A Love Letter to Classic RPGs
Developed by the skilled indie team at Atent Games, ATOM RPG satisfies our craving for classic turn-based CRPGs of the past. Officially launched in 2018, the game came about in part thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign with over 1,100 backers. But, as explained on the Kickstarter page, Atent’s post-apocalyptic RPG is a passion project that would have been completed no matter the outcome of the crowdfunding operation.
That dedication is evident in the result: a detailed, nonlinear world with immersive writing; deep, multi-choice dialogues; and a compelling setting that clamors for exploration. Set in an alternative history in which a world war between the Soviet Union and the Western Bloc ended in a devastating clash of nuclear bombs, civilization in ATOM RPG has nearly ceased to exist. The survivors make do with what remains and try to rebuild in the post-nuclear wasteland.
Hardcore Droid recently had the opportunity to interview Anton Krasilnikov, a writer and designer for Atent Games who has racked up over 10 years in game development. Here are some of the insights that he shared with us about the creation of ATOM RPG.
Your team is located in four different countries. How did you come together as a team of developers?
We met online, on gaming community forums and social media sites, but some of us already knew each other before the team formed. For example, our writers and programmers were co-workers on other projects to begin with.
What are some of the benefits and pitfalls of working with a team of nine from four different countries?
We already grew to 11. To be honest, the only problem we have with being spread across different countries is that we can’t meet up in person as much as we’d like. Other than that, the distance causes no trouble. Online communication is all we need to work on our games. As for benefits, there also really aren’t any. It gets the job done and that’s all we need.
Considering the global pandemic, you have a potentially convenient work setup. Has the current situation affected your workflow at all?
The only few times this affected us was when some of us caught the virus. But that didn’t really hurt us because they thankfully returned rather quickly and caught up with the program.
Kickstarting ATOM RPG was clearly a good move that helped you turn your ideas into reality. How did the process go for you guys?
It was a very humbling experience. Starting out with zero advert budget, it was a great surprise when people learned of our project and backed it so frugally. It was nerve racking to follow the campaign, guessing whether we’d get enough to finish development. But it was so very joyful to see it come to pass!
Do you plan on Kickstarting future projects, or has the success of ATOM RPG made you financially able to proceed without Kickstarter?
Even if we’d be lucky enough to have enough funds to start our next project without Kickstarter, which isn’t very likely, we’d still go on Kickstarter with some small end goal just to see how people react to our idea, what they think about it, etc. We also love it when the player base interacts with our projects on the earliest possible stages, supplying ideas, critiques and themes. And Kickstarter is perfect for this.
The game was first released on Steam, then ported to mobile and now Switch. What difficulties in particular did you encounter when creating the Android version of the game?
Thankfully, Unity has a very wide array of tools to make the transfer process as easy as it can be. But we still had to spend a lot of time and resources to accomplish such tasks as making a new mobile-friendly UI\UX, a cloud saving system, and many other mobile-exclusive features.
Was the decision to create ports to different platforms a logistical one, or was it based on player demand? Will ATOM RPG make its way onto Xbox and PlayStation in the future?
We constantly interact with our players, and the first request to port to mobile and Switch was sent to us when our game was still in Kickstarter. So, yeah, basically first and foremost the ports are a promise we made to players long ago and really wanted to keep. We’re working on doing the Xbox and PlayStation ports at the moment (closer and closer to the finish line) for the same reason.
You’ve already released one standalone expansion for the game, Trudograd. How have fans responded?
The fans responded very positively, since Trudograd in a lot of aspects is a continuation of what they loved in ATOM RPG. Now Trudograd, while still in Early Access, has grown into a game of its own. And, thankfully, the majority of players are happy with this. We worked with the community from the early beta stage, so there’s a lot of stuff they asked for in the game.
Can we expect the expansion to appear on Android?
Once we’re completely 100% done with the PC version, we’ll make an effort to port it to mobile. But that’s not going to happen this year and probably not in the next several months.
Will there be another expansion or maybe even a full sequel to ATOM RPG?
We try not to make plans too [far] ahead in time, but we’ll always support our first two games and will probably go for a sequel eventually, if all is well.
It seems you’re still updating at least the Steam version of the game, given that there was recently a Halloween Event. Will these updates and themed events make their way to the Android version of the game?
There might be some technical issues and lag with these PC features on mobile, but we’ll do our best to bring those little events on the mobile platforms too!
The decision to set the game in a post-apocalyptic Soviet Union was an inspired move. We appreciated the Cold War references and found the setting unique and compelling. What inspired you to choose the setting?
All of us are from post-Soviet countries. And the atmosphere of our games is more or less inspired by our firsthand experience in the 90s when it somewhat actually seemed the world ended. We also did this to pay tribute to our favorite media, from the early Fallout and Wasteland games to books and movies we grew up on.
We found the game’s characters and stories rather powerful as well. What kind of media, books and films inspired the game’s story and characters?
Growing up in the 90s-00s, we had a rather eclectic collection of stuff that inspired us. From Tarkovsky and Alejandro Jodorowsky to pulp movies like Earth vs. the Spider and Soviet comedy films. [The] Fallout and Wasteland series (that’s just the most obvious ones), and in some ways even games like Killer7 or Deadly Premonition played a great role! Books ranging from [the] Strugatsky brothers to Prokhanov, Platonov and Sorokin, as well as H.P. Lovecraft, prog rock lyrics, etc. The list could go on forever.
The Atent Games website states that many classic CRPGs were influences for ATOM RPG’s development. In what ways? And how has ATOM RPG diverged from these influences?
We always loved the gritty post-apocalyptic setting of Fallout 1; the fun of Fallout 2 and Wasteland; the deep dialogue systems of games like Baldur’s Gate 2, Planescape: Torment or Ultima; the feel of adventure in games like Arcanum or Quest For Glory… In ATOM we tried to give it our own little twist by adding Soviet stylistics and a bit of our own ideas [that] we always had when dreaming to create the game we ourselves wished to play one day.
What can we expect to see from Atent Games in the future?
Probably more games of the RPG genre. But it’s hard to say what kind we’ll try to do next, or even whether it’s going to be turn-based. We might even branch out into other genres. For example, we’ll release a tiny spin-off card game called Bombagun on mobile platforms pretty soon. But as said above, we try not to plan ahead too deeply.