Designing an Augmented Reality Shooter

Watching people playtest Reality Invasion was always interesting and sometimes hilarious. There is this moment where the player realizes that they have to move their bodies in order to dodge the enemy missiles. Some players casually strafe but others run around the room like they’re crazy. It has been fun to watch.

Screenshot 1 - Source.png

Reality Invasion is an augmented reality shooter inspired by Space Invaders. I wanted to design an intense augmented reality action game that would be grounded in something familiar. In Reality Invasion you are confronted with rows of alien invaders that march toward you while steadily firing missiles. Unlike Space Invaders, you can shoot directly at the invaders and the invaders shoot directly at you. This makes it an immersive first-person experience which augmented reality is great for.

The design for Reality Invasion evolved over time. The first beta versions of the game had 4 walls the player could hide behind just like in Space Invaders. When I playtested this though I saw that players spent a lot of their time hiding behind the walls. Once I got rid of the walls things got interesting. Players were now in a constant state of moving and shooting. It was much more fun.

Screenshot 2 - Source.png

Once the player gets the hang of it they effortlessly dodge the basic missiles by casually strafing side to side. I wanted to keep players active and moving so I designed some invaders to fire missiles the size of a large chair. It’s insane. I’ve seen players run into walls and others collapse on the floor attempting to dodge these missiles. Players, be aware of your surroundings.

Screenshot 3 - Source.png

An arcade game like this is not complete without incredible power-ups. The design for the Mega Missile was my favorite. When a player walks into a yellow Mega Missile power-up they are able to fire a gigantic fireball that swallows enemy bullets and destroys columns of enemies. I wanted to balance out the difficulty of the game by making overpowered power-ups like the Mega Missile. The Slowdown power-up slows down time which gives the player the feeling of real-life bullet time.

If you haven’t played it yet and if you have an iPhone that can run it (iPhone 6s or greater) make sure to check it out. It’s free to play because I want as many people to enjoy it as possible.

Article originally published on Edamame Reviews.

Introducing Reality Invasion – An intense ARKit augmented reality iPhone arcade game


I just released the trailer for my iPhone game called Reality Invasion. It is an augmented reality video game that leverages Apple’s new ARKit technology. It is a unique, intense action arcade experience.

In the game, retro-style invaders attack you in real life. You dodge bullets by physically moving left or right or by ducking in real life. You pick up power-ups by touching the virtual object with your device. There's only one button: tap to shoot.

Reality Invasion is a true adrenaline rush. You will dart across the room, squat and jump to dodge bullets, and sprint forward to pick up power-ups. For the first time ever, you will break a sweat playing an iPhone arcade game. After clearing the first waves of invaders you will experience real life bullet hell.

- Leverages Apple’s new ARKit for a true augmented reality experience
- A totally new type of gameplay experience for iPhone users
- A variety of enemies and unique enemy bullet patterns
- Four power-ups that take advantage of the AR gameplay

Platform: iPhone 6s and above. An iPad version (universal app) is being planned.

Check out the trailer and the website at

What a popular little experiment

The last few days have been wild. Specter Spelunker Shrinks was really just supposed to be a prototype. I just wanted to experiment and get some feedback about the design. Boy, did I get feedback! Here’s some of the press and what people are saying:

The message is very clear: people like the concept. I have a ton of ideas for the full game but I have yet to decide what platform I’m going with or what exactly the scope will be. There are also many possibilities for how the gameplay might grow. Scaling works well when it’s put beside almost any other spatially related gameplay mechanic.

Originally posted on March 27, 2010.