Atomic Heart Developers Talk About Characters, Humor and Making the Game 'West-Friendly'

In a recent interview, Mundfish studio heads talked about the number of characters in the game, casting, humor, localization, and how it resembles Deadpool and The Man in the High Castle

More details about Atomic Heart keep popping up. Recently, we wrote that despite all speculations the studio is doing fine. Now, studio heads Robert Bagratuni and Evgenia Sedova gave an interview to Russian website MatchTV and answered questions about their ambitious project.

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Robert Bagratuni, Evgenia Sedova and Artyom Galeev. Photo: RBK

We highlighted the most interesting moments of the interview.

How Atomic Heart came up

Artyom Galeev, now Art Director at Mundfish, came up with the idea of the game about seven years ago. He worked on game concepts, small details and story drafts, which laid the base for Atomic Heart.

Using motion capture

The studio uses their own tracking system for motion capture although it took a while to design it. Initially, the studio planned to use the equipment at a movie studio but realized that using their own would save the time needed to work with mimics and movements. This way, they can see actors’ actions in real time and correct things on the go.

Casting famous actors

According to Mundfish CEO, the game features seven main characters, each performed by their own actor. When asked about casting anyone famous, Bagratuni said it’s not important. He believes that what differs game development from movie making is that a 3D model shouldn’t necessarily resemble the actor’s face as it’s not necessary from a technical side. More importantly, the actor should be able to work with facial mobility, micro and macro motility. The quality of the performance is more important than casting a celebrity. Evgenia Sedova, Mundfish CFO, agreed with the idea that, unlike the movie industry, making a star the main character of a game is meaningless.

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In one of the trailers, we see a girl running through a forest, but her role in the game remains a mystery

Keeping a balance between seriousness and fun

The main characters’ storylines — involving romance and betrayal — will develop parallel to each other. While the overall tone of the game is serious, the characters will sometimes ironically comment on the ongoing situation, and there will also be a place for black humor to lighten things up. Thus, the balance between seriousness and humor will be similar to Deadpool.

Historical references and alternate history

Sedova confirmed that there will be ‘’What if?’’ elements, but not to the extent of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Atomic Heart is ‘’just their fantasy’’, so the developers are not going to delve too deep into this matter. However, she agrees that real historical events build the foundation of the game.

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The Man in the High Castle, a sci-fi novel and a TV series of the same name, is set in an alternate timeline, where the Axis powers have won World War II

Endings

Bagratuni didn’t say if there will be several endings in the game, saving the intrigue for the future.

Multiplayer

Although the developers are working on multiplayer, it’s not going to be the main focus of the game.

What’s in the title

Sedova said that after completing the game, players will have at least three ideas of why the game is called Atomic Heart. It’s both a reference to interpersonal relationships in the game and the events happening on a macro level.

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The logo might also give some hints at what the title means

Bringing the Soviet aesthetics to the West

Despite the Soviet setting, Atomic Heart focuses on the West. Bagratuni explains this decision with better market opportunities. However, the studio isn’t going to abandon the CIS market. In fact, they believe it’s important to keep the game equally understandable and interesting for players from different regions, so the developers will not elaborate on the Soviet theme too much. There won’t be intentional ‘‘borsch and matryoshka’’ cheesiness though. Everything is done with finesse and style.

Small details and localization

As the studio aims at good and deep narrative, the development is done in their native Russian language. Then, the game will be translated into English trying to retain all the references and small details of the Russian original. From English, it will be translated into other languages since finding a company which could localize a game directly from Russian into Japanese or Korean is problematic.

Russian curse words

When asked about the strong language from the latest video, Sedova said they will try to keep it in all languages, using familiar voices.

Violence and age rating

Sedova confirmed that Atomic Heart will have Mature rating since it features a plethora of cruel scenes. However, the developers do not intend to promote violence. Enemies in the game are various robots and anthropomorphic creatures made of metal or polymers, some consisting solely of these substances. Jelly-Man, one of the main characters (Editor’s note — it’s not clear if he is a playable character though), is made of a red polymer which looks just like blood.

Release date to be announced later this year

In the conclusion of the interview, Bagratuni said that exact dates will be announced ‘‘a bit later’’, in Q2 2019.

Read our Atomic Heart: Understanding Soviet BioShock feature to learn more about the game.