Steel Shadows is a 2D multiplayer game of submarine warfare, with a heavy emphasis on stealth and tactics. It is inspired by movies such as The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide, and the design goal is to create similar tension and suspense through gameplay. The game is currently in early stages of development, and is intended for release on PC.

Original inspiration for the game design came from Sean Howard and his awesome site Three Hundred Game Mechanics. The core concept is that the player sees the game world through sonar, and aims to search for and destroy the other player(s) while avoiding detection herself. The final game will feature a number of additions to this core idea:

  • Passive sonar: Listening to noise signatures to detect other subs
  • Active sonar: Works as a constantly rotating sweeping arc of volumetric 2D light, creating distinctly shaped shadows when it hits other objects (hence the name of the game)
  • Smart torpedoes: Homing based on active sonar simulation once the torpedo is activated.
  • Delayed activation of torpedoes: Launched torpedo will follow a straight line until it is activated to acquire targets. This is intended to keep the torpedo silent (less likely to be detected) as it closes the distance to the target
  • Countermeasures: Handy for when you have a torpedo homing in on you.

The initial goal is to complete all the features above and couple it with stable net code to allow 1 vs 1 matches. A number of possibilities exist for extra features after that (no promises on any of these):

  • Increasing the player count (up to 4 vs 4)
  • Adding multiple submarine types with various strengths and weaknesses
  • Crew management
  • Multiple game modes
  • etc.

Existing art is just placeholders for now. The submarine sprite in the early screenshots is the work of bagera3005.

Would you like to contribute to this project? We are looking for a few key competencies:

  • Audio engineering (especially important for passive sonar listening)
  • Network engineering (currently using Photon for Unity)
  • Art direction and production (aiming for a mix of Tom Clancy look and feel, with the aesthetics of DEFCON - open to suggestions, though)

If you feel you can help with any of these, send me a message here, preferably with links to previous work. Thanks!

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Hello everyone!

This is all very exciting as I get to announce Steel Shadows for the first time, after launching the IndieDB page this past weekend.

So what is Steel Shadows? Glad you asked! Let me try and answer that:

  • Steel Shadows is a game about submarine warfare with Player vs Player combat. You know the usual fare: torpedoes, stealth, the eerie sonar pings that usually mean you're in deep trouble, Gene Hackman casually bringing up his passion for horses to fill awkward silences (ok, maybe not that one), and all that goodness.
  • The game plays in side-view 2D, and the design objective is to have a decently paced, fun PvP action, while conveying the sense of tension and suspense of a submarine duel rather than simulating it with accurate technical detail. Definitely not competing with Silent Hunter games here.
  • It is in very early stages of development, and the development team consists of myself only, working as the designer and the coder. This may change as things move forward; I will be looking for help, especially in the areas of art and audio.

The game does not have a set release date, as it will be a side project for me for a while to come. We'll see how that goes.

There are only a few pictures to see so far but I plan on posting a video or two to show various game mechanics in action, which should give folks a better idea about how the game will play out.

Active Sonar SweepIn the meantime: This is what the typical screen will look like during gameplay. Your submarine is visible in a sea of pitch black darkness (might change the color to dark blue perhaps), and it is blind as a... well, submarine in the ocean. You 'see' your surroundings by use of your sonar, which is represented by a rotating cone of light. Objects under the light cone create shadows that basically become sonar signatures. In the first picture you see an object blocking the path of light, and having its outline revealed in this way. In this case the shadowy object is an enemy submarine, but part of the tension in the game will come from not knowing if it's the enemy or just an odd rock formation...or maybe even a whale! This also makes it possible to hide from enemy sonar by staying close to the game terrain.

Torpedo LaunchYour main weapon is your torpedoes. This is an example of a torpedo that has activated its own sonar after launch, in order to detect and acquire targets. Torpedoes will regularly send sonar pings, and listen to the echo to determine where their target is.

Homing TorpedoThis is what it looks like when you have a torpedo coming at you. Notice the sonar cone is much narrower now. This happens after the torpedo decides on a target to follow, to decrease the chances of getting distracted by other potential targets. You can avoid incoming torpedoes by hiding behind objects, launching countermeasures, and combining them with well timed changes to your course.

That's all for now but will have more to post soon hopefully. If you have any feedback about the game (or the general idea and concept at this point), please do share. While I can't promise I will follow through every suggestion, I still appreciate your input. :)


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