Bushnell making online RTS/FPS hybrid

Father of Pong goes free-to-play.

In an interview with USA Today's Game Hunters, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell has revealed that his Reality Gap studio is making an online, free-to-play hybrid of strategy and shooter called Battleswarm: Field of Honor.

"In first-person shooter mode, you're a human soldier out to destroy alien bugs, while the commander view in the RTS mode lets you control your bugs, such as swarming, moving them around on the terrain to take on the humans," explained the 66-year-old creator of Pong, who's credited with laying the foundations for the videogame industry as we know it.

Battleswarm will be a free-to-play, microtransaction-supported game which allows up to six players on each side of its racial and genre divide.

Bushnell revealed that its clash of playing styles was inspired partly by a desire to be able to play games with his sons.

"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 game, however, is more my [preference], a good resource game is what I love," said the elder statesman.

He also noted that his interest in microtransactions - Reality Gap has its own MetaTIX currency - derives from a token system created for his chain of arcade-gaming-and-pizza restaurants, Chuck E. Cheese.

"When we converted Chuck E. Cheese into a token-based gaming system, we saw massive revenues because all of a sudden we could do things with our own currency opposed to quarters. We could give, say, 10 tokens to the customer if they bought a large pizza. Plus, with tokens, we wanted them to be on the bureau at home as a reminder to come back!"

Bushnell said last year that he was moving into MMOs, but from his description, Battleswarm seems to be a small-scale multiplayer game. Perhaps he has further plans for the free-to-play PC gaming world?

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