February 28, 2012 3:00 PM | John Polson
Developer Illfonic's re-invention of Alientrap's Nexuiz lands on XBLA February 29 for 800 MS Points as part of Microsoft's House Party. Nexuiz will also appear on PlayStation 3 and Steam later this spring.
Nexuiz takes classic, arena first-person shooter gameplay and mixes it up with dynamic mutators-- game-changing power ups that can turn the tide of battle in an instant. Graphics are pretty darn fancy, too, being powered by CryENGINE 3.
It's a bit premature to talk about, but a quick glance at Illfonic's self-labeled "upcoming shit" reveals a crazy game called Ghetto Golf. I think the team is playing it safe releasing something solid and safe like Nexuiz first. Fighting the urge to talk about the racy, satirical golf game, I asked creative director Kedhrin Gonzalez a few questions about their collaboration with Alientrap on Nexuiz, what arena FPS titles are doing wrong today, and what the Denver, Colorado indie scene is like.
Have you always been a nine-man team throughout the development of your game?
We started off as four, and slowly grew from there as we needed people. We knew we had to hire more people for specific tasks, and can't believe we pulled off what we did with such a small team. We outsourced things like the Character/Weapon models with Art Bully Productions, some design/story elements with Skyward* Corp and other developers here and there.
We also provided opportunities for up-and-coming developers with internships. Throughout the development cycle, the largest our team ever grew was 12 people. It was rough, and we worked hard. Thankfully, our guys are champs and really rocked the show.
What collaboration, if any, was there with Alientrap?
We are really good friends with the guys at Alientrap and one of the programmers on Classic Nexuiz, Forest 'Lord Havoc' Hale, wrote the bot code for bots in Nexuiz. I also remade the level 'Strength' based off of a design from the Classic Nexuiz by Paul Evers. The creator of Classic Nexuiz, Lee Vermeulen, was very supportive and helped us with whatever we needed. They were really cool to work with and we are really thankful to have that opportunity.
Could you expand on how you re-invent classic, fast-paced arena first-person shooter gameplay?
The biggest issue players deal with when they play a game for a long time is repetition. In an Arena FPS, game sessions are always frantic. Generally, players go head to head on a mission to dominate each other with raw skill. Dynamic Mutators add an extremely innovative layer of strategy. Amidst the chaos, competitive players will be able to plan with their team how and when to use specific Dynamic Mutators. Some Dynamic Mutators are simple things, like double jump or infinite ammo. Others are more crazy, like Jetpacks or Instagib.
These changes to the game at any time can really make for some interesting experiences. You'll never play the same game twice. With over 1.7 million possible combinations of Dynamic Mutators available at any given time, gamers have the ability to really create unique strategies. I'm super excited to see what players come up with.
What are other games doing wrong in the arena FPS genre that you are doing right? And how are you doing it?
One thing we did with Dynamic Mutators is give players the ability to spend points they earn in a match to adjust the rate at which specific Dynamic Mutators appear. There are 118 types of points, so this adds a huge layer of persistence and replayability to the game.
Certain Dynamic Mutators are also big gameplay changers. These mutators are really expensive and take a long time for players to save toward.
The Arena FPS also needed to evolve, adopting some gameplay functionality present in this generation's first person shooters. For example, we added melee to every weapon. Veterans of the genre will now have to be more aware and cautious when rapidly approaching a player. Of course, players will still find old school techniques like Rocket Jumping and Pogo Jumping.
Furthermore, by including elements like wider hallways and open areas, we've flexed out levels to be accepting to the Dynamic Mutator system. On top of that, we feature 64 individual leaderboards, 110 Medals, and 66 individual stats tracked.
What is the Denver and surrounding area indie scene like? Who else is there cooking up tasty gaming goodness?
The Denver area used to be the hub of a few studios. Now, the primary ones around here are Idol Minds in Louisville and, of course, IllFonic. New World Interactive is also starting up out here and they have some pretty cool stuff in the works!
There are also some iOS and social developers out here. I know quite a few of them, like the guys over at END Games and Backflip Studios! I'd love to connect with other developers out here to promote the unity of the indie community and do something that will benefit all of us. If there are any devs out there in Colorado, by all means contact me!