Hey everybody! It’s been quite a while. In truth, my blogging has taken a back seat recently. Juggling my new full time job at Grimlore Games, writing several novels and other stuff has taken away my blogging, but today I bring you something very special, something hopefully the start of a new series: game developer interviews! Today I’m with ATOMteam, the developer of the awesome ATOM RPG. It’s an excellent post-apocalyptic indie game, inspired by classic CRPGs: Fallout, Wasteland, Deus Ex, Baldur’s Gate and many others. I’d call it the spiritual successor of Fallout 2, and it’s a seriously impressive piece of kit.
Down below is my interview with Alex, co-head designer for the team!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you do?
I’m half of a writer, location designer and game planner duo for Atom
RPG as well as the translator for the English version of the game. My
name is Alex, but some call me Fade.
What does being a game designer actually mean?
I think most people have these imaginary ideas in their heads from time
to time. Like, what a movie I’d make if I could, what game would I make
if I could, what characters would I create, etc. I am blessed by an
amazing team who lets me bring these mental images to life. Being a dev
allows me to create and play what I love the most in games, what I
always dreamed of playing.
There has been a great deal of controversy in recent years about micro
transactions in gaming. Not so much an opinion, but why do games tend to
cut out content to sell later as DLC and lootboxes? Is it to do with
development costs? Or is it time related?
I believe that this is money related. The more you cut your product, the
more you make from selling each piece, after all. Some companies are
there just to make money, disregarding all other aspects of making a
game. Making DLCs, lootboxes and microtransactions is a way to earn big
money. Every big business does it in a way, as long as it can get away
with it. We are not businessmen, and our goal isn’t money alone, so we
won’t ever use such tactics to make money, but I can get why a huge
profit-driven corporation does it. I don’t support it at all, but I
understand the principle.
Tell us about your current project.
We’re almost done patching the final version of our dream game Atom RPG.
It’s a turn-based post-apocalyptic role-playing game set in the
post-nuclear-war USSR. You play as an agent of ATOM, a former government
organization dedicated to restoring civilization. This game, we made in
the likeness of awesome oldies like Fallout 1-2 and the original
Wasteland, was in our minds ever since 2008. It took a lot of risks and
a lot of time to finally make it just like we imagined it and we
couldn’t be happier. After that, we will start work on a stand-alone
add-on for Atom RPG that will take the player into a giant post
apocalyptic city of Trudograd, a towering metal labyrinth built around
army tech factories.
As anyone who creates anything, we must all deal with criticism from
consumers. How do you go about it particularly in the prolific and viral
standard of gaming today?
We respect every criticism and try to learn from it when it is
constructive. A lot of bad reviews made our game better by pointing out
the bugs that got away from our small QA team. Some critics then
returned and loved the game we improved. And when criticism isn’t
constructive? I understand it as well. We are a niche game, not meant
for the mass player. It’s 2019, and you’re offered a game that is made
in the likeness of 1990’s games. I can understand the rage it might
cause if oldies are not your thing.
What advice would you give budding developers into taking the plunge
into game design?
Love your audience. If there’s a Youtube video about your game with 0
views and 0 comments, go there and say thank you, just like you would if
the video was viral and had 100000 views. If there’s a question or a
critique, reply, respectfully. Talk to people. Listen to their opinions.
If you still have time to play video games, what are some of your
favourite ones to play?
Well, most of the time I just play Atom RPG over and over again, for
bugfixing and just because I can’t get enough of it, but I spare like
40-50 hours a month on other games.
When on PC, I enjoy playing roguelikes: rogue, liberal crime squad,
Dwarf Fortress, Slay the Spire which is a masterpiece and I hope
everyone in the world buys it at one time. I play Fallout 1 from time to
time, and dive for a run in Wasteland 1, I play Dark Sun a few nights a
month, and I just fallen in love with D.W. Bradley’s Wizards and
Warriors. Sometimes I play Dark Heart of Uukrul Wizardry 6-7 and Ultima
4. They don’t make them like they used to! I’m also looking to replay
Deadly Premonition, Killer is Dead and Killer7 sometime soon. SWERY and
Goichi Suda are my idols since I was a teen. Way back when I bought a
Wii just to play No More Heroes, a true masterwork.
I also have consoles, where I play From Software’s and ATLUS games
almost exclusively. Must’ve beaten Dark Souls 1 2 and 3 and Bloodborne
20 times each, and I still love everything about them, especially the
Greatswords. Sekiro I had no time to play yet. I wanna finish everything
before it one more time before starting. Shin Megami Tensei also has a
weird charm for me, ever since the SNES release. They are weird and
magical. Persona is awesome too, especially 2 and 4 for me.
What inspires you to do what you do?
Every time someone says that Atom RPG is what he waited for since
Fallout 2, I feel amazing bliss. I’m doing it for myself, because I love
playing Atom and I’m doing it for all those who wanted a game like this.
Giving back to the community, especially after all it gave us by buying
the game and giving us advice and love, is my number one priority for
two years now and it will never change.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Honestly, I don’t think there is one. Finding that we didn’t kill all
the bugs in the game was pretty annoying, but the guys fixed like 99% of
them. So I really don’t know. Keeping up with deadlines was hard like 2
times out of 10. There’s that.
What was your favourite thing about game development? Is there anything
you find difficult or challenging in dealing with the struggles?
There are three best things. First one, is brainstorming a location or
quest and living through that moment where every idea clicks in place
and we’ve got a new location or quest ready. Second one is finding out
that the players actually liked that new thing. Third one is actually
playing this new moment for myself. I sometimes giggle like crazy when I
re-read my own writing. The most difficult thing was to just ditch
normal jobs and start game making, without any hopes or money, just
because it was time to finally make our dream come true. It took balls
and 3000 packs of ramen noodles and cigarettes. Everything else is more
pleasure than chore, even when it’s crunch time!
Many thanks for the chance Alex! ATOM RPG is a pretty cool game, and anyone who liked stuff like Wasteland, Baldurs Gate and Fallout should give it a go.