The Genius Behind Housemarque

Housemarque has been known for its deep roots in both PlayStation and arcade games and after Matterfall‘s reveal at Paris Games Week as well as Resogun turning 2, I thought it was high time I spoke with someone from Housemarque and what makes them so unique from every other developer out there.

Q: Let’s get into a bit of your history. Your most notable titles include Super Stardust HDSuper Stardust PortableDead Nation, Super Stardust Delta, Furmins, Resogun and the highly underated Outland, which you did in partnership with Ubisoft. Could you tell us what interested you initially in the early concepting stage for Outland?
One of the versions of Outland available on PC comes with an artbook that shows what the game was in the beginning: a new take on Pitfall / Indiana Jones. Uncharted was being developed during the same period, so we decided it would be wise to differentiate ourselves from what Naughty Dog was doing. That was probably a good call.
Q: Looking to the future, you have stated in several interviews that upcoming game Alienation is meant to serve as a spiritual successor of sorts to Dead Nation. Could you give some more insight onto what exactly you mean by this statement?
Alienation builds on the things we have learned with Dead Nation. There are elements that made Dead Nation extremely successful: the gunplay, the possibility to play friends, the way the physics engine was used at the time, the skill required to achieve certain scores. Alienation keeps all that, changes the setting (sci-fi allows us to do more), and adds a few things that are new for us: different classes, loot, XP system, metagame. We’re fans of Diablo and Destiny, and you’ll see some inspiration from those games in Alienation.
Q: Alienation is a game Housemarque, as well as PlayStation fans in general, have been waiting a good time for since its unveiling at Gamescom 2014, which took place just over a year ago. I’ve seen some speculation on the Internet regarding the Paris Games Week trailer you put out and I’ve got to ask, when is Alienation coming to our lovely PS4s?


You can actually preorder it right now on PSN. Launch date is March 2nd, according to our publisher.

Q: Most of your biggest hits have been on PlayStation consoles (Resogun, Dead Nation, Super Stardust HD) and you seem to have no indication of stopping said support. Have you ever considered developing a Housemarque game on say the Xbox One, PC or even the Wii U?
Outland is available on PC. We work well with Sony and we plan to do so for the foreseeable future.
Q: Following up that previous question, have you ever considered becoming a full partner with Sony Computer Entertainment as a first-party studio?
Housemarque is owned by three people. Two of them are currently working at the company on a daily basis, respectively as CEO and Creative Director. Sony often expresses appreciation for our partnership, but I believe we enjoy being independent for the time being. There are certain advantages in doing your own thing.
Q: The reveals of the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U have made people like me wonder what the future of gaming is. Now, that may be a big question, so let me trim the fat, so to speak. Do you think games will continue to have campaigns and discs? Or will there just be more and more games like Destiny, where you plop down $60 and pay for the experiences you want to have with the game?
A full switch to digital distribution seems inevitable. On PC most of the games are already bought digitally… as soon as the connections will be good enough in certain parts of the world, I don’t see a single reason why we would still need boxed products, especially in their vanilla form. Nobody complains that you can’t buy iOS apps on a memory card. The console space has a different history and different expectations, but I see the transition as inevitable. “Resistance is futile”, as the newer generations don’t care much about plastic discs.
Q: Would you ever consider a second-screen experience for any of your future titles?
Only if it added something really cool to the game, or allowed you to interact with the game when you’re not in front of the tv in a significant way. Doing it just for the sake of it is not what we consider a good way to invest time and resources. So far second screens have proven mostly an afterthought if you ask me. The only notable difference is the Nintendo DS/3DS, where the second screen is actually used by most games for useful stuff.

Q: One of the favorite features of the PS4 to me is the big touchpad in the center of the controller. Have you considered this for games like Resogun or even a future title like Alienation or Matterfall?

We have, and it will be used in Alienation, but mostly as a button. We tend to make fast games where removing your finders from the sticks is a bad idea, so we need to be careful on the features we use.
Q: Now, Matterfall recently had its grand unveiling during PlayStation’s Paris Games Week conference this year. This game is quite different from most of your other titles. It reminds me more of Shadow Complex mixed with a bit of Vanquish to me, at least. So, how does Matterfall from moment-to-moment, if you are ready to share the skeleton of the game.
We’ll be able to speak more about it at the beginning of 2016, but you mentioned two games we know well!



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