[dropcap size=big]D[/dropcap]isneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and Magic Mountain were all staples of my childhood. Nothing beat running through a park like a maniac in pursuit of another adrenaline fix. Unfortunately, such activities tend to be prohibitively expensive for kids, and even many adults. Enter Atom Universe from the developers at Atom Republic. This virtual reality amusement park is currently funding on Kickstarter, so we decided to speak with the man behind the project, Tanguy Dewavrin.
Cliqist : Can you start us off by telling me a bit about yourself?
Tanguy Dewavrin : My name is Tanguy Dewavrin, I am the CEO of Atom Republic. I have been making video games for the last 20 years, as an Artists, then Lead Artist, and Art Director. The list of companies and games I was involved with bore you, and you would never have heard of some of them. Though some of the names you may recognize include Harry Potter, Catwoman or Geometry Wars. 3 years ago, I started up Atom Republic, to make games and content for PlayStation Home. Now that it is phasing out, I am ready for the next challenge! That’s why we are making Atom Universe.
Cliqist : So, what’s Atom Universe?
Tanguy Dewavrin : Atom Universe is a free-to-play virtual-reality enabled theme park, for the PS4 and PC, where people can play lots of rides, as well as challenge their friends, earn rewards and interact with each other. It’s a cross-platform game, so you can play on a PS4 with PC users. It is compatible with Oculus Rift on PC and Morpheus on PS4.
Cliqist : What does a typical session of someone playing Atom Universe look like?
Tanguy Dewavrin : As you log in, you get notified of the weekly challenge. That can be finding rewards, earning virtual currency or playing a certain mini-game. Then you can meet your friend or make new friends, interacting with people from all over the world, and challenge them to a mini-game, or invite them to go on a ride. You can go on many rides and earn rewards and improve your high-score to unlock new content.
Cliqist : Can I get a rocket launcher and blow stuff up?
Tanguy Dewavrin : There is a shooting gallery, and you can blow stuff up in there. There could be a rocket launcher you can unlock. If you’re good enough at it, that is! You’ll have to earn it. But it’s not a free-roaming open world à-la GTA, the game is structured differently: it’s split into specific rides, attractions and mini-games. So the shooting game-play will happen in the shooting gallery. If you’re good at blowing stuff up in there, you will earn a rocket launcher and will be able to equip it as an accessory on your avatar, to show off your skills.
Cliqist : Do you find that people have trouble grasping what you’re proposing?
Tanguy Dewavrin : Not really, no. I think people understand the concept of bite-sized carnival games. Everyone went to a theme park or a fun fair, they understand instantly why rollercoaster rides and the likes would be fun and compelling, especially in VR. It’s instantly gratifying, short bursts of game-play, easy to pick-up and play, accessible to everyone. We’ve had a lot of encouraging feedback on our social media, and when people have questions we happily answer them on atomuniverse.net, our forum, which approaches 500 members.
Cliqist : The social aspects of Atom Universe have been emphasized a lot. However, I don’t typically like dealing with other people in the games I play. Is Atom Universe still for me?
Tanguy Dewavrin : There are social elements for the virtual world enthusiasts. But if you’re more of a hard-core gamer, you can just play all the mini-games in single-player mode: in your case the other people are more to create a healthy competition, and add an extra incentive to replay the games to beat their high-scores, and dominate the leader-boards. The social interactions are a lot of fun, but you don’t have to engage with them, it’s optional if all you want to do is enjoy the rides and play all the games.
Cliqist : What do you envision Atom Universe being like 4 years from now?
Tanguy Dewavrin : We have chosen the Unreal Engine technology, to be multi-platform. This way, we are not tied to the life cycle of a set console. A lot of people were upset at the announcement that PS Home would shut down. This will not happen in Atom Universe: in 4 years time, we will possibly be on XBox One, Mac, as well as PS4 and other platforms. And even at the end of the PS4, many years later, we will still exist on the PC, and probably Mac and other consoles, why not PS5? We are here to stay!
Another aspect to highlight is that we are welcoming other developers to contribute to Atom Universe. So far, 3 prominent developers have officially announced they will create content for us: namely nDreams, Game Mechanics and PS Talent. We are in talks with other studios too, though we can’t announce them yet, for confidentiality reasons. The theme park is just the beginning: a space shuttle will take the player to different planets. Each developer will have their own planet, where they will host their own games and events, and sell their own content.
But in essence, anyone with artistic skills can download Unreal Engine 4 today for free, and start making content for Atom Universe. They can submit it to us, and if we like it, we can sell it in Atom Universe on their behalf and send them royalties! We have initiated the process with a contest to make some environments: you can find the details on our forum.
Ultimately Atom Universe will keep expanding, and we will let users create their own content, initially by uploading their photos on to their clothes or picture frames in their apartments, and later design and share their own rollercoaster rides!
Cliqist : Why should someone back Atom Universe?
Tanguy Dewavrin : If you want a persistent, engaging and immersive virtual world on PS4 and PC, alive with new rides and challenges all the time, and always filled with tons of users from all over the world to play with, then please back our Kickstarter now.
I simply believe our project is unique, and no other developer does quite the same blend of innovative social interactions and fun mini-games.
Cliqist : Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to share with our readers?
Tanguy Dewavrin : If you are unsure about us after reading this, you can download our demo on PC from http://atomuniverse.net/AU/index.php?/topic/321-kickstarter-demo-5/. A PS4 demo will be available from the PlayStation store in a few days.
Cliqist : Can you close us out with an Atom Universe inspired haiku?
Tanguy Dewavrin :
Fills the sky with fireworks
Up the Ferris wheel!
Thanks for Tanguy for taking the time to answer our questions! If you’d like to learn more about Atom Universe be sure to check out its Kickstarter campaign.