Hi everyone, I’m Ryan Juckett and I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that Inversus will be launching on PS4 this spring! Let’s start this off right with a trailer and get everyone up to speed. Turn up that volume and hit play!
Inversus is this unique mix of an action-packed arcade shooter and a territorial strategy game. Movement is constrained to either the black or white side of the board and tile colors are flipped by shooting. My paths are your walls and your paths are my walls.
This results in a space that shifts with every attack as players try to open corridors, trap the enemy, or block incoming fire. Whether you’re competing with friends of trying to break the world-record against the computer, the always-changing play field makes every match a new experience.
Let’s chat about versus mode first (it is called Inversus). This is where you and your friends can duke it out in 1v1 or 2v2 matches. It was important to make something playable again and again without getting stale. A large chunk of that burden is carried by the level design.
Each one of the maps has a specific, discrete purpose. It would be easy to just swap around some blocks and make a thousand random maps, but they would start to bleed together. They wouldn’t hold your interest. Switching to a new board needs to challenge you in new and unfamiliar ways. Rather than just discussing theory, let’s look at a small subset of the levels in store for you.
Welcome to Alley — see those four red dots along the open alleyway? Those are hyper-shot pickups. You want them. Trust me. If you own the tile when they spawn, you can pick them up. That’s the primary reason to hold the alley, but even without the pickups, holding the alley lets you divide the map. In turn, you control where your opponent can move.
This is Bomber, the first map that tries to break your brain. The screen seamlessly wraps on all sides. See those four white player ships? That’s actually the same single ship. When it starts to move up into the corner, it wraps around and appears in the other corners. To excel on this map, you need strong omnidirectional awareness. Learn to look at the whole screen.
Pipes is all about single cell corridors. There is nowhere to dodge and blocking is your only defense. See those rings of dots on the player ships? That’s your ammo count. It can and will run out, though it’ll come back with time. Winners of this map keep a close eye on their opponent’s ammo. You can’t block attacks it you don’t have enough ammo to shoot back.
Like playing solo? Are you addicted to cooperation? Enter the arcade. At its core is a traditional rule set: shoot enemies for points, build up a multiplier, don’t run out of lives, brag about your spot on the leaderboard, etc. Once you add in the black and white spatial mechanics it’s a whole new ballgame.
I like layering in subtle elements of depth for seasoned players to aspire towards. I also want to expose some variability without making the game random. One of the fun quirks of arcade mode is that enemy behavior can actually change based on your play. Doing a lot of charge attacks? The enemies might learn the same. Earn six lives? Enemies with shields might enter the ring. Control most of the map? I hope you like aggression. Details like this make it fun to enter the ring again and again.
Idea to Reality
This is my nights and weekends indie passion project. During the days I work on bigger games with bigger teams. I started out surrounded by skateboards at Neversoft, and for the past five years I’ve been making the action gameplay of Destiny.
In contrast, Inversus is a solitary creative outlet and was hand crafted out of nothing. There is no licensed engine, no sound effect library, and no texture package. It all started with an empty source code file, a white canvas, and a flat sound wave. That said, I’ll admit to needing help with the music (I can’t compose… yet) and Lyvo came to the rescue with a soundtrack.
Building games from the ground up becomes rarer by the day, but for me it fosters a level of craft and satisfaction that doesn’t exist elsewhere. When you pick up the controller and feel that snappy response, that je ne sais quoi that can’t be described as much as it can be felt, all the work will have been worth it.
I’ll see you on the leaderboards later this year!