Atari founder to develop free-to-play RTS/FPS hybrid

Bushnell in shock return to game development

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell is to make a dramatic return to the game development business with a new RTS/FPS hybrid game.

Bushnell, 66, has seldom worked on videogame projects since he left Atari over thirty years ago, though has steadily built an iconic reputation as the ‘founding father of videogames’ during the intervening decades.

Yet the entrepreneur is set to come out of dev retirement with his newest project, a free-to-play game entitled Battleswarm: Field of Honor.

In an interview with USA Today, Bushnell said that Battleswarm was a game aimed at clashing RTS strategies with FPS combat in an online arena.

“Battleswarm is really about me being able to play against my sons [laughs]. 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,” he said.

“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."

Bushnell said his game allows players to choose sides from two competing armed forces. One side is controlled via an RTS interface (setting up camps, controlling AI, etc.), while the other competes in FPS mode; sent straight into the action.

The game will be free-to-play with microtransaction-based combat upgrades available. 

Bushnell – who remains one of the most recognisable people in the games industry – was at the centre of this year’s British Academy Video Games Awards after being handed a BAFTA Fellowship; the highest honour the academy can offer.

Earlier in the year he was appointed as executive advisor to online reward-based gaming platform GameWager. 

In March, speaking at a Q&A session co-hosted by BAFTA and Game Based Learning, Bushnell revealed that he believes ‘physicality’ is the future of gaming.

"I predict that the next few years will be the years of physicality in gaming," he said.

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