Game Idea: Adopt an Invader

Recently I’ve found a so-called invader fractal on the notorious levitated Website. It has been also posted on

I find the Idea astonishingly simple: you can randomly generate Space Invaders-like sprites by randomizing a two-color bitmap and mirroring it so it becomes symetrical. For a 5×5 pixel invader, there are 32,768 unique Permutations. Well, I woudn’t call that “fractal”. The fractal Idea comes in when you start filling a surface with it but that isn’t the point. Just with that random invader generator, I have the following idea for a game:

Imagine a combination of Space Invaders and Pokémon. You play Space Invaders but the Invaders are being randomly generated. As soon as an unknown Invader appears, you can choose to “adopt” it. Which means you register this type of Invader as “yours”. You can then proceed to care about it like a virtual pet. You can give it a name and a description. You can see statistics about it – how many players this the Invader killed and how many times it was killed. By playing the Space Invaders game, you can collect “evolution points” you can then spend to change characteristics of your Invader. Change the movement patterns, color, name, the number of points it is worth in the game. You might want the Invader to drop a goodie if it is killed. So you can choose if you want it to be a helpful invader or a deadly, invincible boss invader. You could even hook it up to some Web 2.0 APIs. How cool would it be if you invader would twitter you every time it killed a player.

And of course, instead searching for a yet unadopted Invader by playing the game you could also just BUY the Invader on the game’s website for 1$ or something. This would give you the possibility to choose the exact appearance of the invader (if this particular sprite is not taken yet). You could also simply buy some evolution points instead of grinding the game for them. You could also buy some accessories with your very own invader on then: t-shirts, coffe mugs, underwear, cookies, etc. In fact, there are lots of invader-based products you could come up with. Caring for and managing the invaders would become this a whole meta-game distinct from the shooter itself.

What do you think?

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

10 responses to “Game Idea: Adopt an Invader”

  1. daniel renkel

    ich bin ja schon länger ein riesen fan von diesen dingern (gleicher ansatz, ähnliche technik, anderer look):

    ich wollte damit allerdings banaler, weniger emotional gebunden als du das jetzt vorschlägst, einfach nur items/pickups in icon optik randomizen.

    bin mir nicht so sicher, ob dein vorschlag wirklich rockt (leute anzieht, geld einbringt).

    süss und verrückt ist er auf jeden fall, also los – versuch es! =)


  2. Krystian Majewski

    I’ve seen the nine block pattern generator but I find it less useful. It is more complicated and creates less memorable shapes. Also, I think the a technical advantage of the invader generator is that it creates bitmaps by default. So the results can be displayed at a high resolution.

    The popularity of space invaders has been proven by the impressive prevailence of the meme even without a particular reference to the game itself.

    And I don’t intend to get rich with it. It’s only 32000 in the levitated version.

  3. axcho

    Ha, I like that idea! I’ve always liked the procedural, artificial life stuff, and black and white pixel art has a special place in my heart from my calculator programming days.

    Actually, a few years ago I made a calculator program where you can evolve 8×8 pixel sprites – Sprite Lab. Even without mirroring, such extremely low-resolution graphics lend themselves well to being interpreted as whatever you want them to, which makes the random evolution thing pretty effective. I’ll have to try that mirroring thing sometime. Hmmm, I wonder how well it might work with images generated by cellular automata… I actually had made a cellular automata version of Sprite Lab, though I never really finalized it for release.

    Anyway, this brings up a lot of old interests of mine, thanks for writing. :) Maybe I’ll try making a game like this sometime. Would that be okay with you?

  4. Krystian Majewski

    Sure, I might be quicker, though ;-)

  5. axcho

    Considering my characteristic lack of free time, you’re probably right. :p

    That said, would you care to join forces? I do Flash, and a bit of web dev. I’m almost done with my undergrad degree in Computer Science, so I have a solid programming background. I really really want to see this made – especially if I’m one of the people making it.

    Okay. Based on my early tests, I would strongly recommend using 7×5 pixel invaders rather than the 5×5 of the fractal you linked to. The 7×5 size gives you about a million variations, which should be plenty if you have multiple instances going, while retaining the chunky pixel appeal of the smaller size. More importantly, the ships produced look significantly more *ahem* badass at 7×5.

    Try it, you’ll see what I mean.

    This is just a random thought, but for powerups and items, you might try using 5×5 with biaxial symmetry. And 3×3 with vertical symmetry could be good for the custom bullet graphics. I haven’t experimented with those yet, though.

    Please consider my offer to collaborate with you on this project, as I am quite serious and I’d love to see this made, whatever it takes. Let me know if you’d like to see some examples of my work, or if you’d like to continue the conversation through email.

    Thanks again for posting this awesome idea.

  6. Krystian Majewski

    sure, contact me at
    majewski( at )

  7. axcho

    Email sent. Thanks.

  8. Krystian Majewski

    axcho: Something went wrong. I didn’t receive anything. Would you give me your email address?

  9. axcho

    Hmmm. My email address is axcho+s at any number of email providers, but yahoo will do just fine. There’s no + in my email, I just mean to say that you add an ’s’ to the end of my usual username to get my email. And I wanted to be confusing.

  10. Charlsie Loranger

    i understand this is not precisely on topic, but i possess a blog utilizing the blogengine platform as well and i’m getting issues with my comments displaying. is there a establishing i am forgetting? perhaps you could assist me out? give thanks to you.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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