Second Fiction brings ‘action science’ to iOS with Atomic Robo: Violent Science

Mobile developer Second Fiction is bringing Atomic Robo to iOS and Android later this year with Atomic Robo: Violent Science. Until now, the studio has been relatively quiet about the project, but has been teasing out details on its company Facebook page. However, we recently sat down with Marketing Director Allen Clements to talk about the upcoming mobile title and get the first real details.

Second Fiction is a five-person studio (plus a few interns) that came from a deriviation of The Fictory, the studio working on the animated movie, Atomic Robo: Last Stop. The game began its existence as a stretch reward for the movie’s Kickstarter campaign, which reached its original financial goal with a month to spare. Clements explains, “We were making games for fun and said we’d make an Atomic Robo game for iOS and Android if we reached $75,000. When the campaign concluded, we were at almost $73,000, so we said ‘close enough.’ We do things on our own dime on our own time. It just seemed like a no brainer to work on a very cool property that we all love that also corresponds with film we’re doing right now.”

For the uninitiated, Atomic Robo is one Red 5 Comics’ more popular series, created by  8-Bit Theater writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener. The titular character is a self-aware robot named Robo who was created by Nikolai Tesla and now runs Tesladyne Industries when not engaged in “action science” missions that include (but are not limited to) fighting Cthulhu-like entities alongside Carl Sagan, fighting Nazis and fighting machine gun-toting dinosaurs. As you may have guessed, there’s a lot of ridiculous fight sequences.

For Second Fiction, the game’s fast-paced and oft-goofy action works for the 2D platformer genre. Clements explains the game will be a 2D “constant runner” instead of an endless runner that’s proving so popular on mobile devices right now. The game will contain levels with definite endpoints, will follow the same general storyline of Last Stop and feature cutscenes from the film. Clements says gameplay is reminiscent of Ski Safari, “but with a ton more action.”

Clements explains that they made the game 2D for a couple of different reasons, including staying true to the comic’s visual style. However, “the biggest reason is the retro feel of it. We all come from 2D systems like the NES … we really wanted to do a game like that.”

As with many mobile titles these days, the game will feature a number of social mechanics including the basic Facebook and Twitter sharing, as well as Game Center implementation for achievements and challenging friends. Clements also says leaderboards will hopefully be published and shared on the game’s official site.

Another mobile game staple is in-app purchases. Although the game will be a premium title, Clements says it’ll likely go for $0.99 in iTunes and IAP will be used to upgrade Robo’s abilities (though players will also be able to earn enough currency for these upgrades through repeat gameplay).

“I don’t want there to be so many IAP that it offsets the challenge of the game,” Clements tells us. “I want to keep the cost of the game really inexpensive … if you do the numbers, you have to sell a lot of games at $0.99. But we’re really trying to get on the map and get our feet wet: A $0.99 game that has IAP but without altering the content or competitiveness of it.”

Ironically, the game will come out before Last Stop and will help further fund the movie’s development. While the Kickstarter campaign was definitely a success story, there are a number of cautionary tales about funds being wiped out in almost no time between taxes and the costs for providing rewards to backers. By the time the Kickstarter was funded, Clements tells us the film was about a third finished, but “when we got such a great response we went back to the drawing board and just said ‘let’s really make this worth what people are willing to pitch into it.’”

“Everything’s kind of a moving target,” Clements notes. “We’re pretty sure the game will come out before the movie simply because we have a day job that’s making games. Meanwhile, a hand animated film is very time-consuming and detailed.”

Clements tells us that even though Second Fiction is first focused on iOS and then Android, the company is considering the possibility of putting this game out as a desktop title for both Apple’s App Store and the Windows 8 store. He also says the studio is investigating putting the game on social networks like Kongregate and Armor Games, although Facebook doesn’t sound like it’s being considered as much.

“We’re really into being organic,” he says. “So we’re going to listen to people about what they really want. I don’t see any point in doing something unless the kids want it.”

The exact game for both the Atomic Robo game and Last Stop haven’t been revealed yet, but it looks like they’ll both be out sometime this Spring. That said, the official Second Fiction Facebook page is rife with work-in-progress screenshots of Violent Science for interested fans to check out.

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