Before I attended AVCon, I can’t honestly say that I would ever have thought a psychedelic combination of Pacman with the rhythm genre would be a thing that could possibly exist, nay, thrive—and yet, here we are. It takes an extraordinarily unique individual to stare down the barrel of life and forge such a game.
That’s just what the effervescent Archer Stirling (we’ll come back to this) of indie studio altArcade has done with his vibrant creation, Atman.
Atman drops you into a maze filled with enemies chasing you down. In the tried-and-true formula, you’ve got to collect all the cubes in the level and find your way to the exit before they catch you, and along the way, tap your spacebar to the beat of the soundtrack to increase your score.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect to the game is the encouragement to improvise your own rhythm within the quarter or triple note bars, along with the fact that you are rewarded for daring to be spontaneous.
Inspired by Archer’s observations of people “finger drumming” on surfaces without even realizing—much like you’d tap pen against a table when your mind’s off in the clouds—he hopes to teach the joy of rhythm and the ease of improvisation with Atman. Impressively, he has composed and produced the entire soundtrack himself.
Needless to say, I was eager to get my hands on the game and to have a quick chat with Archer about Atman.
PowerUp!: First things first: Archer Stirling. Really?!
Archer: Well, I can’t give my parents credit for it, but it certainly is real!
PU!: How’s your AVCon going so far?
A: Excellent! It couldn’t be going any better, honestly. We’ve had a lot of player engagement. Everyone’s loving the leaderboard I’ve got set up, and the competition around it. We’re giving away five copies of the game to the top five players by the end of the weekend. I think it’s a great incentive to get people picking up the controller and giving it a go!
PU!: Tell us a bit about Atman. How does it work, what’s the aim of the game?
A: Atman is basically a psychedelic Pacman first-person turned into a rhythm game. You run around these mazes with all these rainbow cubes scattered around the place, and you’ve got to pick up all the cubes in the best time possible while avoiding the ghosts that are running around the maze trying to track you down and send you back to the beginning.
PU!: That’s a new take on the Pacman and the rhythm formula! How did you come up with that idea?
A: Magic! I got the idea from finger drumming.
PU!: What platforms are you releasing on?
A: Initially on Steam, and we will be looking at putting it on the Epic and Discord online stores as well now that they’re available, but if we do have success on any of those platforms we’ll be looking at potentially bringing this to the Switch, and PS4 and Xbox too if all goes to plan.
PU!: What are you hoping to achieve from AVCon?
A: Primarily player feedback – it’s like a great big play-testing session, and we’ve gotten a lot of really useful suggestions on what we could do, minor tweaks to make the game easier to play and more intuitive.
Less hard on the eye—it’s quite a colourful game, isn’t it?
And also to create a community around the game – getting a mailing list set up so that we’ve got some people who are interested ready to go when the game is out on the market.
PU!: How can we keep up with developments on Atman?
Many thanks to Archer for taking the time to speak with us.