Bringing the arcade to life

A blend of Space Invaders and Time Crisis, Made Invaders is an interactive arcade game that has been brought to life by the DefProc team. The project showcases and celebrates the skills of our thinkers, doers and makers. 

The Challenge

We wanted to build Made Invaders as a physical, classic arcade shooter. We decided that the most fun and engaging way to do this was to have players fire at unique targets that were designed and built by us, competing to get the highest score they can.

We saw Made Invaders as a way to challenge ourselves. The project was to be built using materials that were as low-tech as possible, including MDF, duct tape, cardboard, LEDs, acrylic and lot’s of hot glue.

To pull this off, the main challenges involved were:

  • Using the right technology. With the aim of using low-tech materials in mind, we had to decide what tech we could use. It was important for us to be aware of having to create anything bespoke for the project.
  • Making the game as fun as possible. Fun was one of our top priorities when creating Made Invaders! To add extra entertainment, we gave the game hidden cheats, loopholes and music.
  • Creating a clear design. The game needed to be clear enough for people of all ages to understand. We also wanted to capture nostalgia for any fans of the original Space Invaders.
  • Ensuring it could be transported easily. For Made Invaders to be portable, it had to be able to fold down and fit into a car easily.
  • Building the game to be reliable and robust. As the game was intended for all ages, we had to make sure it would withstand the energy of children (and grown children) alike.
  • Making sure the installation was time-efficient. It was important for the set-up and take-down time to be no longer than a few hours.


  • Design
  • Prototyping
  • Engineering

The Project

To create Made Invaders, we designed and built each element of the game to be as immersive and engaging and possible. We did this through:

Sights and sounds

Made Invaders was designed to be memorable and fun! By using visuals and audio we were able to immerse users in a real-life arcade. We added visual and audio cues such as a sound indicating the start of a game, then the player’s score is displayed overhead after 30 seconds of action.

Custom made targets

Our targets are made up of pixelated characters that are created using a 9×9 grid of LED lights. The characters are made up of over 40 bitmap images, converted for use with the lights. This means that the player is given multiple characters that change when they are hit.

Main controller

At the heart of all Made Invaders functions is the main controller, housed inside a custom laser cut frame. The frame uses the radio module from a Low Power Labs Moteino MEGA microcontroller board. To program the Moteino and the targets, we used the Arduino IDE, which we also used throughout the project to power the controller and targets.