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Atari Founder Returns to Development

The "founding father of video games" is coming out of "retirement" and returning to development with the upcoming free-to-play RTS/FPS hybrid Battleswarm: Field of Honor. Atari (and Chuck E. Cheese) founder and Pong creator Nolan Bushnell, 66, left the business over thirty years ago, however the inspiration driving his new project stems from gaming with his five sons.

"Battleswarm is really about me being able to play against my sons," he told USA Today's Game Hunters in an interview. "I've got five sons, age 16 through 30. They're all avid gamers and like first-person shooters. The problem is, as you get older, you lose some reaction time, and as a result, I'm getting slaughtered by them.  A real-time strategy [RTS] game, however, is more my [preference], a good resource game is what I love. Battleswarm is both an RTS and a shooter, a mash-up between StarCraft and Starship Troopers, if you will. You can switch sides, too, if you feel like an RTS instead of a shooter, or vice-versa."

The concept of Battleswarm is rather interesting: the first-person shooter mode enables team players to attack enemy bugs while the RTS mode provides a commanding view giving one player control of the team's offensive bugs that attack the other team. Bushnell said that the game doesn't offer much in resource mining, but upgrading is available in microtransaction form, an area Bushnell believes is the future of gaming.

"I'm opposed to games where you're stuck spending $15 a month, where you can get in but can't get out," he said. "In some games, they keep charging your card -- on one occasion I had to cancel my credit card. In our game, we want you to play and not worry about recurring costs."

Despite having launched the console that "started it all," Bushnell said that he's a big believer in cloud computing where gamers can play titles stored elsewhere.

  • Honis
    Isn't this similar to the game model in Valkyria Chronicles?

    If it is similar I'm really looking forward to seeing it in a multiplayer environment.
  • pocketdrummer
    That sounds great... but I'm starting to really dislike microcharging even more than monthly charges. Look at battlefield heroes for instance... The least you can buy is $5 and gets you next to nothing. The most being $50 (which is a full retail game's price). If you can't get EVERYTHING in the game for $50 then you're getting screwed.
  • tenor77
    It sounds great but the name Battleswarm: Field of Honor brings up mental images of Battlefield and Field of Dreams with maybe some bees in it.
  • chaohsiangchen
    Actually, this idea has been tried before. As I can recall, at least one HL2 mod function like that. The other is Zombie mod of Battlefield 2142.
  • It sounds interesting, especially if you can use RTS mode while your opponent uses FPS mode. However, assuming this article is correct, I'm rather turned off by the fact that it's 1) online only, and 2) you have to pay for in-game upgrades. I'd much rather pay $40-$50 bucks up front for the game and have unlimited online/LAN play, which is how most FPS/RTS games work.
  • waikano

    You use a bow instead of an gun, but same concept.
  • geminireaper
    This has all been done before. Savage and Savage 2 being two titles that come to mind
  • alextheblue
    You're all forgetting the HL1 mod, Natural Selection. The standalone sequel (as opposed to a HL2 mod) is due out relatively soon, and so far it looks damn good. If they can have the same variety in maps, while spicing up the already excellent gameplay, they'll have a winner on their hands.
  • michiel79
    Isn't there anyone who ever tried out Battlezone II? Best RTS/FPS game ever! Includes resource (scrap metal) gathering, base building and even sniping the enemy out of their aircraft! I keep wishing someone is finally going to remake this game.
  • Wayoffbase
    He lost me first at 'microcharging' and again with 'cloud computing'. For the first, I like the same price no matter how much (or little) you want to play idea. For the second, cloud computing isn't magical, the rendering still has to be done to the same extent, and it will always me more efficient to do it closer to the user. Gaming in a cloud would lead to a regression in the visual quality of games. Besides, I enjoy building high performance computers more than actually playing games anyway.