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System Under Surveillance, a balance between stealth, action and puzzle elements without a combat system

A topic by InkToPixels created Sep 30, 2020 Views: 436 Replies: 5
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(4 edits) (+8)
System Under Surveillance banner

Hello everyone,

I would like to share our progress and experience so far with our first project, System Under Surveillance. We will keep updating this post as we make further progress on the game in the upcoming months.

Our names are Alex and Magnus, and started this project about a year and a half ago besides our studies, without knowing anything about game development or game design. We still think that we don't know much about these two topics compared to industry experts, so we always appreciate and welcome feedback.

Even though we started the project with our limitations and mind, it was soon clear that our initial game idea was simply too difficult for us. We had to scale the project down several times throughout development, and we might need to do so again in the future. We opted for a pixel art look because of our love for classic videogames but decided to combine it with an isometric perspective to differentiate ourselves from the many indie games out there.


The player will follow the story of Adam, a young boy who suddenly finds himself alone in a city with skyrocketing crime rates and authoritarian government (it is, without saying, a cyberpunk game). Adam needs to avoid danger on his quest to find out where his parents are, and why he is being hunted down by the authorities.

During his lonely journey, Adam teams up with Turbo, a scrappy decommissioned robot whose goal is to help humans and collect shiny things.


We wanted to make a game where the player can switch between two characters at any time, and use their different abilities to overcome obstacles. Turbo and Adam have different purposes during the game, and the player has to figure out how to combine their abilities to progress.

Gameplay example of SUS, with Turbo as a playable character

Another characteristic of our game is the health bar, which we replaced with a Threat Level system. The game has three threat levels (low, medium, high).

When Adam is detected by the enemy, the Threat Level increases by one (e.g. from low to medium), and he enters the "chase" state. During this state, enemies become more aggressive and the level changes slightly (e.g. some doors close). Adam can exit the chase state by sucesfully hiding, but the Threat Level does not decrease. If Adam is detected multiple times, and the Threat Level exceeds the maximum value, then it is game over.

Gameplay example of SUS, with Adam as a playable character

Being detected while playing as Turbo does not affect the Threat Level (so it does not affect your "health bar"), but Turbo can still be chased and captured. The player cannot finish a level without both characters, so turbo needs to be saved before progressing.
This characteristic gives a twist to the gameplay in our opinion. Adam needs to play more carefully and stealthy to not increase the Threat Level, while Turbo can play more aggressively and even bait away enemies from Adam.


We still have a long way to go before finishing the game. Right now we are concerned with finding out whether the game is fun or not. That is why we are preparing to play test a level soon, in the upcoming weeks. 

In the final version of the game, we would like to add more focus on the story, and include some comic book style cutscenes.

We are also having difficulties with shaders, but once we figure that out the game should look considerably better.

The game is being developed in the Godot Engine, so we aim to publish it both on PC and mobile.


Before publishing a public demo here on, we need to play test it and make sure that:

- there are no major bugs

- the gamplay is untuitive enough

- the user experiene of the game matches our goals for the current stage of development.

If you want to help us play test our cyberpunk stealth game, we prepared a form on our website where you can sign and help us co-create System Under Surveillance . We want to select play testers from different countries, to ensure that the experience is consistent across cultures.

If you have any comments or feedback on the project, please share it with us, either here or privately. We definitely need and appreciate any help we receive!

Thank you for reading :)!







Logo and title screen of System Under Surveillance


even though this game is sus, its a really nice project.

Well I think YOU are pretty sus!

Thank you though, we plan to update the page often and hopefully get some a lot of feedback in the process, positive and negative alike

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So, one thing we found today is that GLES 2 in Godot 3.2 supports CanvasItemMaterials, which allows adding blend modes to sprites. I think that this function was not available in previous Godot version, but I am not sure. Either way, we just found out about it.

Until now, we thought that only GLES 3 supports blend modes, together with more advance glow effects. In general, using GLES 3 made the game look much better than GLES 2, with brighter colors and more realistic lighting. Unfortunately, it also completely ruined the performance on lower end mobile devices, which we are targeting as well.

Therefore, we had to fake glowing lights in the game using sprites, but the final result was not too great. Especially since we use the Modulate function to change the color of the lights in game.

Here is an example of how they used to look:

And how much of a difference using blend modes makes:

The foreground colors interact and blend with the background colors, creating, in my opinion, a much better effect.

Same result for this newly made asset.



Overall I am pretty satisfied considering the negligible performance impact.

(2 edits)


We have been doing a lot of play testing lately, with mixed but overall positive results. We have already implemented many of the suggestions we received, with improvements in particular to:

  • handling of the two characters, in particular the movement. Being an isometric game that does not have a point-and-click movement system, the play testers had a bit of difficulty adjusting to the perspective, but we were happy to find out that this adjustment took only a few minutes.

  • UI and overall user experience improvements. Many UI elements and game mechanics that were obvious to us turned out to be really confusing to the play testers. It is very normal during user testing to find out these differences in expectations between creators and users, so we were not too surprised.

  • level design. Turns out that the learning curve was a bit too steep, so we had to slightly tune the difficulty down and help the players more throughout the level.

  • gameplay. The biggest challenge we have right now is to significantly change our main game mechanic, the Threat Level. The TL in our game replaces a traditional health bar. As the TL increases, the environment changes (door close, enemies chase you). The higher the TL, the close you are to the game over. Turns out it is a super confusing mechanic and we have to redesign it.

We will continue with some more play tests in the upcoming weeks, and then we will publish a small demo here on as well to hear what everyone thinks of the game 😊. Or, if you want to be part of the early play testing sessions of System Under Surveillance, then you can use this form on our site.

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We have finally finished re-designing Turbo’s animations by using Blender and Aseprite combined.

In the past we all our animations were hand made. First, sketching outlines on paper and then drawing in Aseprite. However, 2D animation in an isometric perspective is difficult, especially for us. Just think of the shadows and reflections, for example.

So now, we first make a very crude 3D model in Blender and animate that, and then use that as a reference in Aseprite. This give much better results and fidelity. Too much, in fact. That is why we remove some frames here and there, making the animation look more organic.If the frame rate was perfectly smooth, it would not fit with our intended art style.

Hopefully this can be of inspiration of other game devs out there. I know the advice sound obvious, but it was not obvious to us :p

Here is the result. What do you think? We are not sure about the bouncing animation or the camera shake effect? Any suggestions?

Imgur link to the gif

Is it possible to embed Imgur links on

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