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IndieCade is please to present:

Signal Decay

Zack Zhang

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Wednesday, July 8th
11AM PDT  (6:00 PM GMT) – 1:00PM  PDT (8PM GMT)

Friday, July 10th
Developer Twitter Takeover

Sunday, July 12th
11AM PDT  (6:00 PM GMT) – 1:00PM  PDT (8PM GMT)
Gameplay, Developer Interview

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Assemble a cyber agent team to infiltrate procedurally-generated bases in this co-op stealth roguelike adventure. Master highly tactical combat, a cache of cyber weaponry, and teamwork to save humanity from mind-control. Created by @zacx_z.


Signal Decay is a co-op stealth action roguelike emphasizing on communication and coordination set in a cyberpunk universe. Signal Decay is where XCOM meets Monaco: Players team up together to infiltrate enemy bases to destroy hypnotizing machines — Broadcasters, and leave the bases safely. Players also pilot a mothership around the world to customize their ops between missions.

Signal Decay was created for the ideal co-op experience I imagined. I explored creating an experience that connects one person to another in a gamy way — using mechanics as a main way to support the experience instead of the atmosphere formed by art and sound.

My initiative came from deliberate thoughts:

1. I didn’t consider co-op experience in team-based PVP games because I wasn’t much into PVP games. PVP is too much about egos, which is not good to cultivate co-op brotherhood.

2. I wanted a player to treat her teammate as a human-being rather than a tool. So there should agency in cooperating. On the contrary, I found co-op puzzle games doesn’t allow players to do anything that is not part of the solution. The same goes for fixed team roles each of which let players just do one thing essentially. I thought those turned out to be a bit shallow, and I wanted to go deeper to make a player really care another one and make decisions in coordination. So the “role” of each playaer should be ever-changing as the situation changes.

3. I hoped the game was accessible in a way unlike Diablo, in which if you don’t keep playing with your friends, your inventory and hero are left behind and you can’t enjoy the game together.

As Signal Decay is my solo project, many decisions of its direction came from my personal taste.

1. Permadeath raise the stakes as players go further, which makes the cooperation more important.

2. I wished the game makes sense in its narrative representation, so I chose stealth gameplay. It’s easier to remember and share a moment that makes sense in narrative. So there are a lot of “verbs” you could find in the mechanics, like assault, flee, steal, lure, stumbling into, etc.

3. I wanted to give players more agency so there’s a mothership part in which you can control the process of the ops.

About Zach Zhang

Born in China, Zack Zhang started to learn making games when he was in the middle school. He studied digital entertainment design and computer science in Tsinghua University. He self-taught himself digital painting and composing music. He was impressed by indie games and experimental games and wanted to explore the potential of the form of games. Afterwards he went to NYU Game Center and studied game design. He loves to make games to express ideas or emotions, but he decided to create a game Signal Decay as his thesis project in a different approach to him, which he continued to work on it in full time after graduating from NYU in 2015. In 2017 he went back to Shanghai, China from New York and continued working on Signal Decay. It does feel different when creating in a different environment.

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