous about that first moment for new players, and assumed that the invisible concept might not translate well to a packed convention floor. It turned out to be a non-issue, much to my relief. Players immediately understood the core mechanic in their first round, and were already playing the meta game in their second round. The booth itself was constantly crowded with lots of cheering after rounds, amazing demonstrations of skill and trickery, and the most kind and positive players I've met. There was a lot of extremely positive press during and following the show, and many people went out of their way to let me know it was their surprise favorite game there.
GS: Do you have any tips for future players of your game?
SM: Invisigun Heroes is all about awareness and mind games. I think the most important thing is to vary your approach from round to round. Since everyone's invisible, try to use your opponent's assumptions against them!