The game was developed as part of an internal game jam in the FPS genre. The idea was dreamed up by one of our game designers, and described as "Freud meets They Live".
There wasn't much of a game mechanic yet, and the concept was still primarily creative. The team came up with the two-items mechanic during the game design meeting. Once the mechanics were solved, we started production!
Our first attempt used the same "Xray glass" idea from the movie "They Live" and the models and environment were realistic. It resulted in $0.54 in cpi, but players consumed all levels.
Later, we created another version with a cartoony look and changed the main mechanic so that the player has to use a scanner instead of glasses and can only see part of the screen through the scanner. Cartoony looks helped with clarity, and Alien also looked more iconic. Having only one human scanned at a time helped create tension and anticipation in the marketing scene.
We had a decent CPI at this point, not good enough for publishing, but it did show us the concept's potential. Playtime was 550 seconds, indicating that players are playing through all of the content, which is always a good sign. We wanted to add content for two reasons: to continue looking for CPI in new scenes and to give the player more content to consume and see how much the playtime will increase each time. At around 40 levels, we settled on about 1000 seconds playtime and decided it's time to add monetization.
Our monetization phase showed a good number of interstitial ads and a low number of RVs. In the absence of anything other than skins to sell for RVs, we considered introducing a whole new mechanic that would make RVs a key part of the game by limiting scanner energy and allowing RVs to use more energy, but we reversed our decision since this new mechanic of energy would limit gameplay. Due to the high number of interstitial views, we decided to double down on interstitial views and create new levels and give them context with some light meta features.
Level funnels were smoothed and levels were crafted to tell a story.
At short intervals, the player can see all the people they rescued and which parts of the city have been liberated at checkpoints.
Last but not least, we add a villain to help build the narrative of the game and act as a carrot the player chases throughout.
As a result, each player played more levels, which increased the number of interstitial views.