Build and rule your own post-apocalyptic town. Decide the laws and morals of the survivors. Overcome challenges and threats from the wasteland. What kind of society will you make?
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Summer 2018
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Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“We are releasing in Early Access first to indicate that more content, patches, and improvements will be coming to the game after release. And to gather player feedback that might make the game better.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We don’t have a firm date in mind to leave Early Access. The game will be done when we believe it’s as good as we can make it within the limits of our small team size and budget. That might take 6 months of development or it might last years. Please only buy the game on what it’s offering today. Not what it might be in the future.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“The final version will have more buildings and challenges, social issues to deal with, a lot more polish and balance, and general gameplay improvements.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“(We will update this when we are about to launch on Early Access and the answer is clearer.)”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“The game is priced lower than it will be at release to thank our Early Access customers for playing it. The price is likely to go up to some degree when it is finished.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“Atomic Society has been developed alongside hundreds of players during its pre-alpha phase of development. We find player feedback extremely useful and seek it out as much as possible. We also release detailed dev blogs so people can see what's coming next and are active on forums and social media for the game.”
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Available: Summer 2018

 

Recent updates View all (16)

July 2

Dev Blog #29: New Gameplay Footage, 0.0.9 Released, Steam Approaches



Hello and welcome to another development update for Atomic Society. This blog is a few weeks overdue because we’ve been busy finishing the latest - and possibly biggest - update to the game so far. Version 0.0.9 is the final big update we’re going to release before coming to Steam later this year.

Audio Version of This Blog Now Available!

I've decided to try an experiment with this month's blog and recorded myself reading the words below, over some footage of me playing the latest version of the game. It's a little rough and ready, but if people enjoy it, I'll keep doing it from now on. It's the exact same content as the written version.

You can check it out here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwrVrZZTy5s&t=607s

Or if you prefer to simply read about the making of the game, then read on...

New Pre-Alpha Update Released

After several months of hard work, update 0.0.9 is now available for our pre-alpha players to try out. This update brings several new features including: hostile outsiders to make or break deals with, 4 new buildings to construct, custom difficulty mode, story elements, town leader upgrades, and numerous other improvements.

Pre-alpha players can download the new version by finding the email from Humble, which would’ve arrived when you purchased the game. New players will access the latest features as soon as they buy the game.

Full patch notes for the version are here for those who want to read them.

Right now, we’re taking a few well-earned days off to recover our strength (writing dev blogs aside) and then it’s back to work turning this pre-alpha into an alpha.



My Thoughts on Making 0.0.9

The game has a life of its own nowadays. There's so much code in Atomic Society, and so many gameplay elements rubbing up against each other, that the game pretty much tells us what we should add to it next. It’s not a blank canvas for ideas anymore. If we want to add anything now, it has to fit in with so much that already exists. The “invention” stage is gradually coming to an end. Now we’re entering the long “improving” phase.

It definitely feels we're working on a downwards slope, which is great after wandering in the wilderness for years, with so much to create, and only hope and a few strong ideas to keep us going. I can see the end of the project when I play the game now. It's just a case of filling in some rather large gaps and applying a heap of polish. I think that by summer 2019, 12 months from now, Atomic Society might be at the point where we could say “yep, it’s done”.

That doesn’t mean we will stop there. There's still tons I want to do with the game if it’s financially possible. I have pages and pages of ideas, as there’s so much you could do with this game, but it's going to be more and more a case of improving what already exists rather than inventing completely new systems. For years the team has been swimming in a big ocean but now we can see land. We can finish this!

That’s quite a comfort, because there's a short time during every version where I think “making games sucks”. It’s a feeling that comes when things are taking massively longer than I predicted, when the new features are half finished and unbalanced so the game isn't fun, when sales and media coverage are relatively slow, and when the team is busy with their own tasks (or real-life troubles) and there isn’t that social aspect to making a game.

And then, about 10 days before release, the whole thing comes together and I can actually play the game like a player and not a frustrated developer. Then my motivation becomes sky high, and I want to make games for the rest of my life, and I truly love what Atomic Society is becoming. I become a cheerleader for the game all over again, the team is happy, and I think AS could actually pay a salary one day. This pumps me up so much that I'm desperate to start on the next version and make the game better and better.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel now. Whatever happens, we're going to have a computer game out of this crazy project, plus some new friendships and supporters. More importantly we can spend the remaining time making the game more fun instead of having to invent the fun out of nothing (which is a lot harder).

I guess the only analogy my frazzled brain can think of at the moment is moving house. We have finally moved in most of the boxes. Now we get to unpack and make the rooms feel like a home.

Or maybe it's way too hot in the UK this week and I need to move on.



Making the Final Features For 0.0.9

It's been a while between blogs so there's a few features that slipped into 0.0.9 which I haven't discussed before.

You have to be pretty careful what you put into the game near version release, as testing takes ages, but we had some negative feedback on the game and nothing makes you want to work harder than fixing something people dislike! I love getting well written, polite, intelligent feedback, even if it’s negative. Perhaps I don’t love it at the time all that much, but afterwards it always makes the game better, and as I don't have a private army of user-testers to get feedback from in my home, I rely on the public.

Here’s a look at some of the last things we squeezed into this version…

Custom Difficulty

Based on feedback, we made the custom difficulty feature a priority, which is now in the game. This lets you make the game ridiculously easy or impossibly difficult to suit your taste. You can now start a game completely on your own, without any citizens for that Omega Man vibe, or start with 49 trained engineers instead if you like building things really quickly. You can also make it so the migrants who come to your town drop dead instantly, or make them as well fed and rested as pampered VIPs. My theory is that you know how hard you want the game to be better than I do, and if you don't like any of our balanced presets, there's now an alternative.

Story Elements

Because context is important, and words are cheap to produce, we also added in a few story elements to this version, which should help explain things like why you start the game standing in a field with a bunch of strangers (play the game to find out). This is the closest our budget will get to cutscenes. You can totally ignore this story, or read it if you want to get immersed.

Adding story elements forced me to write fiction which thousands of people will experience. This was daunting, as I’ve never knowingly had so many people read my words. However, it was also enjoyable. I’m a writer at heart, and coming up with post-apocalyptic fiction is a pleasure to someone like me.

Enforcer Outpost

We don't usually dare throw in a new building into the game right at the end of a version, as it can generate a lot of bugs, but this one was an exception. The Enforcer Outpost is essentially a stripped down Town Hall. It acts like a mini police station, which lets us keep the existing Town Hall building as something unique and special. We had plans for doing this eventually, but hearing someone in a YouTube video talk about it made us push the feature forward.

I still watch every single YouTube video about the game by the way, even the ones in Spanish or German (and I still feel horribly anxious while doing so!)



Bugs Are Getting Nasty

The longer we make the game, the harder the bugs become to squash. Finding them isn’t too difficult, but getting them to repeat on command, which lets us see if they’re truly fixed, is becoming harder and harder. I tested this version to the point of exhaustion, but as soon as the public got their hands on it, serious bug reports from players started to arrive. It’s a little disheartening.

We always fix the most obvious bugs, but there’s still dozens of cryptic ones lurking in the code. For example, we really struggled with a bug this version where someone died in the old people’s home, which caused the whole town to die of diarrhoea (I guess at least our bugs are humorous).

We thought we’d fixed it, but we couldn’t be sure as it was impossible to repeat on demand. Turns out it’s still in the game, in a modified manner. If you’re playing the pre-alpha right now, please make multiple and frequent saves, for your own sake!

However, even when we fix the big bugs, we discovered they were concealing 100s of small ones. When the game was an early pre-alpha, we could ignore certain bugs, but I don't think we can anymore. The public’s tolerance for bugs drops as we become more mainstream with each version. Unfortunately, fixing bugs takes time that could be spent making new features, so I have a decision to make. It'd be really nice if there was enough content in the game we could devote ourselves to bugs, but there isn't really. Not yet.

Which brings me onto...

The Last Pre Alpha Version!

Well, despite what I just said about bug-fixing, we still have to squeeze some new content into the next version, even if it ends up a bit buggy…

In fact, Adam has already started work on the first new feature for 0.0.10. The breeding system.

At long last, the citizens will start having sex with each other.

This is going to be quite a shake up for the game, which until now has relied solely on migration to control town growth. I'm quite nervous about it actually. It could change the feel of the game quite dramatically. This feature has to be done though. We can't make a game about setting laws and moral choices while leaving out sexual topics.

But whatever we add has to affect gameplay as well, and the most obvious way to do that is to tie sexual moral choices into birth rates. If you want to grow your population in a more predictable way than random migrants, you'll need more babies. But that requires certain laws. And if you don't like those laws, its back to migration for you.

As regards AS, we're going to skip the infant phase, because there isn't time for them to grow up while you’re playing the game. It will probably be the case instead that older children spawn at hospitals (if you have them) and we’ll see how it goes. I'm hopeful I can balance it into something fun.

Citizens shacking up leads me on to 2 social issues I've wanted to put into the game for a while. And it’s probably easier if I do it before Steam…



Homosexuality and Abortion

There are going to be gay men and women in the next version, who you can choose to make welcome or condemn. If you at least tolerate them, they'll be happier individuals and more productive workers. However, in Atomic Society if you encourage something, you get more people who are affected by that issue coming to your town, so it could affect procreation.

As for abortion, I've always wanted to put really big life issues into Atomic Society, and this has to be something players decide for themselves. Having lots of pregnant women and new mothers is going to hurt the productivity of your town, and there will be women who choose to abort their pregnancy. We leave the motivations of the citizens up to the player's imaginations, as it makes for better storytelling, but I can imagine some grim towns coming in the next version!

I guess I am a little anxious about adding these issues because you know what the internet is like with anything remotely controversial, but so far the audience for Atomic Society has been really mature and chilled, so I think it'll be okay. Anyway, it's what the game needs, so I've just got to roll with whatever happens. I'm bored of games that ignore topical issues.

Cut Features

If you’ve been reading past dev blogs, you might remember me discussing features like religion, radiation and electricity. Rest assured these are still in the early stages of development, there just wasn’t time to put them into 0.0.9. When the time is right to work on them again, we’ll do our best at finding fun ways to add them into the existing simulation.



Steam Draws Ever Nearer

After two years of our game only being available through our website, we are finally working on getting the Steam release ready to ship. Last week we met up in person, as we do from time to time, and discussed what could be the biggest milestone in our journey as fledging indie devs. We sketched out the new version and pencilled in a possible release date. As soon as I think we can hit it, I’ll make sure everybody knows, but I’d like it to be within the next 3 months.

In the meantime, I have to work out what to do about the Special Edition version of the pre-alpha. We put a time limit on selling it, because I want to reward our earliest backers by making the rewards unique for them, but the Special Edition sells well and has kept us going at times.

There is so much to do. At least launching on Steam must be easy from a technical point of view, given the incompetent garbage that pours onto it every week, but it's still a huge thing as it could decide whether game development becomes a job for us, instead of being a hobby that pays expenses. The overly optimistic and overly negative parts of my brain are at war right now, trying to predict the future. As the designer, I'm probably more terrified of the reviews than the money, but money has its uses. It's not like I'm going to starve to death whatever happens, but I’d love indie dev to be a little more financially secure so we can make a second game one day. Ultimately I haven't got a clue what's going to happen. Am I going to be kicking myself for turning down various publishers or dancing around the room? Does it matter either way?

Anyway that's enough rambling for now. I am still incredibly proud of the new version and the work that went into it, to the point I even dared do some marketing and social media afterwards. I'm really looking forward to making the game bigger and more reliable over the next year, and the work is always worth it in the end no matter how it all turns out.

See you next month.
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April 30

Dev Update #28: Almost Done With Another Pre-Alpha Version, New Building & Tweaks



The final parts of 0.0.9 are now coming together. 0.0.9 is going to be “part 1” of the big, final update before Steam. I was originally going to save up all the latest content and just have one massive update before Steam, but it’s more practical for us if we break it up into 2 parts.

That means after 0.0.9 is out (probably in May) there will be one more large patch and then the Steam release at some point will definitely come in the summer. We haven’t decided a specific month or date yet of course for Steam, but we need to start thinking about that soon as I’ll need to book time off work (my day job) for it and we need to make sure nobody on the team's going on holiday, etc!

Anyway, here’s some of the things we’ve been finishing up this past month.



New Elder’s End Building

This is one of 4 new buildings players can build in the next content patch. It's a surprising one as I didn’t actually have plans to add this building. It was an idea that came out of nowhere really. And then Adam coded it this month.

Basically, the Elder’s End is where your elderly citizens - the survivors who have been with you the longest - will go to die in peace. At the moment the old people in your town just drop dead in the street. If you build this structure though, they’ll be looked after by the workers and get buried in the catacomb/vault underneath it (that’s what the trapdoor is from last month’s blog), saving you the need to cremate them.

I felt this building was needed to complete the journey of the survivors who come to you town. Your town starts with chaos and misery, and then over time you improve it, and people live longer and longer, and then at the end there’s hope that the old people can die in peace. If the majority of your town are dying in an Elder’s End, you’ve clearly managed to bring civilisation back to the wasteland.

This idea came to me after we changed the score in the game from being Approval Rating to Survival Rating, or “Hope Rating” as it’s now known (name change #5). In other words, the new score in the game shows how hopeful people feel about surviving until old age and dying comfortably in this new Elder’s End building. The more survivors who make it to old age, the more hopeful people think about the future of your town.

It was important to us it wasn’t just a retirement home though, more like a place where survivors go to meet their demise when it’s time. That felt more appropriate for the setting. We added the vault door to bury them off the idea that the survivors want to rest in peace forever underground because they feel that’s a place of safety since the nuclear war!

On the UI for this new building, you can see how long they’ve been a citizen in your town, and there’s a quick shortcut button that takes you to their Biography, so you can read up who this person was (though you better read quickly as they tend not to hang around for long in this building!)

This building does consume food, water, and medicine and is relatively expensive to build though, so it won’t be a luxury you can afford at the start of the game, but if you want to give your survivors a happy ending, you'll need it.



Raiders Progress

The huge (work wise) Raiders feature is at the moment the main thing still keeping the version from coming out. It’s taken us about 3 months to put together and it’s probably 80% done at the moment, though it’s going to take weeks to balance and bug-test (remind me not to design a feature that I have to play through the whole game to unlock).

Raiding is not a feature you need to worry about for most of the game. It doesn’t even kick in until the final stages. We wanted it to be a dramatic shake-up of the game in the latter stages, when you kind of think you’ve got everything worked out. Skilled players will keep it mind though that the new Guard Tower and Weaponsmith building are there for a reason, and you should expand with them in mind.

I know some players are worried about this, as they fear having to do combat, etc. Let me just stress again that this is a game about decisions, not combat, and if you’re a total pacifist you will be able to totally avoid combat... but at a cost. There’s cost to every choice, aggressive or otherwise. You can also upgrade all your Guard Towers and keep the raiders out for good (in fact that’s what you’re supposed to do).

There’s still a lot left to fix and tweak and test with this though between now and release, but all the hard work is done now. I’m really nervous about this feature actually as I still haven’t been able to experience it properly as a player would due to bugs. We have debug tools of course that let me trigger the raiders whenever I want, but I can’t get the emotional sense of how a player is going to feel when raiders turn up after 2-3 hours of regular play.



Lots of Smaller Improvements This Month

While Nick has been coding the raider feature, Adam has been ticking off lots of smaller tasks now that the big stuff is done. I won’t go through everything added here or I’ll just be making this into patch notes, but here’s a few of the more significant alterations.

One of the bigger (in terms of player requests at least) is the new camera snapping option we’ve put in. At the moment if you give the Town Leader an order, the camera snaps to them so you can control them manually afterwards. I personally like this as I think it connects you to your leader, but there is a sizeable chunk of people who think this utterly sucks and so now we’ve now put in an option so you can now stop the camera snapping to the Leader and basically direct him or her around like a unit in an RTS game and the camera will never leave Overview Mode.

Another player request we’ve put in this month is a new button on the main UI panel that if pressed will open the employees menu of any structure that has locked worker slots. This probably won’t mean anything to people who haven’t played the game, but for those players who like to micro-manage their workplaces, this should enable you to quickly zoom through all buildings that have closed off worker slots.

We’ve added a tips box feature, next to the tutorial, where I’ve can put information on some key concepts that can trip up newer players and stuff that only appeared for 2 seconds on the loading screen. I’m a little worried about this as it might spoil some of the game challenge, but my belief is that if I know something as a designer, you should know it too, so now you can read them if you want. Experienced players won’t find anything new in there though.

We also added new buttons to let you randomly choose a name for your Leader because if you’re like me, naming your character can be one of the hardest decisions in a game! This also lets us get some extra use out of the names of our Special Edition as players will see them if they hit this random button.

Obviously nothing too exciting here but when put together with everything else in the version, it all adds up.


So many menus to make in this game...

Nani’s Art Improvements

Now she’s done most of the big tasks this version, it’s fun seeing Nani, our artist, keep herself busy. Some of the most creative work gets done at this time.

One biggish thing she’s done this month is improve the readability of the whole UI. We agreed with some complaints that text was hard to read and so we’ve lightened the whole UI and done what we can (so far) to make text easier to read. She’s also added some fun details, like sticky notes to the stats screen to double down on the appearance that the whole UI is a burnt clipboard.

Aside from that, eagle-eyed players will notice several little tweaks and additions to existing buildings. Our Theatre building now has props on the stage for example, the ruined church has a bell in its tower, and the animals in the Livestock Ranch actually look a lot more like animals now and are no longer making my eyes bleed! Little updates like that forced her to redo her textures though as until now every single building uses about 3-4 textures, for everything, which is rather limiting as you can imagine. It’s fun to be adding a bit of polish to things though at long last.

Behind the Scenes News

Not much happened of note behind the scenes this month. Still no publisher news now (the big publisher I mentioned before forgot to get back in touch with us), and given we’re months from release, I can’t see anything new on that scene happening at all. It is funny though how many marketing company emails you get as you approach release. We’re not particularly interested in that kind of stuff. Youtube and blogs have always served us well enough when it comes to spreading the news of this game, plus our Wishlist numbers are high enough, relatively speaking, that I think we’ll avoid destitution.



Taking a Breather

For the past month I made a somewhat bizarre change. I have stopped acting as if I care about videogames. I stopped playing games. I stopped reading/watching game news. I detoxed from the games industry.

The effort to stay on top of the latest game industry news, reading expert hot takes, what’s the latest hyped videogame out there… I constantly felt as if I was studying for an exam on “how to be a successful game developer” but the exam was constantly adding new questions. Twitter was the worst. So many people on Twitter seem anxious (including me).

So I decided to just close the door on all those internet voices, and for about a month I have more or less acted as if videogames (other than Atomic Society) just didn’t exist. I uninstalled everything, dragged Youtube off my bookmarks, stopping buying/renting games (that certainly helped my bank balance) and I went from a guy who would check gaming forums and websites 5-6 times a day to voluntarily living under a rock. Consequently, I’ve never been so out of the loop gaming-wise in my adult life. I have no idea what’s going on in the industry, what “rival” games there out there, or what the latest hot tips on marketing are. (I still respond quickly to our customers and answer anything that gets posted, but that’s about it.)

And unsurprisingly nothing terrible happened. AS kept selling, more or less the same rate. The team kept working. I didn’t suddenly lose my ability to design a game. What I gained was peace. I stopped caring about trying to “survive in the marketplace”, my mind was free of 10,000 random opinions, or contests over whether game X beats game Y. The games industry never slows down, it’s relentless.

To get this point I had to tell myself in advance “It’s okay if you never sell another copy of AS” but I got there. We've already sold enough for me to think "making a videogame" has been ticked off my list of random things to do with existence. And that was the final part of my peace. It's crazy how chilled you can be when you don’t care if people buy your product or like you.

Now, before some smartass comes along and asks me why I don’t give the game away for free if I don’t care about financial success, I still want all my teammates to get their fair share so they get by. They’ve put years of their life into this game now, so it would be nice if they get anything out of it. We don't get salaries from making AS.

However for me, I think I’m going to keep up this laid-back approach and stay unplugged a bit longer, maybe even to the end of the project. We'll see how it goes.

Conclusion

I didn’t think I was going to have much to discuss this month, hence me being a bit late with this blog, but it seems when I start to write, more’s on my mind than I realised.

I will be posting upcoming, tentative patch notes for 0.0.9 soon and then by the next time you hear from me, it should be me announcing the new update is out there for those people already trying out the game before it hits Steam.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next month.

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About This Game

Note: Atomic Society is in an alpha state and contains many missing features and bugs. Please only buy it unless you are willing to try an unfinished game.

Atomic Society is a post-apocalyptic town building simulation where you can set the laws and morals of the survivors.

Nuclear war has devastated the nation and reset all laws and morals. Now is the time to rebuild. Struggle to create and manage a town that can keep hundreds of survivors alive in a desperate environment. Expand carefully and overcome problems that will test your skill and even personality as a leader. Keep people alive against the odds and create a society that others will admire or dread. You’re in charge.

Current Features:


  • Rebuild society after a nuclear war. Set all the laws and values of the people.
  • Decide between a range of solutions for every social issue including hanging, flogging, prison and even encouragement.
  • Be cruel or kind and make a town that reflects whatever you believe in.
  • Choose how to handle slavery, drug use, murder, euthanasia and many other social issues.
  • Decide how to deal with raiders, radiation and other potential threats.
  • Tactically upgrade your town with electricity over time.
  • Salvage resources from ruins or convert them into new types of building.
  • Control your own leader character and get involved directly.
  • Overcome problems such as plague, sanitation, healthcare and more.
  • Expand from nothing nothing to a town of hundreds, if you can...

    More features will be implemented during the Early Access period...

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows (Any Version From 7 upwards)
    • Processor: Dual Core Processor (i3 or equivalent)
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 500+ (or equivalent)
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows (Any Version From 7 upwards)
    • Processor: Quad Core Processor (i5 or equivalent)
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 700+ (or equivalent)
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 1 GB available space

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